Meet the Basketball Hall of Fame's 2017 Class

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By Holden Walter-Warner

Another class of deserving players, coaches and contributors were inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame this week. From lighting up the scoreboard and winning championships to changing the game of basketball forever, these 11 men and women earned the right to be enshrined with the best of the best in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Here's why each of these 11 legends punched their tickets to the Hall of Fame.

Tracy McGrady

As the NBA exploded at the turn of the century, no player’s poster adorned more bedroom walls than McGrady’s. He was talented, making seven All-Star Games and leading the NBA in scoring twice. He was flashy - a nightly contributor to SportsCenter highlights and a one-time Slam Dunk Contest participant. He also briefly popularized the jump from high school to the pros before the NBA and NCAA outlawed it. His number is already retired in China, with the Orlando Magic and Houston Rockets likely to follow suit.

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Rebecca Lobo

Lobo is one of the greatest female basketball players of all-time. She’s also one of the most important. She became an icon in 1995 when she led the UConn Huskies to an undefeated season, launching a college dynasty that reigns over two decades later. She was then allocated to the New York Liberty ahead of the first WNBA season, spearheading the most important professional women’s sports league in the country. She continues to be involved in the game, serving as an analyst and commentator.

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Bill Self

Self enters the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility, proof of just how quietly dominant the coach has been. He has racked up 623 wins, with most of those coming during his 14-year tenure with the Kansas Jayhawks. His program has won a share of the Big 12 title every year he has been in charge, with the exception of his debut season (finishing second that year.) Self has made two Final Four trips and taken home one title (2008), coaching the likes of NBA studs Deron Williams, Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid.

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Muffet McGraw

One of the greatest women’s basketball coaches of all-time, McGraw may only just be getting started. She is entering her fourth decade as head coach of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, who she has led to 22 straight NCAA Tournament appearances, seven Final Fours, and the 2001 National Championship. The Women’s Basketball Hall of Famer has 853 career wins and should move past Andy Landers and Robin Selvig on the all-time list this season.

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Robert Hughes

There are winners, and then there’s Robert Hughes. No coach has won more high school basketball games in the history of the country. Most of his career was spent at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in Fort Worth, Texas, where Hughes made contributions to his catalog of 1,333 wins. The best part? His son is now following in his footsteps as the coach of Dunbar.

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George McGinnis

McGinnis is an Indiana native, through and through. He dominated the state in high school, played at Indiana University for a year, and represented the Indiana Pacers in both the ABA and the NBA. He helped lead the Pacers to ABA championships in 1972 and 1973, earning league co-MVP honors with Julius Erving in 1975, and was named to the ABA All-Time Team selected in 1997.

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Mannie Jackson

A failed tryout with the New York Knicks may be the best thing to ever happen to the sport of basketball. After that ill-fated day, Jackson tried out for the Harlem Globetrotters instead, making the team. He only played with the squad for a few years, but three decades later, he purchased the team, saving them from bankruptcy. Since then, the Globetrotters have thrived, becoming a global phenomenon, while Jackson has become an icon himself, serving as the first African-American owner of a major sports team.

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Tom Jernstedt

Arguably the best event on the sports calendar rolls around every March, as madness descends upon college basketball. Jernstedt is widely credited for helping develop the NCAA Tournament, presiding over his first Final Four in 1973 and serving the NCAA until 2010. Jernstedt also served as the president of USA Basketball for four years. He was inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010.

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Jerry Krause

Without Krause, the greatest dynasty in NBA history may have never existed. As general manager of the Chicago Bulls from 1985 to 2003, he brought stars Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Dennis Rodman to the Windy City, as well as an eccentric coach by the name of Phil Jackson. The Bulls won six titles during his time at the helm. He dabbled in baseball as well, holding the distinction as the only person to be an executive in both the NBA and MLB. He passed away in March at the age of 77.

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Zack Clayton

Clayton is from a bygone era, when professional basketball was still in its infancy and segregation was law. He competed for several teams from the late 1930s to the mid-1950s, including the Harlem Globetrotters, winning two World Professional Basketball Tournament championships. He was inducted into Philadelphia Black Basketball Hall of Fame in 2016. 

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Clayton (4th from R) was a member of the New York Rens in 1939.

Later in his career, Clayton even became a boxing referee, taking part in 1974's legendary 'Rumble in the Jungle' between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman in Zaire.

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NiKos Galis

Galis is considered the greatest Greek player to ever tie up the laces. Despite being born in New Jersey and drafted by the Boston Celtics, Galis spent his entire professional career in Greece, playing for two teams: Aris - who would later name their court after him - and Panathinaikos. When the FIBA Hall of Fame was built, Galis was among the inaugural inductees. He blazed the path for Greek League stars such as Peja Stojakovic and Giannis Antetokounmpo to follow.

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