INDIANAPOLIS – As Kentucky men’s basketball coach John Calipari started to leave the Naismith Hall of Fame interview room Monday, he took one last question.
“Coach, what do you think of the four-year rule?” Spencer Haywood shouted.
“You screwed it up for us,” Calipari answered.
Now the man who paved the way for underclassmen to enter the NBA draft and the coach who has thrived with today’s top one-and-done players will be forever linked: Calipari and Haywood are among this year’s 11-person class, with induction ceremonies to be held Sept. 10-12 in Springfield, Massachusetts.
There is enough star power to appeal to all generations.
Younger fans might embrace the selections of former WNBA star Lisa Leslie or four-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year Dikembe Mutombo. Leslie won two league titles, three league MVP awards and four Olympic gold medals. Mutombo led the NBA in blocks for five consecutive seasons, famously wagging his finger to celebrate along the way.
Older fans will appreciate the election of Louie Dampier, who made seven ABA All-Star teams after starring at Kentucky.
Also selected are Jo Jo White, the former Kansas star who won two titles with the Celtics, and former Boston coach Tom Heinsohn, the fourth member of the hall to be inducted twice. He went in as a player in 1986 and is now going in as a coach, thanks to the veterans committee.
Longtime referee Dick Bavetta and former college coach and television commentator George Raveling also were elected along with Australian coach and player Lindsay Gaze. And John Isaacs, a star pro player before the NBA was formed, will be inducted posthumously, the representative of the early African-American pioneers committee.
Haywood, whose NBA career included 14,592 points, 7,038 rebounds and a league title in 1980 with the Lakers, was a standout at the University of Detroit who decided to turn pro after his sophomore year.
But NBA rules then required players to wait four years after high school. He went to Denver in the ABA, where he was the MVP, then joined the Seattle SuperSonics despite the NBA’s rule. A subsequent court fight went all the way to the Supreme Court, which ruled against the league, clearing the way for underclassmen – and one-and-dones – to play in the NBA.
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