Friday, April 18, 2014
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Breaking down the 2013 Basketball Hall of Fame inductees

The induction ceremony Sunday afternoon marks the official addition of 12 members to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. As folks in Springfield, Mass., honor the newest members of basketball's high society, we thought it might be worthwhile to remind everyone why these great people are being celebrated in the first place.

Ranging from legendary former players like Gary Payton to relatively unknown (but similarly important) historical figures like Dr. E.B. Henderson, the 2013 HOF class reflects the wide range of people who contributed to making basketball a beloved international sport.

Let's take a case-by-case look at these hoop legends before the ceremony, which starts at 2 p.m. ET on NBA TV:

The Players

Gary Payton

One of the great point guards in NBA history, Payton earned his "The Glove" moniker by displaying some of the most suffocating perimeter defense in the sport. An equally dangerous offensive player who could dribble, pass and score, he made nine All-Star teams, nine All-NBA teams and nine All-Defense teams in his 18-year career.

Primarily starring for the Seattle Supersonics, Payton failed to lead the team to an NBA championship in Michael Jordan's shadow, but he did lead three 60-win seasons and a 1995-96 squad that legitimately challenged MJ's Bulls in the Finals.

While Payton did finally get a ring with the 2005-06 Heat, he's often remembered for his inability to put the Sonics over the top. In a Jordan-less era, though, it's hard to imagine a two-way player as great as Payton falling short.

Bernard King

Before injuries derailed his career, King was as dynamic a scorer as the NBA had seen. His performance with the Knicks in 1984-85, averaging 32.9 points per game on 53 percent shooting, stands as one of the greatest single-season scoring efforts in league history.

However, King suffered a major injury a year later and never regained his old form. He made one more All-Star Game appearance in 1991 with the Washington Bullets, but ended up just playing 32 more games afterwards before hanging up the threads.

Had King never got hurt, he presumably would've been enshrined much earlier, but memories of his greatness persist even today. A two-time All-NBA first team member, his peak was as impressive as anyone on this list.

Richie Guerin

One of the great players in Knicks history, Guerin was dominant at his peak but isn't quite remembered like most New York City legends. A 6'4 shooting guard who made six All-Star team appearances, he once filled the role of player-coach for the St. Louis Hawks and later won NBA Coach of the Year honors after retiring as a player.

Playing alongside Bob Pettit, Guerin helped lead the Hawks to nine straight postseason appearances after leaving New York. His most impressive playing days came in New York, though, where he averaged 22.7 points, 6.5 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game from 1959-63.

Roger Brown

The first player ever signed by the Indiana Pacers after they joined the ABA, Brown proved to be one of the best players in basketball before the merger. Like many other players from the era, his prime was ultimately short-lived, but his place in Pacers history shouldn't be ignored.

A four-time ABA All-Star, Brown led the Pacers to ABA championships in 1970, 1972 and 1973, helping to establish the love affair that persists today between local fans and the franchise. Had Brown's prime came after Indiana moved to the NBA, it's likely his greatness would've been better appreciated.

Oscar Schmidt

You may not be familiar with Schmidt, but he's one of the greatest international players in basketball history. A member of the FIBA Hall of Fame, the Brazilian guard holds numerous international basketball records after an incredible career spanning four decades and two continents.

Like Sadaharu Oh, baseball's all-time international home run leader, Schmidt holds a special place in basketball. With 49,737 career points across club and national team play, he's the unofficial all-time scoring leader for organized basketball. And he could've played in the NBA, too, turning down opportunities after being drafted by New Jersey in 1984.

Dawn Staley

One of the greatest women's basketball players in history, Staley stands as a no-brainer for induction. A three-time Olympic gold medalist, two-time NCAA National Player of the Year and one of the top-15 players in WNBA history, the resume really speaks for itself.

Since retiring in 2006, Staley has filled coaching roles with a number of teams, including Temple University and Team USA. With 454 steals at the University of Virginia, she's the NCAA all-time leader in steals.

The Coaches

Rick Pitino

His time in the NBA didn't go well, but Pitino's greatness at the college level is almost unparalleled. During stints at UMass, Kentucky and Louisville, the coach has consistently turned out championship-quality teams, taking all three programs to Final Four appearances.

After winning his second NCAA title in 2012 with the Cardinals, few coaches in history boast a resume resembling what Pitino has accomplished. As long as we ignore the rough time with the Boston Celtics, we're talking about one of the best coaches in recent memory.

Jerry Tarkanian

Known as "Tark the Shark" by many, Tarkanian's coaching career at Long Beach State, UNLV and Fresno State stands as one of most successful in NCAA history. With a 729-201 career win-loss record, his .784 winning percentage puts him fifth all-time among college hoops coaches.

During his time at UNLV, Tarkanian turned the program into a legitimate national powerhouse, winning the Big West conference every year from 1983-92. In that span, he led the Runnin' Rebels to six Sweet 16 appearances, three Final Four appearances and one national championship.

Guy Lewis

The man behind the "Phi Slama Jamma" teams at the University of Houston in the early 1980s, Lewis helped turn the Cougars into a legitimate player on the national scene. An early proponent of the once-banned slam dunk, he helped usher in a new era of basketball symbolized by those great Houston teams roughly 30 years ago.

With a pair of future Hall of Fame players in Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler, Lewis helped lead Houston to three consecutive Final Four appearances in 1982-84. However, Lewis never won a national championship, as the Cougars lost back-to-back title games to N.C. State and Georgetown.

Sylvia Hatchell

One of three Division I women's basketball coaches to reach 900 victories, Hatchell's career at the University of North Carolina stands out. Only Tennessee's Pat Summit, often considered the best coach in women's basketball history, has earned more wins on the NCAA circuit.

A two-time National Coach of the Year who led the Tar Heels to a national championship in 1994, Hatchell continues to thrive in Chapel Hill even now. It may be unusual to see a still-active coach being enshrined with others who retired decades ago, but it reflects how much she's accomplished already.

The Contributors

Russ Granik

During 22 years as Deputy Commissioner for the NBA, Granik helped shape the league as we know it today. The lead negotiator for the past four collective bargaining agreements with the NBPA, he's also represented the league in negotiations concerning television contracts and Olympic eligibility for NBA players. Granik retired in 2006.

Dr. E.B. Henderson

Widely known as the "Grandfather of Black Basketball," Henderson's influence on the sport cannot be explained in a mere paragraph. After introducing the game to young African-Americans in Washington, D.C., over 100 years ago, he helped organized the first leagues in the city, which is now one of the most fertile basketball areas in the country.

Henderson passed away in 1977, but figures like this are often ignored in the larger history of basketball. With his induction Sunday, we can take a moment to better appreciate everything Henderson and others like him did.

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This article originally appeared on SBNation.

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