Boston Celtics: Hall of Fame
In 1984, when I started the Center for the Study of Sport in Society at Northeastern University in Boston, I hired Sanders as an associate director. In discussing some of the things that I wanted to address, such as student-athlete graduation rates and the lack of opportunities for women and people of color as head coaches and in front office positions in the various professional leagues and at the college level, it was clear that Satch was a deep thinker on these and other issues.
He cared deeply that too many athletes were not getting an education because they were pursuing the dream of a professional career. They were ignoring studies to hone athletic skills in spite of the fact that the odds were better for an African-American high school basketball player to become a doctor or an attorney than to play in the NBA. Satch saw the Center as a platform to advocate for the truth with boys and girls as well as men and women.
He was a model for citizen-student-athletes. Not only did he get a great education at NYU, but he was very involved in the Boston community as a Celtics player and afterwards. He also was ready to speak up, often softly yet always with the powerful voice given to successful athletes.
Boston at the time had a terrible reputation for race relations. It had one of the most violent reactions to desegregation busing in the country, but Satch stayed. "I can travel to every part of the country and see racism first hand," he said, when I asked. "It is not unique to Boston."
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The Celtics have always had a proprietary interest in the Basketball Hall of Fame. It may be partially due to geography; the team in Boston is the NBA's closest to the shrine in Springfield. It may be because the Hall and the Celtics' dynasty emerged at nearly the same time, the Hall inducting its first class in 1959 (despite the absence of a physical structure, which would come nine years later) while the Celtics were amassing titles with stunning regularity in the late 1950s and 1960s.
The Hall doesn't make its inductees wear a hat, so to speak, at the enshrinement ceremony. They don't have to choose a team. But if they did, and if Dennis Johnson could come back from the dead for the induction Friday and make his choice, it would almost certainly be as a member of the Celtics. That's how so many remember him and that's how the Hall is promoting his induction, in pictures wearing a Celtics uniform.
The man known as DJ won two titles with the Celtics and was an almost automatic All-Defensive Team selection. But he also won a title with Seattle and was MVP of the NBA Finals in 1979. He was first-team All-NBA with the Suns. But he spent more years in Boston than in either Seattle or Phoenix, not that that really matters. He is remembered as a Celtic. Period.
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The Celtics have not confirmed the news.
Johnson, who died at age 52 of a heart attack in February 2007, played 14 seasons in the NBA, the final seven with Boston. He was considered a defensive specialist and one of the top guards of his era. He was one of 19 nominees who were announced in February, and many in the basketball world feel his inclusion in the Hall is long overdue.
Johnson, known as DJ, was a five-time All Star and was named the 1978-79 NBA Finals MVP.
Johnson, who played four years with Seattle and three with the Phoenix Suns, had his number 3 retired by the Celtics in 1991.
The Class of 2010 will be announced on April 5 before the NCAA’s men’s championship game in Indianapolis. A finalist needs 18 of 24 votes from the Honors Committee for election into the Basketball Hall of Fame. The Class of 2010 will be enshrined during festivities in Springfield on August 13.
Here's more details from the NBA:
DALLAS, Texas and SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – February 12, 2010 – The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame today named an elite list of players, coaches and teams as finalists who will be considered for election to the Hall in 2010. Gaining the honor of being named a Hall of Fame finalist is one of the true highlights of a career in the sport of basketball. This year’s list includes two-time NBA MVP and 14-time NBA All-Star Karl Malone of the Utah Jazz and Scottie Pippen, a six-time NBA champion as a member of the Chicago Bulls, both first time nominees. They will be considered along with previous finalists, such as legendary high school coach Bob Hurley of St. Anthony’s in Jersey City, N.J. and Cynthia Cooper, who helped the Houston Comets win four WNBA titles.
Also headlining the list for 2010 are three legendary teams, including the 1960 United States Men’s Olympic Team, the 1992 United States Men’s Olympic “Dream Team” and the All-American Red Heads, a finalist selected by the Women’s Committee. The announcement was made today in Dallas, Texas in conjunction with the 2010 NBA All-Star festivities.
The complete list of finalists includes: From the North American Screening Committee: players Dennis Johnson, Bernard King, Karl Malone, Chris Mullin, Scottie Pippen and Jamaal Wilkes; coaches Bob Hurley, Don Nelson and Tex Winter; contributor Jerry Buss and the two USA Olympic teams. From the Women’s Screening Committee: Cynthia Cooper, Harley Redin and the All-American Red Heads team. From the International Screening Committee: coach Vladimir Kondrashin and Brazilian Legend Maciel “Ubiratan” Pereira while Richard Guerin and Gus Johnson represent the nominees from the Veteran’s Screening Committee.
Don Nelson, his No. 19 already hanging in the rafters in Boston, is among the other finalists with Celtics ties.
Here's the blurbs included on Johnson and Nelson:
DENNIS JOHNSON – Player, was one of basketball’s toughest defenders, earning nine consecutive NBA All-Defensive team honors during his 14-year professional career. He was a major part of three NBA championship teams and won MVP honors at the 1979 NBA Finals as a member of the Seattle SuperSonics. He played with Seattle from 1976-80 and was traded to the Phoenix Suns where he played from 1980-83. He finished his NBA career with the Boston Celtics (1983-90) where he won NBA championship rings in 1984 and 1986. Known as “D.J.” to teammates and fans, he was named to five NBA All-Star teams while scoring more than 15,000 points and compiling 5,000 assists before retiring in 1990. (Born Sept. 18, 1954; Died February 22, 2007).
DON NELSON - Coach, a native of Muskegon, Michigan, began his career as an NBA player for the Chicago Zephyrs (1962-1963) and went on to play for the Los Angeles Lakers (1963-65) and the Boston Celtics (1965-1975). He then went on to coach in the NBA, leading the Milwaukee Bucks (1976-1987) to seven consecutive division titles (1979-1986) when he recorded seven straight 50-plus win seasons. He currently coaches the Golden State Warriors. Nelson also coached the New York Knicks (1995-1996) and the Dallas Mavericks (1997-2005). Nelson is one of only two coaches in NBA history to record 250 victories with three different teams. He is a three-time NBA Coach of the Year winner, and currently ranks second in NBA Coaching history for wins. He was named as one of the NBA’s Ten Best Coaches of All-Time when the league celebrated the NBA at 50. Nelson has over 40 years of NBA experience as a player, coach and general manager. His No. 19 jersey was retired by the Boston Celtics.
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