One of the most prolific outside shooters in the history of the Association, as well the coach with the most victories in the NBA are heading to Springfield, Mass. this September, as the “Associated Press” has reported that former Indiana Pacers star turned NBA broadcaster Reggie Miller and longtime NBA coach Don Nelson will head up the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2012. The Hall released the names of the inductees on Monday and induction ceremonies will take place on September 7. Also among the newest members of the Hall Of Fame are former college and NBA star Ralph Sampson and Jamaal Wiles who was a key member of the Los Angeles Lakers in the eighties.
Women’s professional basketball team The All-American Redheads, Nike co-founder Phil Knight, former NBA All-Star Chet Walker, ABA legend Mel Daniels and college referee Hank Nichols were also admitted to the Hall for this year. They will be joined by three former Olympic players, Katrina McClain and Don Barksdale from the USA as well as former Soviet Union star Lydija Alexeeva.
Miller would lead the Pacers to their only appearance in the NBA Finals in franchise history in 2000, when the team fell to the Los Angeles Lakers. The Pacers forward was named to five All-Star teams during his career in the Association and was a member of Team USA in 1996 as the squad captured the Olympic Gold Medal.
After winning five NBA Titles while playing for the Boston Celtics, Don Nelson turned to coaching in the NBA where he accumulated more wins than any other bench boss in NBA history. He would have some great teams back in the eighties as he coached the Milwaukee Bucks, however he had the misfortune of being in the same conference as the Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers; the only two teams in the Conference to make the Finals from 1980 through 1987. Nelson would also find success later in his career in two stints as the bench boss of the Golden State Warriors.
Sampson was a man among boys when he played in college as he was named NCAA National Player Of The Year three times, but he never was able to transfer that success when the Houston Rockets took him with the first pick in the NBA Draft. Sampson, was truly a player who was ahead of his time, as he was a small forward trapped inside a 7’4″ body, in an era when the role of a big man was to play strictly an inside game. He would make four All-Star teams and he and Hakeem Olajuwon led the Rockets to the Finals in 1986 before falling to the Boston Celtics.
Jamaal Wilkes came over to the Lakers from the Golden State Warriors and along with Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Norm Nixon became to core of the early years of the “Showtime Era” in Los Angeles. Wilkes would be a member of four NBA Championship squads with the Lakers and possessed an outside shot that was so smooth that he earned the nickname Silk.
Finalists who did not make the class this go-round included former Sixers point guard Maurice Cheeks, former NBA coaches Bill Fitch and Dick Motta, a man who could shoot the lights out in former NBA star Bernard King and current Louisville coach Rick Pitino.