Nine-time NBA All-Star guard Gary Payton, two-time NBA-winning coach Tom Heinsohn and smooth-shooting point guard Tim Hardaway were named today among the 12 finalists for induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Among those also named as first-time finalists were three-time National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Coach of the Year Sylvia Hatchell, WNBA All-Star guard Dawn Staley and six-time NBA All-Star Mitch Richmond.
Known as "The Glove", Payton, a point guard and defensive specialist for 18 NBA seasons, ranks in the top 10 all-time in assists and steals.
"A guy coming from Oakland, California, I never dreamed of this," said Payton, who played 13 seasons with the Seattle SuperSonics and five with the Miami Heat, before retiring after the 2006-07 campaign.
"The things I did at the NBA, I never dreamed of that. I would be honoured to be a first ballot."
Previous finalists again being considered for induction into the hall at Springfield, Massachusetts, are former NBA All-Stars Maurice Cheeks, Spencer Haywood and Bernard King, and college coaches Guy Lewis, Rick Pitino and Jerry Tarkanian.
The Class of 2013 will be unveiled at the NCAA Final Four on April 8 and the enshrinement will take place September 8.
Already a Hall of Famer as a player, Heinsohn is up for enshrinement as a coach, having led the Boston Celtics to titles in 1974 and 1976.
Hardaway, who had a stellar, 13-year NBA career with five teams, scored 5000 points and had 2500 assists faster than any other player, except Oscar Robertson.
The announcement of the finalists was made during the festivities leading up to the NBA All-Star game on Monday (NZT).