Villanova men’s basketball coach Jay Wright will take his spot along the game’s greats when he is inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Saturday night.
“When I got the call, it was stunning, it was emotional,” Wright told The Inquirer. “It’s very humbling and something I’m trying to come to grips with right now, to be honest.”
Of course, it should not have come to much surprise to the well-dressed Wright, who remains one of the greatest head coaches in college basketball history. During his 27-year coaching career — 20 at Villanova and seven at Hofstra — Wright has won 612 games and two national championships in 2016 and 2018. And there are no signs he plans on calling it quits anytime soon.
Wright, 59, will join 15 other Hall of Fame inductees during a ceremony on Saturday night that will air on NBA TV beginning at 7 p.m, though the network’s coverage will start with a red carpet show at 6 p.m. hosted by Matt Winer alongside Kristen Ledlow, Steve Smith and Stephanie Ready.
Presenting Wright will be three Hall of Famers with deep ties to Philadelphia basketball — former Sixers great Charles Barkley, soon-to-be-retired Thomas Jefferson University coach Herb Magee, and Delco coaching legend George Raveling.
A number of well-known former NBA players will be inducted alongside Wright, including Chris Bosh, Paul Pierce, Chris Webber, and Ben Wallace (who will be presented by former Sixers coach Larry Brown). Among the other headliners are former NBA coach Rick Adelman, two-time Olympic gold medalist Yolanda Griffith and three-time WNBA MVP Lauren Jackson.
Another notable inductee is NBA legend Bill Russell, who was first inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1975 as a player. He’s being voted in again for his coaching career, in part because he became the first Black head coach in NBA history when he took over the Celtics job in 1966. Russell will be just the fifth person to be elected into the Hall of Fame as a player and a coach (John Wooden, Bill Sharman, Lenny Wilkens, and Tom Heinsohn are the other four).
NBA legend Michael Jordan will also be on hand for the event as a presenter for former Bulls teammate and golfing buddy Toni Kukoč. It might be an awkward moment, as Kukoč’s other presenter is Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, who was painted in an unfavorable light in Jordan’s ESPN documentary The Last Dance for breaking up the team after the 1998 season.
Here’s everything you need to know to watch or stream tonight’s ceremony:
2021 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame ceremony
When: Saturday, Sept. 11
Where: Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, Springfield, Mass.
Time: 7 p.m. Eastern
Channel: NBA TV
Streaming: NBA.com and the NBA App (cable authentication required)
2021 Hall of Fame inductees and presenters
Val Ackerman, presented by Russ Granik and Rick Welts
Rick Adelman, presented by Vlade Divac and Jack Sikma
Chris Bosh, presented by Ray Allen and Pat Riley
Bob Dandridge, presented by Oscar Robertson
Cotton Fitzsimmons, presented by Charles Barkley, Jerry Colangelo, and Phil Knight
Howard Garfinkel, presented by John Calipari, Grant Hill, and Bobby Hurley
Yolanda Griffith, presented by Van Chancellor
Lauren Jackson, presented by Sheryl Swoopes
Clarence Jenkins, presented by Wayne Embry
Toni Kukoč, presented by Michael Jordan and Jerry Reinsdorf
Pearl Moore, presented by Sylvia Hatchell
Paul Pierce, presented by Kevin Garnett
Bill Russell, presented by Charles Barkley, Julius Erving, Spencer Haywood, Alonzo Mourning, Bill Walton, and Rick Welts
Ben Wallace, presented by Larry Brown
Chris Webber, presented by Isiah Thomas
Jay Wright, presented by Charles Barkley, Bill Cunningham, Herb Magee, and George Raveling
Recent Hall of Fame classes
2020: Patrick Baumann, Kobe Bryant, Tamika Catchings, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Kim Mulkey, Barbara Stevens, Eddie Sutton, Rudy Tomjanovich
2019: Al Attles, Carl Braun, Charles “Chuck” Cooper, Vlade Divac, Bill Fitch, Bobby Jones, Sidney Moncrief, Jack Sikma, 1957-59 teams from Tennessee A&I, 1948-82 teams from Wayland Baptist University, Teresa Weatherspoon, Paul Westphal
2018: Ray Allen, Maurice Cheeks, Charles “Lefty” Driesell, Grant Hill, Jason Kidd, Steve Nash, Tina Thompson, Dino Radja, Charlie Scott, Ora Mae Washington, Rod Thorn, Rick Welts, Katie Smith
2017: Robert Hughes, Tracy McGrady, Bill Self, Rebecca Lobo, Muffet McGraw, Mannie Jackson, Tom Jernstedt, Jerry Krause, Zack Clayton, Nick Galis, George McGinnis