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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Basic Biittner: The Hoops Hall

Monday, September 15, 2008

On Saturday Sept. 6th, the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts inducted the latest class of basketball greats into their esteemed group. This year's group included a lot of pretty well-known names. Here are the latest inductees, in alphabetical order:

Adrian Dantley, former Notre Dame and Utah Jazz small forward; William Davidson, owner of the Detroit Pistons; former Georgetown and New York Knick center Patrick Ewing; former Houston University and Houston Rocket center Hakeem Olajuwan; Pat Riley, who played at the University of Kentucky and with the Los Angeles Lakers, then coached teams to the NBA championship game in Los Angeles, New York and Miami; Cathy Rush, long-time successful women's coach at Immaculata College in Pennsylvania; and Dick Vitale, who by his own admission wasn't much of a player and had a so-so career as a high school, college and professional coach, but whose "gift of gab" as a TV analyst has helped to propel college basketball to new heights of popularity.

Some may argue about the induction of broadcaster Vitale and coaches Riley and Rush into the hallowed shrine - located in the hometown of the game's inventor, James Naismith - but I am not one of them. It would be hard to argue that the three inductees have not have a large impact on the game that Dr. Naismith invented. And how many peach baskets (the original hoop in the hoops game) would Dantley, Ewing and Olajuwan have destroyed in their careers? As for Davidson, he holds the distinct mark of owning two professional world champion franchises - the Pistons and also the Detroit Red Wings (that's ice hockey, folks).

I was fortunate enough to visit the Basketball Hall of Fame a few years ago, and found it to be unique among the sports halls of fame. Whereas football has separate professional (Canton, Ohio) and college (South Bend,Indiana) Halls of Fame, baseball has also now opened a College Hall in Lubbock, Texas, to go with the long-established Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, and hockey has both a professional Hall in Toronto and a Hall in Eveleth, Minnesota for United States-born hockey players, the Hall in Springfield honors professional as well as college stars and coaches, and men as well as women. When we were there, in fact, they had a display saluting the now - extinct 6-on-6 game, specifically the high school game as played in Iowa. I'm not sure if that display was permanent or was one of several revolving displays, but the point is, the Basketball Hall in Springfield salutes the game of basketball and its players, coaches and executives. It was also probably the first Hall to have interactive displays, where you can "compete" against the pros, compare the size of your hand to that of Michael Jordan, etc.

Certainly a wonderful experience for hoops fans of all ages and genders. I highly recommend it if you're in the Boston area.

Dan Whitney
Basic Biittner