The latest Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame class wasn’t as impressive as in recent years, as Gary Payton and Bernard King headlined the list of players making it in, while Rick Pitino, getting in for his accomplishments in College Basketball, probably stole the show when it came to his acceptance speech.
There was also Brazilian sharpshooter Oscar Schmidt, one of the greatest player in history to never play in the NBA, who said that he turned down offers from the NBA because it would have prevented him from playing for his national team. He represented Brazil in five Olympic games. He ended up leading the Italian league in scoring 7 times, and is the only player who has scored more than 1,000 points in the Olympic Games.
Roger Brown, nicknamed The Rajah, who passed away in 1997, made into the hall for his ABA career that included winning three ABA titles with the Indiana Pacers. Richie Guerin made it into the hall at the age of 81. He played for the New York Knicks and the St. Louis Hawks from 1956 to 1970, averaging 17.3 points during his career, making the All-Star game six times.
Dawn Staley, a three-time Olympic gold Medalist with the USA and a former WNBA player (1999-2006), also made it in. She’s currently serving as the head coach of the women’s basketball team at South Carolina.
Gary Payton, a 9-time NBA All-Star and mostly remembered for his career with the Seattle Supernsonics (1990-2003), talked about his defense and trash-talking, claiming to be the king of it. A one-time NBA champions with the Miami Heat in 2006, Payton is regarded as possibly the best defensive point guard in the history of the league, making the All-Defensive first team nine times.
I played hard because I wanted to win every time. It was all for my crazy love for the game.
Bernard King needed quite a while to get in. He retired in 1993, but being one of the most prominent scorers in the 1980’s (leading the NBA in scoring in 1985) wasn’t enough. He averaged 22.5 points per game, and had to wait 20 years in order to get in.
Pitino stole the show, more or less. A two-time champions as a head coach in the state of Kentucky with two different schools (Wildcats and Cardinals), Pitino has been a head coach since 1975, going through Hawaii, Boston University, Kentucky and Louisville, with two stints in the NBA, coaching the New York Knicks and the Boston Celtics, not enjoying too much success with the pros.
In College, he has a 73.5% winning ratio, including making the Final Four six times over the years.
At BU, you learn how to build the right way. At Providence, I learned how to dream. I always thought anything is possible after coaching that team. At Kentucky, I learned all about pressure every single day. It was unbelievable pressure and it was very difficult and that pressure brought out the best in everybody.