Let us pause, to give David Robinson the opportunity to cover his eyes, Danny Manning time to drop-and-roll his way under the nearest desk and Dan Majerle a chance to run. Anywhere.
Brazilian scoring machine Oscar Schmidt is being inducted into the Hall of Fame on Sunday in Springfield, Mass., and several players from the United States may shudder at the memory of Indianapolis on Aug. 23, 1987, and the showdown for the gold medal at the Pan-American Games.
The team of top college talent – future No. 1 picks Robinson, Manning and Pervis Ellison, coached by Denny Crum – had won the previous six games in the tournament by an average of 25 points. The U.S. program as a whole had won 34 in a row in the Pan-Ams. Then came the Sunday in Market Square Arena that elevated Schmidt to a new level of recognition and started to cut away at the Americans’ sense of invincibility.
Schmidt, a 29-year-old forward who had been playing in Italy, made seven of 15 threes and scored 46 points to lead Brazil from a 14-point halftime deficit to a 120-115 victory and the gold. It was one of what would become a life full of shining moments, but he would later call the game the most satisfying of a career that ended in 2003.
A sixth-round draft pick of the Nets in 1984 who never came to the NBA because, he said, he was offered a one-year guaranteed contract, Schmidt was named one of the 50 greatest players in FIBA history, participated in five Olympics, was the leading scorer in three of them, and now enters the Hall of Fame via the International committee. Among the others who will be inducted Sunday, in addition to the others with NBA, NBA or ties to U.S. college men’s programs:
Sylvia Hatchell – The three-time Coach of the Year took North Carolina to the 1994 national title, the Final Four two other times, and is the only women’s coach to win a championship at three levels (NCAA, NAIA, AIAW). She was the third Division I coach to reach 900 victories in the women’s game and guided teams to a 30-win season seven times and a 20-win seasons on 28 occasions. Hatchell was also an assistant for the U.S. Olympic team that won gold in 1988.
Edwin B. Henderson – Known as the Grandfather of Black Basketball, the selection of the Early African American Pioneers committee first learned the sport at Harvard during a summer of P.E. classes for gym teachers in 1904 and taught the game his students upon returning to Washington. He later formed the first African-American athletic conference, the Interscholastic Athletic Assn. Henderson died in 1977.
Dawn Staley – Staley was a star at every level, a three-time All-America and two-time Player of the Year as a guard at Virginia, a seven-time All-Star in the American Basketball League and the WNBA, and a three-time Olympic gold medalist. Despite leaving college in 1994, she still holds the NCAA women’s record for career steals. Staley also played professionally in France, Italy, Brazil and Spain and is currently the coach at South Carolina with a staff that includes 2012 Hall of Famer Nikki McCray.