Dikembe Mutombo, Kevin Johnson, Tim Hardaway, Spencer Haywood, Jo Jo White finalists for Basketball Hall of Fame

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The Basketball Hall of Fame released its list finalists for the 2015 class.

It includes five NBA players:

DIKEMBE [MUTOMBO] [Player] – [Mutombo] is an eight-time NBA All-Star (1992, 1995-98, 2000-02) and a four-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year (1995, 1997, 1998, 2001).  He led the NBA in blocked shots for five consecutive seasons (1994-98) and blocks per game for a record three consecutive seasons (1994-96). He earned NBA All-Rookie Team recognition in 1992 and All-NBA Second Team in 2001.  A native of Zaire, Africa, [Mutombo] attended Georgetown University (1988-1991) and played in the NBA from 1991 until 2009 recording 11,729 points, 12,359 rebounds, and 3,289 blocks in eighteen NBA seasons. He received the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award in 2001 and 2009. His legendary finger-wagging motion after blocked shots became one of the most recognized gestures in the game.

KEVIN JOHNSON [Player] – Johnson is the first player to have his jersey retired at the University of California.  After playing for Cal from 1983-1987, he played for 12 years in the NBA and holds the NBA Finals single-game record for most minutes played with 62.  Johnson is the first player in NBA history to average at least 20 points, 10 assists, a .500 field goal percentage and two steals per game for an entire season.  In 1989, he earned the NBA Most Improved Player award.  The three-time NBA All-Star (1990, 1991, 1994) is also an All-NBA Second Team member (1989, 1990, 1991, 1994) and an All-NBA Third Team member (1992).  As the mayor of his hometown of Sacramento, California, Johnson was a major advocate of keeping the Sacramento Kings NBA team in the city when it was at high risk of moving.

TIM HARDAWAY [Player] – A 2000 Olympic Gold Medalist, Hardaway played 13 NBA seasons scoring a total of 15,373 points while averaging more than 20 points per game for four consecutive seasons.  He is the 1990 recipient of the Jack McMahon Award for most inspirational player and a 1993 All-NBA Third Team member.  He currently ranks fourteenth in NBA history with 7,095 career assists. The Chicago native was a member of the men’s basketball team at the University of Texas at El Paso (1985-1989) and played in the NBA from 1989-2003.  He is known for making his signature move – the “UTEP Two-step” – famous in 1989, the same year he was named WAC Player of the Year.

SPENCER HAYWOOD [Player] – Haywood joined the ABA in 1969 and then went on to play for 12 years in the NBA (1970-1983), where he scored 14,592 points, had 7,038 rebounds and won an NBA Championship with the Los Angeles Lakers in 1980.  He is a four-time NBA All-Star (1972-1975) and two-time All-NBA First Team member (1973, 1974).  Haywood was the leading scorer on the 1968 gold medal United States Olympic team.  During his time with the ABA’s Denver Nuggets, he was named ABA Rookie of the Year and ABA All Star Game MVP.  He holds ABA single season records for most minutes played (3,808), most field goals made (986), most rebounds (1,637) and highest rebounding average (19.5).  At the University of Detroit, he was a unanimous First Team All-America selection in 1969.

JO JO WHITE [Player] – White is a seven-time NBA All-Star (1971-1977) and two-time NBA Champion with the Boston Celtics (1974,1976).  He earned NBA All-Rookie Teams honors in 1970 and All-NBA Second Team in 1975 and 1977. White was named the NBA Finals MVP in 1976 and averaged 17.2 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 4.9 assists per game in 12 NBA seasons. He played for the University of Kansas from 1965-69, earning The Sporting News and Converse First Team All-America in 1969. In 1968, White won a gold medal with the U.S. Olympic team.

