Posts Tagged ‘Hall of Fame’

Hall Of Fame Fan Voting Remains On Hold

NEW ORLEANS – Hopes by the Hall of Fame to take the revolutionary step of including fan voting to help decide enshrinement have been delayed at least one more year as officials continue to struggle to find a partner for the project.

“It really all comes down to a sponsor issue, about finding the right sponsor to help us execute that,” said John Doleva, the president of the basketball museum in Springfield, Mass. “We’ve had discussions and nothing has transpired yet, so we’re going to go through the process that we’ve had over the past several years. With the changes that Mr. (Jerry) Colangelo (Hall chairman) has done to be more inclusive is great. We’d love to engage the fans. We think it is a sellable opportunity, but it’s an opportunity we have not yet been able to find the right partner.”

The Hall has been working to refine the plan that would give the election results the same weight as the current format of needing 18 of a possible 24 votes for enshrinement. The proposed format would increase the number of chances to 25, a popular decision in some circles because it encourages fan involvement and a concerning turn in others because it adds an element of popularity contest that can create problems, as witnessed by All-Star balloting some years.

Either way, the Hall has no intention to move forward without a sponsor to help in marketing.

“We work to try to do it every year,” Doleva said. “We think about the opportunity for fans to go to a website, whether it’s the Hall of Fame website or a sponsor’s website, and being able to vote for this list of 10 finalists and have an impact. It’s not just an opinion poll. It’s the top three people would get an additional to help them maybe get into the Hall of Fame. We’re actually talking about the fan having an opportunity to impact who goes in. We continue to market that.”

Doleva remains hopeful the format could be introduced for voting on the Class of 2015. In the meantime, balloting will move forward for the current set of finalists from the North American and Women’s committees, with the winners to be announced at the Final Four in Arlington, Tex., in April.

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.

International Star Marciulionis, Pacers’ Leonard Elected To Hall Of Fame

NEW ORLEANS — Former Golden State Warriors player Sarunas Marciulionis and former Indiana Pacers coach Bobby “Slick” Leonard have been elected to The Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame, NBA.com has learned.

The official announcement is expected to be made at the 3:30 p.m. ET news conference at All-Star weekend.

Marciulionis spent four seasons in Golden State and was a part of the fabled Run TMC teams of the late 1980s that featured Chris Mullin, Mitch Richmond and Tim Hardaway as the core. He also played with the Seattle SuperSonics, Denver Nuggets and Sacramento Kings and had career averages of 12.8 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 2.2 apg and 1.3 spg in 363 career NBA games.

Marciulionis was elected via the International Committee for his work with the Soviet Union and Lithuania teams during their international competitions including the Olympics and the world champinoships.

Leonard, still a favorite in indiana as a Pacers broadcaster, was elected via the ABA Committee. Under his coaching, the Pacers became the marquee team in the ABA, winning 529 games and three ABA championships. He is a member of both the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame and the Indiana University Sports Hall of Fame, where he was a standout player in the 1950s.

Hall Of Fame Alters Election Routine

In a change of policy from past years, the Hall of Fame will not be releasing a list of nominees for the Class of 2014 but otherwise will stay on the same schedule of announcing inductees in five categories and the finalists from two other committees as part of All-Star weekend.

The nominees who made the first cut and reached the finalist stage via the North American category, the group that includes most of the candidates with NBA backgrounds, will be revealed next Friday in New Orleans. Finalists will also be named in the Women’s category.

As has been the case in the past, the players and coaches in those fields who survive a second round of voting to reach enshrinement in Springfield, Mass., will be announced at the Final Four, which will be held this year in Arlington, Tex.

The inductees from five committees will be revealed next Friday in New Orleans in direct elections that do not require a second balloting: ABA, Early African-American Pioneers, International, Veterans and Contributor.

Payton Not Impressed With Today’s NBA

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Gary Payton is a Hall of Famer and one of the best point guards the NBA has ever seen. He’s also one of the most blunt and outspoken players the league has ever seen. So you know things can get interesting when you have GP and live microphones in close proximity.

Payton entered the league at the tail end of the Magic Johnson-Larry Bird era, played through the Michael Jordan years and kept going until deep into the dynasties of the Shaquille O’Neal-Kobe Bryant-led Lakers and the Tim Duncan-led Spurs. As such, he has a unique perspective on the league and some pointed opinions on the state of the game today.

In short, Payton is not impressed with “basically everything” about the game today. He opened up about it before “Gary Payton Night” at his alma mater, Oregon State. See for yourself (he goes in on the NBA around the 9:28 mark):


VIDEO: Gary Payton goes in on today’s NBA and the flaws he sees in the game

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.

