Posts Tagged ‘Hall of Fame 2013’

Hall Enshrinement Especially Meaningful

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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – The emotions that filled Symphony Hall were as in-your-face as Gary Payton, as persistent as Jerry Tarkanian, as touching as the words of Elvin Hayes, as dignified as the memory of Roger Brown and with as much flair for the dramatic as Oscar Schmidt.

By the time the 12 new members of the Hall of Fame gathered on stage Sunday afternoon for the traditional group shot to conclude the enshrinement festivities, something was clearly different. Every year is unique, of course — Reggie Miller tugging at hearts, the sideshow that is Dennis Rodman, the sparkle of the Dream Team reuniting for a group induction. Not like this, though.

This meant something unlike any other time in recent years.

Tarkanian is fighting serious health issues. His family said they specifically noticed an improvement after the coach, best known for his work at UNLV, got word in the spring he would be inducted. As the ceremony approached, and he fought back after a scare, it seemed to be another boost. Once “Tark” got here, after all the years of refusing to be worn down by the NCAA, after previously coming off the Hall ballot from a lack of support, he got an embrace that was one of the warmest moments of the last several enshrinements.

His wife read a note from Jerry in a taped acceptance speech and the 83-year-old Tarkanian added a few sentences on his own in a weak voice: “I have loved the game of basketball since my earliest memories. Basketball has been good to me. I’ve been able to be comrades with some fine individuals in the coaching profession. Sure we can be firey and competitive, even argumentative, but we all loved the game. That special game of basketball. Deep down, we’ll … understand the other. Thank you for your friendship. Finally, thank you, Hall of Fame, for giving me a special honor. It means so much to me, to our players, fans, coaches and staff. We are part of you. That makes us very happy and very proud.”

The standing ovation started before the house lights were all the way up. He came on stage with a walker, next to his presenters, Bill Walton and Pete Carril. And when Tark turned to face the audience, the cheers got even louder.

Guy V. Lewis is having difficult days, too. The 91-year-old former University of Houston coach was unable to speak, leaving it to Hayes, sitting next to Lewis, to deliver an eloquent taped tribute to his former coach. When Lewis was brought on stage in a wheelchair and moved in front of three of his Cougars — Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler and the Big E — the crowd responded with loud applause in tribute.

When North Carolina women’s coach Sylvia Hatchell got her turn, she noted how Pat Summitt was supposed to be one of her presenters, only to have to decline when the former coaching legend of the Tennessee Lady Vols, forced into retirement by early-onset dementia, was unable to make the trip. Hatchell asked the audience to send Summitt needed support with a round of applause that could come through the television. Done.

Brown’s family got to see the former Pacers star inducted posthumously as a deserving salute after he had been banned by the NBA as a college freshman and spent years playing AAU ball before joining the fledgling ABA. This day was a vindication.

Schmidt was here about 4 ½ months after a second surgery to remove a brain tumor. Ever the showman, he stepped to the podium, closed his eyes and stood in silence for about 14 seconds before speaking. Having already described how he was so overwhelmed to get news of his election while driving that he had to pull over, having already called the weekend the highlight of his career, the former Brazilian scoring sensation delivered a speech of humor — an appreciation for his presenter, Larry Bird, and ultimately choking up and getting watery eyes when speaking to his wife in the audience.

Payton walked the red carpet upon arrival with close friends Jason Kidd and Brian Shaw – and John Stockton was one of his presenters — so there needed to be a pickup game for the ages going on somewhere after the ceremony. The acceptance speech that eventually followed was exactly what Payton promised, with a little from his alter-ego “The Glove,” the trash-talking point guard playing with a chip on his shoulder, and the mature older man he wanted to show off to make the ceremony mean something more than enshrinement.

The Glove: “As players, we dream of this moment, but we don’t expect to be standing here. But I really, really liked my chances of being here. It’s amazing. This is really happening for me.”

Mature older man: “Few things meant as much to me as my ability to play this game. I bared my soul on the court. I played hard because I wanted to win every time. And sometimes I didn’t come off so pretty. I said things I know I can’t repeat. Plus, I don’t want the guys in the booth to say I can’t say it. So it’s good. Listen, I really didn’t mean any harm, at least not bodily. I’m sure there are some coaches, teammates, opponents, referees and probably management out there who might feel otherwise, though. It was all for my crazy love for the game and my lack of maturity to be able to express my passion any other way. I don’t regret the way I went about it and I’m a strong man today as a result. But I can’t help but think I could have given more to the game that have so much to me. My career is complete. Gary Payton is evolving. But GP is in the Hall of Fame. Thank you.”

The Most Deserving Remaining Hall Candidates

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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.”

Oscar Schmidt And What Could Have Been

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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – He has a personality that splashes everywhere and a big laugh to match. Not quite a Magic Johnson shakes-the-walls laugh, but not far off either.

Except that Oscar Schmidt is being serious now.

He said he would have been one of the 10 best players in the NBA if the basketball world had been different in the 1970s and ‘80s, and he came to the United States. And not one of the 10 best in the league. One of the 10 best ever,

“Yes,” Schmidt said. “Anytime. It was easier, because in the NBA at that time it was one-on-one, always. One-on-one, I’m free. If it comes to two players guarding me, maybe.”

Insert big laugh.

“I would be one of the best 10 ever.”

