Posts Tagged ‘Hall of Fame 2014’

Mourning election a big Heat moment

By Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com


VIDEO: Alonzo Mourning talks to Jim Nantz after his election to the Class of 2014

Sure Gary Payton counts. But he played just two of 17 seasons in Miami, with a ring from the 2006 championship but also with his mortality showing as the last two of the 17 and The Glove more nickname than accurate description.

Alonzo Mourning, though, is pure Heat.

That’s what made Monday so meaningful, beyond the obvious individual salute with the official announcement that Mourning had been elected to the Hall of Fame. It was a moment for the entire franchise. It was a moment for all South Florida.

In joining 2013 inductee Payton as the second former Miami player to be enshrined, “Zo” became the first Miami player, and that’s more than semantics. Mourning came to a team in 1995-96 that had never finished better than fourth in the Atlantic Division and had a winning record once in seven years of existence. Titles, and not of the division variety, followed. Unlike anyone in uniform, and second only to Pat Riley in any job, he made them.

The election of Mitch Richmond was also made official Monday in Dallas in conjunction with the Final Four, along with induction for college coaches Gary Williams and Nolan Richardson as part of the Class of 2014 that already included David Stern, Sarunas Marciulionis and Bob (Slick) Leonard among others. Mitch Richmond is a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., native.

Enshrinement festivities are Aug. 7-9 in Springfield, Mass., but just try avoiding the South Florida feel. It won’t happen. One of the best players the region ever produced and the physical presence of a center who helped forge the identity of future champions will walk the red carpet at Symphony Hall, and it will be an event at the far tip of the Eastern seaboard.

“I’m humbled and I’m truly honored to be able to stand here before you today and to know I’m going to be a part of such a prestigious group of individuals that helped pave the way for a lot of individuals to experience this,” Mourning said on the television broadcast of the announcement. “Again, I’m very, very grateful. I stand here on the shoulders of so many other people.”

The significance impossible to miss that so many other people from the Heat have stood on his shoulders while playing 10 and 1/2 of his 15 seasons in two stints with the Heat. The second Miami run was as part of the 2006 title team, which will become the starting place for this latest moment of Mourning helping to take the franchise to the future.

Dwyane Wade won that championship too, and he will be in the Hall. Same with Shaquille O’Neal, headed for 2017 induction after spending only 3 and 1/2 seasons along Biscayne Bay but as first-team All-NBA in two of them. Tim Hardaway, gone from Miami by then but forever linked to the Heat, was a finalist this year and could make Springfield one day.

And then there’s the current group, of course. LeBron James. Wade, from both generations of Heat. Ray Allen. Chris Bosh. It is possible to imagine going from zero players to seven with deep Miami ties being enshrined in a relatively short span of history, depending how long James plays, and eight counting Payton. Nine counting Riley, a 2008 inductee as coach.

Mourning will have been the guy who — typically — showed all the other players the way.

‘Run TMC’ crew in rarefied HOF air

By Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com


VIDEO: ‘Run TMC’ takes a closer look at one of Golden State’s magical eras

They were together just three seasons. It seems like they ganged up on opponents for longer, but, no, just three seasons of sending scoreboard operators to the injured list with finger and hand disorders, before a trade brought things to an abrupt end, followed by a lifetime of wondering what could have been if Golden State’s Run TMC era had remained intact.

There was always something forever about the Warriors of T(im Hardaway), M(itch Richmond) and C(hris Mullin) and Don Nelson the mad-scientist coach, encouraging, not merely allowing, Manute Bol to fling 3-pointers from about the back of his neck. Now there officially is.

The Hall of Fame is expected to reveal Monday that Richmond, along with Alonzo Mourning, will be part of the Class of 2014. This comes after the February announcement that favorite TMC sidekick, Sarunas Marciulionis, will also be enshrined this summer. He’ll join Mullin (a 2011 Hall of Famer) and Nelson (2012) in Springfield, Mass.

