The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced modifications to their enshrinement process - changes which dramatically shorten the eligibility requirements for players, coaches, and referees, and could lead to a star-studded 2018 Hall of Fame class.
The key difference is that retired players will now be eligible for the Hall of Fame just three calendar years after retirement from professional basketball. The previous waiting period was five years.
"After recommendations from our Election Process Committee consisting of highly respected Hall of Famers and board members, we have elected to accept the nominations of our many worthy candidates in a timelier fashion upon the conclusion of their careers," a statement from the Hall of Fame's president and CEO, John L. Doleva, says.
Players who last appeared in the NBA in the 2012-13 NBA season were already set to be eligible for enshrinement this year. That includes the likes of Jason Kidd, Grant Hill, Rasheed Wallace, Richard Hamilton, Marcus Camby, Lamar Odom, Juwan Howard, and Jerry Stackhouse. However, with the wait period shortened by two full years, a player whose final NBA season was 2013-14 will also be eligible when the list of candidates is released on Dec. 21.
In addition to these players, referee Dick Bavetta, who retired in 2014 after 39 years of NBA officiating, will also be eligible for enshrinement and will certainly garner consideration for his lifetime of contributions to the game.
A second change pertains only to coaches, who will now be required to be 60 years old and have at least 25 years of coaching experience before being eligible for the Hall of Fame. This rule will come into effect in 2020; coaches currently approaching eligibility under the old benchmarks will be grandfathered into the system.