MINNEAPOLIS — The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2019 consists of former Boston Celtics coach Bill Fitch, Sidney Moncrief, Jack Sikma, former Celtics guard Paul Westphal, Teresa Weatherspoon and Bobby Jones, among others who will be enshrined as part of weekend ceremonies Sept. 5-7 in Springfield, the birthplace of basketball.
The Tennessee A&I teams of 1957-59, Al Attles, Charles “Chuck” Cooper, Vlade Divac, Carl Braun and the Wayland Baptist University teams of 1948-82 were also announced as the Class of 2019 on Saturday hours before the Final Four at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Jones was an eight-time NBA All-Defensive Team pick, Moncrief was a five-time NBA All-Star and teammates in Milwaukee with Jack Sikma, a seven-time All-Star. Fitch was two-time NBA Coach of the Year and spent 25 years on the sideline in the NBA. Weatherspoon was a five-time WNBA All-Star.”My dad made me play,” Jones said. “I was very uncoordinated, had big feet. … I concentrated on that, had good coaches. The love of the game developed in high school.”
Divac, currently the general manager of the Sacramento Kings and formerly a player for the franchise, played in the NBA from 1989-2004. Divac won silver medals with Yugoslavia in 1988 and 1996. He was an NBA All-Star in 2001 and was named to the FIBA Hall of Fame in 2010.
“We created something special there,” Divac said. “For six years we were the most exciting team in basketball. Those six years were my most enjoyable as a basketball player.”
Westphal was an NBA coach after a five-time NBA All-Star career.Tennessee A&I was the first college team to win back-to-back national championships.
The Wayland Flying Queens helped break women’s sports barriers and prompted the start of Title IX.
Moncrief said he was surrounded by players who knew had to win basketball games.
Among those nominated and not inducted in 2019 are former Michigan and NBA great Chris Webber, former Detroit Pistons big man Ben Wallace and Bucks forward Marques Johnson.
Weatherspoon was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010. A two-time All-American at Louisiana Tech, Weatherspoon was also a six-time Italian League All-Star and two-time champion in the Russian League before the WNBA was launched. She was an All-Star from 1999-2003.”That round ball gave me an opportunity to do so many things,” Weatherspoon said as she thought of the fact she now reached the highest honor in her sport, soon-to-be enshrined in Springfield.
“You couldn’t help but fall in love with it.”
–By Jeff Reynolds, Field Level Media