While Atlanta Hawks stars Dejounte Murray and Trae Young still have a long way to go in their NBA careers, they were locked in as the 2023 Basketball Hall of Fame class was officially inducted on August 12.
For Murray, it was a chance to celebrate his former head coach with the San Antonio Spurs, Gregg Popovich under whom Murray played for the first six years of his NBA career. He got a first-hand experience of what has made Popovich great over all these years and sent a message to one of his former mentors.
“The GREATEST,” Murray exclaimed in an Instagram story on August 12. “You Deserve It All!!!
Under Popovich, Murray went from the No. 29 overall pick in 2016 to earning All-Defensive Team honors in 2017-18 as well as his first All-Star selection and steals crown in 2021-22.
Murray had to put out a firestorm after making comments about his experience during his time with the Spurs. But he always maintained that his decision to part with the organization was mutual and that they “wanted want to see me win and just the best” for him.
The Spurs traded Murray to the Hawks for veteran Danilo Gallinari and a bevy of draft picks last offseason. His first season in Atlanta was admittedly tumultuous complete with overhauls to the front office and coach staffs, though Murray has said that he embraces the challenges and is looking forward to next season.
As for Popovich, he is set to embark on his 29th season as an NBA head coach.
And he will do so charged with helping the league’s next phenom, 7-foot-3 big man, Victor Wembanyama, the No. 1 overall pick of the 2023 NBA Draft.
“Dejounte Murray says under Popovich, he going to teach the younger Spurs the right way to play the game,” tweeted Jeff Garcia of KEN5 in May. “Murray also says he believes the Spurs organization will be back to where it needs to be.”
Popovich has led the Spurs to five titles and a .642 winning percentage in his tenure.
They finished only seven of those seasons below .500, and four of them came as they’ve been in transition over the last four seasons.
Though still active, Popovich heads to the Hall thanks to a rule change in 2017 that granted active coaches provided they had at least 25 years of service and were at least 60 years old. He is the first coach to benefit from the rule change and is one of three coaches in this class joined by former college head coach Bob Huggins and Marianne Stanley of WNBA fame.
Hawks’ Trae Young sends message to Heat Hall-of-Famer Dwyane Wade
For Young, perhaps the night was a reminder of what could be; a fitting narrative for what has been an offseason where legacy has been at the forefront from the promo campaign around the release of his third signature shoe to discussions with former NBA players.
“Watching the H.O.F. every year is inspiring,” Young tweeted before making special note of former Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade’s acceptance speech.
Wade involved his father, which likely stuck with Young who is also close with his father.
Wade is a 13-time All-Star, eight-time All-NBA selection, three-time All-Defensive Team pick, and three-time NBA champion.
Young, heading into his sixth NBA season, is a two-time All-Star and one-time NBA pick but has plenty of time to rack up enough accolades to one day have his day at the Hall of Fame ceremony.