Drexler, Calhoun, Vitale among 16 candidates

Updated: February 17, 2004, 5:04 PM ET
Associated Press

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- Clyde Drexler won an NBA title as a player, Jim Calhoun won an NCAA title as a coach, and Dick Vitale won a legion of dedicated fans as a broadcaster.

All could add a new honor soon: Basketball Hall of Fame member.

They are among 16 finalists for this year's Hall class announced Sunday. The new members will be announced April 5 at the NCAA men's Final Four in San Antonio; induction is in September.

Other finalists include:

  • women's college career leading scorer Lynette Woodard, the first female member of the Harlem Globetrotters;
  • Bill Sharman, enshrined as a player in 1976 and now a finalist as a coach;
  • the late Gus Johnson, a tough rebounder for the Baltimore Bullets who averaged 17.1 points and 12.7 rebounds;
  • North Carolina defensive standout Bobby Jones;
  • former Knicks and Nets star Bernard King;
  • seven-time All-Star Chet Walker;
  • the late Maurice Stokes, NBA Rookie of the Year in 1956;
  • Drazen Dalipagic from the former Yugoslavia;
  • Hortencia Marcari from Brazil.

    Drexler, in his first year of eligibility, was selected as one of NBA's 50 greatest players in 1997.

    Nicknamed "The Glide," for his speed, ball-handling and swooping moves to the basket, Drexler retired in 1998 after a 15-year NBA career. He led the Portland Trail Blazers to the NBA Finals in 1990 and 1992 and won a championship with Houston in 1995.

    He retired with 22,195 points, 6,125 assists and 6,677 rebounds, and was on the original Dream Team of NBA stars that won the 1992 Olympic basketball gold medal.

    Now in his 18th season at Connecticut, Calhoun guided the Huskies to the 1999 national championship and the 1988 NIT title. He's also won eight Big East titles. Before UConn, Calhoun led Northeastern in Boston to a 248-137 record over 14 seasons.

    Calhoun graduated from American International College in Springfield, where he was a Little All-American and All-New England player. He also was an assistant basketball coach at AIC for two years.

    "I spent six years in Springfield and for me, personally, of all the things that have happened to me, including a national championship and a NIT championship, and all the great kids and great things I've dealt with, there's no greater moment with the possibility, just a possibility, of becoming a member," Calhoun said, referring to the Hall of Fame.

    "It's something I've dreamed of all my life," he said after UConn's loss to Pittsburgh Sunday. "If I had to make a statement in basketball, that would be the greatest statement of all, that someone thought and considered me one of the best coaches in the game of college basketball and one of the best coaches of all time. That would be something that was incredibly meaningful to me and very emotional."

    Vitale, an ESPN broadcaster for 25 years, is known for his enthusiastic style and catchy phrases, including "Awesome Baby!" and "Diaper Dandy," for a freshman standout.

    Woodard scored 3,649 points at Kansas from 1978-81, leading the nation in scoring one year, rebounding another and in assists for three years. She played on two U.S. Olympic teams, winning gold in 1984, and played professionally in Italy and the WNBA.

    In addition to Calhoun in the coaching category, Purdue coach Gene Keady, Wayland Baptist women's coach Harley Redlin and Sharman are finalists.

    Sharman is the only coach to win a championship and be named coach of the year in three pro leagues -- the ABL, the ABA and the NBA, where he guided the Lakers to the 1972 crown.

    He would be just the third person elected to the Hall as a player and coach; John Wooden and Lenny Wilkens are already members in both categories.

    Redlin led the Wayland Baptist women's team to six AAU championships. He and Woodard were proposed by the women's committee.

    Vitale, Phoenix Suns chairman Jerry Colangelo and Johnny Kerr were proposed as contributors. Colangelo was instrumental in creating the WNBA, while Kerr played in the NBA and has served a color commentator for the Chicago Bulls since 1975.

    Stokes was paralyzed in his third season after falling during a game. He and Kerr were nominated by the Veterans Committee.

    Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press