Spencer Haywood came pretty close to becoming a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2014, but didn’t make it eventually. This year, he is once again the finalist “for consideration” in the Hall, along with five-time NBA All-Star Tim Hardaway and three-time NBA All-Star Kevin Johnson.
Haywood recalled how he attended the NBA All-Star weekend 2015, and how he today feels about the Hall of Fame.
“Going into All-Star Weekend, I wasn’t thinking about the Hall of Fame. I kind of let it go because it’s something I have no control ove,” Haywood wrote on LegendsCorner blog. “I can’t do anything other than what I’ve already done in terms of my stats, my records and my impact on changing the game. So my mentality is, whatever they do, they do.”
Haywood recalled that when he arrived, he was notified to attend the Hall of Fame press conference.
“When I went [there], there was a group of heavy-hitting Hall of Famers down in the hotel lobby,” Haywood said.
“There was Willis Reed, Oscar Robertson, Bill Russell, Rick Barry, Nancy Lieberman. I was like, well, there must be some good stuff happening! The Big O is here – what is this all about?! Bill Russell is sitting right here,” he said.
“Rick (Barry) has had a calming effect on me throughout this whole process. He’s been there, he knows what it’s all about. He and Nancy [Lieberman] and I are on the Board of Directors for the Retired Players Association together, so we are in constant communication. Between the two, they slide in a few prayers for me here and there,” Haywood wrote.
Haywood went on to note that he also saw Dominique Wilkins, George Gervin, Earl Monroe at the event.
“Of course my African brother, Mutombo, was there. Since I was married to Iman (who’s from Somalia), the Africans, like Mutombo and Olajuwon, view me as an African,” Haywood wriote. “And then there’s Kevin Johnson, who I have much respect for. As the Mayor Of Sacramento, saving that franchise, building a new arena, getting new ownership in there…nothing but respect.”
“So I’m back in the Hall of Fame race. I feel very positive because all of the players on that podium and all of the retired players I saw over the weekend gave me so much love and so much hope. I’m grateful…very, very grateful for them,” Haywood wrote.
He said the Hall of Fame is important for him because of what he did as a player.
“I’m not talking about what I did to change the game. I’m talking about straight-up basketball, nothing more. I was a four-time NBA All-Star, an NBA Champion, two-time All-NBA First Team. Throughout my 13-year pro career, I averaged 20.3 points per game and 10.3 rebounds per game. The Sonics retired my jersey in 2007. That’s why it’s important. It’s an acknowledgement of all of that,” he said.
“I like the acknowledgement of what I’ve done for the game as well, but first and foremost, it’s about my stats, what I did as a player. And that’s what you are judged on,” Haywood said. “You are also judged on your impact on the game, and my impact on the game has been tre-men-dous. I like my stats, and that’s what I’m standing on.”
Haywood was a 4-time NBA All-Star, one-time ABA All-Star. He appeared in 84 ABA games, averaging 30 ppg and 19.5 rpg. In the NBA, Haywood played 760 games, holding career averages of 19.2 ppg, 9.3 rpg. Overall, Haywood played 844 games (ABA, NBA), averaging 20.3 ppg and 10.3 rpg in 34.8 mpg.
Deep down, Haywood wrote he feels really good about the whole thing.
“Magic Johnson and all of those people show me so much love. Sometimes it’s like, are you all talking about me?! Magic walks up to me and says, “If you make it in this year, I’m going to come to the Hall of Fame and bring you across the threshold.” I was like, oh boy!”
This year’s list includes nine first-time finalists: 39-year NBA referee Dick Bavetta, two-time College Coach of the Year John Calipari, two-time NBA Coach of the Year Bill Fitch, all-time winningest boys high school coach Robert Hughes, eight-time NBA All-Star Dikembe Mutombo, four-time Division III national champion coach Bo Ryan, seven-time NBA All-Star Jo Jo White, the all-time winningest high school coach Leta Andrews and three-time WNBA MVP Lisa Leslie.
The complete list of 10 finalists from the North American Screening Committee includes: players Tim Hardaway, Spencer Haywood, Kevin Johnson, Dikembe Mutombo, and Jo Jo White, coaches John Calipari, Bill Fitch, Robert Hughes and Bo Ryan and referee Dick Bavetta. From the Women’s Screening Committee: coach Leta Andrews and player Lisa Leslie.
The Class of 2015 will be announced on Monday, April 6 at a press conference in Indianapolis prior to the NCAA Men’s Championship game. A finalist needs 18 of 24 votes from the Honors Committee for election into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. The Class of 2015 will be enshrined during festivities in Springfield, Massachusetts September 10-11.
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