LOS ANGELES - The Basketball Hall of Fame induction committee first was praised for the players and team that were voted into the Hall yesterday.
Then the committee was criticized for the coach and player who didn't make the cut.
Inducted into the Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., were: former Los Angeles Lakers point guard Magic Johnson and former Portland Trail Blazers and New Jersey Nets guard Drazen Petrovic, coach Larry Brown of the Philadelphia 76ers, University of Arizona coach Lute Olson, North Carolina State women's coach Kay Yow, and the Harlem Globetrotters.
However, the induction committee drew criticism for failing to enshrine Los Angeles assistant coach Tex Winter and James Worthy, a teammate of Johnson's during the "Showtime" era with the Lakers.
Winter, a longtime assistant to Lakers coach Phil Jackson in Los Angeles and Chicago, has spent more than 50 years coaching and is widely acknowledged as the architect of the "triangle" offense, the hallmark of Jackson's eight title teams.
"It's kind of amazing that this guy [Winter] has been coaching for 55 years in basketball, he's contributed the bulk of his knowledge to the game, he's a ready clinician, and yet the Hall of Fame has refused to acknowledge his influence in the game," said Jackson.
Worthy, a teammate of Johnson on four NBA title teams who was also voted as one of the NBA's 50 greatest players, was also left off the Hall's induction list.
"It's kind of hard for me to imagine James Worthy being one of the top 50 players in all of basketball, but he doesn't get into the Hall of Fame. It doesn't make a lot of sense to me," said New Jersey Nets coach Byron Scott, a teammate of Worthy's for three of those four titles.
The selection of Johnson, a five-time titlist and three-time NBA Most Valuable Player, was so expected that the announcement of the class was held here, rather than in Springfield, Mass. The enshrinement ceremonies will take place in late September.
Copyright to history
Though the Lakers are playing for their third straight title, the copyright on the term "Three-Peat" belongs to Miami Heat coach Pat Riley.
Scott, who is coaching to stop the Lakers from winning three straight titles, recalled before last night's game that he and Riley, who coached the Lakers to four championships in the mid-1980s, came up with the phrase as a way to motivate the 1989 team, which was going for its third straight championship.
Scott said the two men invented the term while sitting around a pool before the season in Hawaii, but Riley patented "Three-Peat" and cashed in when the Bulls won consecutive titles from 1991 to 1993.
"Next thing I knew, I saw it on shirts, hats. It was a pretty catching phrase," said Scott, laughing. "Next thing I know, Chicago wanted to use it again. They did a good job of making sure he patented it. He owes me about $2 million or $3 million."
Start the party
Jackson, who is seeking to tie Boston coach Red Auerbach with nine championships, was asked if the process was any more fun now than at the start with the Chicago Bulls.
"I am in the habit of drawing an illustration," said Jackson. "I have five children that thought the NBA throws a party for them after school ends. They've grown up from their teens into their 20s. They're still having a great time at these parties the NBA throws every June. So it's fun for me to watch them have a good time."