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Celtics great Paul Pierce, ex-NBA coach Doug Collins among first-time HOF nominees

Former Boston Celtics forward Paul Pierce is a 10-time All-Star selection and finished his career second on the Celtics' all-time scoring list. File Photo by Susan Knowles/UPI
Former Boston Celtics forward Paul Pierce is a 10-time All-Star selection and finished his career second on the Celtics' all-time scoring list. File Photo by Susan Knowles/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 22 (UPI) -- Former Boston Celtics star Paul Pierce and ex-NBA coach Doug Collins headline the group of first-time nominees for the 2021 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame class, it was announced Tuesday.

Former Los Angeles Lakers standout Michael Cooper and ex-WNBA player Lauren Jackson joined Pierce and Collins on the list of first-time nominees. Also joining the first-time group is Howard Garfinkel, Lou Henson, Val Ackerman and Yolanda Griffith.

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Chauncey Billups, Chris Bosh, Richard Hamilton, Becky Hammon, Ben Wallace, Chris Webber, Jay Wright, Bob Huggins and Swin Cash were among the returning candidates to the ballot.

Pierce spent 15 of his 19 NBA seasons with the Celtics, winning a championship and Finals MVP trophy in 2008. He is a 10-time All-Star selection and finished his career second on the Celtics' all-time scoring list -- behind only John Havlicek.

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Collins, a four-time All-Star, is a former No. 1 overall draft pick and spent all eight seasons of his playing career with the Philadelphia 76ers. He went on to coach the Chicago Bulls (1986-89), Detroit Pistons (1995-98), Washington Wizards (2001-03) and 76ers (2010-13), posting a 442-407 career record.

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Cooper, who was named Defensive Player of the Year in 1987, spent 12 seasons with the Lakers during the "Showtime" era and won five championships. After retiring from playing, he coached the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks to two titles.

Jackson, one of the most decorated women's basketball players, starred in the WNBA and the Australia-based Women's National Basketball League. She won WNBL MVP honors four times and WNBA MVP three times.

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The selection process for the North American and Women's committee finalists will occur over NBA All-Star Weekend, which is scheduled for early March. The entire Class of 2021 will be revealed during the NCAA Final Four in early April.

The enshrinement ceremony for the 2021 class will take place in September in Springfield, Mass.

The 2020 ceremony -- featuring a star-studded group that includes Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett -- was rescheduled and relocated because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is set for May 13-15 at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn.

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