Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Announces Twelve Finalists for 2015 Election

NEW YORK, NY and SPRINGFIELD, MA – The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced today, at NBA All-Star Weekend, six elite players, five outstanding coaches and one iconic referee as finalists from the North American and Women’s committees to be considered for election in 2015. This year’s list includes nine first-time finalists: 39-year NBA referee Dick Bavetta, two-time College Coach of the Year John Calipari, two-time NBA Coach of the Year Bill Fitch, all-time winningest boys high school coach Robert Hughes, eight-time NBA All-Star Dikembe Mutumbo, four-time Division III national champion coach Bo Ryan, seven-time NBA All-Star Jo Jo White, the all-time winningest high school coach Leta Andrews and three-time WNBA MVP Lisa Leslie. Previous finalists included again this year for consideration are five-time NBA All-Star Tim Hardaway, four-time NBA All-Star Spencer Haywood and three-time NBA All-Star Kevin Johnson.

“The finalists for the Class of 2015 are a group of very distinguished individuals who have each made a unique impact on the game of basketball,” said Jerry Colangelo, Chairman of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.  “To be recognized as a Finalist is a great achievement in and of itself and each of the Finalists recognized today should be very proud. Although the process of selecting the final class members of 2015 will be a difficult task, we look forward to making the announcement at the Final Four in April.”

Also announced today are five Direct-Elects who are the initial members of the Class of 2015.  They include Louie Dampier voted in from the American Basketball Association (ABA) Committee, John Isaacs from the Early African American Pioneers Committee, Lindsay Gaze from the International Committee, Tom Heinsohn from the Veterans Committee and George Raveling from the Contributor Direct Election Committee 

The complete list of 10 finalists from the North American Screening Committee includes: players Tim Hardaway, Spencer Haywood, Kevin Johnson, Dikembe Mutumbo, and Jo Jo White, coaches John Calipari, Bill Fitch, Robert Hughes and Bo Ryan and referee Dick Bavetta. From the Women’s Screening Committee: coach Leta Andrews and player Lisa Leslie.

The Class of 2015 will be announced on Monday, April 6 at a press conference in Indianapolis prior to the NCAA Men’s Championship game.  A finalist needs 18 of 24 votes from the Honors Committee for election into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.  The Class of 2015 will be enshrined during festivities in Springfield, Massachusetts September 10-11.

North American Committee Finalists:

DICK BAVETTA [Referee] – Bavetta, a native of Brooklyn, NY, served as an NBA Official for 39 consecutive years. At the conclusion of the 2013-14 season, he had officiated 2,635 consecutive regular season games having never missed a game throughout his entire career. On April 2, 2014, he set the ironman record in professional sports officiating for working his 2,633rd consecutive game. Bavetta’s officiating career includes the Eastern League/CBA (1966-1975), Rucker Park Summer League (1966-1986), the Jersey Shore Basketball League (1972-2007), FIBA (1980-1992), and the NBA (1975-2014). He officiated 270 career NBA playoff games in 29 consecutive seasons, including 27 NBA Finals games. He was the first NBA official to referee the Olympic Games (1992).

JOHN CALIPARI [Coach] – Calipari is a two-time Naismith College Coach of the Year (1996, 2009) and eight-time Conference Coach of the Year (1993,1994,1996, 2006, 2008-10, 2012), He coached University of Massachusetts from 1988-1996 and won five Atlantic 10 regular season championships and five Tournament championships (1992-1996). Calipari then coached University of Memphis from 2000-2009 and won four Conference USA regular season championships (2004, 2006, 2007, 2009), three C-USA Tournament championships (2006, 2007, 2009) and the NIT Tournament (2002). With the University of Kentucky since 2009, he has won two SEC regular season championships (2010, 2012), two SEC Tournament championships (2010, 2011) and an NCAA Championship (2012). Calipari has led his teams to six Elite Eight Appearances (2006, 2007, 2009-12, 2014) and three NCAA Final Four appearances (2011, 2012, 2014).

BILL FITCH [Coach] – Fitch, a native of Davenport, Iowa, coached in the NBA for 25 seasons, being named Coach of the Year twice (1976, 1980). In 1996, he was named to the NBA’s Ten Best Coaches of All Time. He led the Boston Celtics to a Championship (1981) and still holds the highest winning percentage in Celtics history (.738). He is the second coach in NBA history to lead a team to three straight 60-win seasons. Prior to coaching in the NBA, Fitch coached collegiately for twelve years leading North Dakota University to consecutive NCAA Division II Final Fours (1965, 1966). He was the recipient of the Chuck Daly Lifetime Achievement Award during the NBA 2012-13 season.

TIM HARDAWAY [Player] - A 2000 Olympic Gold Medalist, Hardaway played 13 NBA seasons scoring a total of 15,373 points while averaging more than 20 points per game for four consecutive seasons.  He is the 1990 recipient of the Jack McMahon Award for most inspirational player and a 1993 All-NBA Third Team member.  He currently ranks fourteenth in NBA history with 7,095 career assists. The Chicago native was a member of the men’s basketball team at the University of Texas at El Paso (1985-1989) and played in the NBA from 1989-2003.  He is known for making his signature move – the “UTEP Two-step” – famous in 1989, the same year he was named WAC Player of the Year.

