Former Suns Nash, Kidd, Hill, Scott, Welts Elected to Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame
The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced today that former Suns players Steve Nash, Jason Kidd, Grant Hill and Charlie Scott are among the 13 members of the Class of 2018 to be honored September 6-8, 2018, during this year’s Enshrinement festivities in Springfield, Massachusetts. Additionally, Rick Welts, former Suns president and chief executive officer, was elected as a contributor.
“It’s a tremendous honor for the Phoenix Suns to be so widely represented in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2018,” said Managing Partner Robert Sarver. “On behalf of the entire Suns organization, we are proud of Steve, Jason, Grant, Charlie and Rick and congratulate them on receiving this ultimate recognition of their impact on the game.”
“All four players embodied the rare combination of physical skill, intelligence and passion to play that make them Hall of Famers. One of the best to ever put on a Suns uniform, Steve revolutionized the game with his style of play and engineered an era of Suns basketball that was incredibly successful and great to watch. In addition to being the team’s only two-time MVP, his philanthropic contributions in the Phoenix community are as significant as his on-court accomplishments. Another one of the best point guards in basketball history, Jason remains the franchise’s leader in triple-doubles and had five outstanding seasons thrilling Suns fans with his unique skillset. Grant was a fantastic player and leader who set an excellent example with his work ethic and professionalism, on and off the court. Charlie filled up the stat sheet during his three-plus seasons with the Suns and helped put our franchise on the map in its early years. And Rick certainly helped shape the game through his contributions, including nine years with our organization, and is most deserving of this honor. We are truly proud to call each of them a member of our Suns family.”
With four former Suns players elected in the Class of 2018, this is the first class in Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame history to include four people enshrined as players who each played for the same NBA franchise. In fact, only twice before had a class included as many as three people enshrined as players who each played for the same NBA franchise; this occurred in the Class of 1990 (Dave Bing, Elvin Hayes and Earl Monroe each played for the Bullets) and the Class of 2014 (Sarunas Marciulionis, Mitch Richmond and Guy Rodgers each played for both the Warriors and the Kings/Royals). The Class of 2018 also includes three former Celtics elected as players (Ray Allen, Dino Radja and Scott).
Joining Nash, Kidd and Hill to be elected into the Class of 2018 by the Honors Committee, needing 18 of 24 votes for election after being named as finalists on February 17, are Ray Allen, Maurice Cheeks, Charles “Lefty” Driesell, Katie Smith and Tina Thompson. Scott and Welts were among five members of the Class of 2018 directly elected by distinguished committees focused on preserving all areas of the game. Scott was directly elected from the Veterans Committee, Welts from the Contributor Committee along with Rod Thorn, Dino Radja from the International Committee and Ora Mae Washington from the Early African American Pioneers Committee.
Nash played 10 seasons with the Suns, beginning his career with two seasons in Phoenix after being selected 15th overall in the 1996 NBA Draft before returning to the team as a free agent on July 14, 2004. He averaged 14.4 points on 50.4 percent shooting, 9.4 assists and 3.1 rebounds in 744 total games with the Suns (1996-1998, 2004-2012), and remains the franchise’s all-time leader in assists (6,997), three-pointers (1,051), three-point percentage (.435) and free throw percentage (.907). The Suns’ only two-time NBA Most Valuable Player (2005, 2006), and one of only 11 players ever to win the award in consecutive seasons, Nash led the Suns to three Western Conference Finals and two of the three 60-win campaigns in team history. A six-time NBA All-Star and three-time All-NBA First Team selection in Phoenix (both tied for most by a Suns player), he led the NBA in assists per game five times in seven seasons from 2004-2011. In 2015, Nash became the 14th member of the Suns’ Ring of Honor.
An 18-year NBA veteran, Nash played six seasons with the Mavericks (1998-2004) and two seasons with the Lakers (2012-2014) in addition to his time with the Suns. Nash was named an NBA All-Star eight times in total and was an All-NBA selection seven times, including three straight seasons on the First Team from 2004-2007. He is the NBA’s all-time leader in free throw percentage (.904) and ranks third in assists (10,335). One of the greatest shooters to play the game, Nash had four seasons in which he compiled a shooting percentage at or above 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from three-point range and 90 percent from the free throw line, most in NBA history. Born in Johannesburg, South Africa and raised in Victoria, British Columbia, Nash represented Canada Basketball in international competitions from 1991-2003, including at the 2000 Olympic Games, and has served as general manager of Canada’s senior men’s national team since 2012. At Santa Clara University, Nash was a two-time WCC Player of the Year (1995, 1996) and led the Broncos to three NCAA tournament appearances.
Off the court during his playing career and continuing today, Nash remains committed to giving back through humanitarian and philanthropic endeavors. His Steve Nash Foundation is dedicated to assisting underserved children in their health, personal development, education and enjoyment of life, and won the 2008 Steve Patterson Award for Excellence in Sports Philanthropy. Among the many distinctions recognizing his charitable efforts, Nash has been invested as an Officer in the Order of Canada, one of his home nation’s highest civilian honors, and has also been a recipient of the St. Boniface Foundation International Award in 2011 as well as the 2007 NBA J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award for his outstanding service and dedication to the community.
Kidd played parts of five seasons with the Suns after being acquired in a trade with Dallas on December 26, 1996, averaging 14.4 points, 9.7 assists, 6.4 rebounds and 2.1 steals in 309 games with the team from 1996-2001. The franchise’s all-time leader with 25 triple-doubles, Kidd was named All-NBA First Team three times while with the Suns (1998-2001), tied with Nash and Paul Westphal for the most First Team selections in franchise history. A three-time NBA All-Star as a Sun, he led the league in assists per game in each of his final three seasons in Phoenix and was named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team in 1998-99 and 2000-01, and Second Team in 1999-2000.
