Hall of Fame welcomes 2 great Olympic champions

Posted: 14/08/2010 in NBA

Malone, Pippen and Dream Team inducted into Hall of Fame

Karl Malone and Scottie Pippen highlighted the 2010 class inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame Friday night.

Malone  and  Pippen were both  members of the  original “Dream Team,” the 1992 U.S.  Olympic  squad that  easily won  a gold medal  in Barcelona. That entire team,  along  with the  1960 U.S.  men’s Olympic squad, were also inducted.

Lakers  owner  Jerry Buss, former NBA  players Dennis Johnson and Gus Johnson; former  WNBA star  Cynthia Cooper, famed high school coach Bob Hurley Sr., and Brazilian legend Maciel Ubiratan Pereira were other ones inducted Friday.

Malone  was a two-time NBA MVP, 14-time NBA All-Star and two-time Olympic gold medalist.  In addition to  the 1992 team, he also played on the 1996 team that won  gold in  Atlanta.  Last  year, his  long-time  Utah  Jazz teammate,  John Stockton, was inducted into the Hall of Fame.

An  All-NBA First-Team  forward  from 1989-99,  Malone was  named  one of  the league’s  50  greatest players in 1996  and ranks second on the NBA’s all-time scoring  list with  36,928 points. He finished his career with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2003-04.

“I  want to  thank the NBA this  little snotty-nosed kid from Louisiana got an opportunity  to play the game,” Malone said. “I hope I did it the way my peers did  it before me.  I didn’t do anything but try to play hard. I didn’t have a motive.  It  wasn’t about me,  never was about me.  It’s not about me tonight. It’s about a lot of other people.”

Pippen,  who  was the first  one inducted, had Hall  of Famer and former Bulls teammate  Michael Jordan  standing nearby  on  stage as  his presenter  Friday night.  Pippen was  a seven-time NBA All-Star and a member of six championship teams  with  the Chicago  Bulls. He  also played  in the  1996 Olympics, was a three-time All-NBA  First-Team  member and was voted  to the NBA All-Defensive First Team from  1992-99.  After leaving the Bulls,  Pippen played for Houston in 1998-99 and Portland from 1999-2003.

“For me, idolizing guys like Larry Bird and what he did in the game, has given me the opportunity to be here today,” Pippen said.

The  1992 Olympic team dominated the Barcelona Games, winning all eight of its games  by an  average of 43.8 points.  Coached by the late Hall of Famer Chuck Daly, the “Dream Team” was the first team made up primarily of NBA players who were   eligible  to   compete  in  international  basketball  because  of  the change  of  FIBA  rules in  1989.  Eight  players  from  the team  —  Charles Barkley,  Bird, Clyde  Drexler, Patrick  Ewing, Magic  Johnson, Jordan,  David Robinson  and  Stockton — have already  been enshrined into the Hall of Fame. Malone and Pippen made it 10.

“We  want to  say thank you to coach  because he was the architect that put it all  together,”  Johnson said of  Daly, who passed away  in May 2009. “He made sure  we checked our  ego at the door. He made sure we were just about playing with  one another  and playing for one  common goal and that was to bring home the gold medal.”

Before the “Dream Team,” there was the 1960 Olympic squad that ran through the Rome  Olympics with an 8-0 record on the way to a gold medal. That squad, with six  members — including Walt Bellamy, Jerry Lucas, Oscar Robertson and Jerry West — enshrined in the Hall, won their games by an average of 42.4 points.

Buss  has owned the  Lakers since 1979 and the team has captured 10 NBA titles under  his stewardship.  During his  ownership, the  Lakers have  also won  17 Western  Conference  titles and  have recorded  the most  wins and the highest
overall winning percentage in the NBA.

Dennis  Johnson, who died in 2007, earned nine straight NBA All-Defensive Team honors  during his 14-year career with Seattle, Phoenix and Boston. He led the Sonics  to the  1979 NBA  title,  earning Finals  MVP honors,  and helped  the Celtics to NBA crowns 1984 and ’86.

Gus  Johnson, who died in 1987, was a five-time NBA All-Star in the late 1960s and  early ’70s, and  won an ABA championship with Indiana in 1973. He led the Baltimore  Bullets to  five playoff appearances in nine seasons, including the 1971 NBA Finals. In 10 NBA seasons, he averaged 17.1 points and 12.7 rebounds.

Cooper  won a  pair of NCAA women’s titles at Southern California and captured four  WNBA  crowns with the Houston  Comets, earning the Finals MVP honor each time. She was twice the league’s MVP and won an Olympic gold medal in 1988.

Hurley  is a New Jersey high school coaching legend, having compiled more than 900  wins as head coach at St. Anthony’s in Jersey City since 1972. He has led the  school  to 25  state parochial  titles, and became  only the third person elected  exclusively for  their  service to  high  school basketball,  joining Morgan Wootten and Bertha Teague.

Pereira,  who  died in 2002, is  widely considered one of the greatest players in  South American  basketball history.  A member  of three  Brazilian Olympic teams,  Ubiratan  led his countrymen  to the bronze  medal at the 1964 Olympic Games.

– Stephen (DS LLC.)

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