The class of 2016 has been inducted into the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Hall of Fame at the House of Basketball, FIBA’s headquarters on the outskirts of Geneva, Switzerland.
Seven basketball personalities were involved in a ceremony held at the Naismith Arena, FIBA’s exhibition space named after the inventor of basketball, James Naismith.
One of the greatest players in the history of the sport, Nigerian-born Hakeem Olajuwon made his mark in international basketball when he helped his adopted country, the United States, capture the gold medal at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.
In one of the most dominant sides ever assembled, Olajuwon and his team-mates thrilled the crowds with eight victories in as many games and did so by an average winning margin of almost 32 points per contest.
Panagiotis Fasoulas won five Greek League Championships and three Greek Cups.
He was also named to the FIBA European Selection three times, in 1990, 1991 and 1995, and was named the Greek League MVP in 1994 and 1995, and a FIBA EuroStar in 1996.
Australian basketball trailblazer Michelle Timms was also among those inducted, with the three-time Olympian and two-time medalist only the fifth Australian and the first female Australian player to be granted the honor.
She was the first from her country to play professionally overseas and also the first Australian to make it in the US in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), signing with Phoenix Mercury in the league’s inaugural season in 1997.
Former national head coach Jorge Hugo Canavesi wrote himself not only into Argentinian basketball folklore, but also global basketball history, when he became the first to mastermind a FIBA Basketball World Cup success at the inaugural event in 1950.
It was an achievement made even more special by the fact that Canavesi led his nation to the maiden title on home soil in Buenos Aires, and some 66 years later, it remains the only time that Argentina have finished on the top step of the podium at the tournament.
Also inducted was Manuel Raga, a shooting guard that many believe to be the greatest Mexican player of all time.
He competed at three Olympics and three FIBA Basketball World Cups.
He was also a hit at the 1967 Pan American Games, helping his country capture a silver medal.
Juan Antonio San Epifanio was known by everyone in the sports world as “Epi”, with the Zaragoza-born star known as one of Spain’s most “explosive scorers”.
For Spain, at the 1984 European Olympic Qualifying Tournament, he averaged 23.7 points over nine games.
He was such a prolific scorer that his poorest performance in that stretch was 18 points in a victory over Switzerland.
While making 239 appearances for the Spanish national side, he played in four Olympics, three FIBA Basketball World Cups and nine EuroBaskets.
The final inductee was former NBA Commissioner David Stern, who was at the helm of the most famous league on the planet for three decades.
One of his most significant contributions came when he worked closely with then FIBA secretary general Borislav Stankovic during the late 1980s and early 1990s, to bring professional players to the Olympics.
“We are very proud to welcome all of these great basketball personalities into FIBA’s Hall of Fame,” said FIBA President Horacio Muratore. “Their contributions on and off the court have helped impact our sport in the most positive way imaginable. Through their achievements, dedication and countless efforts, they have also assisted basketball’s growth across the globe. Congratulations to them all for receiving this well-deserved honor.”
By Max Winters
Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz