|Tom ‘Satch’ Sanders on the doorstep of basketball immortality||08.11.11 at 11:30 pm ET|
SPRINGFIELD — For all basketball players collegiate, pro, and otherwise, of all places, Springfield, is their desired destination. Reason? That is the locale for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Sometimes the road to the Hall of Fame is a short trip, especially for those players fortunate enough to be elected on the first ballot like 2009′s inductees of Jordan, Robinson, and Stockton. For many others, that road is a long and winding one as years go by and the call from Springfield goes without being dialed.
This year’s induction class includes a headline-grabbers like Dennis Rodman, basketball legends of the Big Apple, innovative coaches, and unsung heroes. Former Celtic Tom ‘Satch’ Sanders certainly fits into the final category.
The Celtics forward will be going into the Hall of Fame as a contributor, which is a distinction befitting a player who amassed eight championship rings playing for legends of the sport and Hall of Famers in their own right, Red Auerbach and Bill Russell and amongst a litany of Hall of Famers including Russell, Bill Sharman, Frank Ramsey, Sam Jones, KC Jones, John Havlicek, and Sanders’ presenter for Friday’s enshrinement Tommy Heinsohn.
Despite playing for Auerbach on a half-dozen NBA Championship squads, the legendary coach was not considered to be a fan of Satch’s game on the offensive end of the floor.
‘Red (Auerbach) was not sold on the fact that I had a solid offensive game,’ Sanders told reporters at Thursday’s Hall of Fame Enshrinement press conferences.
Sanders was able to get a sizeable amount out of that game in a 13-year-career where he finished with 9.6 points per game, 6.3 rebounds per game, and 1.1 assists per game. At first glance, those numbers are a meager contribution, but those eight championships that he was a part of show the richest portrait of a player who personified the distinction of a, ‘contributor.’
The contribution that Sanders brought to the parquet floor night in and night out was not lost on the team that drafted him eighth overall in 1960, as the team retired his number ‘16′ in 1973, a year after his playing career came to a close.
Thursday’s press conferences were held in the de facto court of basketball royalty. That hardwood hierarchy included many former teammates and opponents.
That group of people and the magnitude possessed by them within the sport of basketball was not lost on Sanders as he spoke to the media on Thursday afternoon.
“I know a heck of a lot of these people here and it makes me nervous. Real nervous,’ he said of those in attendance on Thursday.
On Friday night, Sanders will join an exclusive hardwood fraternity, the very same one that brought on Thursday afternoon’s nerves.
Sometimes the road to enshrinement in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame is a long one like the one travelled by Tom ‘Satch’ Sanders. His enshrinement shows that no matter how initially meager a contribution on the road to championship basketball may first look, the impact of that contribution is to be recognized.
|Ray Allen knows Jason Kidd isn’t bad from three, either||02.05.11 at 10:00 am ET|
There was a great deal of irony in the game-winning 3-point shot delivered by Jason Kidd with 2.5 seconds remaining, a shot that highlighted a stunning Mavericks’ comeback in a 101-97 win over the Celtics Friday night at TD Garden. The shot was made by the man ranked third on the all-time 3-point field goal list and it came with Ray Allen, No. 2 on that list, guarding him.
“Very underrated Jason Kidd is with shooting the three but he’s proven over his career he’s proven he can knock the 3-ball down,” Allen said. “The only way he has been able to stay around as long as he has was to develop a jump shot. It was in form today and beat us today.”
Kidd, who finished with a pair of threes, now has 1,742 in his career, a mere 813 shy of Allen on the all-time list.
Allen hit three treys and now has 2,555, just six shy of passing Reggie Miller for the all-time NBA record. And Allen admitted afterward that he’s actually enjoying the chase as it nears its end.
“Actually, I truly am enjoying it. This is a moment I’ve never experienced before. I don’t know how many people can experience this type of moment. We’re playing a team sport but there’s an individual element associated with me right now. As much as I’ve always been associated with team, it’s something that everybody keeps pointing at me that you’ve got to keep doing that.
“It’s always a testimony to the guys that can stay around a long time, 20,000 points, however many minutes, whatever it may be but longevity produces greatness at some point.”
But Celtics coach Doc Rivers was forced to talk about Kidd’s greatness after Friday night’s contest, that and his team’s inability to defend the three.
“That one stood out obviously but I thought we gave up way too many,” Rivers said. “I thought offensively we played well, we shot 50 percent. I just thought defensively we broke a lot of our defensive rules. I thought we played hard, but I thought we tried to cheat a lot defensively as a team, you know gambles, and they made us pay for every one of them.’
Dallas finished just under 50 percent from 3-point range, making 8-of-17 in recording their seventh straight win.
|Doc: DJ ‘absolutely’ deserves HOF||04.06.09 at 4:34 pm ET|
It came as a surprise to exactly no one that Michael Jordan was a first ballot inductee to the Basketball Hall of Fame in the voting announced Monday morning at the Final Four in Detroit. And names like John Stockton, Utah coach Jerry Sloan, David Robinson and women’s coach C. Vivian Stringer were hardly stunning either.
“I had a lot to do with that. I guarded Michael, I guarded Stockton, they looked a lot better. I can tell you that. Clearly, first ballot all of them. It’s terrific. Michael may be the greatest player, definitely of our generation, and maybe of all time. Stockton may be the greatest point guard in some arguments,” Rivers said.
But the late Dennis Johnson did not make it.
“That surprises me, I thought he would make it,” Rivers said. “Well, I’m disappointed in that part. I absolutely think he deserves it.”
And a look at the numbers Johnson put up over his 14-year career detail Rivers’ argument. He played in exactly 1,100 games, averaging 14.1 points and 5.0 assists. His numbers were even better in the playoffs. He averaged 17.3 points and 5.6 assists in 180 games, while playing on three NBA championship teams.
Everyone recalls how DJ was brought to Boston in the 1983-84 season, in part, to answer Philadelphia’s Andrew Toney and Maurice Cheeks, and give the Celtics a powerful backcourt influence and provide great defense on Magic Johnson. The Celtics won titles in 1984 and 1986.
But ask Rivers, and he will tell you voters forget what DJ did in Seattle, like leading his team to the 1979 NBA title, earning Finals MVP honors.
“I really believe this, they (voters) only look at him just with the Celtics,” Rivers said. “They forget how great he was with the Sonics. He was unbelievable. He came to the Celtics and they asked him to do what we ask Ray Allen to do, what we ask Paul (Pierce) to do and that is play a role and I actually think he’s being penalized for it.”
NBA.com has a complete bio of Dennis Johnson, who passed away on Feb. 22, 2007 in Austin, TX of a heart attack while coaching the Austin Toros of the NBDL.