MINNEAPOLIS — The longest active streak of missing the NBA playoffs belongs to Sacramento, where general manager Vlade Divac has been trying to return the Kings to the league’s elite over the past four seasons.
Back when the slick-passing Serbian big man was in the paint, the Kings had quite the run. For his impact on the NBA as one of the pioneering Eastern Europeans, Divac was announced Saturday as one of the 12 honorees in the 2019 class of the Basketball Hall of Fame.
“We created something special there, the first day of training camp that led us,” said Divac, who played for Sacramento from 1998-2004, with a peak in 2002 when the Kings lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in overtime of Game 7 of the Western Conference finals. “For six years, we were the most exciting team in the league and really played basketball the right way.”
The class will be enshrined at the Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., on Sept. 6. Selected this year with Divac were NBA players Carl Braun, Chuck Cooper, Bobby Jones, Sidney Moncrief, Jack Sikma and Paul Westphal, NBA coach Bill Fitch, WNBA player Teresa Weatherspoon, the 1957-59 teams from Tennessee A&I and the Wayland Baptist University program.
Also elected was former Warriors player and coach Al Attles as a contibutor (see Bruce Jenkins’ story, page B1).
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Moncrief and Sikma were teammates with the Milwaukee Bucks from 1986-89. The seven-time All-Star Sikma, who won an NBA title in his second season with the Seattle SuperSonics, set a record with the Bucks in 1988 as the only center in history to lead the league in free-throw percentage at 92.2.
Moncrief was a five-time All-Star and two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year in the mid-1980s. Moncrief also reached the Final Four in his final season at Arkansas, 1978-79, under coach Eddie Sutton.
Weatherspoon, who was elected by the women’s committee, was a five-time WNBA All-Star for the New York Liberty who was the first in the league to reach 1,000 points and 1,000 assists. She led Louisiana Tech to an NCAA title in 1988.
Jones and Westphal were the other players elected by the North American committee. Jones was an eight-time NBA All-Defensive first team pick and four-time All-Star with the Philadelphia 76ers, winning a title with them in 1983. Westphal was a five-time All-Star who won a championship with the Boston Celtics in 1974.
Fitch coached in the NBA for 25 seasons, leading the Celtics to a title in 1981.
Cooper, who died in 1984, was directly elected by the early African American pioneers committee. He was an All-American at Duquesne in 1950 and the first African American player drafted by an NBA team. Braun, directly elected by the veterans committee, died in 2010. He was a five-time NBA All-Star who won a title with the Celtics in 1962.
Also honored were the Tennessee A&I teams that won NAIA championships in 1957, 1958 and 1959. The program, now known as Tennessee State, was the first to win three straight titles in any college division.
Wayland Baptist, elected directly by the women’s veterans committee, was among the first women’s programs to award scholarships. Under coach Harley Redin, the small school in West Texas won 131 straight games from 1953-58 and 10 national titles overall.
Dave Campbell is an Associated Press writer.
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/sports/article/Divac-Moncrief-Sikma-Weatherspoon-headline-13747430.php.