The finalists for the Class of 2022 will be announced during All-Star weekend on February 18.
Then on Feb. 20, the University of Wisconsin will raise Finley’s No. 24 jersey to the rafters during a nationally televised game on CBS. The Badgers are ranked No. 13 in the nation and have put together one of the best resumes in college hoops.
Dallas Mavs governor Mark Cuban said Finley is certainly deserving of the honor.
“Mike has been a friend and someone whose contributions to the Mavs, on and off the court, have been far more impactful than people realize,” Cuban shared. “All recognition that he gets he has earned many times over.”
Finley, a 2007 NBA champion with the San Antonio Spurs, starred at Wisconsin from 1991-95, earning All-Big Ten first-team honors in 1993 and 1995. A first-round pick in 1995, Finley was a two-time NBA All-Star, and held Wisconsin’s all-time scoring record for 11 seasons before being passed by Alando Tucker in 2007.
“It’s a great honor,” Finley said. “It represents a lot, not just to me but to all the teammates I had. We have a bond. It represents those guys and the students that were there when I was. They can say, ‘I went to school with that guy, and he represented the university in a great way.’
“For me, that’s one of the big things I look forward to seeing when my number is in the rafters. It’s also something of a legacy for my kids. If they ever decided to go to the UW, they can see their last name up there and that represents a lot for me as well.”
This past summer, Finley finalized a new contract with the Mavs that gave him an expanded role in the front office as assistant GM and vice president of player personnel alongside Nico Harrison.
“I am grateful to work with someone like Michael Finley,” said Harrison. “Michael is a tremendous basketball mind and an even better person. He welcomed me the first day I arrived in Dallas and has made this transition seamless. I have known Michael for nearly two decades and look forward to taking this team to new heights alongside him.”
Back in 2011, Finley decided to endow a scholarship at Wisconsin each year to benefit minority student-athletes. It’s an endeavor that was extremely important to him in hopes of providing much-needed assistance to future athletes from underserved communities.
“Being a Badger means a lot to me,” Finley said at the time. “The University of Wisconsin helped shape me and prepare me for a successful career in the NBA and beyond. Now it’s time to give back and help other kids realize their potential and benefit from the wonderful education and experience that UW-Madison provides.”
In late December, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced the list of eligible candidates for the Class of 2022, including numerous high-profile first-time nominees including Manu Ginobili, Tom Chambers and Lindsey Whalen, as well as candidates who have previously been on the ballot like Finley and Marion, along with Chauncey Billups, Tim Hardaway, Mark Jackson and others.
Finley and Marion both earned a place on the Hall of Fame ballot back in 2019 after stellar careers.
Marion was one of the driving forces behind the Mavs winning the 2011 NBA title, and the 6-7 forward played from 1999-2015. He competed with the Mavs from 2009-14.
In addition, Marion was selected to four NBA All-Star games and was nicknamed the Matrix because of the plethora of things he could do on the court. Marion scored 17,700 points and collected 10,101 rebounds in his career and finished with averages of 15.2 points and 8.7 rebounds in 1,163 games.
“I’m so excited for both of them,” Cuban said. “There aren’t enough superlatives to say how excited I am for both.
“Just to be in the (Hall of Fame) conversation is amazing. I learned so much from both of them.”
Finley also played like a giant. Before Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash (he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2018) joined the Mavs in 1998, Finley was the team’s primary go-to player and played in the 2000 and ’01 All-Star games. During his career, Finley scored 17,306 points, grabbed 4,804 rebounds and finished with averages of 15.8 points and 4.4 rebounds in 1,103 games.
Finley went through a five-year stretch with the Mavs from the 1997-’98 season to the 2001-’02 season where he averaged at least 20.2 points and 5.2 rebounds per season. Also, Finley played all 82 games in six different seasons, in addition to playing all 50 games during the NBA’s lockout-shortened 1998-’99 season.
A press conference announcing the Hall of Fame finalists from the North American and Women’s committee for the Class of 2022 will be held during NBA All-Star Weekend, which is scheduled for Friday, February 18th in Cleveland, Ohio. The Hall of Fame will also reveal the full Enshrinement schedule at this time. The entire Class of 2022, including those selected by the direct elect committees, will be unveiled during the NCAA Final Four in New Orleans, Louisiana, in early April.
The Enshrinement ceremony will take place in Springfield, Mass., September 9-10, 2022. Tickets for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2022 Enshrinement ceremony and various events surrounding the ceremony will be on-sale at a later date. Click here to view the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2022 Ballot.
Players are eligible after they’ve spent four full seasons in retirement. The same goes for coaches and referees, but because they have such long careers, they also become eligible after 25 years of coaching or refereeing. Other contributors to the game of basketball, such as journalists, are also eligible for the Hall of Fame if the committee judges they’ve made “a significant contribution” to the game.
In Sept. 2021, Wisconsin threw a celebration to recognize Michael Finley and his family for their contributions to the game and community. They announced that the Badgers would be retiring his jersey during the season.
That game will take place on Feb. 20 when Wisconsin faces Michigan at noon on CBS. It’s a logical decision to choose that game in particular because of the Badger-Wolverine rivalry. The Mavericks also have two current players in Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. who also competed at Michigan, making a fun little competition even within the Dallas Mavericks family.
Finley’s number will be the third men’s basketball jersey to hang in the Kohl Center, behind Ab Nicholas’ No. 8 and Frank Kaminsky’s No. 44.
Before the start of the season, Wisconsin basketball player Jordan Davis announced his decision to switch his number from No. 24 to No. 2 in a move meant to honor Finley’s legacy in Madison.
Finley played for the Badgers from 1991-1995 and became the program’s first 2,000-point scorer. He was named USA Basketball’s Male Athlete of the Year, earned two All-Big Ten selections, finished 12th in the Big Ten in scoring when he graduated and was a member of the UW team that made the 1994 NCAA Tournament, ending a 47-year drought for the Badgers.
He was inducted into the UW Hall of Fame in 2004.
“Michael Finley’s impact on Wisconsin basketball is as profound as any athlete we’ve had and I’m thrilled that we are able to honor him by retiring his jersey,” athletic director Chris McIntosh said.
“Finley’s fingerprints are all over the revival of our program in the 1990s, and his legacy is alive in the incredible success we’ve enjoyed over the past 30 years. Finley has spent his life serving as an incredible ambassador for not only Badger basketball, but also for our university in general. We can’t wait to welcome him back to the Kohl Center later this season.”
Off-court, Finley is deeply dedicated to the community and established the Michael Finley Foundation in 2003.
The organization supports other nonprofits with the common goal of assisting children and their families to reach their fullest potential through education, entrepreneurial mentorship, and other programs that emphasize improving the quality of life.
“I created the foundation to empower children and their families to unlock incredible results through education and life skills training,” Finley said.
Then separately, he instituted the Michael Finley Foundation Endowed Scholarship at UW to assist minority student-athletes.
Finley was also one of the producers of the films Lee Daniels’ The Butler and The Birth of a Nation.
He has left an incredible mark on every group he touches, from the Dallas Mavericks to the University of Wisconsin. Now his legacy and accomplishments will forever be on display in Madison as No. 24 hangs from the rafters at the Kohl Center.
Finley, most certainly, is one of the best to ever play the game.
Wisconsin Basketball greatness 🐐
What a moment tonight, as @MichaelFinley celebrates the retirement of his No. 24 jersey with family and friends
Can't wait to make it official later this season with our Badger Family pic.twitter.com/1L2QPxOLqD
— Wisconsin Basketball (@BadgerMBB) September 25, 2021