Tuesday, September 23, 2014
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Basketball officials don't care about the Naismith Hall of Fame

Was anybody other than me watching? Did anybody even know it was happening?

Basketball officials don't care about the Naismith Hall of Fame

Three-time Olympic gold medalist Dawn Staley talks with CBS announcer Jim Nantz, left, during the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame class announcement, Monday, April 8, 2013, in Atlanta, Georgia. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Three-time Olympic gold medalist Dawn Staley talks with CBS announcer Jim Nantz, left, during the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame class announcement, Monday, April 8, 2013, in Atlanta, Georgia. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

 If you wanted to hold your most important ceremony of the year and wanted to be certain absolutely nobody knew it was occurring, when would you hold it? On the first Sunday afternoon of the NFL season, of course.

The induction ceremony for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2013 was broadcast on NBA TV, beginning at 2 p.m. and ended at 5 p.m.

It was bad enough that they used to hold the ceremony on a Friday night in late summer, months after the last basketball season ended and the next one was scheduled to begin, a time when hardly anybody was thinking about the sport.

Clearly, the officials in charge realized that. So they changed the date and made it worse. Was anybody other than me watching? Did anybody even know it was happening?

It was unfortunate on so many levels, especially because so many missed a brilliant, heartfelt speech from North Philly’s Dawn Staley when she framed her life around the walk she made on the track the year she was the USA flag bearer at the Summer Olympics opening ceremony.

The Basketball Hall has always been baffling. I wrote a long story a few years ago about the secretive selection process which has essentially eliminated the great men’s college player if that player also did not have a great NBA career.

If you think of basketball over the last 25 years, Duke’s Christian Laettner would be a seminal figure. He apparently has no chance of ever getting into the Hall because he was just a good, not great NBA player.

If the great Tom Gola and Bill Bradley had played college baskets in the 90s and 00s instead of in the 50s and 60s, neither would have made the Hall.

A few years ago, at the Final Four, Jerry Colangelo, who runs the Hall these days, said he understood that people were not pleased with the secretive selection process. Then, he said, just trust me, ``the process is fine.’’

When I heard that, I thought to myself that this man is either incredibly arrogant, delusional or both.

When nobody knows who is voting or how many votes candidates get, the process is, by definition, flawed and unfair.

So maybe that is why they hide the ceremony. If your biggest moment gets no attention, perhaps that is a way to deflect scrutiny from the whole charade.

Rick Pitino was inducted yesterday. He should have been inducted years ago.

The electors apparently focused less on the most innovative college coach of his generation and more on his failure with the Celtics. And that ultimately is the problem. The American part of the Hall has become NBA centric at the expense of college basketball players.

What is cool about that Hall is that it does include players and coaches from around the world. And that makes perfect sense as the game has become global since the Dream Team experience in the 1992 Olympics.

What is also cool is the great building in Springfield, Mass. that houses the game’s history. It is really well done and, when you are there, you can feel the game.

So, why with this great international game and this great facility, is the Hall hiding its induction ceremony and darkening its voting process? The sport deserves better.

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About this blog
Bob Cooney has been at the Daily News for more than 20 years, working in the sports department for the past 15. This is his third season on the Sixers beat. He has covered just about everything, but mostly college basketball, where he was the La Salle beat writer for six seasons. E-mail Bob at cooneyb@phillynews.com and follow him on Twitter.

Bob Cooney
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