Three players and the coach from the Warriors of 1989-90 and 1990-91 will be in the Hall. It is the kind of rarified air usually reserved for the Lakers and Celtics, with a strong case to be made that the point guard Hardaway could be the fourth player to go with the shooting guard (Richmond), small forward (Mullin) and reserve swingman (Marciulionis). Even better for Golden State? This party will include former coach and current community ambassador Al Attles, as beloved within the organization as any person is with any franchise in the league. He’ll be there to receive the John W. Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award, the highest honor from the basketball museum short of enshrinement.

For all the historical significance, those Warriors who tried to lure opponents into track meets and cause trouble with freakish matchups — 6-foot-7 Tom Tolbert on 7-foot-1 David Robinson, anyone? –went just 37-45 and 44-38 and won one playoff series. The defense, or what passed for one, wasn’t going to allow any long postseason runs, a common theme for years to come in Oakland. But what has turned into a near-annual statement from the anonymous Hall voters suddenly puts the Dubs of the late-80s/early-90s into a unique stratosphere.

“It’s a hotbed of basketball,” Mullin said of the Bay Area. “It really is. It’s great for the fans because a lot of nights and a lot of years, they cheered us on unconditionally. I would say this, though. That wasn’t a bad culture after all. You hear about ‘New culture, new culture.’ That wasn’t too shabby. Mitch hopefully is in. I’m sure Tim’s going to get in through this process. That’s not a bad culture. I think that’s a very proud franchise through the years, from Wilt Chamberlain to Nate Thurmond to Al Attles, to Rick Barry, Tom Meschery. You talk about the last championship, it was Al Attles (as coach). Let’s not forget that. The guy’s still there. So it’s a rich, proud franchise. I think we should praise what’s going on now. But it wasn’t too shabby.”

Just Mullin saying hello to Joe Lacob.

Lacob bought the team in 2010 with declarations about a fresh start, comments Mullin understandably took personal since he had been the general manager who put together most of the Warriors of the time. Lacob was talking about the management team led by predecessor Chris Cohan and the annual disappointment in the standings. But Lacob also had frequent references to building a roster around toughness and defense while getting away from the run-and-gun crew from Mullin’s days as basketball operations boss. So point taken. There was never a shot at the history of the franchise and, in fact, it was Lacob who provided the long-overdue honor of retiring Mullin’s jersey No. 17.

But three players and the coach from the same team in the Hall of Fame is a rare sighting, even if Marciulionis is there for his international play with the Soviet Union and Lithuania. The part about the basketball hotbed is about the Bay Area as a whole, from the youth leagues to the pros, a history underlined in Springfield as well: enshrinement for Richmond, Marciulionis and former Philadelphia and San Francisco Warrior Guy Rodgers this year.

Oakland native Gary Payton (2013), Nelson, former Warrior Jamaal Wilkes and Berkeley native Don Barksdale (2012), and Mullin and Stanford women’s coach Tara VanDereveer (2011). And that doesn’t count Mullin as part of the collective Dream Team induction (2010) or ex-Warriors Ralph Sampson and Bernard King.

Moving forward, Hardaway will be high on the rankings for most deserving in the next election, along with Kevin Johnson, who played practically next door to Oakland at the University of California, and, if someone nominates him, ex-Warrior Chris Webber. Jason Kidd, an Oakland native who also played at Cal, will get his ceremony in 2018, barring unexpected developments.


VIDEO: Mitch Richmond reflects on his Golden State days

Hall of Fame debate: Spencer Haywood

By Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com


VIDEO: Four-time NBA All-Star Spencer Haywood was a handful on and off the court

Controversial. That word comes up a lot.

“I am a controversial figure,” Spencer Haywood said, ducking nothing. “It’s about time they bring a controversial figure into the fold.”

Pariah. That’s a word Haywood has used himself. Outcast. Contentious. Persona non grata.

