Your 2011 Basketball Hall of Fame inductees

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It’s a good class.

As usual, there was one surprise on the list — we told you before of reports that Maurice Cheeks had gotten in, but that turned out to be false. The former Sixer player and coach did not make the cut this year.

Who did get in?

• Artis Gilmore: He was elected via the ABA committee, where he played five seasons with Kentucky before a 12-year NBA career with the Spurs and Bulls. He won an ABA title with Kentucky and was the playoff MVP that year. He was the 1972 ABA MVP, a five-time ABA All-Star and a six-time NBA All-Star after that. He ha a great touch, shooting 59.9 percent for his career and had a graceful game. He should have been in a long, long time ago, frankly. But this is the Hall. They back door in no brainers.

• Dennis Rodman: One of the greatest rebounders ever to play the game, he was also an elite defender. Which is why he has five rings — he was at the heart of the Piston’s “Bad Boys” identity, he did the dirty work that balanced out Michael Jordan’s scoring. He remains a unique personality, but his game was more than deserving of this honor.

• Tex Winter: He’s best known to NBA fans as the lead assistant to Phil Jackson, the man who literally wrote the book on the triangle offense. An offense run at all levels of the game. But before that he was a top college coach (he took Kansas State to the Final Four twice and was national coach of the year).

• Chris Mullin: Mullin has a complete basketball resume: In college he was given the Wooden Award (the Heisman of college hoops), he went on to be a five-time NBA All-Star and he has two Olympic gold medals. He was on the original Dream Team. He then went on to be in the Warriors front office as GM. That’s a guy who belongs in the Hall.

• Arvydas Sabonis: Elected to the hall via International committee. NBA fans remember his as a big body with the Trail Blazers, but that was the very end of a long career. He was at that point a shell of the player that dominated Europe previously, one of the greatest centers ever to play (and maybe the best passing center ever).

• Reece “Goose” Tatum: One of the legendary Harlem Globetrotters from the years when they were still a huge deal.

• Tom Sanders: He played 13 years with the Boston Celtics and won 8 titles in that time. But his work after he left the game — he helped set up the NBA’s rookie program — is why he is in the Hall now.

• Teresa Edwards: A former standout at Georgia, she went on to be a five-time Olympian with four gold medals.

• Tara VanDerveer: The Stanford’s women’s coach has won more than 800 games, led teams to eight final fours, plus led the USA to Olympic Gold in 1996.

• Herb McGee: He is the coach at Div. II Philadelphia University, where he has won more than 900 games and a national title.

The only real disappointment we already knew about — Reggie Miller did not even make it to the final ballot. Which is the kind of traditional screw up we have sadly come to expect from the hall. We can debate the merits of Miller in the Hall of Fame, but for him not to make the finalists lists was just a terrible oversight.

LeBron James says he has scratched cornea, could sit Saturday vs. Wizards

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With time running down in the third quarter, LeBron James went hard to the basket for a layup, and the shot was contested by Jeremy Lamb, who ended up poking LeBron in the eye on the play.

It isn’t intentional, but it looks painful.

 

 

That blow could have LeBron sitting out Saturday night when the Cavaliers take on the Washington Wizards in Cleveland. From Joe Varden of the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

LeBron James said he suffered a scratched cornea in his right eye in Friday’s 112-105 win over Charlotte after being examined by a Hornets team physician.

James, who scored 32 points in 40 minutes, could not keep his right eye open during his postgame interview session and said his vision was blurry… Summing it all up, James said “if coach decides to give me a game off (Saturday), it’s not because I’m resting. It’s because I’m banged up.”

He was treated by the Hornets’ team doctor who administered eye drops, but the Cavaliers will make the call closer to game time depending on how LeBron is feeling.

The Cavaliers are 0-6 without LeBron this season. They also have just a one-game lead over the Celtics for the top seed in the Eastern Conference. (Boston beat Phoenix on Friday, despite Devin Booker dropping 70, and they have a key game with the Heat on Sunday.) That said, the Cavaliers are two games up in the loss column on the Celtics, which is a decent lead, but the Cavs need to start winning consistently.

And beating a hot Washington team will not be easy even with LeBron.

NBA reacts to Suns’ Devin Booker dropping 70 on Celtics

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Devin Booker was the story of the NBA Friday night.

The 20-year-old Suns’ guard — who never scored more than 19 points in a game at Kentucky in college — dropped 70 on the Boston Celtics in a losing effort. He becomes only the sixth player in NBA history to score at least 70 in a game. At the end the Suns were fouling and calling time outs to stop the clock and get the ball back to Booker, but as Phoenix coach Earl Watson said to those who complained, “You got a problem with that? Do something. Simple as that.”

NBA Twitter exploded at what Booker did.

Booker himself responded this way.

Lonzo Ball makes expected official, declares for NBA Draft

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There was no hesitation. None was expected.

After UCLA was eliminated from the NCAA Tournament in the Sweet 16 by Kentucky, the Bruin’s Lonzo Ball — who is expected to be a top-three pick — declared for the NBA draft this June.

Ball is expected to go second or third in the upcoming NBA draft. Speaking with people around the league Washington’s Markelle Fultz is a clear No. 1, but after that if the Lakers — the team with the second-worst record in the league — have the No. 2 pick they are expected to snap up Ball. Depending on how the lottery shakes out the top of the draft, Ball could fall a little — there are teams that like Josh Jackson — but not much.

Ball is a 6’6″ point guard who averaged 14.7 points, 7.6 assists and 6.1 rebounds a game for UCLA last season. He has fantastic passing vision, impressive shooting range (although he can take some questionable shots), and a great sense of floor spacing and how to run an offense, particularly in transition. However, his weaknesses were exposed in his final game some as De’Aaron Fox of Kentucky completely outplayed Ball. Defensive pressure took Ball (and the Bruins) out of rhythm, forced them to play in the half court (where Ball is not as strong), and it’s one of the things Ball is going to have to adapt to at the next level where everyone is more athletic. Also, he’s going to need to get more consistent defensively.

The potential for Ball to be special is there, which is why he will go high in the draft.

And no, the rantings of his father will not change that. Teams see the father as a distraction that can be handled, they aren’t going to let him get in the way of drafting talent.

Watch highlights of Shaquille O’Neal’s statue unveiling outside Staples Center

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Kobe Bryant said “Thank you. I learned so much from you as a player.”

Jerry West said he loved him like a son.

Jeanie Buss said “No one celebrates a championship like you, but please no more asking Mark Madsen to dance.”

The Lakers unveiled a new statue for Shaquille O’Neal Friday night, one flying high over a Staples Center entrance, and the stars were on hand for the event. Phil Jackson was there making Snoop Dogg jokes. Shaq and Kobe were sharing laughs. It was a big night for a big man with a big personality. And a big heart.

Check out the highlights above.