The Basketball Hall of Fame has released the names of its new inductees, to be inducted into the Hall on Sept. 11 of this year.
“We are honored to recognize the highly distinguished Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2015,” said John L. Doleva, President and CEO of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. “They have contributed a great deal to the game we all love, as players, coaches, teachers, mentors and more. They have dedicated themselves to their craft and serve as an inspiration to many. We look forward to honoring each of these inductees during the Enshrinement festivities in September.”
To be elected, finalists must receive 18 of 24 votes from the Honors Committee for election into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. The addition of the direct elect committees were incorporated into the election process to maintain a strong focus on keeping history on the forefront of the voting procedures and to preserve a balance between two eras of basketball.
Here is a look at some of the more NBA-centric inductees.
Spencer Haywood: The former SuperSonics center should have been in the Hall of Fame ages ago, but the stuffed shirts behind the voting tend to follow political lines and do as they see fit to protect The Sainted Game. Haywood attempted to enter the NBA after his sophomore year of college, but league rules at the time prevented him from joining despite several teams vying for his services. In what usually would have been his junior year of college, Haywood led the ABA in scoring and rebounding. Drug woes led to him failing to cash in on his significant gifts, as he bounced around through five NBA teams after being allowed to join the league in 1970.
Dikembe Mutombo: A dominating defender whose stoic on-court presence belied an effervescent and engaging personality off the floor, Mutombo acted as a defensive bulwark during what was perhaps the NBA’s best era for defensive basketball. Capable of bothering guards, blocking shots and clearing the glass, Mutombo ambled his way toward eight All-Star appearances and four Defensive Player of the Year trophies. Dikembe was also an effective reserve center even in his early 40s.
Jo Jo White: It’s hard to believe White hadn’t already been inducted to the Hall. The seven-time All-Star was a ubiquitous presence on the television sets of the NBA’s limited fan base in the 1970s, winning two titles with the Boston Celtics and nearly winning the league’s nationally televised one-on-one contest. A 1968 Olympic gold medal winner, White also won the 1976 NBA Finals MVP award in what was a wearing 4-3 Boston win over Phoenix.
Dick Bavetta: An NBA referee for nearly 40 years, Bavetta was one of the more visible refs in league history. He was also one of the best, working in 27 NBA Finals’ and the 1992 Team USA-led Men’s Olympic Games.
John Calipari: As both personnel chief and head coach of the former New Jersey Nets, Calipari managed just a 72-112 record before being fired 20 games into his third season. He spent one more year as an assistant under Larry Brown before moving back to the NCAA format that has served him so well. A regular at each year’s NBA draft, Calipari remains a favorite of NBAniks because of his constant flouting of NCAA policy, and his insistence on encouraging draft prospects to go pro after just one or two seasons.
Tom Heinsohn: Already inducted as a player, Heinsohn will receive the head coach of a Boston Celtics team that won over 60 percent of its games during his eight and a half-year run with the team. The Celtics won two titles with Heinsohn storming the sidelines, including a 68-13 turn in 1973 that stood for years as the NBA’s second-highest single-season win total.
Louie Dampier: A hybrid guard that was ahead of his time in many ways, Dampier was an early three-point shot adapter in the ABA, emerging from the shadow of heavily-hyped Purdue teammate Rick Mount to lead the Kentucky Colonels to the 1975 ABA title.
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