He has heard them all, used many and embraced some. Twelve seasons of playing in the NBA, one in the ABA, two others in college, two more in Italy, a summer with the U.S. Olympic team … but Haywood rarely played other people’s games. Being a follower, listening to conventional wisdom — that was for other people.

Haywood is the finalist with NBA ties for the Hall of Fame this year who touched the most history, generated the most controversy and conquered the world on the most levels. High school state champion in Michigan. Olympic gold medalist. All-America at the University of Detroit. MVP and Rookie of the Year at the same time in the ABA. Four-time All-Star with the SuperSonics. NBA champion with the Lakers in 1980. An average of 20.3 points and 10.3 rebounds a game in the NBA and ABA.

Oh, and he sued the NBA.

Spencer Haywood in 2007 (Terrence Vaccaro/NBAE)

Spencer Haywood in 2007 (Terrence Vaccaro/NBAE)

Haywood left Detroit after his sophomore season in 1969 for the ABA Denver Nuggets, averaged 30 points and 19.5 rebounds, set four single-season records and then signed with the SuperSonics. When the NBA blocked the contract under the provision that players had to be four years out of high school, he sued. And when the NBA stood firm, he took the case all the way to the Supreme Court.

Haywood won in 1971, a landmark decision that eventually led to college underclassmen (and, later, high schoolers) leaving to join the NBA . But he also lost. A long and successful run with the Sonics, Knicks, New Orleans Jazz, Lakers and Bullets that should have been celebrated, at 19.2 points and 9.3 rebounds a game, wasn’t.

“They should view my career in a total package,” Haywood said of the 24 anonymous voters who will rule on his place in history for the Hall, an outcome that will be announced Monday at the Final Four. “I have the Olympic career. I was the outstanding college player of the year. I won a high school championship. I went to the ABA, was Rookie of the Year, leading scorer, leading rebounder, player of the year and MVP of the All-Star game. I left the game after 14 years with 20 and 10. That’s pretty serious stuff there. I had a great career. And also, I went to the Supreme Court to have Haywood vs. the NBA. That rule has ushered in all of these players. The Jordans, the Magics, the Birds. All the way up to LeBron and Kobe and those guys today.”

Conflicting views on Haywood’s career are everywhere. Averaging 20 points a game six times in the NBA and just missing (at 19.9) another … yet constantly being traded or waived. Having his No. 24 retired by the SuperSonics … and a cocaine addiction, and fallout that included reportedly falling asleep during a Lakers practice during the 1980 Finals.

That one of Haywood’s greatest moments came when he actually played by society’s “rules” is too often overlooked. In 1968, amid searing racial tensions on campuses, as organizing boycotts and protests around the Summer Games began, Haywood, an African-American, declined to participate. He went to Mexico City with pride.

“I had a U.S. passport and that meant that I am an American, and we are always fighting for our country,” Haywood said. “That’s what the Olympics are all about. It’s not about the individual, it’s not about anybody. It’s about America. We are the champions. We are the United States of America. I had no issue about that. I loved my Olympic year.

Harry Edwards [one of the protest organizers] beat me down pretty good. I was 19 years old. I was 18 years old when I made the team. I was a freshman in college. I was the miracle child that happened on the scene and everybody was like, ‘This guy’s going to save us.’ Yeah, there I was. Saving America.”

Haywood, a 6-foot-9 forward-center, made 71.9 percent of his shots and averaged 16.1 points. The United States won the gold. Saving America.

Talented. That word comes up a lot too.

Hall of Fame debate: Mitch Richmond

By Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com

Nicknamed 'The Rock', Mitch Richmond

Nicknamed ‘The Rock’, Mitch Richmond posted 21 ppg in 14 NBA seasons.

