What: 2012 Naismith Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony
When: Red carpet: 3:30 p.m. PST; Induction ceremony: 4:30 p.m. on NBA TV today
Where: Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, Springfield, Mass.
Who: 12 inductees, including former Golden State Warriors coach Don Nelson (1998-1995, 2006-WE BELIEVE-2010), former Warriors player Jamaal Wilkes (1974-1977), who was a member of the Warriors' 1975 NBA championship team, and former Warriors forward Ralph Sampson (1987-1989).
There's been plenty written on Don Nelson's legacy and induction into the Hall of Fame in recent weeks, so I'm not going to add to that here - as you might have gathered from my thoughts on the disappointment that Chris Webber brought upon the Warriors franchise, my feelings on Don Nelson are mixed and I'm sure that probably goes for a sizable number of other Warriors faithful as well.
But less has been written about Jamaal Wilkes as a member of the Golden State Warriors.
While most of my friends growing up had posters of the stars of the day like Magic Johnson or Michael Jordan on their walls, I actually had a poster of the 1975 championship team on my wall (among other local heroes) - no sense dwelling on the misery of the present when you can live in a more glorious past, or something like that. Wilkes was a member of that 1975 team although he's better known individually for his time with the Los Angeles Lakers (1977-1985).
As reported by Arash Markazi of ESPN Los Angeles today, John Wooden has described Wilkes - a UCLA alum - as his ideal player. And that might be why his departure might have a place in one of the most disappointing departures in Warriors history in the eyes of some.
After winning the 1975 Rookie of the Year award as a member of that Warriors' championship team, representing the Warriors as an All-Star during the 1975-76 season and following that up with another solid year in '76-'77, Wilkes returned to Los Angeles to play for the Lakers and helped them win three more titles (1980, 1982, 1985). Meanwhile, the Warriors failed to make the playoffs for 10 years after he (and future All-Star Gus Williams) left the team.
Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don't Lie might have put Wilkes' career in perspective best in relation to a more well-known Laker Hall-of-Famer in writing, "...before James Worthy snuck into Los Angeles after a shrewd bit of dealing by the Laker front office, Wilkes was Los Angeles' championship-worthy inside/outside scorer."
Wilkes was no doubt a Laker, but will always have a place in Warriors history as well for being a significant part of that last championship team.
For more on Wilkes, visit the summary of his career at SBN's Hall of Fame storystream. The following are a few additional links from around the web:
- Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com had a pretty solid summary of a career of shaking things up is what landed Nellie in the hall.
- Marc Stein of ESPN.com has a Q&A with Nellie that reveals that Nelson isn't a totally insane man bent on using the smallest lineups possible - he's just adaptive. "You only play Nellie Ball when you don't have a very good team, or when you have a bunch of good small players and not many good big players."
- Eric Freeman of Ball Don't Lie helped put Nelson's legacy in perspective by writing, "If the Hall of Fame exists to explain the history of the game, and not just those who came out on top, then it must have room for people like Nellie."
- Stein also had a revealing Q&A with Nellie in 2010 (referenced in that Chris Webber post the other day) about how he actually wanted to leave the Warriors to take a job with the San Antonio Spurs before the Webber trade went down. Chris Cohan, FTW.