SPRINGFIELD, MA - Karl Malone and Scottie Pippen highlighted the 2010 class inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame Friday night.
Malone and Pippen were both members of the original “Dream Team,” the 1992 U.S. Olympic squad that easily won a gold medal in Barcelona. That entire team, along with the 1960 U.S. men’s Olympic squad, were also inducted.
Lakers owner Jerry Buss, former NBA players Dennis Johnson and Gus Johnson former WNBA star Cynthia Cooper, famed high school coach Bob Hurley Sr., and Brazilian legend Maciel Ubiratan Pereira were other ones inducted Friday.
Malone was a two-time NBA MVP, 14-time NBA All-Star and two-time Olympic gold medalist. In addition to the 1992 team, he also played on the 1996 team that won gold in Atlanta. Last year, his long-time Utah Jazz teammate, John Stockton, was inducted into the Hall of Fame.
An All-NBA First-Team forward from 1989-99, Malone was named one of the league’s 50 greatest players in 1996 and ranks second on the NBA’s all-time scoring list with 36,928 points. He finished his career with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2003-04.
“I want to thank the NBA this little snotty-nosed kid from Louisiana got an opportunity to play the game,” Malone said. “I hope I did it the way my peers did it before me. I didn’t do anything but try to play hard. I didn’t have a motive. It wasn’t about me, never was about me. It’s not about me tonight. It’s about a lot of other people.”
Pippen, who was the first one inducted, had Hall of Famer and former Bulls teammate Michael Jordan standing nearby on stage as his presenter Friday night. Pippen was a seven-time NBA All-Star and a member of six championship teams with the Chicago Bulls. He also played in the 1996 Olympics, was a three-time All-NBA First-Team member and was voted to the NBA All-Defensive First Team from 1992-99. After leaving the Bulls, Pippen played for Houston in 1998-99 and Portland from 1999-2003.
“For me, idolizing guys like Larry Bird and what he did in the game, has given me the opportunity to be here today,” Pippen said.
The 1992 Olympic team dominated the Barcelona Games, winning all eight of its games by an average of 43.8 points. Coached by the late Hall of Famer Chuck Daly, the “Dream Team” was the first team made up primarily of NBA players who were eligible to compete in international basketball because of the change of FIBA rules in 1989. Eight players from the team — Charles Barkley, Bird, Clyde Drexler, Patrick Ewing, Magic Johnson, Jordan, David Robinson and Stockton — have already been enshrined into the Hall of Fame. Malone and Pippen made it 10.
“We want to say thank you to coach because he was the architect that put it all together,” Johnson said of Daly, who passed away in May 2009. “He made sure we checked our ego at the door. He made sure we were just about playing with one another and playing for one common goal and that was to bring home the gold medal.”
Before the “Dream Team,” there was the 1960 Olympic squad that ran through the Rome Olympics with an 8-0 record on the way to a gold medal. That squad, with six members — including Walt Bellamy, Jerry Lucas, Oscar Robertson and Jerry West — enshrined in the Hall, won their games by an average of 42.4 points.
Buss has owned the Lakers since 1979 and the team has captured 10 NBA titles under his stewardship. During his ownership, the Lakers have also won 17 Western Conference titles and have recorded the most wins and the highest overall winning percentage in the NBA.
Dennis Johnson, who died in 2007, earned nine straight NBA All-Defensive Team honors during his 14-year career with Seattle, Phoenix and Boston. He led the Sonics to the 1979 NBA title, earning Finals MVP honors, and helped the Celtics to NBA crowns 1984 and ’86.
Gus Johnson, who died in 1987, was a five-time NBA All-Star in the late 1960s and early ’70s, and won an ABA championship with Indiana in 1973. He led the Baltimore Bullets to five playoff appearances in nine seasons, including the 1971 NBA Finals. In 10 NBA seasons, he averaged 17.1 points and 12.7 rebounds.
Cooper won a pair of NCAA women’s titles at Southern California and captured four WNBA crowns with the Houston Comets, earning the Finals MVP honor each time. She was twice the league’s MVP and won an Olympic gold medal in 1988.
Hurley is a New Jersey high school coaching legend, having compiled more than 900 wins as head coach at St. Anthony’s in Jersey City since 1972. He has led the school to 25 state parochial titles, and became only the third person elected exclusively for their service to high school basketball, joining Morgan Wootten and Bertha Teague.
Pereira, who died in 2002, is widely considered one of the greatest players in South American basketball history. A member of three Brazilian Olympic teams, Ubiratan led his countrymen to the bronze medal at the 1964 Olympic Games.