Posted Feb 24 2012 4:22PM
ORLANDO -- The day had been years in coming for those elected to the Hall of Fame and the others who moved a step closer to induction. Mostly, though, it was a big step for the basketball museum itself.
Chairman Jerry Colangelo finally got to announce, after years of trying, that fan voting will become part of future balloting, a somewhat controversial move that will be in place starting in 2013. A secret committee will still select the finalists, the public will choose from among that group, and the verdict will be counted as 1/25th of the decision.
The Hall also unveiled a portion of the Class of 2012. Previously, the annual announcement at All-Star weekend revealed only the names of finalists. This time, with few people aware of the switch, the 10 finalists from the committee that covers most NBA players and two others from the women's game were disclosed, and then the Hall revealed five people who have already been elected through a separate process.
That group is predictably diverse, from long-ago stars to business leaders who have never worked in the game. That's exactly what Colangelo and John Doleva, the president and CEO, have wanted. Their stated push to address the overlooked from previous generations was answered as former Pacers big man Mel Daniels won enshrinement through the ABA Committee, former Bulls standout Chet Walker made it via the Veterans Committee and former UCLA star Don Barksdale was sent to Springfield, Mass., by the Early African-American Pioneers Committee.
Nike founder and chairman Phil Knight was elected as a Contributor, a move that sets the Hall up for more criticicism (Tim Hardaway, Jerry Krause and other credible candidates can't even make it out of the first round of voting). Lidia Alexeeva, who coached the Soviet Union women's team to a pair of Olympic gold medals and four world championships, will be inducted from the International Committee, over Vlade Divac and Sarunas Marciulionis among others.
"IAnnouncing some inductees at All-Star weekend] was a decision the executive committee came to regarding more of an opportunity to get exposure, to get more play," Colangelo said of the change from the previous approach, in which all the inductees were revealed at the Final Four. "Sometimes that span is short, from April and then all of the sudden it's September [for the enshrinement ceremony]. We're just getting a jump on it a little bit. It gives us more exposure at an earlier point. Here we are in February and the ability to actually announce electees, I think, just enhances our image."
The 12 who were announced Friday as finalists go through one more screening committee needing votes from 18 of 24 voters to determine induction on Sept. 7 in Springfield. (It becomes 18 of 25 next year with the inclusion of the fan tally.) Results are scheduled to be announced April 2.
Most of the candidates are familiar and all have been on the ballot before: Maurice Cheeks, Bill Fitch, Bernard King, Reggie Miller, Dick Motta, Don Nelson, college and international referee Hank Nichols, Rick Pitino, Ralph Sampson (for his entire career but on the strength of a dominating college run) and Jamaal Wilkes.
Katrina McClain, a star at Georgia and with USA Basketball, and the All American Red Heads, a barnstorming team that played from 1936 to 1986, advanced via the Women's Committee.
Among those who did not make the list of finalists: Hardaway, Krause, Mitch Richmond, Mark Jackson, Kevin Johnson, Gary Williams, Divac, Paul Westphal, Cotton Fitzsimmons, Rudy Tomjanovich, Donnie Walsh and Paul Silas.
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