Hall Voting Process Still Lacks A Lot




With 12 new inductees recently shepherded into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, and a total of 325 players, coaches, referees and contributors already enshrined, you might think it would be hard to find deserving candidates who have been overlooked, though our man in Springfield, Mass., Scott Howard-Cooper, compiles a pretty compelling list.

Here are three more glaring omissions from the hoops Hall, long overdue for embracing:

Transparency.

Accountability.

Consistency.

For all the work that chairman Jerry Colangelo has done in swinging open the Hall’s doors to neglected candidates in recent years, the voting process itself leaves much to be desired. It remains the least satisfying of the major sports’ Halls because it lacks the above traits in sufficient quantity. And its persistence as such requires that the topic be revisited year after year.

The Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., for all the heat it takes and the presumed idiosyncrasies of its electorate, at least has numbers on its side; there were 569 ballots cast in the 2013 election, cast by 10-year members of the Baseball Writers Association of America. Many of the voters write about and discuss both their eligibility and their ballots, hitting on the transparency and accountability aspects mentioned above. And the fact that it is a lifetime privilege assures a sense of consistency across decades in the working definition of a Hall of Famer, as baseball sees it.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, narrows its actual selection process down to something more closely approaching a smoke-filled room. Voters hail from the league’s 32 member markets, along with a representative of the Pro Football Writers Association and 13 at-large members appointed by the Hall. Eventually, this Board of Selectors ends up meeting face-to-face to cut down a list of nominees to 15 finalists, with two more added by a Seniors committee. They debate the candidates’ merits, finally settling on four to seven inductees in a given year. Again, most of the selectors are known to the public, the coverage of the process is extensive on the eve of the Super Bowl and voters continue until they resign or die. More transparency, accountability and consistency.

The Naismith Hall, by contrast, is a black box, a star chamber of a select group of voters hand-picked by the Hall administration that serves only for three years. The process lacks all three traits – transparency, accountability and consistency – as described recently by the Boston Globe’s John Powers:

To accomplish all of the expansion, patching, and filling, the Hall has created a complex system of seven screening committees, five of which elect members directly, in addition to a 24-member Honors Committee that chooses the North American and women’s inductees after they’ve been vetted by the Board of Trustees.

But unlike the other Halls, the Naismith doesn’t divulge its voters’ names, and asks that they keep mum themselves. “I have no problem with going public with who they are but they don’t want to,” says Colangelo, who favors making the process both more inclusive and transparent. “They’re afraid of relationships and being hustled.”

The Hall will disclose the committees’ makeup — Hall of Famers, basketball executives, media members, and other contributors to the game. Yet with nearly half of the inductees chosen by specialized panels, some observers believe that the public should know who’s doing the picking.

“The idea that you’re going to vote something that significant and people aren’t going to know who votes is absurd,” says writer Jack McCallum, a former voter and Gowdy Media Award winner.

Next year, the basketball Hall will add a component of fan participation to the voting process,  with the intent of boosting its marketing profile even while it limits the impact of the great unwashed. The Hall’s doors are swung so wide now that glaring omissions have been reduced — most on Howard-Cooper’s list likely will be invited in the next few years — leaving the fans’ participation to mere chatter.

Baseball generates the most chatter, largely because its Hall voting is done essentially by a third party (the BBWAA), largely independent of the leagues and the teams. That turns the process each winter into another facet of baseball’s Hot Stove League, all the speculation and wrangling that accompanies trades and free agency and keeps the sport in the headlines even when its diamonds are covered in snow.

Basketball’s approach is too closely held, keeping the public and the media at arm’s length. It feels like a stacked deck at times, with no way to track a candidate’s improving or declining chances across several years, no chance to connect the dots between voter grudges and a player’s or a coach’s true worthiness. Why, for instance, did Jerry Tarkanian get in now, after being snubbed for so long? Did he have to serve some probation for his “NCAA renegade” reputation, or did the voting body simply change around him?

The method is unlikely to change substantially anytime soon. Colangelo seems satisfied with the results, and NBA commissioner David Stern‘s appreciation of Hot Stove League chatter amped up by the new CBA won’t likely persuade him. That’s too bad, because it could pack a lot more passion and further stoke fans’ appreciation and understanding of the game’s most legendary figures.

Admiring and respecting those folks is fine. Arguing, debating, lobbying, agonizing and celebrating, though, moves the emotional needle way more.

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.