The newest names to be entered into the annals of basketball history have officially been announced.
During the 63rd NBA All-Star Weekend on Feb. 14, 2014, Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame president and CEO John Doleva took to the stage to proclaim which legendary players, coaches and sports journalists were worthy of being honoured in the hallowed halls of Springfield, Mass.
Those enshrined today will be joining Hall of Famers and NBA legends Larry J. Bird and Michael Jordan, as well as more recent entries including Karl Malone, Charles Barkley, Joe Dumars, Patrick Ewing, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman and Gary Payton.
According to Basketball-Reference.com, 173 candidates with 50 or more wins were eligible for the honour, including big names such as Tim Hardaway, Chris Webber, Alonzo Mourning and Maurice Cheeks. Players must have been fully retired from the game a minimum of five years to be eligible, meaning players that stopped playing as recently as 2008 were considered.
Gary Payton narrowly arrived on time, and new NBA commissioner Adam Silver was present as well. 1971 Hall of Fame enshrinee Bob Pettit was on stage during the proceedings. In a brief interview with Doleva, Pettit said that although today’s All-Star Weekend is different in terms of rules and athletic prowess, the game itself remains unchanged:
“You play this game as hard as you can play.”
The Hall of Fame Class of 2014 will officially be enshrined later this year in a ceremony on August 7 and 8.
As expected by many, five-time All-Star Tim Hardaway of the Miami Heat was the first finalist announced. His career as one of the NBA’s strongest point guards culminated with a career average of 17.7 points, 8.2 assists and 1.6 steals per game.
Fellow Miami Heat player Alonzo Mourning also took a finalist spot. The seven-time All-Star and two-time Defensive Player of the Year won the 2006 NBA Championship playing for the Miami Heat. His number 33 jersey was the first jersey ever to be retired by the team. He was present for the announcement, and seemed honoured that both he and his former teammate were inaugurated, saying that he “and Timmy were like brothers.” Smiling, he joked that this moment officially signals the end of his basketball career as he knows it.
Spencer Haywood, whose number 24 jersey was retired by the Seattle Supersonics, was a four-time All-Star and gold medal Olympian. With one championship under his belt, he scored over 17,000 career points.
After a prolific 12-year career with the Phoenix Suns and the Cleveland Cavaliers, all-time great and three-time All-Star Kevin Johnson was also named. The current mayor of Sacramento scored almost 14,000 points throughout his career, and had his number seven jersey retired in 2001.
Elected by the women’s committee, coach Harley Redin holds a career coaching record of 431-66 and led his Wayland Baptist University’s Hutcherson Flying Queens to a 76-game streak between 1955 and 1958. He was also a member of the U.S. Olympic committee after winning six women’s Amateur Athletic Union national championships.
Mitch Richmond won the NBA championship in 2002 with the Los Angeles Lakers, fought for an Olympic gold and had his number two jersey retired by the Sacramento Kings after a 15-year NBA career. He was present at the announcement.
Nolan Richardson, coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks, was also enshrined. His career coach record stands at 509-207 on the collegiate level.
Eddie Sutton was the first coach in the NCAA to lead four schools to the NCAA Tournament. He had more that 800 career victories under his belt, and retired in 2008.
The 33-year head coach of the University of Maryland’s basketball team, Gary Williams, was honoured. He led his team to two Final Four appearances.
Immaculata University, coached by Cathy Rush, was elected by the women’s committee.
Nat “Sweetwater” Clifton, a 1957 All-Star, was enshrined for his play on the New York Rams and Knickerbockers (now known as the Knicks). He was the first black player to play for the team.
Four-time NBA All-Star Guy Rogers played closely with Wilt Chamberlain throughout his career, earning top marks in assists in his era. In Chamberlain’s famous 100-point game, Rogers contributed 20 assists. Over the course of his career, he scored over 10,000 points and nearly 7,000 assists over 12 NBA seasons.
The winningest coach in ABA history, Bob “Slick” Leonard was enshrined. He led his teams to ABA championships three times, and holds an overall 387-220 record as a coach in the ABA.
Lithuanian great Sarunas Marciulionis started playing basketball in 1981, and led the USSR to its 1988 Olympic gold medal. He was one of the first European players to become a driving force over at the NBA, where he played eight seasons. Marciulionis is considered one of FIBA’s 50 greatest players of all time.
Former NBA commissioner David J. Stern was enshrined to the Hall of Fame after recently passing the torch to Adam Silver following a three-decade tenure. He was credited for increasing the NBA’s market and fanbase, among his numerous accomplishments (which are too many to list). Jerry Colangelo, the Hall of Fame’s chairman of the board, joined Doleva on stage to extol Stern’s contributions.
“He deserves to be recognized in a huge way, and I think that the fact that Adam Silver is here as commissioner is indicative of the respect the entire community has for [Stern],” said Colangelo, adding that the “humble” Stern didn’t at first seem to want “that kind of notoriety.”
Sports writer Joe Gilmartin was presented the Curt Gowdy Journalism Award for print media, commemorating his 30-year stint in the industry. Gilmartin was a beat writer who covered the Phoenix Suns since the team’s inception. The 16-time Arizona Sportswriter of the Year also co-founded the Pro Basketball Writers’ Association.
New York Knicks colour commentator John Andariese won a Curt Gowdy of his own, but for electronic journalism.
After 51 years of dedication to the NBA (and more specifically, the Golden State Warriors), player, coach and team ambassador Al Attles was given the John W. Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award. He was one of the first African-American coaches in the NBA, and his jersey is one of only five retired by Golden State.