Six make it into Hall in total

Updated: September 11, 2004, 2:06 AM ET
Associated Press

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- On the playgrounds of Houston, a young Clyde Drexler used to pretend he was Julius Erving, flying over defenders with a championship on the line.

On Friday night, Drexler's idol, "Dr. J," presented him for induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame.

Clyde Drexler
Blazer for a Blazer: Drexler slides into his Hall of Fame threads.

"I'm dreaming tonight," Drexler said. "My childhood idol is presenting me for induction into the Hall of Fame. It doesn't get any better than this. I am dreaming. I don't want to be awakened."

Drexler, who earned the nickname "Clyde the Glide" for his own swooping moves, was inducted Friday along with coach Bill Sharman, already in the Hall of Fame as a player; the late Maurice Stokes, the 1956 NBA rookie of the year; Lynette Woodard, an Olympic gold medalist and the first woman to play for the Harlem Globetrotters; Jerry Colangelo, chairman of the Phoenix Suns; and Drazen Dalipagic, an international star.

"He seemed to fly. I wanted to be like him," Drexler said of Erving.

What set Drexler apart, Erving said, was his ability and imagination to take the game above the rim "and make things happen."

Selected as one of the 50 greatest players in the NBA in 1997, the 6-foot-7 guard excelled at all levels of the game -- but only after an embarrassing moment in high school.

Before there was "Clyde the Glide," there was the 6-5 10th-grader who was cut from his high school team.

"The truth was I was terrible," Drexler said. "But it was one of the best things that happened to me. It was a wake up call."

It certainly was. After high school, he attended the University of Houston and was part of the high-flying Phi Slama Jama teams that played in two Final Fours.

In his 15-year NBA career, Drexler led the Portland Trail Blazers to the NBA Finals in 1990 and '92, and won a championship with Houston in 1995. He's one of three players in league history with 20,000 points, 6,000 rebounds and 6,000 assists. He won an Olympic gold medal with the Dream Team in 1992.

Stokes had his career cut short when he was paralyzed in his third season when he fell during a game. Teammate Jack Twyman, a Hall of Famer who at 24 became Stokes' legal guardian and organized an annual benefit game to help defray Stokes' enormous medical expenses, accepted on Stokes' behalf. Stokes died in 1970 at 36.

"He was never, ever depressed or angry or said `Why me?' He voted in every election for all 12 years he was paralyzed," Twyman said. "People talk about what I did for him. But Maurice repaid me tenfold."

Hall of Famers Oscar Robertson and Bob Petit were Stokes' presenters.

"I wore his number in college. I wouldn't in the pros out of respect," Robertson said.

Woodard, also selected in her first year of eligibility, averaged 26 points at the University of Kansas, won an Olympic gold medal with the United States in 1984, and played in the WNBA with Cleveland and Detroit.

Woodard, presented by Globetrotters owner Manny Jackson, recalled how her older brother, Darryl, taught her how to play the game using a rolled-up sock.

The 6-foot Woodard led the nation in scoring in 1979, rebounding in 1978 and steals in 1979, 1980 and 1981.

Sharman, inducted as a player in 1976, was presented by Bob Cousy, his backcourt partner with the Boston Celtics. As a coach he won titles in three professional leagues -- the ABL with the Cleveland Pipers in 1962, the ABA with the Utah Stars in 1971, and the NBA with the Los Angeles Lakers in 1972 -- to go with his four NBA titles as a player with the Celtics.

During the 1971-72 season, the Lakers, led by Wilt Chamberlain and Jerry West, posted an NBA-record 33-game winning streak.

The only others to be inducted as both players and coaches are John Wooden and Lenny Wilkens.

"I wish I could go back and shake hands with every player who ever played for me," Sharman said. "The first time I was inducted it was a great thrill. The second time, it's a great honor."

Colangelo is a four-time NBA executive of the year and was instrumental in creating the WNBA.

Dalipagic was a three-time European player of the year.


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press