SPRINGFIELD, Massachusetts -- As coach of the 1971-72
Los Angeles Lakers, Bill Sharman was responsible for
establishing a pair of NBA standards that still exist more than
30 years later.
One was the shootaround, the morning practice session on the day
of the game that got the players out of bed and into a
basketball frame of mind.
The other was the 33-game winning streak by the Lakers, a league
record no team has even approached.
Sharman entered the Basketball Hall of Fame for a second time
Friday. Enshrined as a player in 1976, he joined John Wooden
and Lenny Wilkens as the only members elected as both coach and
"I wish I could go back and shake hands with every player who
ever played for me," said Sharman, who was presented by Bob
Cousy. "The first time I was inducted, it was a great thrill.
The second time, it's a great honor."
Sharman headed a half-dozen inductees from all corners of the
game. The rest of the Class of 2004 was Clyde Drexler, one of
the NBA's 50 Greatest Players; Phoenix Suns owner Jerry
Colangelo; women's star Lynette Woodard, who played for the
Harlem Globetrotters; international guard Drazen Dalipagic; and
the late Maurice Stokes.
Drexler and Woodard were elected in their first year of
eligibility. Sharman was tabbed in his third, making one wonder
what took the Honors Committee so long.
Following a phenomenal career as Cousy's backcourt mate with the
Boston Celtics, Sharman went on to become the only coach to win
a championship and Coach of the Year honors in three different
leagues - the NBA, ABA and ABL.
His best coaching job may have been with the Lakers. First, he
convinced superstar Wilt Chamberlain - a notorious night owl -
to attend morning practices. Then he sold Chamberlain and Jerry
West on the fast break his Celtics used to repeatedly beat the
Lakers, with Chamberlain reprising the defensive role of his
long-time nemesis, Bill Russell.
The team won six of its first nine games before Elgin Baylor
abruptly retired. Jim McMillian stepped in at forward, and the
Lakers rattled off 33 consecutive wins. In NBA history, no
other team has won more than 20 in a row.
Averaging 121 points per game, the Lakers set a league record by
going 69-13. They won their first title in eight tries after
moving west from Minneapolis in 1960.
In 11 seasons as a coach in three leagues, Sharman compiled a
regular season record of 509-379 and a postseason mark of 62-42.
Known as "Clyde the Glide" for his effortless driving ability,
Drexler was a nine-time All-Star with Portland and Houston,
averaging 20.4 points in a 15-year career. He won an NBA title
with Houston in 1995 and was a member of the original Olympic
"Dream Team" in 1992.
"I'm dreaming tonight," said Drexler, who was presented by
Julius Erving. "My childhood idol is presenting me for
induction into the Hall of Fame. It doesn't get any better than
this. I don't want to be awakened."
Upon his retirement in 1998, Drexler was one of only three
players in history with 20,000 points, 6,000 rebounds and 6,000
Colangelo was elected as a contributor. At 28, he was the
youngest general manager in professional sports with the Suns in
1968. Now chairman and CEO, he was NBA Executive of the Year
four times (1976, 1981, 1989, 1993).
A member of the NBA's Board of Governors since 1968, Colangelo
played a huge role in the lockout negotiations of 1998-99 and
was instrumental in founding the WNBA.
At Kansas, Woodard was a four-time All-American and left as the
all-time leading scorer in women's basketball history with 3,649
points. She was a member of the 1980 and 1984 Olympic teams,
played for the Globetrotters in 1985 and spent two seasons in
A native of Yugoslavia, Dalipagic was the premier international
point guard of his era. He averaged 42.9 points in 1982 and
once scored 70 points in an Italian League game. The three-time
European Player of the Year helped Yugoslavia win the gold
medal at the 1980 Olympics.
Stokes was the 1956 Rookie of the Year and already a three-time
All-Star when during a game in 1958, he hit his head on the
floor and was knocked unconscious. First in a coma, then
permanently paralyzed, he died at 36 on April 6, 1970.
Stokes was presented by Oscar Robertson and Bob Petit.
To offset his medical bills, the Maurice Stokes Foundation was
created. For many years, it was run by Zelda Spoelstra, the
"Angel of the NBA."
An administrative assistant to NBA president Maurice Podoloff in
the early 1950s, Spoelstra is the 2004 recipient of the John
Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award, the Hall of Fame's highest
honor other than enshrinement.