Gasol, Nowitzki and Parker, a European “Big 3” in the Hall of Fame

Pau Gasol of Spain, Dirk Nowitzki of Germany and Tony Parker of France were elected to the Hall of Fame on Saturday, an honor that illustrates the value of European basketball in the NBA over the past two decades.

The trio, who have accumulated seven rings, 26 All-Star nominations and an NBA MVP award, will be immortalized in the basketball pantheon along with legends like Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Russell or Kobe Bryant in a ceremony that will take place on August 12 in Springfield (Massachusetts).

Gasol, winner of two championships with the Los Angeles Lakers (2009 and 2010) forming an unforgettable couple with Kobe Bryant, will be the first Spanish player to join the institution.

"I am immensely honored by this recognition, to be a part of this class, the Hall of Fame. It’s something I obviously could never dream of growing up, but I’m enjoying it."Gasol told ESPN in the television broadcast of the selection announcement, which took place within the framework of the ‘Final Four’ of university basketball in Houston (Texas).

Before Gasol, two other Spaniards, Pedro Ferrándiz and Antonio Díaz-Miguel, also received this distinction but for their work as coaches.

Gasol, whose number 16 was retired this month by the Lakers, is the essential figure in the takeoff of Spanish basketball this century, which he led to gold in the 2006 World Cup and two silver medals in the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games in memorable finals against the constellation of stars of the United States.

After retiring in 2021, the Spaniard will enter the institution in his first year of eligibility, like the German Nowitzki, leader of the only ring for the Dallas Mavericks (2011), and the French Parker, four-time champion with the San Antonio Spurs. (2003, 2005, 2007 and 2014).

the overall game
This stellar trio was key to breaking down barriers and stereotypes around European players in the NBA and paved the way for other superstars who today dominate the league such as the Greek Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks), the Serbian Nikola Jokic (Nuggets) or the Slovenian Luka Doncic (Mavericks).

With a reserved place in Olympus, Nowitzki wanted to look back this Saturday to recognize the pioneers of his continent in the NBA.

"There were some guys who paved the way for us a bit, like Detlef (Schrempf), (Toni) Kukoc and (Drazen) Petrovic. Then came the next wave, with Pau, Tony and me."he explained. "If we help make the game even more global and inspire a few kids along the way, I’m obviously humbled.".

Emblem of the Dallas Mavericks, his only team in his 21 seasons in the NBA, the power forward is the sixth leading scorer of all time with 31,560 points in 1,522 regular season games.

Among many other feats, Nowitzki was the first European to receive the MVP (Most Valuable Player) award for a season, in 2007, but above all he is remembered for leading the Mavs to the only championship in their history in 2011.

The footsteps of Duncan and Ginobili
The other European figure to be chosen was the French Tony Parker, who follows in the footsteps of his partners in the Spurs Tim Duncan and the Argentine Emanuel Ginóbili, who entered in 2021 and 2022.

Gregg Popovich, the architect of that dynasty and the winningest coach in the NBA, was also selected Saturday along with his former assistant Becky Hammon.

"It’s crazy because I was there in the last few years for Tim and then for ‘Manu’, and this year also with the coach ‘Pop"Parker, a six-time All-Star, congratulated himself.

Since the first promotion in 1959, there are already 201 former players from the North American league and abroad who are part of the Hall of Fame, which also includes coaches, teams, referees, executives and other contributors.

Only 23 of the players are not American, including 14 Europeans from nine different countries, with Croatia being the most represented with four members since the 2021 induction of Tony Kukoc, a three-time champion with Michael Jordan’s Bulls in the 1990s.

Dwyane Wade was the only former American player selected to enter this year. The shooting guard is a symbol of the Miami Heat, with whom he won the titles in 2006, seconded by Shaquille O’Neal, and in 2012 and 2013 as LeBron James’ squire.

"Being in this class with some of the best international players to ever play the game, with Tony, Pau and Dirk, is like being in a candy store. I am very honored to be a part of this class."Wade stated.

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