A consecration. France's Tony Parker, Germany's Dirk Nowitzki and Spain's Pau Gasol will be inducted into the Hall of Fame, the highest honor reserved for the elite of the elite, which illustrates the imposing place taken by European basketball in the NBA for two decades.

These three basketball players are among the best in the history of the Old Continent and they are the first of their countries to enter the gotha, alongside legends such as Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar or Kobe Bryant. Their induction into the prestigious institution will take place on August 12 in Springfield, Massachusetts.

"Dirk, I witnessed his removal from the jersey. We had all these battles with Dallas and San Antonio. Pau... I wish he had never been born! I would have had more gold medals with the France. And now here we are all together in the Hall of Fame. It's unbelievable," Parker said.

The latter also tweeted. "It's an honor for me to have been elected to the NBA Hall of Fame in first ballot. I am very moved. I could never have imagined, in my wildest dreams, to be there one day."

It is an honor for me to have been elected to the NBA Hall of Fame in first ballot. I am very moved. I could never have imagined, in my wildest dreams, to be there one day. Thank you all for supporting me! pic.twitter.com/4qmZoMDB9x

— Tony Parker (@tonyparker) April 1, 2023

Gregg Popovich also honored

Tony Parker, winner of Euro 2013 with the France, can especially boast of having more championship rings than his two acolytes (2003, 2005, 2007 and 2014), all won with the San Antonio Spurs, alongside Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili, already members of the Hall of Fame, with whom he formed one of the most formidable trio in history. He was also the first European voted MVP (best player) of a final, in 2007.

Inveterate scorer, Dirk Nowitzki is the 6th best scorer in NBA history (31,560 points in 1522 games). The first European to be voted MVP of the regular season in 2007, the "Wunderkid" guided the Dallas Mavericks to the only title in their history in 2011.

Pau Gasol was crowned champion twice with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2009 and 2010, in the role of lieutenant of Kobe Bryant. Recently, their acts have been set side by side on the ceiling of the L.A. venue. The Barcelonan also has a huge record on the international level, once world champion (2006) and three times European champion (2009, 2011, 2015).

"This recognition, I could never have dreamed of when I was a kid. My journey with Spain has made me who I am. I have always felt great pride in playing for my team and inspiring the kids, allowing them to dream as I dreamed as a child," he commented.

Other inductees into the Hall of Fame include Gregg Popovich, a five-time champion with San Antonio and the NBA's most successful coach, and Becky Hamon, who was Hamon's assistant from 2014 to 2021, becoming the first female head coach of a professional men's team for a short interim.

"Basketball Hall of Fame"

This 2023 vintage is exceptional in more ways than one because Europe is for the first time in force in this "basketball hall of fame", Dwyane Wade being the only American to complete the quartet of former players. He has also left his mark on the NBA, having been a three-time champion with Miami (2006, 2012, 2013).

Since the first class in 1959, they are now 201 alumni, from the North American league and beyond, members of the Hall of Fame, also composed of players, coaches, teams, umpires, executives and other contributors. Only 23 are non-Americans, including 14 Europeans from nine different countries, with Croatians being the most represented, four in number since the induction of Tony Kukoc in 2021, three times crowned with Michael Jordan's Bulls in the 1990s.

By adding Germany, Spain and France to this list, Dirk Nowitzki, Paul Gasol and Tony Parker symbolize the galloping internationalization of the NBA that has continued to open up to the world. And by being so preponderant to the success of their teams, they have embodied this change of era and landscape over time.

As such, this European "Big3" is a pioneer who paved the way for today's stars, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nikola Jokic and Luka Doncic who impose their domination in the highest league in the world.

"There were some elders like Detlef Schrempf, Tony Kukoc or Drazen Petrovic who paved this path and the new wave that we represented with Tony and Pau arrived... We helped make this game global and if we were able to inspire the kids, it's a source of humility," said Dirk Nowitzki.

With AFP

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