The US 2008 Olympic gold medal squad featuring Kobe Bryant and LeBron James plus high-leaping Vince Carter were among first-time nominees for the Basketball Hall of Fame announced on Thursday.
The Hall announced its list of eligible candidates for the Class of 2024, which will be unveiled on April 6 at Phoenix, Arizona, and enshrined on August 17 at the Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Thursday marked the anniversary of the day when Dr. James Naismith first introduced the game of basketball in Springfield in 1891.
Other first-time nominees included four-time Women’s NBA champion and three-time US Olympic champion Seimone Augustus, two-time NBA champion center Bill Laimbeer, 16-season NBA head coach and television commentator Mike Fratello and Australian Olympians Andrew Gaze, Penny Taylor and Michele Timms.
The Hall of Fame announced changes to its election process to give more careful examination to candidates from the veterans, contributors and international committees.
Since 2011, those were direct-elect committees to ensure proper consideration of worthy candidates who might have “fallen through the cracks,” but the election committee decided the objective was met in the past 12 years and candidates from those committees will be given final consideration by the honors committee.
The US Olympic “Redeem Team” from Beijing, inspired by the 2004 US squad only managing bronze in Athens, rolled to gold with a lineup including NBA stars Bryant, James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Chris Paul, Dwight Howard, Jason Kidd, Carlos Boozer, Deron Williams, Michael Redd and Tayshaun Prince.
Bryant, a five-time NBA champion who was enshrined in the Hall of Fame on his own in 2020, was killed in a 2020 helicopter crash in California.
Carter, a member of the US 2000 Sydney Olympic gold medal team of NBA stars, played 22 NBA seasons from 1998 to 2020. The eight-time NBA All-Star swingman, who earned the nickname “Vinsanity,” averaged 16.7 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists over 1,541 games with Toronto, New Jersey, Orlando, Phoenix, Dallas, Memphis, Sacramento and Atlanta.
Augustus won four WNBA crowns with the Minnesota Lynx and Olympic gold in 2008, 2012 and 2016 while Laimbeer was the star big man for the 1989 and 1990 NBA champion Detroit Pistons.
Gaze was a five-time Aussie Olympian from 1984 to 2000, when he served as flag bearer at the opening ceremonies and captain of the Boomers, and played briefly in the NBA, including part of the 1999 season for the NBA champion San Antonio Spurs.
Timms was a legendary guard for the Australian Opals and like forward Taylor was a two-time Olympians. Taylor won three WNBA titles with the Phoenix Mercury and Most Valuable Player of the 2006 World Championships, when she sparked Australia to the title.
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