Mitch Richmond is a finalist for the Hall of Fame and solid candidate for Springfield, Mass., when inductees from the North American committee, the group that handles most candidates with NBA ties, are announced April 7 at the Final Four. But his name and career does not resonate today the same as contemporaries on the ballot, Alonzo Mourning as likely the leading candidate, former Warriors teammate Tim Hardaway with the perception advantage of starring with high-octane Golden State plus the glam of Miami, and Kevin Johnson with the boost of recent years in the news as mayor while partnering with David Stern to save professional basketball in Sacramento.

The Richmond legacy, meanwhile? As the M (Mitch) partnering with Hardaway and Chris Mullin, good friends to this day, in the Run TMC scoring festival in Golden State. That’s the image.

The Richmond truth? He was a Warrior only three seasons, the same time he spent in Washington and far behind the seven campaigns of running marathons on broken glass in bare feet with the Kings. Sacramento was his real career home base.

Sacramento was also where his Hall candidacy received his greatest boost, strange as it sounds with those three seasons of less than 30 wins and the four others of no more than 39. Never touching .500 or better than fifth place in the seven-team Pacific Division, it turns out decades later, has become one of the selling points for enshrinement.


VIDEO: Mitch Richmond quickly became a household name as a member of the Warriors

Seven losing teams, seven chances for opponents to pull out the familiar refrain that the run of averaging 22 or 23 points a game was simply putting up big numbers on a bad team, and they cared not at all. Six times in those seven seasons, coaches put him on the All-Star team would it would have been easily understandable to run from anything connected to the Kings of the 1990s, not embrace it. Coaches putting him on that pedestal is a very loud statement.

Seven losing teams, seven chances for the media to pelt Richmond with the verbal stones of a supposed star getting Sacramento to the playoffs just once, the 39-43 Kings of 1995-96 that lost 3-1 to the SuperSonics in the first round, and still massive appreciation. He made second-team All-NBA in 1993-94 (on a 28-54 club), 1994-95 (39-43) and 1996-97 (34-48) and third-team in 1995-96 and 1997-98 (27-55).

Richmond averaged 21 points a game in 14 seasons with the Warriors, Kings, Bullets and Lakers, even with the 4.1 of the closing act of 2001-02 in Los Angeles, and had 10 years in a row of at least 21.9. He was a star as a junior and senior at Kansas State — college careers are weighed as well — and won gold (1996) and bronze (1988) with the U.S. Olympic team. There was also the 2002 NBA championship with the Lakers while Richmond logged 11.1 minutes in the regular season and four total minutes in two appearances in the playoffs.

“When I played with Tim Hardaway, Chris Mullin, Run TMC, Sarunas Marciulionis, it was easy to play,” Richmond said. “I still got my points, but I played with players that made the game easier. It’s harder to play on a team that’s not winning and to try to keep that going when you know every guy is trying to trap you and bring in a whole defensive set for you. It’s more work. It’s not an easy thing. If I just roll over and don’t play well, then what? I’m a bust.

But I went out every night trying to do the best I can and trying to do my job. When you look at me, I wasn’t a selfish guy. I felt like I played hard, I played both ends of the floor. But sometimes you get with an organization that everything doesn’t click. That shouldn’t stop you from looking at a guy’s numbers different than if the guy was somewhere else.”

Richmond cites the reaching 20,000 points as the primary boost for the candidacy, but the bigger push in that regard is being 37th on the career scoring list when everyone ahead of him except Vince Carter is either already enshrined or an easy in when the time comes. There’s not even a debate on the others.

“I think I’m the only guy with 20,000 points that is not in the Hall of Fame,” Richmond said. “All the other guys are still playing, everybody else is in. And I think more than anything, even though I played on some rough teams, my peers understood that I tried to play both ends of the court. I hope that’s enough.”

Antawn Jamison, who may or may not be retired, and Tom Chambers are also past 20,000, but point taken. Richmond has a case.