An NBA coach:

BILL FITCH [Coach] – Fitch, a native of Davenport, Iowa, coached in the NBA for 25 seasons, being named Coach of the Year twice (1976, 1980). In 1996, he was named to the NBA’s Ten Best Coaches of All Time. He led the Boston Celtics to a Championship (1981) and still holds the highest winning percentage in Celtics history (.738). He is the second coach in NBA history to lead a team to three straight 60-win seasons. Prior to coaching in the NBA, Fitch coached collegiately for twelve years leading North Dakota University to consecutive NCAA Division II Final Fours (1965, 1966). He was the recipient of the Chuck Daly Lifetime Achievement Award during the NBA 2012-13 season.

And an NBA referee:

DICK BAVETTA [Referee] – Bavetta, a native of Brooklyn, NY, served as an NBA Official for 39 consecutive years. At the conclusion of the 2013-14 season, he had officiated 2,635 consecutive regular season games having never missed a game throughout his entire career. On April 2, 2014, he set the ironman record in professional sports officiating for working his 2,633rd consecutive game. Bavetta’s officiating career includes the Eastern League/CBA (1966-1975), Rucker Park Summer League (1966-1986), the Jersey Shore Basketball League (1972-2007), FIBA (1980-1992), and the NBA (1975-2014). He officiated 270 career NBA playoff games in 29 consecutive seasons, including 27 NBA Finals games. He was the first NBA official to referee the Olympic Games (1992).

Additionally, Tom Heinsohn was inducted thanks to a veterans committee vote:

A 1986 inductee of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a Player, Heinsohn will be just one of four people to be inducted as both a Player and Coach. The double honor is shared with Bill Sharman, John Wooden and Lenny Wilkens. Heinsohn coached the Boston Celtics after the retirement of Bill Russell from 1969 to 1978 winning two NBA Championships (1974, 1976). He was named NBA Coach of the Year in 1973 after leading his team to a league best 68-14 record. He accumulated a career coaching record of 427-263 (.619). Since retiring as coach of the Celtics, he has remained with the organization as color commentator and studio analyst for television broadcasts.

There were four other direct inductions:

From the ABA Committee:

LOUIS “LOUIE” DAMPIER [Player] – Dampier is one of a few players to play all nine seasons the ABA was in existence (1967-1976). He is one of two men to have played all nine seasons with one team, the Kentucky Colonels. Dampier finished first all-time in the ABA in games played (728), minutes played (27,770), points scored (13,726), and assists (4,044). An ABA Champion in 1975, he was also named a seven-time ABA All-Star (1968-70, 1972-75), a member of the ABA All-Rookie First Team (1968) and a member of the ABA All-Time Team. Prior to the ABA, Dampier played three seasons at Kentucky where he was a Second-Team All-American twice and an Academic All-American once. Upon graduation, he was ranked third all-time in points scored for the Wildcats. Dampier concluded his professional career with the San Antonio Spurs of the NBA after the ABA merger in 1976.

 

From the International Committee:

LINDSAY GAZE [Coach] – Gaze, a native of Adelaide, South Australia, has represented his country in seven Olympics as both a player and coach.  He played for the Australian national team in 1960, the first year Australia sent a team to the Olympics, as well as 1964 and 1968. He then coached the Australian national team in the following four Olympic games (1972, 1976, 1980, 1984). Gaze coached the Melbourne Tigers of the NBL winning two championships (1993,1997). He was named Coach of the Year for the National Basketball League three times (1989, 1997, 1999). Gaze is a member of the Australian Basketball Hall of Fame and FIBA Hall of Fame.

 

From the Early African American Pioneers Committee:

JOHN ISAACS [Player] – John “Wonder Boy” Isaacs played professionally for the New York Renaissance leading them to a 112-7 record and the first-ever World Professional Basketball Tournament Championship in 1939. He later played for a number of professional outfits including the Washington Bears, where he won a second World Pro title. Isaacs was named to the World Professional Basketball Tournament Second Team (1943). Along with fellow Hall of Famer and former teammate William “Pop” Gates, Isaacs pioneered the “motion offense.” Isaacs passed away on January 26, 2009 and is an enshrinee of the New York City Basketball Hall of Fame (1992).