Schmidt officially enters the Hall of Fame on Sunday afternoon via the International committee as a Brazilian great who played in five Olympics, led the shocking upset of the United States in the title game of the 1987 Pan-American Games in Indianapolis, could score on anybody, and also starred in Italy. But the closest Schmidt got to the NBA was when the Nets drafted him in the sixth round in 1984.

Signing with the NBA at that time would have meant being ineligible for the national team, and Schmidt was not willing to make that tradeoff. The Nets pursued him three years in a row, he said, but no way. After the rules were changed to allow the Dream Team to play in the 1992 Olympics, sure, except that Schmidt was 34 by the time of the historic Barcelona Games. It would be different under the current rules.

“Give me two months of practice, I kill everybody else,” he said Saturday at the Hall of Fame, the day before the induction ceremony.

Another big laugh.

“There was not a price [the Nets could have offered]. There was national team. That’s it. The national team doesn’t have a price. It’s proud. It’s what you live for. And today, people don’t like to play for the national team. That’s very sad for me.”

Schmidt was a 6-foot-9 scoring machine at small forward in the Larry Bird mold, able to shred defenses without beating many opponents in a race or a jumping contest. He could shoot and he was smart. Perfect, then, that Larry Bird agreed to be his presenter Sunday afternoon at Symphony Hall.

Schmidt was asked what he would have averaged in the NBA and said, “One point a minute. Twenty minutes, 20 points. Forty minutes, maybe 60.”

C’mon. Get serious.

“Did you see me play?” Schmidt fired back.

But a point a minute?

“One point a minute at least,” he said. “Do you know how many hours I practiced a day.”

Eight, he answered.

Schmidt will not soften his answer. With a different set of eligibility rules, he would have been one of the all-time NBA greats, and that’s that. To him, there is no debate. There certainly is no big laugh about that.

Hall Of Fame Presenters Announced

The 2013 NBA Hall of Fame inductees.

The 2013 NBA Hall of Fame inductees.

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HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — The Hall of Fame on Thursday released the full list of presenters scheduled for the ceremonial role at Sunday’s enshrinement ceremony in Springfield, Mass.:

Roger BrownReggie Miller and Mel Daniels.

Sylvia HatchellHubie Brown and Nancy Lieberman.

Russ GranikJerry Colangelo.

Richie GuerinBob Cousy and John Havlicek.

E.B. Henderson – Colangelo.

Bernard KingDominique Wilkins.

Guy V. LewisHakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler.

Gary PaytonJohn Stockton and George Gervin.

Rick PitinoDick Vitale and Hubie Brown.

Oscar SchmidtLarry Bird.

Dawn StaleyTeresa Edwards and Katrina McClain.

Jerry TarkanianBill Walton and Pete Carril.

Most had been previously disclosed by the inductees, with some late additions. The presenters, Hall of Famers chosen by the person being honored, accompany the person to the stage and stand a few feet away, off to the side, during the acceptance speech.

Schmidt Induction Means USA Flashbacks

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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.

Tarkanian Plans To Attend Enshrinement

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Jerry Tarkanian, who has been battling serious health problems for years and had a pacemaker and stents inserted in his heart after being rushed to the hospital in July, is planning to attend his Hall of Fame enshrinement next month, his son said.

Whether the former UNLV, Long Beach State and Fresno State coach, who also had a 20-game stint with the Spurs in 1992-93, will be able to speak at the Sept. 8 ceremony in Springfield, Mass., has not been determined. But, Danny Tarkanian said, “unless something happens” his father will “absolutely” make the trip as one of the 12 members of the Class of 2013.

“We’re hoping he’s going to be able to speak on his own,” Danny Tarkanian said Monday. “It’s going to be a close call. Some days he’s having a good day, other times he’s not. It’s hard to tell. He’s made great progress the last five days…. We’re hoping he will be strong enough to walk up there, with a walker, to give the speech.”

If Tark is unable to speak at the ceremony, someone will accept on his behalf, as has been with the case in the past if an honoree was too ill or unable to attend.

“It means a lot to him,” Danny Tarkanian said of his father’s long road to Springfield, a wait so long that the 83-year-old former coach was removed from the ballot for lack of support before returning to consideration on the latest ballot and getting the necessary support. “I think he was very happy when it happened. I don’t think he’s as cognizant as he would have been a few years ago. But this has picked him up spiritually.”

The choice for the presenter, who will accompany Tark to the stage but has no speaking role?

Bill Walton, in more than a little bit of irony.

“It is,” Danny Tarkanian said. “And it’s a nice irony, actually.”

Though Jerry Tarkanian had the ultimate respect for John Wooden and Wooden held his up-and-coming rival at Long Beach in such high regard that Wooden recommended Tark for the Indiana job that went to Bob Knight, the Tarkanian camp always held UCLA responsible for turning the NCAA on Tarkanian. The blame went to powerful athletic director J.D. Morgan and not Wooden, and Walton had not yet started his varsity reign, but Tarkanian picking a Bruin for the honor is good stuff for the history books.

That it would be Walton the individual, though, is no surprise. Walton was an early supporter, saying in the 1970s that the NCAA was unfairly targeting Tarkanian during years of pursuit, and they grew closer when Tarkanian began to spend several months a year in San Diego, Walton’s hometown, in addition to Las Vegas. When Tark had a serious health scare in San Diego and was hospitalized approximately six weeks, Walton kept in contact to see if he could help in any way.

“What we try to do now is we look back on all the positive things,” Danny Tarkanian said. “And a guy like Bill Walton, what he’s done, to have the chance that he would be the one to introduce him, is the best.”