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February 24, 2012

Vince Cellini

Jerry Colangelo

John Doleva

Sam Smith

Pat Williams


VINCE CELLINI:  Good morning, everyone, and thank you for joining us, and a very special welcome to our viewers on NBA TV.  I'm Vince Cellini.  We're coming to you live from the Hilton Hotel in Orlando, Florida, site of the 2012 All‑Star weekend.  We're so happy you're with us.  During today's historic event we will learn important and breaking news.  First we will reveal the names of the direct elects, the first members of the Hall of Fame Class of 2012 to be named.  Next we'll learn the names of Hall of Fame annual award winners to be recognized at this year's enshrinement, and finally we'll reveal of the names of the finalists for this year's Hall of Fame class, the Class of 2012.
It's a wonderful honor for me to be here and to host this event.  The Hall of Fame is a wonderful museum, a real showplace for the game, a game all of us truly love.
Before we begin today's program, I do want to introduce the remarkable group of people seated behind me and here on stage.  We're honored to be joined by these outstanding members of the Hall of Fame family, and we thank everyone for joining us today.  First, from the Hall of Fame Class of 2011, Mr. Artis Gilmore.
The Big Red Head, Mr.Dave Cowans.
From the Class of 2011, Mr.Chris Mullin.
From the Class of 1996, the Ice Man, George Gervin.
From the Class of 1973, Mr.Dolph Schayes.
From the Class of 2006, my friend and former colleague, Mr.Dominique Wilkins.
From the Class of 2009, the Admiral, David Robinson.
From the Class of 2011, Ms.Teresa Edwards.
And last but not least, our Hall‑of‑Famer, Lynette Woodard.
We have a lot of ground to cover this morning so we want to get started here.  Truly an honor and great pleasure to introduce now the Chairman of the Board of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, the chairman of USA Basketball and member of the Hall of Fame Class of 2004, Mr.Jerry Colangelo.
JERRY COLANGELO:  Thank you, Vince.  Today we have the honor of announcing the names of the first members of the Hall of Fame Class of 2012, and 12 additional finalists that have one more step to take, consideration by the Honors Committee.  I'm extremely proud and honored to be with you today as we continue the remarkable growth and global importance of the Hall and our Hall‑of‑Fame family.
The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame represents the entire game of basketball, and we work extremely hard to represent all facets of the game in an open and fair process.
Last year, changes were made to make the process more responsive and representative of the entire game.  Four new committees were created and added to the process in 2011, representing significantly underserved constituencies based on our internal analysis of past enshrinement classes.  We focused our 2011 effort on the ABA game, the early African‑American pioneers, the international game, and the veterans group for this new direct election process, each of which has been positively received.
Each Direct Election Committee is made up of seven category experts, ensuring the Hall of Fame has the highest level of informed decision makersa regarding the important choices in these categories.  These categories are frankly out of the mainstream and demand a special group of very informed people to make the call, and we have them on our committees.  With the success of last year's efforts, we continue to study and analyze our process.  We realized that we had one additional constituency that was underrepresented in our recent elections, and thus I'm especially happy to announce today we have added as a Direct Election Committee to look specifically at contributors to the game.
This committee will be charged with seeking out those individuals who have made a unique, historic and undeniable contribution to the growth and development of basketball.  Special focus on contributors means they will not be overshadowed by the more well‑known players and coaches who have been seen in the basketball media daily.  We are striving to be sure that we meet our obligation to represent the entire game, from all constituencies and all fronts.  This is a very stringent process and a right one for the times.
Finally, as a further outreach to the millions of basketball fans and to make our process as open as possible, I am very happy to announce that beginning in 2013 we will introduce an innovative new program which will allow fans the opportunity to directly vote for incoming Hall of Fame members.  The Hall of Fame is partnered with ESPN to produce a fan‑voting mechanism where fans will have real input into the voting, and where their votes will be counted beginning with next year's class, the Class of 2013.
Fans will have the opportunity to vote yes or no on each finalist announced in 2013 via an electronic version of the very same ballot our Honors Committee voters will get, and the top three vote‑getters by the fans in 2013 will have one additional "yes" vote added to their tally towards the necessary 18 required "yes" votes to be elected.
