Mount St. Mary's basketball coach Jim Phelan and three former players with ties to Baltimore -- Grady Lewis, Paul Seymour and Walt Bellamy -- are among 14 nominated to the Basketball Hall of Fame, it was announced yesterday.
Phelan and Lou Carnesecca of St. John's were the only two active coaches nominated. Seymour, who played and coached briefly with the Baltimore Bullets, was selected by the veteran's committee; Lewis was chosen as a special contributor; and Bellamy was one of eight former players nominated.
"I was kind of surprised, but it had been in the wind," said Phelan, who has won 687 games in 37 seasons at the Emmitsburg school, placing him second in victories behind North Carolina's Dean Smith among active Division I coaches.
"Obviously, if you've been involved in basketball your whole life -- and I've been in organized basketball since the fifth grade -- it's the top of the hill, it's the pinnacle of your profession," Phelan said of the nomination.
To be inducted into the Hall of Fame, Phelan and the others will need 18 of 24 votes by the selection committee. A decision will be announced at the NBA All-Star Game in February, and the ceremonies will take place in Springfield, Mass., in May.
Aside from Bellamy, who played briefly with the Bullets after the team moved to Baltimore in the early 1960s, other modern-era players to be nominated were Connie Hawkins, Dan Issel, Bob Lanier and Calvin Murphy.
Two former women's college stars, Luisa Harris and Nera White, were also nominated by a special women's committee established by the Hall of Fame Trustees this year.
Other former coaches nominated yesterday were Al McGuire, who led Marquette to the NCAA championship in 1977; Jack Ramsay, whose 864 career victories ranks second among NBA coaches; and the late Phil Woolpert, who led the University of San Francisco to NCAA titles in 1955 and 1956.
Lewis, a center on the 1947-48 Bullets team that won the championship of the Basketball Association of America (later the NBA), was nominated for his contributions to the game. Those contributions included developing an oxford basketball shoe while he was vice president for Converse.
"I had been nominated as a player and missed by a couple of votes, so I've told some friends, I'm not going to hold my breath," said Lewis, who is retired and lives in Scottsdale, Ariz. "It will be a great honor if it happens."
Seymour is remembered by Bullets fans for playing in Baltimore briefly during 1947-48 before being sold to the Syracuse Nationals -- reportedly for the price of airplane ticket after a salary dispute with general manager Bill Dyer. He later was player-coach of the Nationals and returned to Baltimore in 1965. He coached the Bullets to a 38-42 record, then resigned.