NBA icons Steve Nash, Jason Kidd and Grant Hill lead the 2018 Naismith Memorial National Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts, on Friday.
The trio were part of an impressive list of 13 inductees that was heavy on point guards – with Canadian Nash and Americans Allen and Kidd all enjoying record-setting careers.
Nash went from being a unscouted high school phenom from the basketball backwoods of Victoria, British Columbia, to an eight-time All-Star, while Kidd and Hill were co-rookies of the year in 1994/95 before going on to play a combined 37 seasons in the NBA.
The six-foot-three Johannesburg-born Nash won back-to-back MVP awards in 2004/05 and 2005/06 and led the league five times in assists.
His 18-year-career included finishing sixth on the all-time assist list.
“I was never supposed to be here,” said Nash, who was drafted by the Phoenix Suns 15th overall in 1998 and went on to play for the Dallas Mavericks for six years before returning to the Suns where he played for eight more years before finishing his career with the Los Angeles Lakers from 2012-15.
“The secret is to build the resolve and spirit to enjoy the plateau. Never stop striving to reach your goals.”
Nash was born in South Africa before the family moved to Vancouver Island. He switched schools halfway through high school but failed to attract the attention of American college scouts, sending his demo tape off to 30 schools but getting no takers.
He finally landed one scholarship offer from Santa Clara University in California and the unlikely journey was under way.
“Nobody really liked what they saw on those tapes,” Nash said. “But what they couldn’t see on the tapes was the relentless obsession and work ethic that would not diminish in 20 plus years.”
He finished with averages of 51.8 per cent shooting from the field, including an NBA record 90.4 per cent from the free-throw line.
His influence on Canadian basketball cannot be overstated, says hockey icon Wayne Gretzky. “I think he was a huge influence on all these kids,” Gretzky said in a video tribute to Nash.
“Coast to coast, Vancouver to Newfoundland, he gave them the opening and ability to believe they could play in the NBA.”
The 10-time All-Star Kidd climbed to number two all-time in assists during his 19-year playing career that included winning the 2011 NBA title with the Mavericks. The point guard is No2 on the all-time steals list.
Seven-time All-Star Hill made the NBA first All-Star team in 1996/97. He won back-to-back US college national titles at Duke University in 1991 and 1992.
Another inductee was Ray Allen, a 10-time All-Star, who helped the Boston Celtics win a championship in 2008 and then won it with the Miami Heat in 2013.
He made more three-point shots (2,973) than anyone in history.
“I don’t believe in talent,” Allen said. “I am here because I worked hard my whole life.
“So for kids aspiring to be like one of us, put the work in. What an amazing class I am part of. I am humbled and honored to sit here and be part of class of 2018.”
The rest of the class included former players Maurice Cheeks, Dino Radja and Charlie Scott and ex-college coach Charles “Lefty” Driesell.
Tina Thompson and Katie Smith were also enshrined as was Ora Mae Washington, who started her sporting career playing basketball before starring in tennis too.
Former player, coach and executive Rod Thorn and Golden State Warriors’ chief operating officer Rick Welts completed the list.
Know more about Sport360 Application