A nod to Toni Kukoč and all of the 2021 Basketball Hall of Fame inductees getting their dues today
Val Ackerman was the WNBA’s first President in 1996, and held the role until 2005. In May of that year, she became the first female President of USA Basketball, a role she led until 2008, which is where, perhaps most notably, the men’s “Redeem Team” won their first gold medal since 2000 following their infamous 2004 blunder. Since the Big East restructured in 2013, Ackerman’s been the conference’s commissioner as well.
The late Cotton Fitzsimmons was a head coach in the NBA for 21 seasons between 1970-1997, leading the Phoenix Suns, Atlanta Hawks, Buffalo Braves, Kansas City Kings, San Antonio Spurs, the Suns again, and the Suns one last time.
Over his career, he compiled an 832-775 record, and reached two conference finals with the Suns in 1989 and 1990 led by Tom Chambers, Eddie Johnson, Kevin Johnson, and Jeff Hornacek. His 832 regular season victories are the 16th most in NBA history, and his team’s went 35-49 in 84 playoff games.
Howard Garfinkel will also be inducted posthumously for his contributions, helping grow the game on a grassroots level with the famed Five-Star Basketball Camp. The Five-Star basketball camp was founded in 1966, and its website indicates that “over 10 percent of Naismith Hall of Fame Coaches have either worked or lectured at Five-Star,” a list that includes Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Boeheim, Roy Williams, Bob Hurley Sr., and Jim Calhoun, among many others. Before that, he started High School Basketball Illustrated, the first ever high school scouting report.