Paul Pierce is a lot of things; a lover of revisionist history, a board-certified hater of all things LeBron James, a thespian who requires a wheelchair to use the bathroom, but for the bulk of his 19 seasons in the NBA, he was also one of the greatest players in the history of the league. And now, three years removed from retiring back in 2017, he’ll be headlining the list of nominees for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame’s 2021 class.
Paul Pierce, Doug Collins, Michael Cooper and Lauren Jackson headline the group of first-time nominees for the 2021 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame class, announced Tuesday on ESPN’s The Jump.
Also joining the first-time group is Howard Garfinkel, Lou Henson, Val Ackerman and Yolanda Griffith, to go with popular returning candidates Chauncey Billups, Chris Bosh, Richard Hamilton, Becky Hammon, Swin Cash and Ben Wallace.
Chris Webber is also eligible.
Since Pierce is a studio analyst on ESPN’s The Jump, he was overjoyed when host Rachel Nichols broke the news on the show.
“If I do make it, just to be recognized in basketball lore forever,” he said. “When I’m long gone and away, the hall of fame is forever. Having my number hung up in the Boston Garden is forever. So it’s a true honor and if it were to happen I’m blessed that I was able to put the time in on my craft, all the hard work, mornings, nights, that I can get to this point.”
Throughout the course of his career, the 43-year-old became the second-highest scoring player in Celtics history. He was also named to 10 All-Star teams, four All-NBA teams, and was the 2008 NBA Finals MVP after leading the Celtics to a championship the same year.
Call it a hunch, but I think it’s safe to assume he’ll be inducted into the hall.
Per the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, the enshrinement ceremony for the Class of 2021 will take place in Springfield, Mass., in September 2021.