“[It’s] a truly humbling moment in my life to be considered seriously as finalist for the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.”
Those were the first words spoken by Indiana Fever head coach Marianne Stanley after learning she was one of 14 finalists for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
A first-time finalist, Stanley is joined by coach Rick Adelman, Chris Bosh, Michael Cooper, Paul Pierce, Bill Russell, Jay Wright, Yolanda Griffith and Lauren Jackson. Other finalists who are up for consideration again are Leta Andrews, Tim Hardaway, Marques Johnson, Ben Wallace and Chris Webber.
“As a young person you couldn’t even imagine,” Coach Stanley said. “You know I spent my life in basketball and to have my work and what I do recognized in this way is really humbling. I’m certainly thrilled to be included in the same sentence with some of the other finalists and honorees, so it’s a really exciting time for sure.”
An NCAA national champion and WNBA Coach of the Year, Stanley has a women’s basketball coaching career that spans more than 40 years at the collegiate and professional level.
“The first time I played basketball I was six years old if you can believe it,” Stanley said with a fond smile. “I happened to grow up in upper Darby Pennsylvania right outside of Philly. There was a playground across the street and every waking day I would look out the window and there is that basketball court calling me you know. So, when I was six, my father’s twin brother, my uncle, took me out there and showed me how to shoot… [and] it’s been a love affair ever since.”
However, for Stanley her first time shooting a basketball is just as important as her multiple decade journey as a coach. A journey that has allowed her to learn from and mentor others, while building lifelong relationships that she will cherish forever.
“Basketball is a team event,” Stanley stated. “No one achieves any type of accolades or success without understanding that this a group effort and without your teammates, your coaches and the people surrounding you in the supporting cast, no one can achieve anything of substance really.
“So, you know I spent the last 24-48 hours just reminiscing and thinking about all the people I want to thank, and the list is a mile long. I’ve been blessed to be able to work with, to help mentor and be mentored by some of the best people in the business, in my opinion. People who have formed really great lifelong friendships with, so it’s a lot of fun along with the excitement, and I feel an indebtedness to everybody that I have worked with and had the opportunity to share this journey with.”
The official 2021 class will be announced on May 16. An enshrinement ceremony is then scheduled for September, though an exact date will be revealed closer to the class of 2021 announcement.