SPRINGFIELD, Mass – Basketball’s best arrived in Springfield on Thursday for the introduction of the Basketball Hall of Fame’s Class of 2019.
The class includes the Wayland Baptist University Flying Queens from 1948-82.
“I am thrilled that the Hall of Fame has recognized the historic impact of the Flying Queens basketball program,” said Alice “Cookie” Barron, who played for the Queens from 1954-57. She was quoted on wbuathletics.com.
According to WBU, the Queens soared to 10 AAU National Championships from 1954-75, and won 131 consecutive games from 1954 – 1957.
The introduction took place at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield at 2:00 p.m. Thursday. Twelve heroes on the hardwood filled the birthplace of basketball to be enshrined as the Basketball Hall of Fame’s Class of 2019.
This year’s class ranges from players to coaches and contributors of the game. One of those players is former Milwaukee Bucks Star Sindey Moncrief.
Moncrief was one of the top players of the 80s and was a defensive player of the year and 5-time all-star. He came to the Hall of Fame earlier this summer and said how impressed he was with the facility and how thankful he is to now have his name among basketballs best.
“I came this summer and they were doing the renovations and I’ll tell you what…wow,” said Moncrief. “It’s going to be a showcase for the entire world once it’s totally complete. I’m very blessed to be a part of it.”
The game of basketball has become a much more global game over the years. One of the best to come to the NBA from overseas is Vlade Divac.
Divac originally from Serbia, played 16 seasons in the NBA for the Kings, Lakers and Hornets. He told 22News about how much the global influence of the NBA has grown since he started playing.
“You see the World Cup now with so many different teams playing against the USA, it makes the game of basketball very interesting around the world,” Divac said.
Other names in this year’s class include Sidney Moncrief, Teresa Witherspoon, Bobby Jones and players and coaches with Celtics ties that include Paul Westphal and Bill Fitch.
If you were a fan of the NBA in the 1960s and 70s, the Boston Celtics were one of the most dominant teams in NBA history during that span. One of the players who played a key role during that dynasty was Paul Westphal.
Westphal grew up on the West coast and played college ball at USC. He was then drafted by the Celtics and was a key player on the 1974 championship team.
He later played for the Phoenix suns and was an all star and later coached in Phoenix. Though he spent most of his career in Phoenix he said he’ll never forget about his time in Massachusetts and is happy fans haven’t forgotten about him.
“I have great memories of living in Massachusetts,” Westphal said. “As old as I am, there’s people who saw me play and remember those Celtics teams. Once they embrace someone in Boston they don’t forget.”
The 12 players coaches and contributors introduced on Thursday will soon be officially enshrined Friday night at Symphony Hall in Springfield.
Over the years, basketball has become a global game. The inductees are the following:
- Al Attles, presented by Rick Barry (’87)
- Carl Braun, presented by David Stern (’14)
- Chuck Cooper, presented by Bill Russell (‘75), Elgin Baylor (‘77), Tom Heinsohn (’86), Julius Erving (’93), Kareem Abdul Jabbar (‘95), Larry Bird (’98), Isiah Thomas (‘00), Dominique Wilkins (‘06), Mannie Jackson (‘17), and Ray Allen (‘18)
- Vlade Divac, presented by Jerry West (’80)
- Bill Fitch, presented by Larry Bird (’98)
- Bobby Jones, presented by Billy Cunningham (’86) and David Thompson (’96)
- Sidney Moncrief, presented by Bob Lanier (‘92) and Don Nelson (‘12)
- Jack Sikma, presented by Lenny Wilkens (‘89), Kareem Abdul Jabbar (’95) and Wayne Embry (‘99)
- Tennessee A&I, presented Jerry West (‘80)
- Wayland Baptist, presented by Luisa Harris Stewart (‘92), and Nancy Lieberman (‘96)
- Teresa Weatherspoon, presented by Cynthia Cooper (‘10), Sheryl Swoopes (‘16), and Tina Thompson (‘18)
- Paul Westphal, presented by Elgin Baylor (’77) and Charles Barkley (’06)
(WWLP.com contributed to this report)