Carter, Billups among finalists for Basketball Hall of Fame

ByDave McMenamin ESPN logo
Saturday, February 17, 2024

INDIANAPOLIS -- Aerial artist Vince Carter, big shot-maker Chauncey Billups, smooth-scoring Seimone Augustus and Wisconsin's winningest coach, Bo Ryan, headlined 14 finalists announced Friday for enshrinement in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame as a part of NBA All-Star Weekend.

Carter, an eight-time All-Star, Slam Dunk champion, Rookie of the Year and Olympic gold medalist who retired in 2020 after scoring more than 25,000 points in 22 seasons, was on hand for the news conference.

"Unbelievable," said Carter, considered one of the greatest slam dunk showmen ever to grace the hardwood. "I loved to play, more than anything. It wasn't about the numbers. I was asked probably five years prior to retiring, 'Why are you still playing? You're killing your average.' And I said, 'But I still love to play.' And that's what mattered."

Billups, who earned the nickname "Mr. Big Shot" for his clutch performances on the Detroit Pistons, was a five-time All-Star and a two-time All-Defensive Team selection. He was the MVP of the 2004 NBA Finals, when his Pistons beat Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal and the Los Angeles Lakers.

"Everybody that enters the NBA ... it's their dream," Billups told ESPN. "It's basically basketball heaven to be in the Hall of Fame.

"That was never my goal when I was playing. I just wanted to try to win and be the best teammate I could be. ... I'm just humbled by today. Just being close to it is an honor. I know I'm not there, but I'm closer. It's a straight honor."

Augustus was the No. 1 pick by the Minnesota Lynx in 2006 and followed up her Rookie of the Year campaign by becoming a four-time champion and an eight-time All-Star in the WNBA.

Ryan went 747-233 (.762) in 32 seasons with the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and University of Wisconsin, leading the Badgers' men's team to 14 straight NCAA tournament appearances and back-to-back Final Fours in 2014 and 2015.

Other player finalists include the defensive stopper of the Lakers' "Showtime" era, Michael Cooper; the first Australian, man or woman, to play internationally in point guard Michele Timms; three-time NAIA national champion with Tennessee A&I University and two-time NBA champion with the New York Knicks, Dick Barnett; and six-time All-Star and thePhoenix Suns' all-time leading scorer, Walter Davis.

Davis died in November at age 69.

"Walter Davis, he was one of the great draft picks Phoenix ever had, going No. 1. Maybe one of the greatest shooters -- pure shooters -- who ever played," said Jerry Colangelo, the Hall of Fame's chairman. "He just passed away, unfortunately, just a few months ago and hopefully his family will enjoy if he's elected on his behalf."

Other coaching finalists included Marian Washington, who won a school-record 560 games guiding the University of Kansas' women's basketball team for 31 seasons; Harley Redin, who went 431-66 in 18 seasons coaching Wayland Baptist's women's basketball, including two undefeated campaigns; and Charles Smith, the winningest high school basketball coach in Louisiana history who amassed more than 1,000 victories with the boys' team at Peabody Magnet High School.

Indiana Pacers governor Herb Simon; current LA Clippers adviser and longtime NBA front office executiveJerry West;and accomplished player, coach and television analyst Doug Collins were all nominated as finalists as contributors to the game.

After voting on the finalists occurs, the inductees for the Aug. 17 ceremony in Springfield, Massachusetts, will be announced as part of the NCAA Final Four festivities on April 6 in Phoenix.

The recipients of the 2024 Curt Gowdy Media Award and John Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award were also announced Friday.

J.A. Adande, the longtime Los Angeles Times scribe as well as ESPN columnist and "Around the Horn" panelist, and Debbie Antonelli, college basketball analyst and play-by-play commentator, both were bestowed Gowdy honors.

Dennis Page, the founder and publisher of SLAM Magazine, and Ahmad Rashad, the co-host and executive producer of "NBA Inside Stuff," represented their respective platforms as SLAM and Inside Stuff were both recognized with Gowdy awards for transformative media.

"We wanted to show you athletes from another, different side," Rashad said. "Not just on the court where you see them play up and down, but what do they do at home? Who goes to the store? Who goes to the mall? So we would bring these big stars to your home and see them as they really are."

In addition, JoAn Scott, affectionately known as "The Maven of March Madness" for her work in overseeing the logistics of the NCAA tournament at all divisions, was named as the 2024 recipient of the John W. Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award.

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