VIDEO: Mitch Richmond talks with NBA TV about his Hall of Fame nomination

Hall of Fame debate: KJ vs. Hardaway


VIDEO: The Hardaways through the years

 

They played the same position (point guard) at the same time (late-1980s to early-2000s) at the same high level (All-Star appearances) and were teammates for a summer, so it’s easy to see the 24 anonymous voters stacking Tim Hardaway against Kevin Johnson among the Class of 2014 decisions, even if it isn’t actually a balloting one-on-one. Both could make it to Springfield, Mass., or both could miss. Neither outcome would be a surprise in a year with the opening of several credible candidates — but no automatic — among the eight finalists from the North American committee.

Johnson, on the ballot since 2011, made it out of the initial round of voting for the first time, forward progress that can equal optimism for candidates in the search for hints in a secret election process. Hardaway, meanwhile, can find hope in the sustained support of being a finalist for the second year in a row.

But head-to-head, as part of the analysis by the 24 voters?

Johnson: Played 1987-88 through 1999-2000 with the Cavaliers and Suns, with 1998-99 spent in retirement. Averaged 17.9 points, 9.1 assists, 3.3 rebounds. Finished in the top five in assists four times, the top 10 six times. Second-team All-NBA four times, third-team once. All-Star three times. No NBA titles, 105 playoff games. Most Improved Player in 1988-89. Won a gold medal with the United States at the 1994 world championships.

Hardaway: Played 1989-90 through 2002-03 with the Warriors, Heat, Mavericks, Nuggets and Pacers. Averaged 17.7 points, 8.2 assists, 3.3 rebounds. Finished in the top five in assists four times, the top 10 eight times. First-team All-NBA once, second-team three times, third-team once. All-Star five times. No NBA titles, 56 playoff games. First-team all-rookie. Won a gold medal with the United States at the 2000 Olympics and the 1994 world championships.

Johnson: Sixth all-time in assists per game. The five ahead of him are either in the Hall of Fame now (Magic Johnson, John Stockton, Oscar Robertson, Isiah Thomas) or will be (Chris Paul). Among the rest of the top 10, No. 8 Jason Kidd and No. 9 Steve Nash also will be, with No. 7 Deron Williams needing a big turnaround and No. 10 Rajon Rondo needing more time. Hardaway is 12th. That is a big boost to the KJ campaign, with the counterweight that Mark Jackson was third in total career assists and received so little support three years in a row that he dropped off the ballot.

Hardaway: In a historic time in NBA history for guards — Michael Jordan, Magic, Stockton, Gary Payton, with Kidd coming fast — Hardaway was the only one to get a first-team All-NBA. That was 1996-97, when he joined Jordan at the top, with Payton and Mitch Richmond, another finalist this year, second-team and Stockton and Penny Hardaway on the third tier. The one time they both made the honor role, 1992-92, Tim Hardaway was second-team, Kevin Johnson third-team. (The three years before that, KJ made second when the only guards ahead of him where Magic and Jordan. Ranking high on the Best of the Rest level in that era has always been one of the unique selling points for Kevin Johnson in the Hall.)

Same position and same era — that’s a great compare and contrast for the Hall panelists heading toward the April 7 announcement of inductees, with 18 of 24 needed to join David Stern (Contributor), Sarunas Marciulionis (International), Bob Leonard (ABA), Guy Rodgers (Veterans) and Nat Clifton (Early African American Pioneers) as previously disclosed members of the Class of 2014. Spencer Haywood, Alonzo Mourning, Richmond and college coaches Nolan Richardson, Eddie Sutton and Gary Williams are the other finalists from the North American committee.

Hall of Fame Debate: Alonzo Mourning


VIDEO: Alonzo Mourning and Tim Hardaway were integral to the Heat in the ’90s

They always talked about his heart and leaned on phrases like “warrior” and “fierce” to describe Alonzo Mourning, about how he could beat bigger centers (and a serious kidney ailment while he was at it). And that’s where his quest for the Hall of Fame gets cloudy.

