Jim Valvano to be inducted into Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame as contributor

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Forty years after his most famous basketball moment, racing across the floor in Albuquerque looking for someone to hug after N.C. State’s improbable national championship, Jim Valvano is going into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.

The late Wolfpack coach and cancer fundraiser was voted into the hall as a contributor in the 2023 induction class announced Saturday at the Final Four in Houston. The recognition “for significant contributions to the game of basketball” covers his work as a player at Rutgers, a coach at Iona and N.C. State, a broadcaster at ABC and, finally, for inspiring the V Foundation for Cancer Research, which continues to have an impact long after his death from cancer in 1993.

He joins Wolfpack legends Everett Case, David Thompson and Kay Yow in the Naismith Hall.

Valvano’s 1983 N.C. State team — the “Cardiac Pack” — that shocked the world by upsetting Houston’s high-flying and heavily-favored “Phi Slama Jama” team was his highest point, but he would turn his lowest point into a positive that outlived him. After he was fired as basketball coach and athletic director in 1990 over a variety of infractions — some of which seem almost quaint in today’s world of college athletics — Valvano became one of the sport’s most distinctive television voices. N.C. State still hasn’t really recovered from his departure.

After his cancer diagnosis, his “Don’t give up ... Don’t ever give up!” speech at the 1993 ESPY awards became a rallying cry and his enduring legacy. The V Foundation has since donated more than $150 million to cancer research.

“Jim’s tenacity and passion as a coach and as an ambassador for the game of basketball – and game of life – set a standard of excellence that we at the V Foundation embody to this day,” Evan Goldberg, chair of the V Foundation board of directors, said in a statement. “It’s an honor to carry on his legacy through our work funding game-changing cancer research.”

Valvano is one of 12 inductees to be enshrined in Springfield, Mass., in August. He’s joined by former Purdue coach Gene Keady, NBA coach Gregg Popovich, junior colllege coach Gene Bess and Division III coach David Hixon, WNBA star Becky Hammon, NBA stars Pau Gasol, Dirk Nowitzki, Tony Parker and Dwyane Wade, women’s college coach Gary Blair and the silver-medal 1976 women’s Olympic team.