Jeannette takes place in Hall

May 10, 1994|By Paul Doyle | Paul Doyle,Special to The Sun

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- Sitting next to sharp-dressed coaches Denny Crum and Chuck Daly, Harry "Buddy" Jeannette could have been mistaken for a tourist instead of an inductee at the Basketball Hall of Fame yesterday.

Jeannette, 76, wore a souvenir Hall of Fame cap, a Hall of Fame T-shirt and black sweat pants. He gazed at a crowd of reporters, looking more curious than overwhelmed.

Next to Crum and Daly, it was clear Jeannette was from another era -- long before Showtime, dunks, three-pointers and TV timeouts.

Yet Jeannette, who spent nine years between 1946 and 1967 in Baltimore as a player and coach of the Bullets, strode into the Hall of Fame with Crum, Daly, women's great Carol Blazejowski and legendary Italian player and coach Cesare Rubini.

For Jeannette, the honor was 27 years coming. He last coached in 1967, when he was 3-13 with the Bullets. For the past 22 years, he has lived in Nashua, N.H., and has paid many visits to the Hall of Fame.

"I was coming over mainly to see all the old-timers, the guys I played with and against," Jeannette said.

Jeannette's comparisons between his era and the modern game made him a popular quote yesterday. He joked that he sometimes doesn't recognize the game he grew up playing in New Kensington, Pa.

Asked to compare himself to modern players, Jeannette said he was a point guard before the position had a name. He was a 5-foot-11 passer who averaged double figures in points three times in 12 professional seasons (1938 to 1950).

Jeannette said he was recently shown an old newspaper article about a game in which he scored 27 points. He had no memory of it.

"Twenty-seven points from me?" Jeannette said. "The other team must have quit."

Could he survive in today's game?

"They would probably pick me up and throw me out of the gym," Jeannette said. "Philadelphia hauls out a guy 7-6 [Shawn Bradley]. I would come up to about his kneecap. . . . I would be nonexistent."

Yet his credentials are impressive. Jeannette was MVP four times in two leagues and played on six championship teams in four cities, including the 1947 and '48 Bullets.

"I gradually dropped out of it as the game changed," Jeannette said. "But I still love it. The grandchildren got me cable television, and I sit on the couch and watch games. I still love the game. And just to be here, around all the great players and to go into the [Hall of Fame], I can't think of anything better than this."

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