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Hall of Fame offers respite

11:39 AM, Aug 10, 2011   |    comments
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Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - It's pretty clear that the NBA's owners and players need a little self-correction.

Take a break from escapist entertainment these days and you will find some scary stuff going on in the real world.

Across the pond in London, looters as young as 9 years old have run wild while a stone's throw away in Manchester, riots have broken out on a scale unseen in 30 years, prompting British prime minister David Cameron to blame a "sick society."

Over in Afghanistan, the Taliban took down a Chinook helicopter over the weekend, killing 38 people including 30 American military personnel and 22 Navy Seals, the deadliest day for American forces in a nearly decade-long war.

Here in my backyard of Philadelphia, hoards of young kids have hit the streets in so-called "Flashmobs", attacking innocent bystanders and giving Center City another black eye it can ill-afford.

Meanwhile, in the NBA, millionaires and billionaires can't figure out how to split a $4 billion dollar pie.

Think about the incredibly inflated sense of self-worth of both sides to have this fight in our current economy. Think about the incredible self- aggrandizement it takes to complain about your lot in life when you are an NBA player or owner.

To be blunt, the NBA lockout is appalling. And here's the thing -- whether it lasts another few months or it wipes out an entire season, we all know the end-game, the players and owners will agree to a 50-50 split or something very close to it.

It's all about ego for both sides and the only real losers are the game's fans and the lesser-known employees who have joined the growing ranks of our nation's unemployed.

Basketball junkies will get a bit of respite from the legal mumbo-jumbo and their daily accounting lessons on Friday, however, when the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame welcomes its 2011 class.

Former NBA stars Chris Mullin and Dennis Rodman headline this year's inductees and will be joined by women's star Teresa Edwards, legendary center Artis Gilmore, perhaps the greatest shooting coach of all-time in Herb Magee, Russian star Arvydas Sabonis, forgotten Celtics stalwart Tom "Satch" Sanders, Globetrotter Reece "Goose" Tatum, Stanford women's coach Tara VanDerveer and the architect of the Triangle Offense, Tex Winter.

Casual observers will focus on Mullin, a member of the original "Dream Team" and a five-time NBA All-Star for the Golden State Warriors, along with Rodman, the rebounding and defensive machine that was a five-time NBA champion, a two- time NBA Defensive Player-of-the-Year and the league leader in boards on seven different occasions.

For me it's going to be all about Gilmore and Magee, however.

A 7-foot-2 monster, Gilmore was the star at Jacksonville University back in 1970, leading the Dolphins to the NCAA Division I championship game where his team was beaten 80-69 by John Wooden's mighty UCLA club. To this day, Gilmore remains the top rebounders per game in the history of NCAA Division I basketball.

You can argue that Gilmore was the ABA's best player not named Julius Erving. He followed up five ABA All-Star seasons that included an MVP award in 1972 and a championship in '75 with the Kentucky Colonels by becoming the first overall pick of the 1976 NBA dispersal draft. Six NBA All-star nods followed.

It's astonishing that the "A-Train" and his famous goatee had to wait this long to be enshrined and the honor is long overdue.

As for Magee, he's won 922 games, surpassing Bobby Knight for the most of all- time, and a national title as the head coach of Division II Philadelphia University (formerly Philadelphia Textile). But, he is best known for his shooting prowess.

Commonly referred to as the "Shot Doctor," Magee frequently works with NBA players from around the league on the art of shooting. His latest pupil is second-year Sixers swingman Evan Turner, a player who may be a consistent jump shot away from being a big time contributor at the NBA level.

Watching Magee shoot a basketball is awe-inspiring even for the Reggie Millers and Ray Allens of the world. It's swish after swish after swish. A miss only arrives when Magee attempts to demonstrate sloppy technique for one of his pupils. A free throw is no more difficult than a simple lay-up.

It may not be much but enjoy the ceremonies. It's an opportunity to talk basketball for a few hours.

The Sports Network

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