Bulls may be looking at another Hall of Famer


Feb 18

The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Chicago Bulls. All opinions expressed by Sam Smith are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Chicago Bulls or their Basketball Operations staff, parent company, partners, or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Bulls and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.

Chicago, or the Bulls, is likely to have a third straight inductee to the basketball Hall of Fame this summer.

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday announced its finalists for the Class of 2011 and it included former Bulls coaches Tex Winter and Dick Motta, former Bull (and various others) Dennis Rodman and Chicago native Maurice Cheeks.

And the way chairman Jerry Colangelo, a member of the Hall of Fame, talked Friday in Los Angeles in the opening of NBA All-Star weekend festivities, it sounded an awful lot like Rodman has the best chance to be elected.

Colangelo wasn’t promising anything, and, frankly, doesn’t have any idea how the voting will go. A rotating panel of 24 not named voters get ballots and a total of 18 votes is needed for election.

Rodman played on the Bulls championship teams from 1996 through 1998 and could join Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, who were inducted in 2009 and 2010, respectively.

Though there is an awful lot about Rodman that is not particularly respectable.

Colangelo, who sits in on the screening committee that makes the nominations, indicated of the 12 finalists Rodman got perhaps the strongest support.

“You have to focus on the fact he may have been the best rebounder in the history of the game,” said Colangelo, though I was polite enough not to mention Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell.

“You have to focus on what he did between the lines,” said Colangelo. “He got a lot of traction from that committee. The things he did off the court did come up. I had a discussion with him after the fact. He responded well.”

In other words, Rodman was told if he were to be elected, he better not come in a wedding dress, for example.

Colangelo also indicated it might be a good year for Winter, the longtime assistant to Phil Jackson and supporter of the triangle offense, to get his long awaited honor given no truly high profile nominations.

“I heard all the deliberations of the screening committee,” said Colangelo. “I know where Tex has been (considered) before. I think the feeling from that committee is that this is the time for him to move forward because of his tremendous contributions to the game.

“He’s a little bit out of the mold, yet he isn’t,” said Colangelo. “Look at the impact he’s had on head coaches in the philosophy of the game and how it’s played, the triple post offense, the championships in a couple of cities. His impact was just enormous.”

Winter, who recently was felled by a stroke, also was the youngest ever college coach to be named coach of the year and a longtime successful coach at Kansas State before coming to Northwestern.

Motta was the most successful Bulls coach until the championship years of the 1990s and was 356-300 as Bulls coach and later general manager from 1968 through 1976. He went on to coach a championship team in Washington.

Also selected as a finalist was Chicago native point guard Maurice Cheeks, who later went on to be an NBA coach and now is an assistant with the Thunder.

“Mo Cheeks is another guy who has been up before,” noted Colangelo. “The timing is good now. I would say this is his best opportunity.”

Also selected as finalists were Teresa Edwards and Tara Vanderveer from the women’s committee and Alvin Attles, college coach Herb Magee, Chris Mullin, referee Hank Nichols, Ralph Sampson and Jamaal Wilkes. The surprise was former Pacer Reggie Miller wasn’t selected as a finalist in his first year of eligibility.

What do you think? Leave a comment below: