Olajuwon, Ewing named as finalists in first year of eligibility

NEW ORLEANS -- Hakeem Olajuwon and Patrick Ewing, who battled for NCAA and NBA titles, and Miami Heat coach Pat Riley were selected as finalists Friday for the Basketball Hall of Fame.

Holdover candidates Chris Mullin, Adrian Dantley, Dennis Johnson and Golden State coach Don Nelson also are among the 15 candidates for enshrinement.

Olajuwon and Ewing both played in three Final Fours, with Ewing's Georgetown team beating Olajuwon's Houston squad for the 1984 national championship. Olajuwon got his revenge as a pro, leading the Houston Rockets to the first of two straight titles with a seven-game victory over Ewing's New York Knicks in the 1994 NBA Finals.

Riley coached that New York team. He won four NBA titles with the Los Angeles Lakers, then grabbed another one two years ago with the Heat.

"Having Patrick Ewing inducted with me would be incredible," Riley said in a statement. "To have one of my favorite all-time players that I coached, be inducted at the same time, if it were possible for both of us, would have a special added meaning for me."

The other candidates include: Richie Guerin and Johnny "Red" Kerr, both former players and coaches; ESPN announcer Dick Vitale; Detroit Pistons owner Bill Davidson; former Immaculata women's coach Cathy Rush; former Duke coach Victor Bubas; and international committee finalists Togo Soares and Maciel Ubiratan Pereira of Brazil.

The class of 2008 will be announced April 7 before the NCAA men's championship. The induction ceremony is set for Sept. 5 in Springfield, Mass.