I will tell you that as we look back, there have been many years when one vote makes the difference.  It happened as recently as last year, 2011.  So fans will have a real and meaningful voice in our process.
Now, let's meet the first five members of the Hall of Fame Class of 2012.  From our five Direct Election Committees, back to you, Vince, for these introductions.
VINCE CELLINI:  Thank you very much.  We'll get to the business at hand.  As Jerry said, to announce the members of the Hall of Fame Class of 2012, Direct Elect Committees.
She was an international coaching giant with the Soviet Union for more than 20 years, leading her teams to multiple medals and championships.  Her undefeated record in international play helped the Soviet Union win two Olympic golds, four World Championships and ten European Championships.  She's an enshrinee in the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame and the FIBA Hall of Fame.  Elected from the International Committee into the Class of 2012, Lidia Alexeeva.
He is a former UCLA Bruin.  In 1948 he was the first African‑American Olympic basketball player and in 1953 became the first African‑American NBA All Star.  Elected from the early African‑American Pioneer Committee, Don Barksdale.
This Detroit native made his professional mark on the game of basketball while playing in the ABA.  He would win three championships with the Indiana Pacers, was named to seven All‑Star games and twice named the ABA Most Valuable Player.  He's a member of the ABA's 30 Greatest Players, elected from the ABA committee, Mel Daniels.
This next honoree's NBA playing career had three stops, Syracuse, Philadelphia and Chicago, where he would be named to seven All‑Star teams.  He was a starting forward in the 1967 NBA champion Philadelphia 76ers, starred collegiately at Bradley University, elected from the veterans category, Chet Walker.
And our last recipient is one of the most influential creative leaders in sports, a true innovator who changed the face of the game by helping expand the growth of basketball worldwide.  Through innovative marketing and influential products, his company became the first sports brand to use athletes to electively communicate and promote their vision.  He has been named the most powerful man in sports by The Sporting News, one of America's top manager by Business Weekly and a recent recipient of the University of Oregon's Pioneer Award, elected as a contributor by the Contributors Direct Elect Committee, Mr.Phil Knight.
Mr.Knight could not be with us here today but did want to share his thoughts on receiving the award.
PHIL KNIGHT:  When Jerry Colangelo called me last week to tell me that I had been elected, I was truly shocked.  I had no idea there was a contributor category in the Hall of Fame.  I knew Jerry was in it, but I also knew he had been a four‑time NBA Executive of the Year, which made sense.  So I was truly surprised, but I was honestly thrilled.  I was so shaken that my knees almost buckled.  And I'm truly grateful for everybody that had anything to do with making this happen.
I'm sorry I couldn't be in Orlando this weekend for the NBA All‑Star Game.  I've had a long‑standing prior commitment.  But I assure you, I'm looking forward to other events related to this induction, including the Final Four in April, and of course in Springfield in September.
VINCE CELLINI:  Thank you, Mr.Knight, and congratulations to all of the electees.  We look forward to formally introducing all five as a part of the Class of 2012 at the NCAA Final Four in New Orleans.
Here next to announce the winners of the prestigious Hall‑of‑Fame annual awards, please welcome the president and chief executive officer of the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame, Mr.John Doleva.
JOHN DOLEVA:  Good morning, and thank you all for being here for this exciting Hall‑of‑Fame announcement.  Congratulations to our five electees for the Class of 2012.  We welcome them to the Hall of Fame family.  To Vince Cellini, thank you for hosting our event today and thanks to our friends at NBA TV for having it on their network as well as the production folks behind the scenes who work very hard.
There's a lot going on at the Hall of Fame.  I just want to touch on three important elements before we proceed to our John W. Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award winner and our two Curt Gowdy Media Award winners.
First and important to this group assembled here today, especially who we've announced already elected are the dates of enshrinement.  The 2012 ceremonies will be held in Springfield, Massachusetts, the home of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on September 6th through 8th.  There we will formally induct our elected class and honor our award winners, joined by upwards of 60 to 70 returning Hall‑of‑Famers, celebrating the great game of basketball.  Information can be obtained right now on our website, Hoophall.com about enshrinement in September.
