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February 15, 2008 9:43 AM

Dennis Johnson selected to Hall of Fame

Posted by Percy Allen

Former legend Sonics Dennis Johnson has been posthumounsly selected in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. He's one of 15 inductees announced this morning at a New Orleans press conference.

Drafted by the Sonics in the second round in 1976 out of Pepperdine, Johnson played four seasons in Seattle. He became a two-time All-Star and a defensive standout with the Sonics and led the team to a 1979 NBA Title.

Johnson was named Finals MVP after averaging 22.6 points per game against Washington. He was traded to Phoenix in 1980 and Boston in '83 where he won two more NBA titles and cemented a reputation as tough defender and clutch shooter.

Johnson died last year in Austin, Texas. Times columnist Steve Kelley and I wrote columns on his passing.

Here's a copy of the Hall of Fame press relase.

The following was announced by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of
Fame this morning in New Orleans:

NAISMITH MEMORIAL BASKETBALL HALL OF FAME ANNOUNCES FINALISTS FOR
ELECTION IN 2008

First-Time Nominees Ewing, Olajuwon and Riley Highlight Elite Group of
15 Finalists to be Placed on Official 2008 Ballot for Election


SPRINGFIELD, MA - February 15, 2008 - Hakeem Olajuwon, who led the
University of Houston to three straight Final Fours and the Houston
Rockets to back-to-back NBA titles; Patrick Ewing, a two time Olympic
Gold Medalist, 1984 NCAA Champion at Georgetown and 11-time NBA
All-Star; and Pat Riley, head coach of the Miami Heat who has captured a
total of five NBA championships as a coach with the Heat and Lakers,
were named as Finalists for election to the Naismith Memorial Basketball
Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility. In addition, NBA and
Notre Dame scoring legend Adrian Dantley, the late Dennis Johnson,
former St. John's and NBA standout Chris Mullin, current Golden State
Warriors coach Don Nelson and ESPN sportscaster Dick Vitale highlight a
list of 15 individuals named as Finalists for election into the
Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2008. The announcement was made today
in New Orleans, LA in conjunction with the 2008 NBA All-Star Weekend
festivities.

The complete list of 15 Finalists includes a total of 10 candidates from
the North American Screening Committee - players Ewing, Dantley,
Johnson, Olajuwon and Mullin; coaches Nelson and Riley; and contributors
Victor Bubas, Bill Davidson and Vitale. Two candidates each comprise
Finalists from the Veteran's Screening Committee - player Richie Guerin
and contributor Johnny 'Red' Kerr - and the International Screening
Committee - coach Togo Soares and player Maciel Ubiratan Pereira (both
of Brazil), with coach Cathy Rush representing the lone nominee from the
Women's Screening Committee.

Ewing, Olajuwon and Riley are Finalists in their first year of
consideration by their respective Screening Committees. Soares and
Pereira are first-time Finalists who have previously been reviewed by
Screening Committees. Bubas, Dantley, Davidson, Guerin, Johnson, Kerr,
Mullin, Nelson, Rush and Vitale have been named Finalists in prior
years.

The Class of 2008 will be announced on Monday, April 7 at a news
conference in San Antonio, TX prior to the NCAA's Men's Division I
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 2008 will be enshrined during festivities in
Springfield, MA September 4-6, 2008. Tickets to the 2008 Enshrinement
Gala and all weekend activities are available by calling the Hall of
Fame at (413) 781-6500. Ticket information is also available on line at
www.hoophall.com.

NORTH AMERICAN COMMITTEE FINALISTS

VICTOR BUBAS - Contributor (Finalist in 2003), the 1996 recipient of the
prestigious John Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award, began a lifelong love
affair with basketball in his hometown of Gary, Indiana before attending
North Carolina State University where he played for, and coached
alongside, Hall of Famer Everett Case. As a player, Bubas helped NC
State reach the NCAA Final Four in 1950. Bubas then landed the head
coaching position at Duke University in 1959 where he led the Blue
Devils to three NCAA Final Fours (1963, 1964, 1966) and four ACC
championships (1960, 1963, 1964, 1966). His strong work ethic and
vision helped put Duke on the national map in basketball and made Bubas
the second winningest coach in the 1960s behind Hall of Famer John
Wooden. As the Commissioner of the Sun Belt Conference from 1976-1990,
Bubas played a key role in the NCAA's adoption of the both the
three-point line and the 45-second shot clock.

