By TIM REYNOLDS
AP Basketball Writer
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — Jay Wright used to sell tickets to games in the long-defunct United States Football League. Ben Wallace was passed over by every NBA team, some of them twice. Yolanda Griffith got a job repossessing cars so she could take care of herself and her infant daughter while playing community college basketball.
For all of them, those days are long gone. Basketball’s highest honor has come their way.
Wright, Wallace and Griffith were part of a 16-person class that was announced Sunday as the 2021 inductees for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Longtime standout NBA forwards Chris Bosh, Paul Pierce and Chris Webber were among those selected, along with former coaches Rick Adelman and Cotton Fitzsimmons and three-time WNBA MVP Lauren Jackson.
The class even includes someone who has been a Hall of Famer for 46 years already — 11-time NBA champion Bill Russell, enshrined in 1975 as a player, has been selected again as a coach. Russell becomes the fifth Hall of Famer who will be inducted as both a player and a coach, joining John Wooden, Lenny Wilkens, Bill Sharman and Tommy Heinsohn.
Of the now 140 players from the NBA and ABA that are enshrined in the Hall, none of them averaged fewer points than Wallace — who managed 5.7 per game for his career. He never had a 30-point game as a pro; his regular-season high was 23 points, his playoff high was 29 points.
He was a four-time defensive player of the year, making that end of the floor his specialty.
“To have that type of journey, to have it end the way it’s ending, it’s an awesome feeling,” Wallace said on the broadcast.
By TIM REYNOLDS