A 19-year NBA veteran, Kidd played eight seasons with the Mavericks (1994-1996, 2008-2012), seven seasons with the Nets (2001-2008) and one season with the Knicks (2012-13) in addition to his time in Phoenix. A 10-time NBA All-Star and the 1995 NBA Co-Rookie of the Year (along with Hill), Kidd was named All-NBA six times including five times on the First Team, as well as being named All-Defensive nine times including four times to the First Team. He ranks second on the NBA’s all-time assists (12,091) and steals (2,684) lists, and third with 107 triple-doubles. A 2011 NBA Champion with Dallas, Kidd also won two Olympic gold medals (2000, 2008) and was named USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year in 2007. At the University of California, he was a unanimous First Team All-America selection and Pac-10 Player of the Year in 1994. Kidd was a two-time recipient of the NBA Sportsmanship Award (2012, 2013).
Hill played five seasons in Phoenix after originally signing with the Suns on July 11, 2007, and averaged 12.1 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 362 games with the team from 2007-2012. He was an integral member of the Suns’ 2010 Western Conference Finals run and was the first two-time recipient of the team’s Majerle Hustle Award (2008, 2011). At age 38 in 2010-11, Hill averaged 13.2 points to become then just the seventh player in NBA history to average at least 13 points while 38 or older, and now joins the previous six as Hall of Famers (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Jordan, Karl Malone, John Stockton, Robert Parish, Reggie Miller).
A 19-year NBA veteran, Hill played six seasons with the Pistons (1994-2000), six seasons with the Magic (2000-2007) and one season with the Clippers (2012-13) in addition to his time with the Suns. A seven-time NBA All-Star and the 1995 NBA Co-Rookie of the Year (along with Kidd), Hill was selected to the All-NBA First Team in 1997 in addition to four selections to the All-NBA Second Team. Representing USA Basketball, Hill won a gold medal in the 1996 Olympic Games. At Duke University, Hill was a member of two national championship teams (1991, 1992) and was a unanimous First Team All-America selection and ACC Player of the Year in 1994. He is the only three-time recipient of the NBA Sportsmanship Award (2005, 2008, 2010) and received the Basketball Hall of Fame’s Mannie Jackson Human Spirit Award for his philanthropic efforts in 2012.
Scott played three full seasons with the Suns from 1972-1975, plus the final six games of the 1971-72 season after he jumped to the NBA from the ABA and his rights were acquired by Phoenix from Boston on March 14, 1972. He averaged 24.8 points, 5.3 assists, 4.1 rebounds and 1.7 steals in 208 games with the Suns, with his 24.8 points per game remaining the highest scoring average in franchise history. An NBA All-Star in each of his three full seasons with the Suns, Scott is the only player in team history to average at least 24 points in a season three times.
A 10-year pro, Scott played two seasons with the Virginia Squires of the ABA (1970-1972) prior to joining the NBA in Phoenix. He played in nine NBA seasons, spending parts of three seasons with the Celtics (1975-1977), part of one season with the Lakers (1977-78) and two seasons with the Nuggets (1978-1980) plus his time with the Suns. A two-time ABA All-Star in addition to his three NBA All-Star selections, Scott was twice named All-ABA in his two seasons with the Squires including to the First Team in 1971 when he won ABA Co-Rookie of the Year (along with Hall of Famer Dan Issel). With Virginia in 1971-72, Scott recorded the highest scoring average in ABA history at 34.6 points per game, and in 1997 he was named to the ABA All-Time Team. Scott was a 1976 NBA Champion with Boston, defeating the Suns in an unforgettable Finals. Representing USA Basketball, he won a gold medal in the 1968 Olympic Games. The first African American scholarship athlete at the University of North Carolina, Scott was twice a consensus Second Team All-America honoree (1969, 1970) and averaged 27.1 points in 1969-70, still the third-highest scoring average in Tar Heels history.
Welts spent nine seasons with the Suns from 2002-2011, serving as president for all nine as well as the club’s chief executive officer for the final two. With over 40 total years of experience in the NBA, Welts is credited with the creation of the NBA All-Star Weekend concept, transforming the NBA All-Star Game into the extravaganza it is today. He also developed the marketing campaign for the 1992 Olympics “Dream Team” and in 1998 was named Brandweek’s Marketer of the Year for his work on the launch of the WNBA. Welts entered the NBA world as a ball boy for the Seattle SuperSonics in 1969 and eventually rose to director of public relations with the team. Welts held several positions at the NBA league office from 1982-1999, departing as the league’s executive vice president, chief marketing officer and president of NBA Properties. Since 2011, he has served as president and chief operating officer of the Golden State Warriors.
With the elections of Nash, Kidd, Hill and Scott, the Suns will total 10 former players inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as players. The Class of 2018 quartet will join Connie Hawkins (1969-1973 with Suns; Class of 1992), Gail Goodrich (1968-1970 with Suns; Class of 1996), Charles Barkley (1992-1996 with Suns; Class of 2006), Dennis Johnson (1980-1983 with Suns; Class of 2010), Gus Johnson (1972 with Suns; Class of 2010) and Shaquille O’Neal (2008-2009 with Suns; Class of 2016) as former Suns to earn enshrinement as players. Former Suns owner, general manager, executive and coach Jerry Colangelo was also inducted as a contributor in the Class of 2004.
The Class of 2018 was announced today at the Hall of Fame Class Announcement Show in San Antonio, prior to the NCAA Men’s Final Four. The Class of 2018 will be enshrined on Friday, September 7 in Springfield, Massachusetts, the birthplace of basketball and home of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Tickets for the various Enshrinement events are on sale at www.hoophall.com.