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Class act: Dumars humbled by Hall of Fame nod

DETROIT -- Joe Dumars is going into the Basketball Hall of
Fame just as he played -- under the radar.

Making all the noise, drawing all the attention Friday night
will be two other inductees -- Charles Barkley and Dominique Wilkins. Barkley, no doubt, will have the most entertaining speech.
Wilkins will monopolize the highlight tapes.

Dumars plans to stay nice and quiet, in keeping with the way he
acted as a player and conducts himself as the Detroit Pistons'
president of basketball operations.

"It's only befitting that I go in with a couple guys like
Charles and Dominique because it typifies my 14 years in the NBA,"
Dumars said in an interview with The Associated Press this week.
"And it's absolutely the way I would prefer to go into the Hall of
Fame."

Unlike Barkley and Wilkins, Dumars was an NBA champion. He was
the MVP of the 1989 NBA Finals and helped Detroit repeat the next
year.

"The three of us are getting to the same mountain top as
players, using three different routes," Dumars said. "You're
either a Hall of Famer based on championships or numbers, and I'm
100 percent comfortable and happy with the route I've taken."

Detroit drafted Dumars with the 18th pick overall in 1985, and
the skinny, unknown shooting guard from McNeese State spent his
entire 14-year career with Pistons -- the longest any player has
played for the franchise.

"What's great about only playing for one team is that when
people think about your career, they don't have to piece it
together," he said. "They don't have to say, 'What did he do
there?' or 'Did he win a title there?' If people think about my
career, they only think about the Pistons, and I like that."

Dumars, elected in his second year of eligibility, might not be
a Hall of Fame player because of any one facet of his game, but his
versatility earned him a spot among the game's all-time stars.

"Nobody deserves it more than Joe," Pistons owner Bill
Davidson said.

Michael Jordan has said Dumars was the toughest defender to
score against in the NBA, helping him earn a spot on the
All-Defensive team four times. The shooting guard averaged a
relatively modest 16.1 points and 4.5 assists.

"Arguably, he helped form one of the greatest backcourts in NBA
history, with Vinny (Johnson), Joe and myself," Hall of Fame point
guard Isiah Thomas said in a statement released by the New York Knicks, a franchise he leads as coach and president. "He was a
Hall of Fame player and Hall of Fame person. His contributions to
our game of basketball far exceed what he has done on the court."

Dumars was the good guy on the Bad Boys, a person respected so
much that the NBA created the Joe Dumars Trophy after he won the
league's sportsmanship award following the 1995-96 season.

"To the people closest to me, that awards means as much or more
than anything," he said. "It solidifies how you carried yourself
for a very long time in the public eye."

Dumars' path to the Hall of Fame began in the dusty backyard of
his parents' home in Natchitoches, La.

"The light from a liquor store turned off at midnight, so
that's when my imaginary games ended," he said. "In the summer, I
bet I spent about six hours a day out there shooting -- mostly by
myself. My mom and dad always knew where I was because they could
hear me dribbling."

Dumars will be presented by Thomas in Springfield, Mass., where
people from Louisiana and Michigan will gather to celebrate.

"The most special thing will be that people from my childhood,
college and NBA career will all be there with me in one place for
the first time in my life," Dumars said. "It's going to be an
overwhelming and emotional time for me."