The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2012 includes seven men who had substantial ties to the NBA. Three of them won NBA championships while one played in just 11 NBA games. Two of them made some of the greatest shots in NBA history and the other was a true pioneer who broke multiple basketball color barriers. The entire Class of 2012 will be enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday, September 7.
Here are the seven members of the Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2012 connected to the NBA:
Don Barksdale- Player
Baltimore Bullets- now the Washington Wizards (1951-1953)
Boston Celtics (1953-1955)
Barksdale was directly elected into the Basketball Hall of Fame by the Early African-American Pioneers of the Game Committee. He broke the color barrier in basketball multiple times. In 1947, he became the first African-American All-American. The very next year, as the first African-American to make the USA Olympic basketball team, he won an Olympic gold medal. In 1951, one year after Earl Lloyd, Chuck Cooper and Nat "Sweetwater" Clifton broke the NBA's color barrier, Barksdale signed a lucrative contract with the Baltimore Bullets. As a member of the Bullets, Barksdale became the first African-American to play in an NBA All-Star Game on January 13, 1953.
Mel Daniels- Player
Minnesota Muskies (1967-1968)
Indiana Pacers (1968-1974)
Memphis Sounds (1974-1975)
New York Nets- now the Brooklyn Nets (1976)
Daniels, a direct election by the American Basketball Association (ABA) Committee, was selected by the Cincinnati Royals (now the Sacramento Kings) with the ninth overall pick of the 1967 NBA Draft. However, instead of teaming up with Oscar Robertson in Cincinnati, he chose to join the brand-new ABA. Daniels led the new league in rebounding in its inaugural season and was named the ABA's first Rookie of the Year in 1968. The two-time ABA Most Valuable Player (1969 and 1971) was named an ABA All-Star seven consecutive times (1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973 and 1974). Daniels is the league's all-time leading rebounder (9,494) and won three ABA championships (1970, 1972 and 1973) with the Indiana Pacers. After sitting out the entire 1975-1976 season (which was the ABA's final season), Daniels signed with the New York Nets in 1976 and played 11 games in the NBA. In 1986, he joined the front office of the Pacers where he served in a number of capacities and was the Director of Player Personnel until 2009.
Reggie Miller- Player
Indiana Pacers (1987-2005)
Miller played his entire 18-year NBA career with the Indiana Pacers. The five-time NBA All-Star (1990, 1995, 1996, 1998 and 2000) is the franchise's all-time leader in a number of categories including points (25,279), free throws made (6,237), assists (4,141), three-pointers made (2,560), steals (1,505) and games (1,389). Miller, with 320 postseason threes, is also the top three-point shot maker in NBA playoff history. Two of those playoff threes came in the final seconds of Game 1 of the 1995 Eastern Conference semifinals when Miller magically scored eight points in 8.9 seconds to shock the New York Knicks. Miller also won an Olympic gold medal as a member of the 1996 USA Olympic basketball team.
Don Nelson- Coach
During an NBA career that spanned six decades, Don Nelson was a player, coach and general manager. His career started in 1962 as a player with the Chicago Zephyrs (now the Washington Wizards). Most of Nelson's playing days were spent with the Boston Celtics where he won five NBA championships (1966, 1968, 1969, 1974 and 1976). Just months after winning the 1976 NBA Championship with the Celtics, Nelson embarked on the second phase of his NBA career. Eighteen games into the 1976-1977 season, Nelson replaced Larry Costello as head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks. From that time until his retirement in 2010, Nelson coached just four teams, the Bucks, the Golden State Warriors, the New York Knicks and the Dallas Mavericks (and for each of those teams, except the Knicks, he was also the general manager). In 1997, the three-time Coach of the Year (1983, 1985 and 1992) was named one of the Top 10 Coaches in NBA History. During his coaching career, Nelson amassed 1,335 wins and is the all-time winningest coach in NBA history.
Ralph Sampson- Player
Houston Rockets (1983-1987)
Golden State Warriors (1987-1989)
Sacramento Kings (1989-1991)
Washington Bullets- now the Washington Wizards (1991-1992)
Sampson, who had his NBA career cut short by injuries, was a dominant collegian at the University of Virginia. He was a three-time National College Player of the Year, a three-time Naismith Award winner and received the Wooden Award twice. Sampson was selected by the Houston Rockets with the overall number one pick of the 1983 NBA Draft. The 1984 Rookie of the Year was named a Western Conference All-Star four straight times (1984, 1985, 1986 and 1987) and earned Most Valuable Player honors of the 1985 All-Star Game. Sampson also made one of the most memorable shots in NBA history. In Game 5 of the 1986 Western Conference Finals, he hit a miraculous, off-balance, over-the-head, two-handed, tip-shot from about 10 feet with one second remaining on the clock to shock the defending NBA Champion Los Angeles Lakers and send the Rockets to the 1986 NBA Finals.
Chet Walker- Player
Syracuse Nationals- now the Philadelphia 76ers (1962-1969)
Chicago Bulls (1969-1975)
Walker, the Veterans Committee's direct election, was a member of the 1967 NBA Champion Philadelphia 76ers. That team broke the Boston Celtics' run of eight straight titles and is regarded as one of the greatest teams in NBA history. In 1971, the seven-time All-Star (1964, 1966, 1967, 1970, 1971, 1973 and 1974) shot a league-leading 85.9 percent from the free-throw line. After his playing days, Walker moved to Los Angeles and became a film producer. He won an Emmy Award in 1990 for his work on a documentary about Isiah Thomas's mother entitled "A Mother's Courage: The Mary Thomas Story."
Jamaal Wilkes- Player
Golden State Warriors (1974-1977)
Los Angeles Lakers (1977-1985)
Los Angeles Clippers (1985)
Born and raised in California, Wilkes had the fortune of spending his entire basketball career in his home state. After graduating from Santa Barbara High School, he attended UCLA where he played for the legendary John Wooden. In 1975, Wilkes won Rookie of the Year honors and helped the Golden State Warriors to an NBA title. The three-time All-Star (1976, 1981 and 1983) won two more championships as a member of the Lakers (1980 and 1982). (Note: Wilkes was on the 1985 Lakers championship team but he suffered a mid-season injury and did not play a single postseason game during that playoff run.). Wilkes was as smooth as "Silk" on both sides of the floor and was named to the All-Defensive second team in 1976 and 1977.
Complete list of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2012
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Mark is a lifelong fan of the NBA who has loved the game of basketball ever since his first trip to an NBA arena. Mark has watched more basketball games than anyone can count and has hundreds of articles about the NBA published on the internet. Mark also shares his random NBA musings and game-by-game predictions on RandomNBAFan.com.
More on the Basketball Hall of Fame
Information from The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame's The Class of 2012; Basketball-Reference.com's Don Barksdale NBA & ABA Statistics, Mel Daniels NBA & ABA Statistics, Reggie Miller NBA & ABA Statistics, Don Nelson NBA & ABA Statistics, Ralph Sampson NBA & ABA Statistics, Chet Walker NBA & ABA Statistics, Jamaal Wilkes NBA & ABA Statistics, Don Nelson NBA & ABA Basketball Coaching Record, Indiana Pacers Career Leaders, NBA & ABA Career Playoff Leaders and Records for 3-Pt Field Goals; UCLA Official Athletic Site's Don Barksdale Elected to Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame; NBA.com's True Trail Blazers, Hall of Fame inductee Mel Daniels a titan of the ABA, NBA's Top 10 Greatest: Vote for the Greatest Shot; New Mexico Official Athletic Site's Mel Daniels and JSOnline.com's Don Nelson makes Basketball Hall of Fame was used for this article.