Rodman, Mullin, Gilmore headline 2011 Hall class
The members of the 2011 class of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame were announced Apr. 4, and there were more than a few surprises.
The class includes Chris Mullin, Dennis Rodman, Artis Gilmore, Arvydas Sabonis, Tom Sanders, Teresa Edwards, Reece “Goose” Tatum, Tara VanDerveer, Tex Winter, and Herb Magee. The 10-person field will be officially inducted during a ceremony Aug. 12 in Springfield, Mass.
Rodman is by far the biggest surprise of the bunch. While his ability to rebound the basketball was prolific, his antics — both on and of the court — often overshadowed his talents.
Many remember him as the player who kicked a photographer in the groin during a game, wore a wedding dress, married Carmen Electra, and wrestled Karl Malone in a pay-per-view match. But he is also the player who won five NBA Championships (three with the Chicago Bulls and two with the Detroit Pistons), was named the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year twice, had eight All-Defensive Team selections (seven on First Team), and led the NBA in rebounding for seven straight seasons starting in the 1991-92 season with Detroit. His career average of 13.1 rebounds per game ranks 10th all time in NBA history, and he averaged at least 15 rebounds per game six times in his career.
Mullin was another player who many considered a fringe Hall of Famer at best, but the voters decided that his overall basketball achievements merited enshrinement.
He was a terrific college player, becoming the all-time leading scorer in St. John’s history with 2,440 points and was given the Wooden Award his senior season. Mullin continued his standout play in the NBA, making five All-Star teams and being named a member of the 1992 U.S. Olympic “Dream Team” that won gold in Barcelona. Mullin owns career averages of 18.2 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 1.6 steals over 16 seasons — most of which were spent with the Golden State Warriors as a member of Run-TMC.
Gilmore, who for years was overlooked on the primary ballot, finally got the call thanks to the ABA committee created by Hall of Fame chairman Jerry Colangelo. The ABA committee was able to select one player for automatic enshrinement, bypassing the standard nomination and voting process.
Gilmore was the ABA Rookie of the Year and ABA MVP in the 1971-72 season and won an ABA Championship in 1975. He was an 11-time All Star during his career and ranks 20th all time in combined ABA and NBA statistics in points (24,941), fifth all time in rebounds (16,330), fourth all time in blocks (3,178), and second all time in field goal percentage (.582).
Sanders was a member of the dynastic Boston Celtics teams from 1961-1969, winning eight titles during that span alongside Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, John Havlicek and others. Sanders had modest numbers over his 13-year Celtics career, posting just 9.6 points and 6.3 rebounds per game, but he was a strong defensive presence for those Celtics teams.
Sabonis rounds out the players with NBA ties, having spent most of the latter half of his playing career with the Portland Trail Blazers. He averaged a respectable 12 points and 7.3 rebounds for Portland, but his mark was made long before he ever suited up in the States.
He was an international star, leading the 1988 Soviet Union Men’s Basketball Team to the gold medal and leading Lithuania to the bronze in 1992. Sabonis was also named the European Player of the Year four times during his European playing days. Only chronic injuries slowed down the 7-3 Lithuanian big man, who has been called one of the best-passing big men the game has ever seen and one of the top international players of all time.
Edwards made her mark mostly in international competition, leading the United States to four gold medals in her five Olympic appearances from 1984 to 2000 (winning bronze in 1992). She holds the distinction of being both the youngest (20) and oldest (36) U.S. Olympic basketball player to win a gold medal.
The last of the players is Reece “Goose” Tatum of Harlem Globetrotters fame. He got his start playing Negro League Baseball before switching to basketball and joining the Globetrotters, where he would become the “Clown Prince” of the team.
Tatum joined the Globetrotters in 1941 before serving in World War II. He would return to the team after his tour of duty and play 12 seasons. He gained as much notoriety for his fun with the game as he did for his talent, and when he wasn’t playing games with the referees or the other team, he was performing at a high level — Tatum is even credited with inventing the hook shot.
His number “50” is retired by the team. Tatum died Jan. 18, 1967 at age 45.
Winter, VanDerveer, and Magee all got the nod as coaches, rounding out the 2011 field.
Winter is best known as a pioneer of the triangle offense and served as an assistant coach with the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers, where he helped the teams win nine championships during his tenure. Winter also led Kansas State to two Final Four appearances as a coach at the school.
VanDerveer has compiled an impressive 826-198 record over 31 seasons of coaching women’s basketball at the collegiate level, becoming just the sixth woman to amass 800-career coaching victories. She also has led Stanford to 19 Pac-10 titles, 23 NCAA Tournament appearances, and 10 trips to the Final Four. She even served as head coach of the 1996 U.S. Women’s Basketball Team that won gold in the Olympics.
Magee, the long-time Philadelphia University head coach who has spent 44 years coaching at the school, was inducted in his first year on the ballot. His 922 career coaching wins are the most by any coach at any level of NCAA competition.
By: Eric Lorenz
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