by John Bauernfeind
IU Student News Bureau
DALLAS – Nolan Richardson and Gary Williams, a pair of NCAA national championship coaches, became part of the 10-member Class of 2014 announced Monday by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Richardson’s Arkansas Razorbacks won the title 20 years ago. Williams reconstructed the program at Maryland, his alma mater, and led the Terrapins to the 2002 championship.
Other members of the class to be enshrined in August include Immaculata University’s Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women champions from the 1970s, former National Basketball Association commissioner David Stern, Alonzo Mourning, Mitch Richmond, Bob “Slick” Leonard, Nat “Sweetwater” Clifton, Guy Rodgers and Sarunas Marciulionis. They will be inducted in a ceremony at Springfield, Mass., Aug. 8.
Clifton, who died in 1990, was selected by the Early African American Pioneers Committee. He became the first African American player to sign a contract when he joined the New York Knicks. He scored 5,444 career points with 4,469 rebounds in eight seasons and appeared in the 1957 All-Star Game.
Rodgers, who died in 2001, was chosen by the Veterans Committee. He was a four-time NBA All Star who led Temple University to Final Four appearances in 1956 and 1958.
Leonard, who was chosen by the American Basketball Association Committee, led Indiana University to the 1953 national championship. He is the winningest coach in the history of the ABA with 387 victories and a winning percentage of .589. Leonard led the Indiana Pacers to ABA championships in 1970, 1972 and 1973, and two other appearances in the championship series.
Marciulionis, from Kaunas, Lithuania, was the first NBA player from the former Soviet Union. He averaged 12.8 points and 1.3 steals per game in seven NBA seasons. Marciulionis returned to Lithuania, where he founded and served as commissioner for the North European Basketball League.
Alonzo Mourning said he was deeply humbled, and credited his coach at Georgetown University, John Thompson II, who was in attendance, for teaching him “more about life than basketball.” Mourning made seven NBA All-Star teams in his career and was a member of the 2006 NBA Champion Miami Heat.
Judy Martelli represented Immaculata University’s three-time national champions, and said that all the team members planned to attend the enshrinement. Immaculata, coached by Cathy Rush, won championships from 1972-74 when the women’s tournament was conducted by the AIAW.
Richardson led Arkansas to three Final Four appearances. He also led Tulsa to a National Invitation Tournament championship in 1981 and Western Texas to a National Junior College Athletic Association championship in 1980. “This is the big one,” Richardson said. “I was told there is nothing left but heaven after this.”
Richmond was a six-time NBA All-Star who was part of the United States gold-medal winning team at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and was a member of the 2002 NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers. Richmond made sure his detractors knew he could not care less about them.
“You can judge me, you can judge my game,” he said. “I don’t care. I’m a hall of famer.”
The recently retired Stern, who served as NBA Commissioner from 1984-2014, said he was most proud of how a league dominated by African-American stars – once viewed as a credibility issue, he said — became a global phenomenon.
“I’ve had the best job in the world,” Stern said.
Williams, who coached the University of Maryland for 22 seasons, amassed a total of 668 victories at American University, Boston College, Ohio State and Maryland. He led his teams to seven 25-win seasons and 22 postseason appearances.
Jerry Colangelo, chairman of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Board, said the class of 2014 is a distinguished group that represents the game of basketball across several eras.
“Each year, we follow the tradition of recognizing those who have been leaders in the game of basketball,” Colangelo said, “and this is a special year with a remarkable group of inductees.”