Secondly, a new event will be unveiled in the fall as a significant 501(c)(3) Nonprofit Basketball Hall of Fame, and that new event is the inaugural Jerry Colangelo Basketball Hall of Fame Classic that will be played in September on September 19th and 20th in Phoenix, Arizona, at the beautiful Wigwam Resort in the Litchfield Park suburb.  Over 75 Hall‑of‑Famers, basketball celebrities and members of the media will be with us as we again celebrate the game and have fun on their three championship courses at this resort, while supporting the Hall of Fame in our efforts to preserve the history of the game.
Lastly, the eight collegiate teams have been announced for the 2012 Basketball Hall of Fame tip‑off tournament to be held November 16th through 18th this year at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut.  The 2012 field is headlined by Ohio State, University of Washington, Seton Hall and the University of Rhode Island.  As we look forward in 2013, fans can look forward to a match‑up including North Carolina at the beautiful Mohegan Sun property in Connecticut.  So we thank the teams who have committed to play.  We are very excited about all of them, and thank Coach Williams for committing already to 2013.  Information on all of these events I've just outlined is available on our website Hoophall.com.
Now on to our 2012 award winners, the Naismith Hall of Fame annually gives its Curt Gowdy Media Award to two deserving members of the media, one for work and print media, and one for work in the electronic media.
Our first recipient receiving the Curt Gowdy Award for print is a Brooklyn, New York native whose journalism career has spanned more than 25 years.  In 1979 he began writing at the Chicago Tribune as a political reporter before departing to cover the Chicago Bulls during the dynasty era of Phil Jackson and Michael Jordan.  From 1988 to 2008, he never missed an All‑Star Game or an NBA Finals.  In addition to being a well‑respected author and frequent contributor to Bulls.com, he has deserved four terms as president of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.  Recently he was honored as the inaugural recipient of the Professional Writers Association Lifetime Achievement Award.  Today he is honored again, this time at the highest level.  Please join me in recognizing the winner, and I know he's in the room, of the Curt Gowdy Media Award representing print, Mr.Sam Smith.
The recipient of the 2012 Curt Gowdy Media Award for his work in the electronic media, our next honoree is a living basketball legend in the Pacific Northwest.  Serving as the radio voice for the Portland Trail Blazers during the franchise's first 28 years.  Today he serves as the founding broadcaster and ambassador for the team, hosting various television and radio segments, as well as working within the Portland community.  His 30 years of service with the Trail Blazers is the second longest tenure behind the late Hall‑of‑Fame broadcaster Chick Hearn.  He is a three‑time Oregon Sportscaster of the Year, and a member of the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame.  He's not here today with us, but please join me in recognizing the winner of the 2012 Curt Gowdy Media Award representing broadcast media, Mr.Bill Schonely.
And finally the John W. Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award is the highest award bestowed by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame short of enshrinement.  It represents a lifelong dedication to the game and to its growth and stewardship.  This individual's tenure in professional sports has lasted nearly 50 years.  It began in 1968 as a 29‑year‑old general manager with the Chicago Bulls, culminating in his current role as senior vice president with the Orlando Magic, a team he cofounded in 1986.  His drive career and outstanding efforts during his career in professional basketball have been instrumental in developing successful NBA franchises and in winning championships.  Widely acknowledged for his contributions to the game of basketball, he is also known as one of the country's top motivational speakers and is the author of over 70 books.  In addition, he's the proud father of 19 children, including 14 adopted from around the world.  Today he is recognized with the John W. Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award, our highest honor outside of enshrinement.  Ladies and gentlemen, I present, and he's here with us, Mr.Pat Williams.
Congratulations to all of our award winners.  We look forward to welcoming them to Springfield and to the Hall of Fame, and we look forward to presenting your awards on September 6th, a very special evening.  Congratulations.  Back to you, Vince.
VINCE CELLINI:  Thank you very much, John, and thanks to the Hall for honoring these remarkable individuals who have done so much for the growth of basketball worldwide.  And at this time, I would like to invite up to the stage Sam Smith and Pat Williams.  Would you please step up?
