While there can be a lot of valid criticism for the Basketball Hall of Fame and the way in which they induct candidates, there is still something special about having your name enshrined with the rest of the legends in Springfield, Massachusetts.
The class of 2015 has taken their place in a red carpet ceremony at the Hall, so let’s take a final look at this group of inductees.
The headliner (in our eyes) is Dikembe Mutombo, one of the greatest defensive players in NBA history. The Congo born Mutombo won the NBA Defensive Player of the Year four times and was named to a post season All-Defensive team seven times. The Center was also named a Second Team All-NBA Selection once and made the Third Team twice. He would also lead the NBA in Rebounds four times and Blocks five times.
A special induction in our eyes is that of Spencer Haywood, who not along ago was told he was inducted only to find that he wasn’t. Heywood at one point notably challenged the reserve clause to enter the NBA after spending one year dominating the ABA and winning their MVP Award. As an NBA player, Haywood would make two First Team and two Second Team All NBA rosters and late in his career would win the title with the Los Angeles Lakers.
The actual headliner is John Calipari, the current coach of the University of Kentucky. Calipari has a .773 Winning Percentage in the NCAA and won the title with the Wildcats in 2012. He would take his teams to six Final Fours (though two have been vacated) and has been named the Naismith Coach of the Year three times.
Jojo White, a seven time NBA All Star and two-time NBA Champion with the Boston Celtics, one of which earned him a Finals MVP. White was named to two Second Team All NBA squads.
Lisa Leslie, one of the best woman’s players ever and three time WNBA MVP. Leslie would also win two WNBA Titles with the Los Angeles Sparks and four Olympic Gold Medals with the United States. Leslie was named to eight First Team All-WNBA teams.
Dick Bavetta, who holds the record for the most games officiated in the NBA and never missed an assignment over his 39 year career.
Louie Dampier, who was with the ABA’s Kentucky Colonels during that league’s entire existence. Dampier was a seven time ABA All Star, helped the Colonels win the ABA Title in the league’s last year of existence and was a Second Team All-ABA member four times.
Tom Heinsohn, an eight time NBA Champion with the Boston Celtics and two time NBA Champion as the Head Coach of the same team. As a player, Heinsohn was the Rookie of the Year in 1957 and was the NBA Coach of the Year in 1973.
George Raveling, a former college coach who is Nike’s Global Basketball Marketing Director.
Lindsay Gaze, a former three time player for the Australian Olympic Team and a four time coach of the Australian Olympic Team at the Olympics.
John Issacs, an early African American Player who played for many African-American teams in the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s.
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by Kirk Buchner