How are the 24 anonymous voters who will decide enshrinement, with 18 needed to join the Class of 2014, to rate Mourning when his greatest attribute, his tenacity against all threats, cannot be rated?

Statistically, Mourning averaged 17.1 points and 8.5 rebounds in 15 seasons with the Charlotte Hornets, Miami Heat and New Jersey Nets, credible numbers but hardly kicking down the door to Springfield, Mass. He had eight consecutive seasons of at least 18 points a game, and within that span, four seasons of 20 points and 10 rebounds. There are the seven All-Star appearances and two wins as Defensive Player of the Year, along with leading the league in blocks twice, finishing in the top six in shooting four times, winning two golds and a bronze with Team USA, starring at Georgetown and having an important role in Miami’s 2006 title.

“Look,” said Karl Malone, a first-ballot 2010 Hall of Famer and long-time Mourning opponent. “Let me tell you something. He’s one of the best basketball players to ever play. End of story. Don’t start talking about the heart. You don’t get in the Hall of Fame on a heart. You get in there by your numbers. His numbers speak for itself.”

The true Mourning legacy, though, is the tenacity in which he fought the bigger Shaquille O’Neal, Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson and Patrick Ewing in their prime, a lineup of opposing centers so imposing that Zo can be regarded as a strong candidate for enshrinement despite making first-, second- or third-team All-NBA just twice. He can be regarded as the leading candidate among the eight finalists from the North American committee, a group that also includes former Heat teammate Tim Hardaway as well as Mitch Richmond, Kevin Johnson, Spencer Haywood and college coaches Eddie Sutton, Gary Williams and Nolan Richardson.

“It depends on who’s judging, you know?” Mourning said when asked how his passion should be factored into the balloting. “Everybody’s going to have their own perspective. All I know is, I played the game the right way. I feel like I played it the right way and I feel like I contributed to it the right way. I think that’s all you can ask for from a player. You play the game the right way, you respect the game, you work it as hard as you can. Nobody can ever question my work ethic. They definitely can never question that. And nobody can ever question my sacrifice. I made the ultimate sacrifice. There was a point in time in my career where the doctor literally had to stop me from playing because he said, ‘Your phosphorous levels are so high that you could risk cardiac arrest out there on the court.’ There’s a lot of people that don’t know that, but I was literally out there risking my life just to play the game of basketball. That kind of puts things in perspective.”

Mourning was diagnosed with focal glomerulosclerosis in October 2000, missed the first 69 games of the Heat season (while still being voted an All-Star starter) and returned to average 13.6 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.38 blocks in 23.5 minutes in the final 13 contests. He played 75 games in 2001-02, at 32.7 minutes per. The illness caused him to miss all of the 2002-03 season.

Mourning signed a four-year free-agent deal with the Nets before the next season, only to retire on Nov. 25, 2003. On Dec. 19, he underwent a kidney transplant.

And then he played again. Mourning made 12 appearances for the Nets in 2003-04, was traded to the Raptors in a deal that sent Vince Carter to New Jersey, never reported to Toronto and forced a buyout that allowed Zo to return to Miami. He played part of that season with the Heat, the full schedule of two others, won a ring while contributing five blocks in the decisive Game 6 of The Finals,  then tore a tendon in his right knee on Dec. 19, 2007 – the fourth anniversary of his kidney transplant.

Only then, at age 38, did he retire. Mourning had outlasted everything. He banged into Shaq, sprinted downcourt with Dream, and swatted away a kidney disease.

Which leaves him where in the Hall of Fame?

“I don’t know how they judge it,” Mourning said. “I’ve never been a part of a committee. I don’t know what they look at. Do they look at stats? Do they look at the impact you had on the game? I don’t know what they look at. All I know is I came in, I worked the game the right way, I didn’t take too many minutes off when I was out there on the court. I can honestly tell you that. I did what I could to try to make the organization that I was a part of successful and I did what I could to make my teammates better with my play.”