Gentlemen, congratulations.  Sam, what does this honor mean to you today?
SAM SMITH:  Well, I was thinking about this in the sense that here you've got an opportunity to write about guys like Chris, Ice, Artis, for decades, and now they're going to honor you for it.  It's pretty overwhelming to have the opportunity to see them at their greatest, playing, to write about it, and then to be appreciated like this.  It's really overwhelming.
VINCE CELLINI:  Pat, same question to you.  What does this mean to you?
PAT WILLIAMS:  Well, it means a great deal.  I think it means, first of all, I've been around a long time, and secondly, I've been very fortunate to have some outstanding players on the teams I had.  I was just overwhelmed and thrilled today when Chet Walker was introduced as a Hall‑of‑Famer.  We traded for him in 1969 when I got to Chicago, and he sparked our franchise in a way that you couldn't even measure.
And then sitting in the front row, my dear friend Maurice Cheeks, who we drafted in 1978, second‑round pick out of West Texas State, came in as a starter right from the get go, and I still say he's the best all around true point guard in the history of basketball.  I'm honored to have those great ballplayers to go along with me.
VINCE CELLINI:  What was it about basketball in particular that made you want to be a part of this?
SAM SMITH:  Obviously I'm a Brooklyn native, so the influence of guys like Chris Mullin.  But truly really the greatest game in my view, the greatest athletes who play the game, the greatest entertainment, and if you're around basketball for a long time, you notice it's a great family of people in the game, and you see that‑‑ I've been to so many Hall‑of‑Fame induction ceremonies, and that's the sense you get, this is a family.
VINCE CELLINI:  And Pat, thank you for founding the Magic.  We might be in Chicago today, had it not been for the Magic.
PAT WILLIAMS:  You could be freezing.  We came down here 26 years ago in June of 1986 and had a dream, a vision of creating an NBA basketball team here in Central Florida.  Orlando at that time was a pretty small community.  But to see the growth and magnitude of this city.  What's happened here is pretty breath taking.
VINCE CELLINI:  The world is eager to learn who's been chosen as today's finalists, the critical next step to being named to the Basketball Hall of Fame.  So without further delay, the names of the 12 finalists for the Hall of Fame Class of 2012:
From the North American and Women's Committees, first the Women's Committee, one of the most decorated athletes in U.S. National Women's Team history, the University of Georgia product, two‑time Kodak All American, WBCA Player of the Year, SEC Player of the Year, at the international level she would win two Olympic gold medals, twice named USA Basketball's female athlete of the year, won a gold and bronze at the FIBA World Championships, selected as a finalist from the Women's Committee, Katrina McClain.
They are known as the female version of the Harlem Globetrotters and the women professional basketball team.  This team regularly played more than 200 games per season, winning 70 percent of them while touring thousands of miles in multiple states to play in front of sellout crowds.  The team broke social barriers, stereotypes and entertained millions while growing the game over six decades, nominated as a team from the Women's Committee, the All American Red Heads.
And now the finalists from the North American Committee:  This Chicago native has been involved in the NBA either as a player or a coach since 1978.  As a player, four‑time All‑Star and named to the NBA All‑Defensive Team for four straight years.  He won an NBA championship with the Philadelphia 76ers in 1983, still holds that team's record for assists and steals, currently an assistant coach with the Oklahoma City Thunder, nominated as a player from the North American Committee, Maurice Cheeks.
Named as one of the NBA's Ten Best Coaches of all time, this finalist compiled more than 900 victories, including an NBA Championship, two NBA Coach‑of‑the‑Year honors.  At the collegiate level he would win nearly 200 games in 12 seasons, including consecutive appearances in the NCAA Division II Final Four with North Dakota University.  Selected as a finalist from the North American Committee, started as a finalist William "Bill" Fitch.
This prolific scorer spent 15 seasons in the NBA after an outstanding collegiate career at the University of Tennessee, where he earned All America honors.  A New York City native, he would be named four‑time NBA All Star, two‑time All NBA First Team selection, finished a career average of over 22 points a game.  Selected as a finalist from the North American Committee, Bernard King.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, this next finalist enjoyed an outstanding career at UCLA.  He's a five‑time NBA All‑Star, ranks today as the all‑time leading scorer in Indiana Pacers history, amassing over 25,000 points during his 17‑year career.  He's still recognized as one of the great clutch players in league history, currently works as a television analyst for Turner Sports, I read it just like he wrote it, selected as a finalist from the North American Committee, my friend Reggie Miller.
