What had been rumored for nearly a week became official on Monday:
Alonzo Mourning and Mitch Richmond have been elected to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. The Hall’s selection committee made the formal announcement on Monday. They will join former NBA Commissioner David Stern, who had already been announced as directly elected to the Hall for his contributions to the game.
Tim Hardaway, Spencer Haywood and Kevin Johnson did not make the cut. Ugh.
Mourning was a seven-time All-Star and an NBA champion (2006 Heat) who held his own at both ends of the floor against some legendary centers of his era — Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson, Patrick Ewing and Shaquille O’Neal. He was particularly known for his defense, twice being named NBA Defensive Player of the Year, also twice he finished in the top three in MVP voting. Mourning played 15 NBA seasons (11 in Miami) averaging 17 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game. Also remember he was an All-American at Georgetown.
Richmond was a shooter ahead of his time — in an era when the three ball was not as prevalent he was a sniper from deep. He also could put it on the floor and get to the rim, which is why he averaged 21 points a game or more for 10 consecutive seasons. He was part of the Warriors’ “Run TMC” years with Chris Mullin (already in the Hall of Fame) and Hardaway (who should be). Richmond went on to be a six-time NBA All-Star, won an NBA title (2002 Lakers) and an Olympic Gold Medal (1996).
Both of those guys are deserving. So is Hardaway, but that just leads to another discussion of why there needs to be a separate NBA Hall of Fame.
David Stern should be in any Hall — while he was a lightning rod of controversy he also left an indelible imprint on the NBA in his 30 years as commissioner. Stern understood marketing and was able to help sell the brands of Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan and others to raise the NBA’s status (and profits for team owners) to new heights. Putting him in the Hall was a given.
Others elected or directly voted in are:
Nolan Richardson. The famed “40 minutes of hell” coach of Arkansas who led that team to three Final Four trips and the 1994 NCAA title.
Gary Williams. He coached Maryland for 21 seasons, leading them to 11 NCAA Tournaments and the 2002 national championship.
Bob Leonard. “Slick” was the winningest coach in the history of the ABA, leading the Pacers to three ABA titles.
Nat Clifton. One of the first African Americans to sign in the NBA, he averaged 10 points a game over an eight year NBA career.
Sarunas Marciulionis. The Lithuanian was the first player from the Soviet Union to play in the NBA (back then Lithuania was still part of the Soviet Union). In his seven NBA seasons, Marciulionis averaged 12.8 points and 1.3 steals per game. He also had big numbers in Europe and the European Championships.
Guy Rogers. He was a four time NBA All-Star in the 1960s, and he also lifted Temple to the NCAA Final Four in the 1950s.