The 2023 Basketball Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony will be held this weekend at Springfield, Massachusetts.

Dirk Nowitzki and Dwyane Wade, both of whom won championships playing against each other in the NBA Finals, headline this year’s class.

Nowitzki played 21 seasons in the NBA, all of which with the Dallas Mavericks with whom he built a first-ballot Hall of Fame career. He was a 14-time NBA All-Star, 12-time All NBA member, the NBA Most Valuable Player in 2007 and, most importantly, the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player in 2011. Winning the NBA championship was inarguably the highlight of his basketball journey and it remains the Mavericks’ only NBA championship in franchise history.

This legendary moment came in Nowitzki’s 13th season in the league and changed the narrative surrounding his career. He was no longer dubbed “soft” and instead gained respect as a battle-hardened winner. Dallas’ title in 2011 was made even sweeter as it came at the expense of Wade and the Miami Heat who beat them in the NBA Finals five years earlier.

Back in 2006, Wade was still just a third-year player yet he played like an all-time great and cemented his legacy with his first championship. Wade wound up winning two more NBA championships in 2012 and 2013 before retiring from the league in 2019 following a 16-year career.

It can be said that winning an NBA title made Wade’s career path much easier as it relieved him of the pressure of having to chase one as he aged into his prime. While this may not necessarily be true, what is certain is that Wade’s undisputed status as one of the best shooting guards to have ever played the game has been boosted by the championships on his resume.

Regardless of whether or not they won an NBA championship though, the multiple NBA All-Star and All-NBA recognitions that Nowitzki and Wade earned would have already been enough to merit them a slot in the Hall of Fame in the same way that Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, and John Stockton still found their way in.

However, the same cannot be said for Nowiztki and Wade’s Hall of Fame classmates Pau Gasol and Tony Parker who both won NBA championships as secondary stars. It is in cases like these where the weight of winning championships in the NBA is most evident.

Gasol and Parker are both six-time NBA All-Stars and four-time All-NBA selections, yet their  Hall of Fame case is buoyed by the multiple NBA championships that they won playing alongside Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan, respectively.

This is what sets them apart from other players from their era who have similar resumes up until that elusive NBA title. Amar’e Stoudemire and Jermaine O’Neal are on top of this list as they were both named to six NBA All-Star teams like Gasol and Parker. As a matter of fact, Stoudemire even has one more All-NBA recognition than both of them as he made it to five while O’Neal is marginally behind with three.

This highlights the importance of championships in the NBA when assessing whether a player has done enough to earn a spot in the Hall of Fame.

Among active players, it is guaranteed that LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Nikola Jokic will make it as first ballot Hall of Famers given that they have all won NBA championships and have extensive personal achievements to boot.

Meanwhile, Chris Paul, James Harden, and Russell Westbrook are likely to make it too given the gaudy statistics that they have put up for more than a decade and the many awards that they have earned along the way.

The case for players such as Paul George, Damian Lillard, and Jimmy Butler is a tad bit more uncertain though as they have not had the fortune of winning an NBA title so far in their careers. If they can continue to rack up NBA All-Star and All-NBA recognitions, then it is not far-fetched that they could eventually make it on these merits.

Winning still plays a major role in building one’s legacy and it will be interesting to see how this continues to dictate player behavior in the coming years. In this era of player empowerment, blockbuster trades and free agent movement has become commonplace and will continue to do so for as long as players like Stoudemire and O’Neal continue to miss out on a Hall of Fame slot. This is not necessarily a bad thing as it heightens the standards for the Hall of Fame–something that has been strongly criticized as well in recent years.