Lakers' Jackson, UNC's Williams headline HOF class

Updated: April 3, 2007, 11:10 AM ET news services

ATLANTA -- Phil Jackson rode his string of three separate NBA championship three-peats straight to the Basketball Hall of Fame in his first year of consideration on Monday.

Headed to the Hall
Phil Jackson
Phil Jackson (Coach)
Nine NBA titles; fastest coach in NBA history to reach 900 wins.
Roy Williams (Coach)
Six-time NCAA coach of the year. Five Final Fours; three title games; one title.
Van Chancellor (Coach)
Led Houston Comets to four WNBA titles and won gold medal with U.S. at 2004 Olympics.
Texas Western (Team)
Won 1966 NCAA title over Kentucky; first team to win title with five black starting players.
Mendy Rudolph (Referee)
Officiated 2,112 NBA games; worked Finals games for 22 straight seasons.
Pedro Ferrandiz (Int'l coach)
437-90 record with Real Madrid. 12 Spanish League titles, 11 Spanish Cup titles, and four European Cup titles.
Mirko Novosel (Int'l coach)
Led Yugoslavia to 1980 Olympic gold medal, 1976 silver medal and a bronze in 1984.

Jackson has won nine NBA titles as a coach with Chicago and the Los Angeles Lakers, matching Red Auerbach's record and making him an easy selection to the Hall of Fame.

Another coach who has achieved success with two teams, Roy Williams, joined Jackson in heading a class of seven named Monday to enter the Hall of Fame in September.

"I've been blessed to have coached in various leagues and cities over 25 years, but the opportunity to coach two talented NBA franchises, the Chicago Bulls and the Los Angeles Lakers, through championships says it all," Jackson said.

"I'm accepting this honor with full recognition of those players, coaching staffs and personnel that brought excellence to those teams."

Jackson coached the Chicago Bulls to six NBA titles -- 1991-93 and 1996-98 -- before leading the Los Angeles Lakers to three straight championships in 2000-02.

Williams is the third coach in history to lead two schools to the NCAA championship game. He won the championship with North Carolina in 2005 and also reached the final with Kansas.

"I'm the first to admit that I've been very lucky at Kansas and North Carolina but I'm also the one that can say I know what we went through,'' Williams told's Andy Katz.

Williams said he wishes he could split up the Hall of Fame plaque in 300 pieces to disperse to his former players and coaches. He also is indebted to his family, his wife Wanda and grown children Kim and Scott.

With each team Jackson built winners around superstars -- Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen with Chicago and Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant with the Lakers.

Jackson was a college player at North Dakota under future NBA coach Bill Fitch and played 13 years in the NBA, primarily with the New York Knicks.

"The year I sat out with an injury and became a confidant of Red Holtzman, my mentor, was probably the best thing that happened to me," Jackson said in a telephone interview Monday.

Jackson added that he took notes as he watched how Holtzman "handled men with great egos with great aplomb."

Jackson said the Lakers' schedule, including games Sunday and Tuesday, and the team's chase for a playoff berth, prevented him from making the trip to Atlanta for Monday's announcement.

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Also selected to the Basketball Hall of Fame were the 1966 NCAA champion Texas Western team, four-time WNBA championship coach Van Chancellor, former NBA referee Mendy Rudolph and international coaches Pedro Ferrandiz of Spain and Mirko Novosel of Yugoslavia.

Jackson and Texas Western were elected in their first year of consideration. Novosel, Rudolph and Williams were first-time finalists. Chancellor and Ferrandiz had been named finalists in previous years.

Among the notable finalists who did not receive the required 18 votes from 24 members of the Hall of Fame honors committee were ESPN broadcaster Dick Vitale and longtime college coach Eddie Sutton.

"I'm really disappointed, not so much for me, I've had a great life heading to the final chapter, but for my wife and two great daughters and grandkids and my co-workers," Vitale said Monday, about an hour after the Hall of Fame's seven-member class for 2007 was announced and it did not include him. "If this is the worst thing that ever happens to me, I've had a great, great life."

Williams is a North Carolina native who was an assistant for Dean Smith before taking the top job at Kansas in 1988. After 15 years with the Jayhawks, he moved back to his alma mater.

Asked what team he would represent if forced to claim only one in the Hall of Fame, Williams said "It would be a TarHawk. ... There would be two different shades of blue."

Williams achieved success despite a rocky start at Kansas.

Months after taking the job, Williams learned the school had been placed on NCAA probation.

"I wasn't positive that we would be able to get it done," he said.

Instead, Williams' teams have made 18 straight NCAA Tournament appearances, winning at least one game each year. He is the fastest coach to reach 500 wins and has coached in five Final Fours and three national title games -- 1991, 2003 and 2005.

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Texas Western, now known as UTEP, was the first team in NCAA history to win a title with five black players, beating an all-white Kentucky team in the 1966 final. The achievement, regarded as a turning point in the integration of college athletics, was the subject of the movie "Glory Road."

Rudolph worked 2,112 games in his career, a record when he retired. He was selected to referee eight NBA All-Star games and at least one game in the NBA finals for 22 straight seasons. He died in 1979 at the age of 53.

Chancellor, who also attended Monday's announcement, was the women's coach at Mississippi from 1978-97 before leading the Houston Comets to the first four WNBA championships from 1997 through the 2000 season. He also coached the 2004 U.S. gold medal team and has a 38-0 record in international competition.

Ferrandiz has led Real Madrid to a record 12 Spanish League titles, 11 Spanish Cup championships and four European Cup titles. He was a co-founder and first president of the World Association of Basketball Coaches.

Novosel coached the Yugoslavian team that won the gold medal in the 1980 Olympics. His teams won the silver medal in 1976 and bronze in 1984. He is one of only four Olympic coaches to win at least three medals.

The class will be enshrined into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., in September.

Andy Katz is a senior writer at The Associated Press contributed to this report.