Being enshrined into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame is an honor only reserved for the absolute best in the sport. Today the 2017 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame class was announced and it included some icons that have left their imprint on the game in major ways. Rebecca Lobo, Tracy McGrady, and Kansas head coach Bill Self are among the candidates who will be inducted into the hall of fame and each has made their mark on the game of basketball in their own respective ways.
These three basketball stars headline a group of 11 inductees who will be enshrined in the hall. The other inductees include Notre Dame women’s coach Muffet McGraw, Texas high school coach Robert Hughes, the late Jerry Krause, ABA star George McGinnis, former NCAA vice president Tom Jernstedt, European star Nikos Galis, and two members of the Harlem Globetrotters: Zach Clayton and Mannie Jackson.
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Rebecca Lobo was one of the most prominent women’s basketball players to ever play the game. She was the star of the UConn women’s basketball team in the early ’90s that led to the meteoric rise of the basketball program under hall of fame coach Geno Auriemma. Lobo led the UConn Huskies to their first ever national title in 1995 after a perfect 35-0 season. The Huskies went on to win a record 11 championships. Lobo grew up in Southwick, Massachusetts, which is only 15 minutes away from the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield.
“From the time I was a young girl, I was visiting the Basketball Hall of Fame, before it is the building it is now,” Lobo said on ESPN2. “I loved going and appreciating the game, never, ever imagining I’d get a chance to get in there. The most gratifying thing for me was to be able to call my dad and tell him. My mom [RuthAnn], who passed away in 2011, that was kind of dream of hers more than it ever was a dream of mine. That part is more gratifying than anything because my family has taken so much joy in it.”
Lobo won a gold medal with the U.S. team in 1996 and played in the WNBA until she retired in 2003. Lobo was also inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010.
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Kansas men’s basketball coach Bill Self has made quite the name for himself during his coaching career that also includes stops at Oral Roberts, Tulsa, and the University of Illinois. Self has an amazing career win-loss record of 623-192 over his 20-plus years of coaching at those schools. He has coached numerous players that went on to play professionally overseas or in the NBA, including number one overall draft pick Andrew Wiggins in 2014. The impact he has had on the individuals he has coached has been enormous.
Many former players gush at how great of a leader Bill Self is and what a good job he does at molding young guys into men and teaching them more than just basketball, but about life in general. Hall-of-Famer and former Kansas coach Larry Brown had nothing but good things to say upon finding out that Bill Self would be inducted in the 2017 class.
— Notre Dame News (@nd_news) April 1, 2017
“I think it’s wonderful. It’s an honor well-deserved. I was with Bill’s dad watching KU play and got to spend some time with him. His dad was saying, ‘You think there’s any way my son will get in the Hall of Fame?’ I said, ‘I think the first week of April he’ll get in, but that’s just me speaking.’ He’s had an amazing run. He’s really impacted a lot of lives which is the most important thing. When you coach at Kansas and you realize all the neat people who have been there and have helped make the game better, you’ve got to put his name right there on the top of the list.”
Self coached Kansas to a national championship in 2008 and fell just short of a second in 2011.
Last, but not least, is former NBA superstar Tracy McGrady who jumped to the pros straight out of high school in 1997 and led the league in scoring in 2003 and 2004. The 37-year-old was a seven-time All-Star and averaged nearly 20 points per game over a career that spanned 15 seasons. McGrady, better known as “T-Mac,” was one of the better players in a generation that included Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson, and Shaquille O’Neal. At one point, he was considered the best player in the game, and it was a toss up between him and Kobe.
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Unfortunately for Tracy McGrady, nagging injuries slowed him down and ultimately robbed him of the explosiveness that made him so great. Even despite him not reaching his full potential because of injury, T-Mac will still be regarded as one of the most talented players to ever play in the NBA and his induction into the hall solidifies that.
The 2017 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class is loaded with people who have made a significant impact on the game and will now forever be remembered for their achievements for generations to come.
[Featured Image by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images]