HOUSTON - The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame will announce its 2011 Class late this morning at the Crown Plaza Hotel, just down the street from Reliant Stadium, the site of tonight's national championship game between Butler and Connecticut. The new honorees will be introduced at halftime. There is a very good chance the class will have a Philly flavor, as three of the finalists have city ties.
Philadelphia University coaching and playing legend Herb Magee was nominated for the first time. Most observers think the man who has won more NCAA games than any other coach (922 and counting) has a very good chance at being in this class. Magee always goes to the Final Four. He flew here Thursday morning and has been seen about town, including at that annual gathering of the Philadelphia basketball fraternity on Friday of Final Four weekend, otherwise known as the "Villanova Party."
When asked about his Hall status, Magee has consistently deferred comment.
Dennis Rodman did not defer comment. He announced to the world on Friday that he is going into the Hall. News broke Saturday that coach Tex Winter, the architect of the famed Triangle Offense, is also going to be in this class, according to a report.
It is unclear if Maurice Cheeks, the great 76ers point guard, is in the class; he was among 12 finalists.
Hank Nichols, the great college official, former Villanova professor and longtime national coordinator of officials, was also a finalist. But he did not receive 18 of the 24 votes necessary from the Honors Committee necessary for enshrinement.
"I got a phone call last Wednesday that said I did not get enough votes," Nichols said yesterday.
Next year, the Final Four is in New Orleans, which would be a nice setting if Nichols does get enough votes.
"We'll see," Nichols said. "That's a nice thought."
The other finalists were Jamaal Wilkes, Chris Mullin, Ralph Sampson, Dick Motta, Al Attles (who began his NBA career with the Philadelphia Warriors), Teresa Edwards and Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer. Mullin and Sampson were introduced at halftime of Saturday's Final Four semigames as new members of the College Basketball Hall of Fame.
Magee's qualifications are pretty obvious. When you have coached more winning games than anybody in NCAA history and just happened to be a great player for your school and a renowned shooting instructor, the Hall of Fame seems like a natural. The King has won just about every honor there is to win. And this would be the topper.
"Anybody who says they don't want to go into their Hall of Fame no matter what sport is crazy," Magee said on the day in February when he was named a finalist.
Magee is decidedly not crazy. He is a grounded basketball coach. In a profession that has become increasingly transient, Magee went from West Catholic to Philadelphia Textile (the school's name was changed in 1999) as a student and never left, setting his school's all-time scoring record (since broken) and adding on to his NCAA victory record every time his team wins another game.