Malone, the former power forward, said, “If Alonzo Mourning is not in the Hall of Fame this year, let’s get rid of it and start over.” But voters have recently been especially protective of first-ballot nominees. (Gary Payton got in last year, but Reggie Miller and Dennis Rodman went from not making finalist their first try all the way to election on the second attempt.) On the other hand, Mourning has a unique place in history – played after kidney transplant is not on many other applications – and the kind of career that gets him deep into the conversation.

It’s the part about trying to put a value on his warrior heart that is going to be tough.

Stern Enters Hall As Quietly As Possible

VIDEO: The GameTime guys discuss the legacy of David Stern.

NEW ORLEANS – He wasn’t getting close to All-Star weekend. David Stern was so not getting close, in fact, that he chose an opposite destination, leaving New York for the altitude and snow of Colorado, a favorite getaway, and a ski vacation with his wife while most of his former world converged on the Gulf Coast in sunshine for the indoors of basketball. He didn’t want to be the slightest presence as successor Adam Silver took the big stage for the first time as commissioner.

Giving the spotlight a two-hand shove in someone else’s, anyone else’s, direction reached all the way Friday to skipping his own meeting with history, when the Hall of Fame announced Stern had been elected and he stuck with the ski plans anyway. Silver in the audience for the unveiling of the first five names of the Class of 2014 for the basketball museum in Springfield, Mass., while Stern kept a safe distance was an appropriate twist.

This had to play out just right for the commissioner emeritus. More than just whether he would attend the announcement, Stern debated for some time whether to allow himself to be nominated this election cycle or wait a year or two for the lock of first-ballot enshrinement. He had always said the moment would only come once out of office, but then as moving day, Feb. 1, neared, he thought about delaying the Hall in favor of a comfortable chair deep in the shadows.

“He thought he might let it go by for a while,” said Jerry Colangelo, chairman of the Hall and a long-time Stern confidant. “He’s a humble guy in many ways and he wasn’t necessarily looking to have another thing happen real quick, because this is a big thing. I had to nudge him a little bit by telling him, ‘We could use you now, not five years from now. People forget quickly.’ He thought about it and he got back to me. He said, ‘OK.’ ”

OK, back into the limelight.

“David is a modest guy and I don’t think he thought this was coming so quickly,” Silver said. “Even though he had a storied career as commissioner, I think he thought there’d be some period of time before he went in the Hall, but they came to him and said now was the time for him to be inducted. He was moved. I spoke to him right after Jerry Colangelo had talked to him. He was moved, he was excited. I think it’s a great book end to a fantastic career as commissioner.”

Stern’s induction ceremony in Springfield in August will come as part of an ongoing Pacers party, with former coach Bob (Slick) Leonard being elected as the third Indiana selection in a row by the ABA committee, following Mel Daniels in 2012 and Roger Brown in 2013. Leonard, now a Pacers broadcaster, is the winningest coach in the history of the rebel league and won three championships.

Sarunas Marciulionis was elected via the International category for a starring role with the Soviet Union and later, after his native land gained independence, Lithuania. He also played seven seasons in the NBA as a shooting guard who would attack the basket with an aggressive, fearless style that belied an easy-going personality that made him popular among fans and teammates with the Warriors, SuperSonics, Kings and Nuggets.

Nat (Sweetwater) Clifton, from the Early African-American Pioneers committee, and Guy Rodgers, via the Veterans committee, were elected posthumously. Clifton was the first African-American to sign an NBA contract, while Rodgers was a college star at Temple who played 12 seasons in the NBA and made four All-Star teams.

Alonzo Mourning headlined the list of finalists from the North American committee, which, like the Women’s field, involves a second election before inductees are announced at the Final Four ahead of the induction ceremony in August: Mourning, Kevin Johnson (a step forward by making it through the first round of voting), Spencer Haywood, Mitch Richmond, Tim Hardaway, college coaches Nolan Richardson, Eddie Sutton and Gary Williams and former AAU coach Harley Redin along with Immaculata University’s AIAW national-title teams of the early 1970s.