 

From the Contributor Direct Election Committee:

GEORGE RAVELING [Contributor] – Raveling is the current Director of International Basketball for Nike and a former men’s college basketball coach. He served as an assistant coach at his alma mater Villanova (1963-69) and then Maryland (1970-72) where he helped lead the 1970-71 Terrapins to an undefeated regular season. As a Head Coach, Raveling led Washington State University (1972-83) to two NCAA tournament appearances and Iowa (1983-86) to back-to-back 20-win seasons. He also took USC (1986-94) to two NCAA appearances and was named Kodak National Coach of the Year (1992), Basketball Weekly Coach of the Year (1992), Black Coaches Association Coach of the Year (1992) and CBS/Chevrolet National Coach of the Year (1994). In 1984 and 1988, Raveling served as an assistant coach for the U.S. Olympic teams. Raveling was the first African-American coach in the ACC and PAC-8 (now the PAC-12). He is not only known for making history by breaking down racial barriers as a coach, but also was a part of history when in 1963 he received the original copy of the Martin Luther King Jr., “I Have a Dream” speech. He was honored with the John W. Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013.

Lastly, here are the five other finalists:

JOHN CALIPARI [Coach] – Calipari is a two-time Naismith College Coach of the Year (1996, 2009) and eight-time Conference Coach of the Year (1993,1994,1996, 2006, 2008-10, 2012), He coached University of Massachusetts from 1988-1996 and won five Atlantic 10 regular season championships and five Tournament championships (1992-1996). Calipari then coached University of Memphis from 2000-2009 and won four Conference USA regular season championships (2004, 2006, 2007, 2009), three C-USA Tournament championships (2006, 2007, 2009) and the NIT Tournament (2002). With the University of Kentucky since 2009, he has won two SEC regular season championships (2010, 2012), two SEC Tournament championships (2010, 2011) and an NCAA Championship (2012). Calipari has led his teams to six Elite Eight Appearances (2006, 2007, 2009-12, 2014) and three NCAA Final Four appearances (2011, 2012, 2014).

BO RYAN [Coach] – A native of Chester, Pennsylvania, Ryan has been named the Big Ten Coach of the Year three times (2002, 2003, 2013) since he began coaching at University of Wisconsin in 2001. Prior to Wisconsin, he coached at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (1999-2000) and University of Wisconsin-Platteville (1984-1999) where his team won four NCAA Division III Championships (1991, 1995, 1998, 1999). Ryan has led Wisconsin to three Big Ten regular season championships (2002, 2003, 2008), two Big Ten Tournament championships (2004, 2008), and the NCAA Final Four (2014). He was a recipient of the Clair Bee Coach of the Year Award (2007), NABC Outstanding Service Award (2009) and Coaches vs. Cancer Champion Award (2013).

LISA LESLIE [Player] – Leslie is an eight-time WNBA All-Star (1999-03, 2005, 2006, 2009) and a three-time WNBA Most Valuable Player (2001, 2004, 2006).  A native of Gardena, California, she played for University of Southern California (1990-1994) where she was named the Consensus National Player of the Year, a Kodak All-America and Naismith Trophy winner in 1994. She holds Pac-10 career records for scoring (2,414) and rebounding (1,214). She is the WNBA all-time leader in total rebounds (3,307) and ranks second all-time in WNBA total blocks (822). With the Los Angeles Sparks, Leslie won two WNBA Championships (2001, 2002) and she is a four-time Olympic Gold Medalist (1996, 2000, 2004, 2008). She is the first player to dunk in a WNBA game.

ROBERT HUGHES [Coach] – Hughes coached high school basketball in Texas for 47 years and ranks first on the all-time wins list for boy’s high school coaches. He has compiled an overall high school coaching record of 1,333-247 (.844) and led his teams to 35 district championships and five state championships. He served as head coach of the McDonald’s All-America Game West team (2001). Hughes was named the NHSCA National High School Coach of the Year (2003) and recipient of the Morgan Wootten Lifetime Achievement Award (2010). He has been inducted into the Texas Basketball Hall of Fame (1993) and High School Basketball Hall of Fame (2003).

