Marques Johnson, Jack Sikma among new Hall of Fame finalists

Finalists for the 2019 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame class were announced Friday as the NBA kicked off All-Star Weekend, headlined by new nominees Marques Johnson, Jack Sikma, Ben Wallace and Paul Westphal.

Johnson, a five-time All-Star and 1979 national collegiate player of the year, averaged 20.1 points and 7.0 rebounds per game over 11 seasons. Sikma, a Seattle SuperSonics great, was a seven-time All-Star and 1979 NBA champion. Wallace, a four-time All-Star, was named Defensive Player of the Year four times and won a championship with the Detroit Pistons in 2004.

Westphal, a five-time All-Star and part of the 1974 NBA champion Boston Celtics, said he considers it an honor these days for people to remember him as a player.

"It's hard to put it into words," said the 68-year-old Westphal, who played 12 seasons -- his best of those years with Phoenix -- before spending parts of 17 more seasons as a head coach or assistant coach. "You never want to take anything like this for granted. It's just a real humbling, thrilling time to consider that something like this might happen."

Previous finalists included again are coach Leta Andrews (retired in 2014 as the all-time winningest high school coach male or female, with 1,416 wins), referee Hugh Evans (officiated more than 2,200 games) two-time NBA champion coach Bill Fitch, Bobby Jones (eight selections to first team All-Defense), five-time All-Star Sidney Moncrief, five-time Division II coach of the year Barbara Stevens, four-time national coach of the year Eddie Sutton, five-time WNBA All-Star Theresa Weatherspoon and five-time All-Star Chris Webber.

"I'm so inspired and honored by these individuals on the stage," Moncrief said during the ceremony, looking at Hall of Famers on the stage such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Nancy Lieberman, Rick Barry, Spencer Haywood and Rick Welts. "Thank you all for setting the trend for us."

Also announced: Coach Del Harris and founding Portland Trail Blazers owner Harry Glickman were honored with the John Dunn Lifetime Achievement Award; and journalist Marc Stein and legendary Clippers announcer Ralph Lawler were named the Curt Gowdy Media Award winners.

"He has always been a Hall of Famer in my book," Clippers owner Steve Ballmer said of Lawler.

Added Clippers coach Doc Rivers: "Ralph has been a pioneer in his field, and we have been fortunate to hear him for 40 years."

The 2019 Hall of Fame class will be announced at the men's Final Four in Minneapolis in April. To make the Hall of Fame, a finalist needs 18 of 24 votes from the Honors Committee.

"You don't run for the Hall of Fame. You don't campaign or anything like that," Westphal said. "If this is as far as it goes, it's an honor. And if it goes farther, it's a wonderful thing."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.