Photo: Steve Lipofsky|
John L. Doleva, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Basketball Hall of Fame, announced that two of the top 50 players in NBA history - Boston Celtics center Robert Parish and Los Angeles Lakers forward James Worthy - along with legendary Italian superstar Dino Meneghin, famed Louisiana Tech women's coach Leon Barmore, African-American basketball pioneer Earl Lloyd, Los Angeles Lakers broadcasting icon Chick Hearn and Meadowlark Lemon, the "Clown Prince of Basketball," comprise the Class of 2003.
The Class of 2003 was selected from a record-group of 30 finalists. The Honors Committee elected Parish and Barmore on their first year of eligibility. Worthy has been a finalist the previous three years; Meneghin and Lloyd were finalists the last two years and Lemon was a first-time finalist, but has been reviewed by the North American Screening Committee the last three years. An individual needs five of seven votes from their Screening Committee to become a Hall of Fame finalist and 18 of 24 votes from the Honors Committee for election.
Robert Parish, 49, a native of Shreveport, Louisiana, holds the NBA record for most seasons and games played, respectively, with 21 and 1,611. Following his All-America career at Centenary (LA.) College in which he led the nation in rebounding in the 1974-75 season (15.4 rpg), Parish was the first draft choice and eighth overall pick of the Golden State Warriors in 1976. Parish played four seasons with Golden State and then logged 14 seasons with the Boston Celtics (1980-1994) establishing himself as one of the NBA's premier centers. A nine-time NBA All-Star (1981-87, 1990-91), Parish teamed with Celtic Hall of Famers Larry Bird and Kevin McHale to form one of the finest frontcourts in NBA history. The trio won NBA titles in 1981, 1984, 1986. Named to the NBA's 50th Anniversary Team in 1996, Parish was an exceptional rebounder, holding the NBA record for defensive rebounds (10,117), playoff record for offensive rebounds (571) and his 14,715 rebounds are sixth best in history. Most impressively, Parish scored 23,334 points, currently 15th best in history. His 45,704 minutes rank him sixth best in history and his 2,361 blocked shots are eighth best and tops in Celtics franchise history. A regular in post season action, Parish appeared in the playoffs 16 seasons, second only to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's 18 appearances. Parish finished his NBA career with the Charlotte Hornets (1994-96) and Chicago Bulls (1996-97).