LETA ANDREWS [Coach] – Andrews has coached high school basketball for over 50 years and is the all-time winningest high school coach, male or female. She has coached five high schools in Texas since 1962 and has led them to sixteen state Final Four appearances, plus a state championship in 1990. Andrews has served as Head Coach of the McDonald’s All-America Game West team (2004) and Gatorade All-America Game West team (2009). She was named the NHSCA National High School Coach of the Year (2007) and recipient of the Morgan Wootten Lifetime Achievement Award (2007). She has been inducted into the High School Basketball Hall of Fame (1995) and Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame (2010).

Reports: Kyrie Irving demands trade before Feb. 9 deadline

New York Knicks v Brooklyn Nets
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Kyrie Irving‘s agent tried to spark contract extension talks with the Nets recently, but Brooklyn felt no rush to dive into those talks, and the offer they did make — not for a full four years and filled with guarantees for Irving to meet — increased Irving’s frustration with the organization.

Irving responded with a bombshell, demanding a trade before the Feb. 9 deadline. Shams Charania of The Athletic was first with the news, but Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN and Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report have since confirmed it.

 

So much for a quiet trade deadline.

There are so many angles to this bombshell, but the sense of Irving feeling disrespected by Nets management and ownership is not new. Charania added this detail in his story at The Athletic:

The Nets recently offered Irving an extension with guarantee stipulations, according to league sources, an offer which was declined.

Irving wants a four-year, full max extension, Charania reports. That is what he wanted when Irving pushed for a contract extension with the Nets last summer, but after a couple of seasons of disruptions and him missing a lot of games due to his COVID vaccination status, the Nets were not interested in cementing their relationship long-term (Irving did look around for a new home, but that went nowhere).

The disruptions carried over into this season, when Irving was suspended for what became eight games due to a Tweet promoting an antisemitic documentary. Through all this, the Nets fired Steve Nash as coach.

Whatever has happened off the court, when Irving has been on the court he has been his elite playmaking self, averaging 27.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game. Fans voted him in an All-Star starter, and he has carried the Nets while Kevin Durant has been out.

While the Nets don’t want to give away Irving in a trade, if he’s gone this summer as a free agent they need to find a deal to get something in return (and ideally keep their status as a potential, maybe fringe, contender in the East). The Nets are not wrong that all the places Irving would want to go as a free agent will require a sign-and-trade, which gives Brooklyn some leverage. Irving has some leverage here, too: If Team X comes up with a trade the Nets like but Irving lets it be known he won’t re-sign there as a free agent, it limits what teams will offer.

The first trading partner that leaps to mind is the Lakers, with a package centered around Russell Westbrook and both of the Lakers’ unprotected future picks (which was discussed last summer). Adding Irving to the mix with LeBron James and Anthony Davis does make the Lakers a threat to come out of a West with no dominant team, and Los Angeles might be more willing to extend or re-sign Irving to a four-year max than other teams, they are all in on winning now.

Other teams that pop to mind are the Heat (a team looking for point guard help, but does Irving fit the Miami team culture?), the Mavericks need another star next to Luka Dončić, and the Clippers are always active and aggressive at the trade deadline. Other teams looking to make the leap up to contender status may try to throw their hat in the ring. Considering Irving’s reputation as a challenge for coaches and front office staff, it will be interesting to see how many and what would be offered.

But expect the Irving trade rumors to fly for the next six days.

 

Damian Lillard reportedly to take part in 3-point contest All-Star weekend

Atlanta Hawks v Portland Trail Blazers
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The All-Star Saturday night 3-point contest has passed the Dunk Contest in watchability because the stars still do it. Look at this year’s Dunk Contest, there are some interesting athletes involved, and maybe it becomes a memorable event. Still, there will be no Ja Morant, Zion Williamson, or Anthony Edwards (the way that Jordan, Kobe, and other greats took part in the contest back in the day).

However, the stars turn out for the 3-point contest. This year, that starts with Damian Lillard, according to Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report and TNT.

