The Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame is by far the most inclusive Hall of Fame of any major sport. Rather than honoring just NBA legends, it represents the game's entire global history. Fittingly, the nine-member 2019 class includes legends from both the NBA and WNBA, Americans and international players, and stars who played from the 1940s to the 21st century.
This year's class does not have the star power of other years, but it is a deep and diverse group of basketball legends who are all being honored after years of waiting. Here is some background information on the nine people who were inducted into the Hall of Fame on Friday night.
- Al Attles: A longtime point guard and NBA head coach, Attles spent his entire 23-year NBA career with the Warriors, both in Philadelphia and Golden State. His coaching career included a championship during the 1974-75 season, and he remains to this day the winningest coach in Warriors history.
- Carl Braun: A five-time All-Star with the New York Knicks in the 1950s, Braun won his lone championship as a member of the Boston Celtics during the 1961-62 season. He was the player-coach of the Knicks for his last two years in New York, and averaged 13.5 points per game in 13 seasons.
- Charles Cooper: Was the first African-American player to be drafted in the NBA when the Boston Celtics took him with the first choice in the second round in 1950. He played seven seasons in the NBA with the Celtics, Milwaukee and St. Louis Hawks and the Fort Wayne Pistons.
- Vlade Divac: Was an All-Star for the Sacramento Kings in 2001, but is perhaps best-known for his accomplishments on the international stage. He won two FIBA World Cups and two Olympic silver medals while representing Yugoslavia. He is currently the general manager of the Sacramento Kings.
- Bobby Jones: Considered by many to be the greatest defensive power forward of all time, Jones was named a First-Team All-Defense player eight years in a row from 1977-84. He made four All-Star teams and won a championship with the Philadelphia 76ers during the 1982-83 season.
- Sidney Moncrief: The leader of a strong but largely forgotten run by the Milwaukee Bucks in the 1980s, Moncrief was named to five consecutive All-Star Teams from 1982-86 and won Defensive Player of the Year twice.
- Jack Sikma: Was one of the linchpins of the only championship that the Seattle Supersonics ever won, and was named an All-Star seven times. Sikma also spent 12 seasons in the NBA as an assistant coach, most recently with the Minnesota Timberwolves
- Teresa Weatherspoon: One of the first superstars in WNBA history, Weatherspoon won the league's first two Defensive Player of the Year awards while also reaching five All-Star Games and being named an All-WNBA Second-Team selection twice. She also won a gold medal in the 1988 Olympics and bronze in 1996.
- Paul Westphal: Won a championship with the Boston Celtics during the 1973-74 season, but did his best work with the Phoenix Suns. He made four All-Star teams as a player there, and as their head coach in the 1990s, he reached the NBA Finals with Charles Barkley and Kevin Johnson leading the way. He most recently coached the Sacramento Kings during the 2011-12 season.
Divac thanks Jerry West
Sacramento Kings general manager Vlade Divac was one of the more recognizable names -- at least for the younger generations -- to be enshrined into the Hall on Friday night. Divac had a colorful career with the Kings, Lakers, and Hornets that spanned 16 seasons and earned him an All-Star selection in 2001. He also had a tremendous impact and an illustrious career as in international competition.
During his speech, Divac thanked league legend Jerry West for helping him realize his dreams. West selected Divac in the first round of the 1988 draft while he was serving as GM of the Lakers.
Divac is the first foreign-born and foreign-trained player ever to play more than 1,000 games for the NBA. He is one of just seven players in the history of the NBA to record more than 13,000 points, 9,000 rebounds, 3,000 assists and 1,500 blocks, and he will now forever be referred to as a Hall of Famer.
Attles humbled by enshrinement
Long before Dub Nation was led by Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green, it was led by Attles, who both played and coached for the Warriors for over two decades and coached the team to a title in 1975. Attles was extremely grateful for his enshrinement.
Weatherspoon: "The game will forever remember my name"
The game of basketball can open doors and provide amazing opportunities for those who choose to pursue them, and WNBA legend Teresa Weatherspoon is grateful for all of the opportunities that the game has provided to her, allowing her to etch her name into the annals of basketball history.
Westphal thanks Elgin Baylor for sparking his interest
Westphal thanked Baylor for laying the NBA groundwork, and for inspiring him to become a professional basketball player.
Sikma talks about patented post move
Sikma's post moves have been emulated for decades, and on Friday night he touched on the thought process behind the development of his post game.
Congratulations to the class of 2019, a group which will be forever linked.