SPENCER HAYWOOD [Player] - Haywood joined the ABA in 1969 and then went on to play for 12 years in the NBA (1970-1983), where he scored 14,592 points, had 7,038 rebounds and won an NBA Championship with the Los Angeles Lakers in 1980.  He is a four-time NBA All-Star (1972-1975) and two-time All-NBA First Team member (1973, 1974).  Haywood was the leading scorer on the 1968 gold medal United States Olympic team.  During his time with the ABA’s Denver Nuggets, he was named ABA Rookie of the Year and ABA All Star Game MVP.  He holds ABA single season records for most minutes played (3,808), most field goals made (986), most rebounds (1,637) and highest rebounding average (19.5).  At the University of Detroit, he was a unanimous First Team All-America selection in 1969.

ROBERT HUGHES [Coach] – Hughes coached high school basketball in Texas for 47 years and ranks first on the all-time wins list for boy’s high school coaches. He has compiled an overall high school coaching record of 1,333-247 (.844) and led his teams to 35 district championships and five state championships. He served as head coach of the McDonald’s All-America Game West team (2001). Hughes was named the NHSCA National High School Coach of the Year (2003) and recipient of the Morgan Wootten Lifetime Achievement Award (2010). He has been inducted into the Texas Basketball Hall of Fame (1993) and High School Basketball Hall of Fame (2003).

KEVIN JOHNSON [Player] - Johnson is the first player to have his jersey retired at the University of California.  After playing for Cal from 1983-1987, he played for 12 years in the NBA and holds the NBA Finals single-game record for most minutes played with 62.  Johnson is the first player in NBA history to average at least 20 points, 10 assists, a .500 field goal percentage and two steals per game for an entire season.  In 1989, he earned the NBA Most Improved Player award.  The three-time NBA All-Star (1990, 1991, 1994) is also an All-NBA Second Team member (1989, 1990, 1991, 1994) and an All-NBA Third Team member (1992).  As the mayor of his hometown of Sacramento, California, Johnson was a major advocate of keeping the Sacramento Kings NBA team in the city when it was at high risk of moving.

DIKEMBE MUTUMBO [Player] - Mutumbo is an eight-time NBA All-Star (1992, 1995-98, 2000-02) and a four-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year (1995, 1997, 1998, 2001).  He led the NBA in blocked shots for five consecutive seasons (1994-98) and blocks per game for a record three consecutive seasons (1994-96). He earned NBA All-Rookie Team recognition in 1992 and All-NBA Second Team in 2001.  A native of Zaire, Africa, Mutumbo attended Georgetown University (1988-1991) and played in the NBA from 1991 until 2009 recording 11,729 points, 12,359 rebounds, and 3,289 blocks in eighteen NBA seasons. He received the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award in 2001 and 2009. His legendary finger-wagging motion after blocked shots became one of the most recognized gestures in the game.

BO RYAN [Coach] – A native of Chester, Pennsylvania, Ryan has been named the Big Ten Coach of the Year three times (2002, 2003, 2013) since he began coaching at University of Wisconsin in 2001. Prior to Wisconsin, he coached at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (1999-2000) and University of Wisconsin-Platteville (1984-1999) where his team won four NCAA Division III Championships (1991, 1995, 1998, 1999). Ryan has led Wisconsin to three Big Ten regular season championships (2002, 2003, 2008), two Big Ten Tournament championships (2004, 2008), and the NCAA Final Four (2014). He was a recipient of the Clair Bee Coach of the Year Award (2007), NABC Outstanding Service Award (2009) and Coaches vs. Cancer Champion Award (2013).

JO JO WHITE [Player] – White is a seven-time NBA All-Star (1971-1977) and two-time NBA Champion with the Boston Celtics (1974,1976).  He earned NBA All-Rookie Teams honors in 1970 and All-NBA Second Team in 1975 and 1977. White was named the NBA Finals MVP in 1976 and averaged 17.2 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 4.9 assists per game in 12 NBA seasons. He played for the University of Kansas from 1965-69, earning The Sporting News and Converse First Team All-America in 1969. In 1968, White won a gold medal with the U.S. Olympic team.

Women’s Committee Finalists:

LETA ANDREWS [Coach] – Andrews has coached high school basketball for over 50 years and is the all-time winningest high school coach, male or female. She has coached five high schools in Texas since 1962 and has led them to sixteen state Final Four appearances, plus a state championship in 1990. Andrews has served as Head Coach of the McDonald’s All-America Game West team (2004) and Gatorade All-America Game West team (2009). She was named the NHSCA National High School Coach of the Year (2007) and recipient of the Morgan Wootten Lifetime Achievement Award (2007). She has been inducted into the High School Basketball Hall of Fame (1995) and Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame (2010).

LISA LESLIE [Player] - Leslie is an eight-time WNBA All-Star (1999-03, 2005, 2006, 2009) and a three-time WNBA Most Valuable Player (2001, 2004, 2006).  A native of Gardena, California, she played for University of Southern California (1990-1994) where she was named the Consensus National Player of the Year, a Kodak All-America and Naismith Trophy winner in 1994. She holds Pac-10 career records for scoring (2,414) and rebounding (1,214). She is the WNBA all-time leader in total rebounds (3,307) and ranks second all-time in WNBA total blocks (822). With the Los Angeles Sparks, Leslie won two WNBA Championships (2001, 2002) and she is a four-time Olympic Gold Medalist (1996, 2000, 2004, 2008). She is the first player to dunk in a WNBA game.

About the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame: Located in Springfield, Massachusetts, the city where basketball was invented, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame promotes and preserves the game of basketball at every level – professional, collegiate and high school, for both men and women on the global stage 

For more information:

Visit us on the web: www.hoophall.com

… on Facebook: www.facebook.com/BHOF

… on Twitter: @hoophall

… or call 1-877-4-HOOPLA