The coaches selected Lillard as one of the All-Star Game reserves, he was already headed to Salt Lake City. This is Lillard’s third time in the 3-point Shootout.

Over the coming week, expect a lot more big names to jump into the 3-point contest — the best shooters in the game want to do this event (Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson have each done it multiple times, although whether they will this year is unknown).

All-Star Saturday night: Come for the 3-point Shootout, hang around for the Dunk Contest.

Lakers reportedly exploring Westbrook trade in talks with Jazz

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This feels like a “let’s leak this so our fan base thinks we’re trying” report rather than something that will come close to happening.

The Lakers have re-engaged the Jazz in Russell Westbrook trade talks, reports Chris Haynes at Bleacher Report.

The Los Angeles Lakers and Utah Jazz have had exploratory conversations centered around star guard Russell Westbrook, league sources tell Bleacher Report. However, the Lakers are said to be in communication with most teams to sift through the most reasonable and logical options available.

If the Lakers couldn’t pull off a trade like this over the summer, what has changed now?

The Lakers would be more than happy to move on from Westbrook and bring in more shooting and depth, but this is Danny Ainge they’re dealing with — the price would be both the 2027 and 2029 first-round picks, likely unprotected. The Jazz would send back some combination of Mike Conley, Malik Beasley, Collin Sexton, Jordan Clarkson and Kelly Olynyk — do any three of those players make the Lakers title contenders this season? Are the Lakers willing to give up those two picks to be a team that could make the second round of the playoffs?

Now, if the Raptors get in the trade game, would the combination of Fred VanVleet and Gary Trent Jr. get the Lakers to surrender Westbrook and both picks? John Hollinger at The Athletic says that scenario is floating around, although everyone continues to wait to see if the Raptors are going to jump into the trade market with both feet.

The smart money is on the Lakers making a smaller move close to the trade deadline, likely involving Patrick Beverley and some second-round picks. Something similar in size to the Rui Hachimura trade, although the Lakers want — or at least are going to project they want — to hunt bigger game.

The Lakers continue surveying the market for premium shooting. Detroit Pistons sharpshooter Bojan Bogdanović remains a principal target, but there is league-wide skepticism on whether the Pistons are really willing to unload the nine-year veteran. It’s been reported that it would take at least an unprotected first-round pick to get the Pistons’ attention.

The belief within the Lakers’ organization is that they need to make at least one more move by the Feb. 9 trade deadline to give themselves a legitimate shot at competing for a championship, sources say.

Road wins over the Knicks and Pacers have the Lakers thinking they are a player away from contending? Los Angeles is unquestionably better with Davis back, and there is reason for some level of optimism in a flat Western Conference. But we’re talking “we can make the playoffs” optimism, there is still a chasm between these Lakers and contending — the gap between their second and third-best players (and the rest of the roster) is just too great.

Still, look for some kind of Lakers trade at the deadline. They are one of the more active teams out there. Just don’t expect it to be Westbrook.

Dončić leaves game with heel contusion, could miss games

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Luka Dončić was in control — he scored 21 points in the first quarter — and the Mavericks were cruising to a win.

Then Dončić went for a dunk, Brandon Ingram slid in for the block from behind, and Dončić hit the ground. Hard.

Dončić tried to stay in, but after one more play went back to the locker room and did not return due to what the team called a heel contusion. He could miss a game or two of the upcoming Mavericks’ five-game road trip — which starts with a nationally televised game Saturday in Golden State — according to Jeff Stotts of In Street Clothes.

There likely will be more information from the team over the next 24 hours.

How much the Mavericks need Dončić was on display the rest of this game. The Pelicans stormed back and might have had a chance to tie the game with 3.4 seconds left when a blown call by the referees — Ingram blocked an inbounds pass but was ruled out of bounds in doing so, when he wasn’t — robbed them of that opportunity. Larry Nance Jr. took his shot at the officials for that.

With this win, the Mavericks moved into fourth place in the West (ahead of the Clippers, who fell to the Bucks Thursday).