Friday, September 11, 2015

2015 Basketball Hall of Fame Inductees

Today marks the 2015 Basketball Hall of Fame Induction ceremony, and it's the first class to go in since the launch of Cardboard History last November.

The biggest name going into the Hall is Dikembe Mutombo, one of the greatest centers to ever play the game.
Mutombo was born in Kinshasa, Zaire, which is now the Congo, and by time he came to the NBA, he was fluent in 7 languages- an amazing feat.
He is most well known for his blocked-shot finger wag, He also was an excellent rebounder.

He entered the League in 1991-92 as the 4th overall draft pick, by the Denver Nuggets. He also played for the Atlanta Hawks, Philadelphia 76ers, New Jersey Nets, New York Knicks and the Houston Rockets, retiring at the conclusion of the 2008-09 season, during which he played only 9 games. He ranks second all-time in blocked shots and 19th all-time in rebounding. He was an 8-time all-Star and 4 time Defensive Player of the Year. His number #55 jersey- the only jersey number he ever wore in the NBA- will be retired by the Hawks later this coming season.

Perhaps his greatest, lasting legacy is the hospitals he has founded in Africa, and paid for out of his own pocket, however.
1992-93 Upper Deck McDonald's #P10
1997-98 Bowman's Best Best Techniques Atomic Refractor #T1
2002-03 Fleer Genuine Global Warning
Dikembe was also one of the first two players to have an autograph issued, along with fellow 1991 draft pick Larry Johnson, both in 1991-92 Fleer.
1991-92 Fleer Dikembe Mutombo Autograph #8

Jo Jo White had a relatively short career, only 12 years, 10 of which were with the Boston Celtics, where he wore #10, in a funny coincidence. He also played half a season with the Golden State Warriors and ended his career with 13 games for the Kansas City Kings. He entered the League in 1969-70 and his final season was 1980-81, his entire career taking place before I was born. He won two NBA titles with the Celtics, and was named Finals MVP during the 1975-76 season. He earned 7 All-Star appearances and the Celtics have retired his #10- one of 22 numbers they have hung in the rafters.
1975-76 Topps #135
Spencer Haywood is very important to the world of sports- not just basketball- as before he came along, players were forced to be 4 years removed from graduating high school- essentially, if you didn't go to college, you were discriminated against. He took the NBA to court, and it was a vicious battle- but he won, thus paving the way for hundreds, if not thousands of players who came later, and were not forced to toil away during their prime for the NCAA's exploitation. He still faces reprisals from that- the length of time it took him to get into the Hall of Fame, which places undue gravitas on the college game- being the most visible. His NBA career lasted only 13 seasons, and he played for several teams. His most lasting fame came when he led the Seattle SuperSonics- now the Oklahoma City Thunder, although his one Title came when he was a member of the Los Angeles Lakers in 1979-80. He also won both Rookie of the Year AND League MVP during his sole season in the ABA, 1969-70.
2012-13 Panini Preferred #189, AU SN 60/74
Louie Dampier accrued his fame in the ABA, playing his entire career in that league with the Kentucky Colonels. He is in fact probably the greatest ABA player that no one ever talks about. He leads the ABA annals in: Points scored, Games played, minutes played, shots taken and made, assists, 3 point shots taken and made, as well as shots missed (both 2 and 3 point attempts). He played in 7 ABA All-Star games as well, and led the Colonels to the championship in the ABA's penultimate year. When the ABA folded at the conclusion of 1975-76, he was drafted by the San Antonio Spurs, one of the four former ABA teams that the NBA absorbed, and played three seasons with that franchise in the NBA. He is one of only two players to have played in every year of the ABA's existence with one team. (I do not know who the other is)
1971-72 Topps #224
One of the greatest Women's basketball players of all time, and one of the players that built the foundations of the WBNA, is Lisa Leslie. The first WNBA player to dunk during a game, she has accomplished so much more than that. At the time she retired in 2009, she was the all-time leader in points and rebounds in WNBA history. (I do not know if that is still true, but it was then.) Furthermore, she was an 8-time all-star, two time Defensive Player of the Year, three time League MVP, two time Champion with the Finals MVP award both years as well. She also won four Olympic Gold Medals, beginning in 1996. My only cards of her are from her Olympic days.
2000 Topps USA #63

Becoming the 4th person in the Hall of Fame enshrined twice, as both a player and a coach, is Tom Heinsohn. He has spent his entire career with the Boston Celtics, playing for the team from 1956-1965, and then coaching the team from 1969-78. He is currently the color commentator for the team, a staple of the Celtics for 60 years now.
While no cards were issued of him as a coach, he has had several as a player. Only three were issued during his playing career, and I have none of them.
1984-85 Star Schick NBA Legends #14

There are also several people being inducted who have no cards.

Dick Bavetta was a long-time NBA referee, serving the league for nearly 40 years.
Lindsay Gaze is an Australian coach who I know nothing about, other than the fact that he is an Australian coach (I will learn more as I watch the induction). Apparently he's a big deal in his home country, and it is possible he does have cards- the NBL had card sets issued in the 1990s when he was coaching there, but I don't have any of them.
John Isaacs I know absolutely nothing about. He was a player from the Pioneer days before the NBA even existed.
George Raveling is a college coach, and as I don't follow college sports, I had never heard about him before the Hall of Fame class was announced, but the most interesting thing I see in his biography paragraph on is that he got an original copy of Martin Luther King Jr's "I have a Dream" speech, in my opinion one of the greatest of all time.
John Calipari is another coach, primarily known for college although he did coach the New Jersey Nets for a short time. He does have a card- in 1996-97 Hoops- but I don't have it. He has at least 1 college card and several issues in the mostly baseball Allen & Ginter releases but I don't have any of them, either. As he is still an active coach, I personally don't believe he should be in the Hall of Fame as yet. His NBA career was certainly not-Hall worthy but I can't comment on his college career.

I'm very much looking forward to watching the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies tonight, at 6:30 PM EST on NBATV. They are always fun to watch, not only for the vintage footage that is shown though that is a big part of it, but also for seeing the people being enshrined have a chance to tell their own story in their own way.

As an aside, I saw when I pulled up Blogger that Cardboard History had hit 20,000 total views since I last logged in around midnight on September 10th. Thank you, readers! I've only been doing this for 10 months so that is a lot more than I expected at this time. Most of my posts average around 50 views so I don't know where these hits are coming from, but I shall not complain.


  1. Two ex Celtics. Henson still calls games for the Celts on the local broadcast. Byron Beck is the other ABA guy your looking for

    1. Thanks Mark. I love the ABA stuff so you'd think I would have known that!