By Mason Levinson
Players Alonzo Mourning and Mitch Richmond joined coaches Nolan Richardson and Gary Williams in being elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.
The women’s team of Immaculata University also was elected to the Springfield, Massachusetts-based Hall, joining others in the 2014 class who already had been named: former National Basketball Association Commissioner David Stern, coach Bob Leonard, Lithuanian Sarunas Marciulionis, and veteran committee players Nat Clifton and Guy Rodgers.
Finalists Tim Hardaway, Spencer Haywood, Kevin Johnson and Eddie Sutton were not elected.
“I stand here on the shoulders of so many other people,” Mourning said today during the televised election ceremony in Dallas. “I’m humbled and I’m truly honored to be able to stand here before you.”
Mourning, a seven-time All-Star center, twice was named the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year during a career that spanned from 1992 to 2008.
He was the No. 2 pick out of Georgetown University by the Charlotte Hornets in the 1992 NBA draft, playing three seasons in Charlotte before joining the Miami Heat.
Averaging at least 19 points per game during each of his first eight seasons in the league, Mourning twice led the NBA in blocks while in Miami.
After seven seasons with the Heat he sat out the 2002-03 campaign while fighting a kidney disease. He returned with the New Jersey Nets, playing 30 games over two seasons before rejoining the Heat. He retired having averaged 17.1 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game.
Richmond, a six-time All-Star shooting guard out of Kansas State University, began his NBA career with the Golden State Warriors, winning the league’s Rookie of the Year award in 1989. He played for the Warriors for three seasons; the Sacramento Kings for the next seven; the Washington Wizards for three; and finished his career in 2002 with the Los Angeles Lakers.
“Picking up that orange ball has meant so much to me,” Richmond said. “It kind of shaped the person I am.”
Having averaged more than 21 points per game for 10 straight seasons, Richmond’s 20,497 points rank 37th in NBA history. He also won an Olympic gold medal in 1996.
Richardson, 72, led the Arkansas Razorbacks to the 1994 men’s college basketball national championship and made Final Four appearances in 1990 and 1995. He finished his collegiate coaching career with a 509-207 record, having also coached at Western Texas College and Tulsa.
“My cup runneth over,” Richardson said. “I feel blessed when I think that I’ve had the opportunity to be inducted in nine Hall of Fames. This is the big one.”
Richardson led the Razorbacks from 1985-2002, installing a pressure defense that came to be known as “40 minutes of Hell.” The team beat Duke in 1994 to claim the national title. Richardson left Arkansas in 2002 with a 390-170 record, the most wins in school history. He later coached the Tulsa Shock of the WNBA from 2009-11.
Williams, 69, coached at Maryland, his alma mater, from 1990-2011, winning a national championship in 2002.
“We came a long way to get to that point when we won the NCAA tournament,” Williams said, citing the character of his players.
Leaving Ohio State to take over the Terrapins’ program as it underwent probation, Williams led Maryland to 11 straight NCAA tournament appearances, from 1994-2004. Having also been a head coach at American University and Boston College, he retired with a 668-380 record and seven seasons of 25 wins or more.
Immaculata, Pennsylvania-based Immaculata University, which went 60-2 from 1972-74, winning three national titles, was named to the Hall by the Women’s Committee.
Stern, who stepped down as commissioner of the NBA on Feb. 1 after 30 years in the position, was named to the Hall as a contributor.
“Everyone said that the NBA couldn’t possibly make it because it had too many black players,” Stern said of his proudest accomplishment. “Those very same players, they brought home the gold in Barcelona, they’re the best known athletes in the world and they’re at the height of the celebrity chain. It says great things about them, but it says great things about America as well.”
Rodgers, a four-time NBA All-Star, was named by the Veterans Committee. Marciulionis, the first Soviet NBA player, was named by the International Committee. “Sweetwater” Clifton, the first black member of the New York Knicks, was named by the Early African-American pioneers committee; and Leonard, the winningest coach in American Basketball Association history, was named by the ABA Committee.
The Connecticut Huskies’ Shabazz Napier, whose team plays tonight in the national final against Kentucky, was named the Bob Cousy Award winner as the top point guard in men’s college basketball. The Nancy Lieberman Award, given to the top female college point guard, went to Odyssey Sims of Baylor.
The inductees will be enshrined Aug. 9 at the Springfield Symphony Hall.