Former Seattle SuperSonics point guard Gary Payton and forward Spencer Haywood were among 12 finalists announced Friday for election into the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Ex-guards Tim Hardaway and Mitch Richmond, former Houston Cougars coach Guy Lewis, current Louisville coach Rick Pitino and ex-UNLV coach Jerry Tarkanian also are finalists for the 2013 class.
The others are former NBA stars Maurice Cheeks and Bernard King, longtime North Carolina women’s coach Sylvia Hatchell and five-time WNBA All-Star Dawn Staley. Celtics great Tom Heinsohn, already inducted as a player, is a finalist in the coaching category.
The 2013 class will be announced at the Final Four in April.
Brazilian great Oscar Schmidt, former NBA deputy commissioner Russ Granik, former ABA star Roger Brown, six-time All-Star Richard Guerin and Edwin Henderson, a black player from the early part of the 20th century, were directly elected for induction.
George Raveling, who was coach at Washington State University from 1972-83, was honored with a lifetime achievement award.
Payton was a nine-time All-Star who earned the nickname “The Glove.” He ended his career ranked fourth in career steals (2,445).
Payton played 13 of his 17 NBA seasons in Seattle and lately, he has been focused on the city’s efforts to get another team.
“All we have to do is hope. Seattle deserves it,” Payton said.
In 1970, Haywood, a member of the 1968 gold-medal winning U.S. Olympic team, challenged the NBA’s age restriction and filed an antitrust suit against the league. The suit was settled and Haywood joined the Sonics from the ABA’s Denver Nuggets.
Haywood was a four-time All-Star and two-time all-NBA player while with the Sonics from 1970-75. His 29.2 points per game in 1972-73 and 13.4 rebounds a game in 1973-74 remain team records. The Sonics retired Haywood’s No. 24 in 2007.
DON’T HATE THE PLAYER
Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant wanted to set the record straight once and for all about his relationship with Miami’s LeBron James.
“I hate him,” he said before breaking into laughter.
Then he got serious.
“We’re actually really good friends,” Durant said. “I think people want us to hate each other so bad just because we’re battling against each other.”
Some have criticized Durant and James for being friends instead of intense rivals.
“People always want to talk about the friendship me and KD have. It’s a new era,” James said.
The NBA’s website launched an extensive database of statistics, including every box score since the league was founded in 1946, at www.nba.com/stats. ... Rockets guard Jeremy Lin launched a charitable foundation that will benefit three Houston organizations helping underprivileged children.