Stars Headed To The (FIBA) Hall

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HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — The National Teams from the United States and Turkey won’t be the only big time ballplayers on display in Istanbul today.

They’ll have a little company from a few familiar faces. A 17-member Hall of Fame class will get the red carpet treatment at the gold medal game of the 2010 FIBA World Championship.

Cheryl Miller, Arvydas Sabonis and Vlade Divac headline the group that will be inducted into International Basketball Federation’s Hall of Fame for their achievements at the Olympic Games, world championships and developing the global game.

Sure, it’s been a while since you’ve seen any of the three headliners go to work on a court. But don’t forget how ridiculous they were in their primes:

CHERYL MILLER

You can start the debate about the greatest player the women’s game has seen, but it has to start with Miller’s name at the top as far we’re concerned here at the hideout. Her game was far ahead of its time. She was not only a dominant scorer but always the best all-around player and athlete on the floor.

Miller won 1984 Olympic gold with the U.S., a world title two years later and is believed to be the first woman to dunk in a high school game. Miller won two NCAA championships at USC and later became head coach, and you know all about her outstanding work as part of the TNT and NBA TV families.

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ARVYDAS SABONIS

We feel for those of you that only remember Sabonis as the human tank of a center for the Portland Trail Blazers during his NBA days, because he was so much more than that.  The Lithuanian born Sabonis won the Euroscar Award (the best player in Europe) six times during his professional career there. Sabonis won Olympic and world titles with the Soviet Union, then led his native Lithuania to two Olympic bronze medals.

He didn’t come to the states until he was 30, and still had a distinguished career with the Trail Blazers. He was runner-up for Rookie of the Year and Sixth Man of the Year in 1996 while starring on Portland teams that made the playoffs in all seven of his NBA seasons. But there was a healthy debate in the 1980s, when Sabonis was winning all of those Euroscar Awards that he, and not Magic Johnson or Larry Bird, was the best player in the world.

VLADE DIVAC

Easily the most flamboyant of the three headliners, Divac helped Yugoslavia win two world titles and two Olympic silvers, losing to Sabonis and the Soviet Union in 1988, and at the 1996 Games in Atlanta to a United States Dream Team. The president of Serbia’s Olympic Committee, Divac is best known to NBA fans for an NBA career that spanned 16 seasons.

He played in the NBA from 1989-05, including twice with the Los Angeles Lakers. He had his No. 21 jersey retired by the Sacramento Kings, Drazen Petrovic is the only other European born and trained player to have his jersey retired by an NBA team (New Jersey). Divac is one of six players in NBA history to record 13,000 points, 9,000 rebounds, 3,000 assists and 1,500 blocked shots, along with current or future Hall of Fame big men Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Tim Duncan, Shaquille O’Neal, Kevin Garnett and Hakeem Olajuwon.

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4 Comments

  1. giulio says:

    7 foot 4, 300 pounds, speed, quickness, the best hands a center ever had in the game, long range shooter, a beast for rebounds, blocks and dunks over anyone, unique passing ability, you missed to say that Sabonis had major injuries before the start of his nba career, he was not only 30, but also a different player from the one who destroyed the us in the olimpic games, shaq could have matched him, but Sabas was a “shaq” for his body and Olajuwon for tecnique. No contest, when we talk about the greatest in the game we should think at what Sabonis could have been playing all his career healthy, not just an half of it, this his the reason why he can’t be compared to other player, because if you look at his youth years, you can’t say other than this: the best ever.

  2. Zzanzabar says:

    You are right, sorry for the omission. Oscar Schmidt Bezerra was one of the greats of basketball. I just didn’t see his name in the current inductees (I always assumed he was ALREADY in).

  3. Carlos says:

    You forgot to mention Oscar Schmidt the top scorer of all Fiba basktball,and consider to be Brasil best player.

  4. zzanzabar says:

    Kudos to all 17 of the FIBA class with special thanks to the three mentioned for what they have accomplished in the sport of basketball. All too often people forget that quality basketball takes place all over the world, in just about every corner where some type of hoop can be nailed to a board. Only soccer makes it easier (equipment wise) to play a pick-up game. Each of the 3 players singled out were uniquely gifted and brought their own style while putting their own particular stamp on the game.

    Cheryl Miller was a beast on the floor and a beauty off of it. I am sure she could have easily held her own in a man’s basketball team (after all she often bested her brother Reggie and he was an all-star). Why she is relegated to player interviews rather than a head commentator for games is beyond me, she REALLY knows the game and the players.

    As for Sadonis, in his youth he was the reincarnation of Wilt Chamberlian a powerhouse and I doubt if even Shaq could have matched him. Too bad we saw him 8 years to late and 80 pounds too heavy into his career. As for Divac, ‘Vlad the Mad’, I believe was the turning point for international players. He heralded a new crop of talented foreign players that entered the NBA as bona fide players, and not as strange ‘exceptions’ from overseas. I wish them the best and thanks for sharing your talents with your fans.