The Basketball Hall of Fame has three new members. Miami Heat center Alonzo Mourning, Arkansas Razorbacks coach Nolan Richardson and NBA player Mitch Richmond are among the honorees that will join the roster at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Mourning,who won his first championship with the Miami Heat in 2006, played 15 years in the NBA and was a 7-time All-Star. He is now the Vice-President of Player Programs and Development for the Miami Heat.
“You don’t play because you have intentions to go into the Hall of Fame,” Mourning said yesterday. “You play the game because you love it. I fell in love with basketball back in 1978. When I fell in love with the game, it became an extension of me.”
Mourning, 44, says that Miami heat president Pat Riley and his former coach at Georgetown John Thompson were two people who were among the most influential in his life and that he hopes both will be included in his induction ceremony in August.
He knows that he will be emotional at the Hall of Fame but is not expecting to be quite as emotional as he was at his jersey retirement ceremony.
“When I’m standing on that podium in August, it’s going to all flash before my eyes,” he said. “I’ve actually got a couple of bets with a couple of my boys that I won’t cry. This time, I’m going to win the bet, because I cried at my jersey retirement, and I didn’t expect that to happen.”
Richmond, 48, who spent most of his 14-year career as the top scorer on losing Sacramento teams. A Rookie of the Year winner in 1989, Richardson is a six-time All-Star who finally won a ring in 2002 with the Los Angeles Lakers in the last year of his playing career.
“You can judge me and you can judge my game,” Richmond told ESPN. “I’m a Hall of Famer.”
Richardson’s legacy is bittersweet. The 72-year-old coach ended his coaching career with the Tulsa Shock of the WNBA after winning an NCAA Championship with the Arizona Razorbacks in 1994. He was also part of the first All-Black starting five for Texas Western (now UTEP) under coach Don Haskins.
His team beat Kentucky for the NCAA title in 1966, when Adolph Rupp was the coach and Pat Riley was a player. Richardson will celebrate without his son, Nolan III, who was found dead 2 years ago at age 47 and his daughter Yvonne who died of leukemia at the age of 15. Some of his former Texas Western teammates have also died.
“I know they would be so happy and delighted,” said Richardson told ESPN. “I ask the good Lord to give them the message that things are good and I’ve done all right.”
Longtime NBA commissioner David Stern, college coach Gary Williams, Immaculata College’s women’s basketball team and New York Knicks player Nat “Sweetwater” Clifton will all be inducted as well. The ceremony takes place on August 8 in Springfield, Massachusetts.
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