ADRIAN DANTLEY - Player (Finalist in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007)
, a native of Washington, D.C., was one of the most prolific scorers in
NBA history. He had a stellar 15-year NBA career with seven different
teams (Buffalo Braves, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Lakers, Utah Jazz,
Detroit Pistons, Dallas Maverick and Milwaukee Bucks), the majority of
the time spent with the Jazz (1979-86). At all levels, Dantley enjoyed
success - as a scholastic All-America player at DeMatha Catholic High
School (Md.), as a collegian at Notre Dame (1973-76), as the leading
scorer (19.3 ppg) of the gold medal 1976 Olympic team and as a
professional where he was Rookie of the Year in 1977. His 23,177 career
points still ranks 23rd all-time in the NBA. He scored 2,223 points in
three seasons (25.8) at Notre Dame, ranks second in Irish career scoring
and was a unanimous First Team All-America list in 1975 and 1976. In all
but four seasons as a professional, Dantley averaged 20 points or
better, including topping the 30-point mark four straight years
(1981-84). The six-time NBA All-Star (1980-82, 1984-86) was named NBA
Comeback Player of the Year in 1984, the year he led the league in
scoring (30.6).

WILLIAM (Bill) DAVIDSON - Contributor (Finalist in 2007), 85, is a
lifelong Michigan resident born in Detroit, where he has created both
NBA and WNBA dynasties. An owner of the Pistons since 1974 and the WNBA
Shock since 1998, Davidson's Pistons have captured three NBA crowns to
go along with two WNBA titles for the Shock. Davidson has served as
Chairman of the NBA Board of Governors, and has been an innovative
business leader in the sports industry - building the revolutionary
Palace of Auburn Hills, playing an integral role in structuring modern
NBA salary cap and free agency standards, and even owning the NHL's
Tampa Bay Lightning and capturing a Stanley Cup. His Pistons have
featured several Hall of Famers, including Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars,
Chuck Daly and Larry Brown.


PATRICK EWING - Player, a two-time Olympic gold medal winner (1984,
1992) and a three-time consensus First Team All-America (1983, 1984,
1985), led Georgetown University to three appearances in the NCAA Final
Four and the 1984 national championship earning Most Outstanding Player
recognition for his efforts. The 1986 NBA Rookie of the Year landed a
spot on 11 NBA All Star rosters including ten in a row from 1998 to
1997. A member of the NBA 50th Anniversary Team, Ewing scored 24,815
points during his 17-year NBA career to go along with 11,607 rebounds.
Named Parade Magazine's National High School Player of the Year in 1981,
Ewing remains the New York Knicks, all-time leader in points, rebounds,
blocked shots, steals and field goals made.

DENNIS JOHNSON - Player (Finalist in 1999, 2003, 2005), was one of
basketball's toughest defenders earning nine consecutive NBA
All-Defensive team honors during his 14-year pro career, including six
spots on the All-Defensive First Team. A member of three NBA
championship teams, Johnson led the Seattle Supersonics to the 1979 NBA
title and was named Finals Most Valuable Player. He was an unheralded
player coming out of high school and college, but left his mark on the
NBA as a five-time All Star (1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1985) and one of
the game's great clutch performers.

CHRIS MULLIN - Player (Finalist in 2007), a McDonald's High School
All-America from Brooklyn, NY, was a five-time NBA All-Star and
collegiate standout at St. John's, where he was named Big East Player of
the Year an unprecedented three times. A two-time Olympic gold medalist
(1984, 1992), Mullin played 16 NBA seasons for Golden State and Indiana,
amassing 17,911 points while averaging more than 20 ppg for six
consecutive seasons. He is one of only 17 players in NBA history to
compile 17,000 points, 3,000 rebounds and 3,000 assists, and was an NBA
First Team pick in 1992. He is the all time scoring leader at St.
John's (2,440), where he was named the Wooden Award winner and The
Sporting News First Team All-America in 1985.

DON NELSON - Coach (Finalist in 2006), is a three-time NBA Coach of the
Year (1983, 1985, 1992) and currently ranks second on the all-time wins
list in NBA history behind Hall of Famer Lenny Wilkens. Nelson is one
of the modern game's great innovators with his small-ball offense, his
eye for international talent and his ability to reinvent preconceived
notions about positions on the basketball court. He led the Golden
State Warriors to a 4-2 game upset of the Dallas Mavericks in the first
round of the 2007 NBA Playoffs, the first time a #8 seed defeated a #1
seed in a seven-game series. In 1996, Nelson was named to the NBA's Ten
Best Coaches of All-Time list and has served his country as the head
coach of the 1994 U.S. men's national team that won the gold medal at
the World Championships.

HAKEEM OLAJUWON - Player, a native of Lagos, Nigeria, spent the lion's
share of his basketball career in Houston, Texas where he led the
Houston Rockets to back-to-back NBA championships in 1994 and 1995 and
the University of Houston to three consecutive Final Four appearances
from 1982 to 1984. A two-time Defensive Player of the Year, Olajuwon
still holds the NBA record for blocked shots (3,830) and is the only
player to record more than 3,000 blocked shots and 2,000 steals in a
career. Olajuwon was also a five-time member of the NBA All-Defensive
First Team, a six-time All-NBA First Team performer, and the 1994 NBA
MVP. He recorded 26,946 points and 13,748 rebounds in 18 NBA seasons,
good for ninth and fourteenth respectively on the all-time NBA leader
board.

