SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – The 12 members of the Class of 2013 will begin arriving at the Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony in a few hours, with the ideal backdrop of a forecast of sunshine and temperatures in the mid-70s for the red-carpet walk up the stairs outside Symphony Hall in the rare afternoon start.
This could turn out to be a very memorable affair. It does not have great NBA star power, but Gary Payton and the equally gregarious Oscar Schmidt are going to have a microphone, so probably best to buckle up, and the crowd will embrace the inductions of Jerry Tarkanian and Guy V. Lewis in a time of serious health issues. There could be a lot of emotion in the room.
The election results announced in April and the enshrinement today means a significant change to the list of the most deserving to make the Hall – Payton and Bernard King were 1-2 in the top-10 list in the winter, following the release of the nominees for 2013, and Tarkanian was 6. The late-summer update is particularly fluid, months before the 2014 candidates are announced, and with the usual important disclaimers: This is among people on the ballot and with NBA or ABA ties, not a statement that they definitely belong in Springfield.
1. Jerry Krause, Contributor committee.
2. Tim Hardaway, North American.
3. Mitch Richmond, North American.
4. Spencer Haywood, North American.
5. Bob (Slick) Leonard, ABA.
6. George McGinnis, ABA.
7. Maurice Cheeks, North American.
8. Vlade Divac, International.
9. Paul Westphal, North American. (As a player.)
10. Nick Galis, International. A slight semantics stretch for someone who spent his entire career in Europe to make the list, but Galis was born and raised in New Jersey, played at Seton Hall, and was drafted by and in camp with the Celtics.
The ranking is of most deserving, not the best chance for election. An ABA representative – Leonard, McGinnis, anyone – will be elected through a special voting channel no matter what, probably ahead of some, and maybe several, candidates from the North American category that handles most of the players with NBA backgrounds. Similarly, one 2014 inductee will almost certainly come from the International and Veterans field, though it is not mandatory that voters elect someone.
In a related development, Sarunas Marciulionis said he would be willing to be re-classified from the International committee, his current category, to the Contributor, an unusual move for a candidate but one that could increase his chances. The former favorite with the Warriors, SuperSonics, Kings and Nuggets is a credible candidate via International, but his risky move to break from the Soviet Union to join the NBA and his work behind the scenes to get newly independent Lithuania to the 1992 Olympics are seminal moments in the development of basketball around the world. Until someone officially requests the move to Contributor, though, he remains in International.
One other thing as the ceremony approaches: Schmidt, a star in his native Brazil and also Italy, is at the Hall about 4 and 1/2 months after undergoing brain surgery to remove a tumor, following a similar procedure about two years ago. He said he is in good health – “I’m cured, man” – but also does chemotherapy.
“And now, I am spending everything I gained,” he said. “All the money I get. And I get a lot of money. Lots of money, I get.”
Schmidt, 55, said he works about eight months of the year as a motivational speaker in Brazil and spends the other four vacationing around the world. While on one of the holidays, while driving in Orlando, Fla., he got word of the Hall election.
“A guy from FIBA called me and said, ‘Hey, you are in the Hall of Fame,’ ” Schmidt recalled. “I said, ‘I know. I did that two years ago (with the induction in the FIBA Hall). You don’t remember?’ ‘No, you are in the Springfield Hall of Fame.’ I stopped the car immediately. ‘Can you repeat.’ ‘You are in the Hall of Fame in Springfield.’ Wow. Legs shaking. This is the best moment of my career.”