Friday, February 12, 2010
Malone, Pippen among 19 finalists
DALLAS -- Magic Johnson knows exactly how a game would have gone between his 1992 Dream Team and the 1960 Olympic team, another of the great U.S. champions filled with Hall of Fame players.
"We probably would have beat each other's heads up and really hurt each other because we both want to win so bad," Johnson said Friday.
Those great Olympic championship teams could be enshrined together in the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame after being listed among 19 finalists for the Class of 2010 that will be announced April 5.
Two-time NBA MVP Karl Malone and six-time champion Scottie Pippen, who were on that 1992 team with superstars such as Larry Bird, Michael Jordan and Johnson, are among individual players who made the lists of finalists revealed at the start of the NBA All-Star weekend.
The Dream Team is perhaps the best and most famous basketball squad ever. Eight players from that team are already in the Hall of Fame, with Malone (who finished his career as the league's No. 2 scorer with 36,928 points) and Pippen likely to soon add to that number.
With the first U.S. Olympic team that included NBA players, the Americans rolled through Barcelona in 1992 to enormous fanfare with an average victory margin of 43.8 in their eight games.
"We didn't really talk about history or anything. What we talked about was dominating, and because we dominated, it became historical" Johnson said. "We were about showing the world that this team was great, this team of collective All-Stars would come out and play together and will blow out every team in the world. And we did that."
The 1960 team, led by Hall of Famers Jerry West and Oscar Robinson and with fellow Hall members Walt Bellamy and Jerry Lucas, swept through the Rome Olympics by an average margin of 42.4 points.
"They set the standard for Olympic teams, they set the standard for young men to go from that platform to the NBA," Johnson said. "Their team was probably more balanced than our team, when you think about the inside-outside, all the weapons that they had. Jerry, Oscar, Lucas, that was a well put-together team as well. I'll be happy to go in with those guys."
Malone never won an NBA title, because Pippen's Chicago Bulls teams were in the way both times his Utah Jazz reached the finals. The versatile forward paired with Jordan to win six titles in the 1990s and was a seven-time All-Star.
Malone and Pippen also won gold in the 1996 Olympics, and both are expected to join former teammates in the Hall this year. Jordan and John Stockton, Malone's longtime Jazz teammate, were part of last season's class.
Returning finalists include Chris Mullin, another Dream Team member, the late Dennis Johnson, coach Don Nelson and four-time WNBA champion Cynthia Cooper.
Other finalists include Lakers owner Jerry Buss, four-time All-Star Bernard King and Jamaal Wilkes, who was part of four NBA champions (Golden State in 1975, Lakers in 1980, 1982 and 1985).
"[Dennis Johnson] was one of the most important people in my basketball life. DJ was one of those players who controlled the entire game without having the ball in his hands," Bill Walton said. "Championships followed him around. Jamaal Wilkes is in that same category."
Also among the finalists are the All-American Red Heads, who founded in 1936 were the first women's professional basketball team. They regularly played more than 200 games a year for 50 years and were often compared to the Harlem Globetrotters because of their use of serious play and comedic routines to entertain and promote women's basketball.