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Nine-time NBA All-Star Gary Payton and six-time NBA All-Star Mitch Richmond were among 12 finalist nominees named on Friday for induction this year into the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Payton and Richmond were among six first-time finalists to join the honor shrine at ceremonies on September 8. Finalists need 18 of 24 votes from the honors committee to be among the inductees announced on April 8.
Other first-time finalists include five-time NBA All-Star Tim Hardaway, two-time NBA champion coach Tom Heinsohn, five-time Women's NBA All-Star Dawn Staley and three-time US women's coach of the year Sylvia Hatchell.
Other finalists are four-time NBA All-Stars Maurice Cheeks, Bernard King and Spencer Haywood and US college coaching legends Jerry Tarkanian, Guy Lewis and Rick Pitino.
"It will be a difficult decision for the honors committee to select the final class members from this prestigious group of individuals, each of whom has given so much to the game," said Hall of Fame chairman of the board Jerry Colangelo.
Payton, known as "The Glove" for his defensive skills, was the 1996 NBA Defensive Player of the Year and played on US Olympic gold medal teams in 1996 and 2000. He won an NBA title with Miami in 20006. He retired fourth on the NBA all-time steals list with 2,445 and eighth in assists with 8,966.
Richmond, the 1989 NBA Rookie of the Year and 1995 All-Star Game Most Valuable Player, scored 20,497 points over 14 NBA seasons, winning a title with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2002 and an Olympic gold medal in 1996.