Hall of Fame: Class of 2024

Vince Carter headlines 2024 finalists for Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame

After an NBA-record 22 seasons, the 8-time All-Star hopes the next chapter in his illustrious career takes place in Springfield.

Vince Carter, currently No. 20 on the league’s all-time points list, is the only NBA player to appear in 4 different decades.

Vince Carter had to sit and watch last August as four of his NBA All-Star peers were inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame before him.

Each of them – Dirk Nowitzki, Pau Gasol, Tony Parker and Dwyane Wade – had been drafted after Carter, the No. 5 pick in 1998. The same with Paul Pierce and Chris Bosh, who made it to Springfield back in 2021. Carter, meanwhile, only showed up this winter on a list of the Class of 2024 nominees.

Overlooked? Disrespected? Actually … neither. The only person Carter could blame for the long wait was himself – he’s the guy who chose to play 22 seasons, the most in NBA history.

“More than anything, it wasn’t about the numbers,” Carter said from the stage at the Hall’s news conference, carried live on NBA TV and NBA.com. “I was asked, probably five years prior to retirement, ‘Why are you still playing? You’re killing your average.’ I said, ‘But I still love to play.’

The eight-time All-Star was one of 14 finalists named Friday from All-Star Weekend in Indianapolis. He and seven others had NBA connections, including players Dick Barnett, Chauncey Billups, Michael Cooper and Walter Davis. (The Naismith Hall also honors players, coaches and contributors from college, high school and international basketball.)

Longtime player, coach and broadcaster Doug Collins is a finalist in the contributor category, as is Pacers owner Herb Simon. Lakers legend Jerry West, inducted as a player in 1980, also is a finalist as a contributor for his front-office work in an NBA career spanning seven decades.

The 2024 inductees will be drawn from Friday’s finalists and announced April 6 at the NCAA Final Four in Phoenix.

For the record, Carter’s final six seasons did drag down his scoring average, from 20.2 through 2013-14 to 16.7 by the time he retired in June 2020. His Kia Rookie of the Year debut with Toronto in 1998-99, followed by those eight All-Star berths and one of the most memorable Slam Dunk performances (2000), all were packed into his first nine seasons.

After that, the 6-foot-6 wing from North Carolina became a solid starter, then a sixth man and eventually a role player and resident “old head” for the Nets, the Magic and five more franchises. By sticking around to do what he loved, Carter did rise to No. 3 in games played (1,541) and No. 20 on the league’s all-time points list (25,728). He is the only NBA player to appear in four different decades.

“I would have been a miserable person if I left five, six years ago, trying to figure out what to do with myself,” said Carter, now 47. “I still had that passion to play, even in my 40s.”

The other NBA alumni who moved one step closer to possible enshrinement are:

  • Dick Barnett was a champion at three levels (high school, college and pro). He led Tennessee A&I to three straight NAIA championships, making the Tigers the first black school to claim a men’s national title. He played 14 seasons as a backcourt shooter, mostly with the Knicks, and won two NBA championships with that club.
  • Chauncey Billups, currently the Portland Trail Blazers head coach, made five All-Star teams and earned a nickname, “Mr. Big Shot.” His career peak came in 2004 when he led the Detroit Pistons to the NBA title and earned Finals MVP honors.
  • Doug Collins, a four-time All-Star, had his playing career was cut short by injury. He transitioned into coaching, amassing more than 400 victories and twice working with Michael Jordan in Chicago and Washington. He also is known as one of the most respected and familiar voices of the league from his work with almost off of the NBA’s network partners.
  • Michael Cooper worked his way onto eight All-Defensive teams, and won the Defensive Player of the Year Award in 1987. The sinewy wing out of New Mexico was a third-round pick in 1978 but became a fixture on the Lakers’ “Showtime” teams of the 1980s, winning five rings.
  • Walter Davis was a late addition to the nominees list, added with Penny Hardaway a week after the original group was announced. After an illustrious four-year career at the University of North Carolina, Davis was a six-time All-Star and wrapped his career as the Phoenix Suns’ all-time leading scorer. A favorite of Hall of Fame chairman and former Suns owner Jerry Colangelo, Davis died in November at age 69.
  • Herb Simon, whose Indiana Pacers franchise is the host team for the 2024 All-Star Weekend, is the longest-tenured governor in NBA history. He and his late brother Mel bought the organization in 1983.
  • Jerry West was the unofficial model for the NBA’s logo for good reason: One of the league’s Mt. Rushmore faces when he retired as a player in 1974, West followed up with coaching and general manager success with the Lakers. Then he kept going, serving in the front offices for Memphis, Golden State and currently the Clippers.

Among NBA players and coaches who did not advance to the finalist stage this year were nominees Tom Chambers, Marques Johnson, Maurice Lucas, Shawn Marion and Dick Motta.

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Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on X.

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