Chris Webber, eligible for the first time, was not nominated, a missed opportunity for a candidate who would have received some support and possibly made it to the finalist stage. Robert Horry, a unique debate as someone who several times changed history in the playoffs despite posting modest numbers in his career, also was not nominated in his first year of eligibility.

Hall Of Fame Debate Heats Up For 2014

Alonzo Mourning (No. 33, Heat) goes up to block Chris Webber's shot in the 2000 All-Star Game. Both could be fighting for a HOF spot.

Alonzo Mourning (left) goes up to block Chris Webber’s shot in the 2000 All-Star Game.

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Let the debate begin?

Too late. It already started. It started years ago, before the clock had even started on the waiting period for Hall of Fame consideration — back when they were still playing and legacies were being critiqued before they had been finalized.

Alonzo Mourning, Chris Webber and Robert Horry could all go on the ballot in the winter for the Class of 2014, as the Hall transitions from the Sunday enshrinement of Gary Payton as an obvious inductee to a new group that may possibly generate more debate than any set of first-time candidates in the Hall’s history.

Webber and Mourning would have been good point-counterpoint no matter what. Then add in Horry, an extreme longshot … except enough people are making a case that the NBA’s Forrest Gump has such a unique role in league history that his case for the Hall allows one to disregard his career averages of 7.0 ppg and 4.8 rpg. Throw in the recent trend of the North American committee judges hazing newcomers and the Webber-Mourning induction gets increasingly interesting.

Dennis Rodman did not make it to the finalist stage in 2010 and a year later suddenly had enough support to be elected. Reggie Miller followed the same route, failing to get out of the first round of voting in 2011 and the next time through going completely across the finish line. It was just impossible to make Payton — nine-time All-Star, nine consecutive spots on the All-Defense team, one championship, two Olympic gold medals — to wait.

Now comes the challenge of putting Webber, Mourning and Horry in a historical perspective as potential first-timers while still considering several credible players among the holdovers from the 2013 ballot — most notably Tim Hardaway, Mitch Richmond and Spencer Haywood. There could also be new options from the coaching ranks with NBA or ABA ties, if George Karl or maybe Rick Adelman are nominated, just as the players must be nominated before they are officially under consideration. (David Stern will probably go on the ballot in either the upcoming cycle or the one that begins in winter ’14, now that he has decided to retire this season, but he will be in the Contributor category and have no impact on voting on players.)

Webber should be a first-ballot threat after nearly averaging a career 20-10, along with five All-Star games, a Rookie of the Year and an All-America season in college. But he generated such mixed emotions. Informal polls in recent years regarding C-Webb and the Hall, in conversations with long-time basketball insiders similar in background to those who comprise the anonymous voters, have shown a split that match his career as a lightning rod. Troubles connected to his time at Michigan could be taken into consideration.

Mourning will get a serious push as a two-time winner of Defensive Player of the Year, a seven-time All-Star, a college star for three years and the intangible of the image that lives on of a fierce competitor. But he was first-team All-NBA just once, as voted by the media, and first-team All-Defense, as voted by coaches, twice — the same two years he was DPOY. Even finishing in the top five in blocks on nine occasions while averaging 20 points in six seasons does not give ‘Zo a clear path.

Whatever chance Horry has will not, of course, be built on statistics — his career bests in a season were 12 points and 6.3 rebounds. His only individual achievement was second-team All-Rookie. Horry, himself, has always been the first to say he does not rate as a Hall of Famer, and yet he has heard for years, back to late in his career, that seven championships and changing history big shot after big shot does deserve the ultimate salute. It will be interesting to see, if, in fact, a nomination comes this year, whether he at least makes the first cut by receiving seven of nine votes. Getting to the next round, the finalist stage, would add to a Class of 2014 debate that should be compelling no matter what.

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.”