April 1, 2023
Becky Hammon, Gary Blair headline Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2023
Trailblazing 1976 U.S. Olympic women's basketball team also inducted
On Saturday, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame unveiled its Class of 2023. Becky Hammon, Gary Blair and the 1976 U.S. Olympic women’s basketball team will all be enshrined in the Hall of Fame in August.
Hammon played in the WNBA for 16 seasons as a guard for the New York Liberty (1999-06) and San Antonio Stars (now the Las Vegas Aces, 2007-14). After going undrafted in 1999, she became a six-time All-Star and was named to four All-WNBA teams in her career. Hammon also became the WNBA’s assist leader in her first season with the Stars and led the team to a Finals appearance in 2008.
Since retiring from the WNBA in 2014, Hammon has become a New York Liberty Ring of Honor member and got her No. 25 jersey retired by the San Antonio Stars. She also made the WNBA’s 15th, 20th and 25th anniversary teams and became a member of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame last year.
In college, Hammon played for the Colorado State Rams from 1995-99, received three All-American honors, and held program scoring records. She led the Rams to a Sweet 16 appearance and a 33-3 record in her senior season.
On the coaching side, Hammon became the first female acting coach in NBA history for the San Antonio Spurs in December 2020 and was named the head coach for the Las Vegas Aces the following year. In her first season in 2022, she was named WNBA Coach of the Year and led the team to its first-ever WNBA championship.
Blair was a head coach for the Stephen F. Austin Ladyjacks (1985-93), Arkansas Razorbacks (1993-03) and Texas A&M Aggies (2003-22). He had a combined record of 852-348 (.710) and was named to the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013.
Blair began his coaching career as an assistant coach for the Louisiana Tech Lady Techsters for five seasons before becoming Stephen F. Austin’s head coach. He led the Ladyjacks to seven straight Southland Tournament titles and six NCAA Tournament appearances.
Blair led the Razorbacks to their first Final Four in 1998 and won the WNIT title in the following year. He also led the team to two semifinal appearances in the SEC Tournament in 2001 and 2002.
Blair was also the head coach for the Texas A&M Aggies for 19 seasons before retiring in 2022. He led the program to its first-ever national title in 2011 after defeating Notre Dame. Blair had a career record of 656-274 with the Aggies.
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The 1976 U.S. Olympic women’s basketball team competed in the Olympics for the first time and was coached by the late Billie Moore. The team won a silver medal after finishing with a 3-2 record. Two notable players that were part of the team were Ann Meyers Drysdale, the first high school player to make a national team, and Nancy Lieberman, a two-time Honda Sports Award winner. The book Inaugural Ballers by Andrew Maraniss, published in September 2022, goes into more detail about that team and how it set the tone for success for women’s basketball.
Written by Aya Abdeen
Aya Abdeen is a student in sports journalism at Arizona State University and has been a contributing writer for The Next Hoops since December 2022. Her work has also appeared on AZPreps365.