PAT RILEY - Coach, has experienced success at all levels and in all
realms of the game. A player on the 1966 University of Kentucky Final
Four team, Riley has left his biggest mark on the game in coaching.
Riley is a three-time NBA Coach of the Year and currently ranks third on
the all-time wins list in NBA history behind Hall of Famer Lenny Wilkens
and fellow finalist Don Nelson. His greatest achievements have come in
the form of five NBA championships, including four as the head coach of
the Los Angeles Lakers (1982, 1985, 1987, 1988) and a fifth patrolling
the sidelines for the Miami Heat in 2005. He is a member of the NBA's
Ten Best Coaches of All-Time and is the only coach in history to win NBA
Coach of the Year honors with three different teams.

DICK VITALE - Contributor (Finalist in 2004, 2006), a native of Passaic,
NJ, has been synonymous with college basketball for more than 20 years
as the lead color announcer for ESPN. A successful coach at the high
school (East Rutherford), collegiate (University of Detroit) and
professional (Detroit Pistons) levels, Vitale began his broadcasting
career with ESPN in 1979 and has helped make the network an integral
part of college basketball's popularity. His enthusiastic, upbeat style
has resulted in a lexicon of now-familiar phrases as "Get a TO,"
"Awesome, Baby," and "PTP-er." An author of six books chronicling his
love affair with basketball, Vitale was recipient of the Basketball Hall
of Fame's Curt Gowdy electronic media award (1988) and won the NABC
Cliff Wells Appreciation Award in 2000.


WOMEN'S COMMITTEE FINALIST

CATHY RUSH - Coach (Finalist in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005), a pioneer
in women's basketball and an advocate for women's sports, led Immaculata
University to three consecutive AIAW national championships from 1972 to
1974. Rush propelled Immaculata, and women's basketball, into the
national spotlight when the Mighty Macs appeared on national television
in 1975, a first for women's basketball. Rush won 149 games in only
seven season and lost only 15, good for a .908 winning percentage. She
made six consecutive appearances in the AIAW Final Four (1972-1977) and
for her accomplishments was enshrined into the Women's Basketball Hall
of Fame in 2000.


INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE FINALISTS

TOGO SOARES - Coach, is widely considered the greatest coach in South
American basketball history. He coached the Brazilian national team
from 1951 to 1971 and led Brazil to five medals in the World
Championships including two gold (1959, 1963), two silver (1954, 1970)
and one bronze (1967). Soares also managed a bronze medal at the 1960
Olympic Games as well as silver and bronze medals at the 1963 and 1959
Pan-Am Games respectively. His club record included leading teams to
five South American championships (1958, 1960, 1961, 1963, 1971).

MACIEL UBIRATAN PEREIRA - Player, a native of Sao Paulo, Brazil, 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. He
was a relentless competitor and all-around player who only cared about
winning and filling whatever need for any of his teams. Ubiratan also
earned five South American championships (1963, 1968, 1971, 1973, 1977)
and eleven titles in Paulista League of Brazil.


VETERAN'S COMMITTEE FINALIST


RICHARD GUERIN - Player (Finalist in 2007), was a six-time NBA All Star
(1958-1963) and scored 14,676 points, 4,278 rebounds and 4,211 assists
during a pro career with the Knicks (1956-63), St. Louis Hawks (1963-67)
and Atlanta Hawks (1968-70). Guerin was the first Knick to score 2,000
points in a single season, and averaged 20.1 ppg as a member of the
Knicks. Born in Bronx, NY, Guerin played at Iona College, where as a
senior he averaged 24.7 ppg and was named an All-America. Guerin was
also a player/coach for both the St. Louis and Atlanta Hawks, compiling
a 327-291 record while being named NBA Coach of the Year in 1968.

JOHNNY "RED" KERR - Contributor (Finalist in 2004, 2005, 2006), a native
of Chicago, IL, has dedicated more than 60 years of his life to the game
of basketball as a player, coach, executive, and broadcaster. A
three-time NBA All Star (1956, 1959, 1963) and a member of the 1955 NBA
champion Syracuse Nationals, Kerr was one of basketball's most durable
players appearing in a then-record 844 consecutive games. The 1967 NBA
Coach of the Year is the only coach in NBA history to lead an expansion
to the playoffs in the franchise's first season. He is the author of
Bull Session and served as the Business Manager for the Chicago Bulls
from 1973-1975. Kerr has served as color commentator for the Chicago
Bulls since 1975..


Located in Springfield, Massachusetts, the birthplace of basketball, the
Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame promotes and preserves the
game of basketball at every level - professional, collegiate, men and
women. For more information, please visit our website at
www.hoophall.com or call 1-877-4-HOOPLA.

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