This next finalist's coaching career his taken him to all levels of the game.  Since 1954 he's collected more than 1,000 victories while coaching in junior college, high school, college and NBA.  In 1978 he guided the Washington Bullets to the NBA Championship and won NBA Coach of the Year honors in 1971.  Nominated as a coach from the North America Committee, Dick Motta.
Named in 1996 as one of the NBA's Ten Best Coaches of all time, this three‑time Coach of the Year currently ranks second on the all‑time NBA wins last.  He's only one of two coaches to win 250 games with three different teams and head coach of the 1994 United States team that won gold at the World Championships, selected as a coach finalist from the North America Committee, Don Nelson.
His career in basketball his centered around the rules of the game, a top collegiate official, he would referee six National Championship games, ten Final Fours.  After officiating and his career was over, he would become the national coordinator of officials in the NCAA.  Nominated as a referee from the North American Committee, Hank Nichols.
He is the only coach in men's history to lead three different schools to the NCAA Final Four.  His 600‑plus wins include a National Championship while at the University of Kentucky.  He's made five Final Four appearances overall, currently the head coach of the University of Louisville, selected as a finalist from the Northern American Committee, Rick Pitino.
Known as one of the top collegiate players of all time, he would be recognized as a three‑time National Player of the Year and consensus All America honors while at the University of Virginia.  His collegiate accolades also included earning the Wooden and Naismith awards.  In the NBA he won Rookie of the Year honors and was a three‑time All Star.  Nominated as a player from the North American Committee, Ralph Sampson.
This California native played under the Hall‑of‑Fame coach John Wooden at UCLA, where he would win two National Championships and receive All America honors in 1974.  His NBA career would be highlighted by four NBA Championships and Rookie of the Year honors in 1975.  Nominated as a player from the North American Committee, Jamaal Wilkes.
Ladies and gentlemen, a round of applause for the 2012 finalists.  Congratulations to all.
And of course being named as a finalist is an honor, true honor in itself.  At this time we'd like to also welcome two of the finalists up to the stage, please.  Reggie Miller and Maurice Cheeks, if you would please come up.
What does it mean to be nominated as a finalist?
REGGIE MILLER:  Well, it's great.  I've played against a lot of these guys up here, and I've watched a lot of them, and even growing up watching these two battle my sister a lot of times, screaming, wondering, Lynette and Teresa.  So it's wonderful to just even be mentioned with these guys.
MAURICE CHEEKS:  Same here.  I played against a lot of these guys, and this is the highest honor, and to be selected would be an honor.
VINCE CELLINI:  You both stay close to the game as an analyst and a coach in the NBA.  What would this mean as far as your legacy?
MAURICE CHEEKS:  Well, first off, to get to the NBA was special for me, and to have an opportunity to be elected to the Hall of Fame, again, it's just the highest honor.  And to be in the company of these guys up here would be very, very special.
VINCE CELLINI:  Reggie, all the highlights and all the winning and all the points, but at the end of the day it is about your legacy and the final place where it's basketball immortality.
REGGIE MILLER:  Well, I echo Maurice's sentiment.  When you're in the backyard and play the 3‑2‑1 game and be the Ice Man and doing the finger roll and stuff, you never envision being on the same stage with these guys.  It's a great honor.
VINCE CELLINI:  Reggie Miller and Mo Cheeks, congratulations.
We want to thank them and everyone, really, for being here today and being part of the festivities.  Some important dates to remember:  The Class of 2012 will be introduced on Monday, April 2nd, at the NCAA Final Four in New Orleans.  September 7th in Springfield the enshrinement will take place for 2012.  We hope to see everyone at the Basketball Hall of Fame, and this will conclude the press conference.  We want to thank everyone for coming out, and thanks to our hosts from NBA Entertainment and thanks to the audience on NBA TV.

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