September 1, 2016
I always wanted to go to the basketball Hall of Fame (HOF) in Springfield, MA. Well, it all came to be this winter on Wednesday (February 23) when we (along with another couple) drove up to Springfield on Tuesday in weather that could best be described as a snowy-wintry mix. The 135 mile trip took 3 hours. What follows are my edited transcribed notes on the trip.
- All basketball fans should visit the HOF.
- All non-basketball fans should visit the HOF at least once.
- If you plan to stay/sleep over, as opposed to a day trip, I suggest staying at the Hilton, which is immediately adjacent to the HOF. Also, consider the package deal that includes admission and breakfast for 2. It’s a beautiful hotel and worth the price.
- The HOF is 3-stories high. The third floor contains photographs and writings of all the members of the HOF. I was shocked at some who are members and some of whom are not members.
- One floor down is where you want to spend most of your time. Here, you will find lots of goodies: early history, old-timers, stars of yesteryear, today’s heroes, the media, coaches, administrators, referees, the various conferences, etc. There were guides there to keep the conservation flowing. One guide – who never played basketball – had to be nearly 100 years old but lived in the area, was a riot.
- A basketball court is located on the bottom/first floor. Your author’s 2-handed fowl shot of yesteryear went 10 for 25 despite shooting around 80% during earlier days. My low times have changed. Incidentally, your author was nicknamed “The Judge” during those earlier years because he spent so much time on the bench.
- The first floor also housed a very spacious and comfortable theatre. My companions requested the movie on MJ although I would have preferred the one on Wilt.
Overall, it was a unique experience and would give it a grade of B. Why not an A, you ask? A few things caught me wrong. On reaching the third floor, I came face-to-face with the likes of Rick Pitino, Jim Calhoun, John Calipari, John Thompson, Mike Kriyzewski, Jim Boeheim, Dean Smith, etc. – individuals who have, in some form or another, disgraced the game of basketball. Here are a few other sticklers.
- There was a very small section in a corner devoted to the NIT. Isn’t the NIT a major and integral part of the game’s history? How could this be? And not a mention of Jack Powers, who served as the Executive Director for 21 years. (Note: I have formerly nominated Jack for the HOF for the 2017 year.) I hear admission is very political; but Matt Zeysong (4132315523), the Hall’s curator and historian, has assured me that it is not.
Is Jack a worthy candidate? You be the judge. He was a 4-year starter and star at Manhattan College, a 2nd team All-American, a coach at Manhattan College, and Athletic Director at Manhattan. But if he is to be inducted, it will be as an Administrator because of his involvement with the NIT. At the time of visiting the Hall, the NIT had been around for 74 years. There have been countless games, innumerable players and coaches, and (of course) millions of fans. It has endured wars, scandals, and NCAA expansion to continue showcasing some of the finest teams, coaches, and players that college basketball has to offer. It has, however, fallen on hard times as of late. Today’s NIT is a men’s college basketball tournament that is now owned and operated by the NCAA.
The idea of crowning a national champion began to surface among the New York City sportswriters, initiated by the late Irving Marsh of the Herald Tribune and the late Everett Morris of the Times. In 1938, the idea became a reality when 6 teams were brought into the old Garden at 49th Street and 8th Avenue to find out who was the best in the land and subsequently being crowned NIT champion. Enter the NCAA the next year. “Many thought that when the NCAA Tournament later expanded its field to 64 teams, the NIT would just go away. But that did not happen. The NIT presently provides a much needed opportunity to programs that are on the upswing, to clubs that were disappointed by the NCAA selection committee, and to teams that had successful regular seasons but were upset in conference tournament play,” explained Powers, who—as mentioned earlier–ran the NIT for 21 years.
No discussion of the NIT would be complete without a discussion of the NIT’s battle for survival between the original NIT and the NCAA. In 2005, the NCAA ultimately purchased 10-year rights to the NIT from the MIBA for $56.5 million in order to settle an antitrust lawsuit spearheaded by Powers, which was in trial and being litigated until very shortly before the settlement was announced. The NIT did not initially move from New York City. However the NIT is presently located in Indianapolis, IN, home of the NCAA. The selection committee was changed and Powers was unfortunately relegated to member status. What do the fans in the reading audience think? Give me a call at (516) 742-8939. Your comments/suggestions would be appreciated.
- There was absolutely no mention of the point-shaving scandals in recent years and during the barnstorming days of the original Celtics.
- There was absolutely no mention of the corruption charges that have been leveled at the NCAA. No doubt the reader is aware of the recent Boeheim, Pitino, Calipari, Dean Smith, Calhoun, etc., scandals. Note that all of above are members of the HOF.*
- There was absolutely no mention of the student-athletic scam being perpetrated by the NCAA.*
- There was absolutely no mention of the adamant refusal of the NCAA to pay players a fair salary.*
*As documented in my recent “Basketball Coaching 101” book, I first brought this to the attention of the basketball community 12 years ago.
Bottom line: It was a worthwhile experience despite the Camelot whitewashing. I suggest you consider a visit this fall.
Visit the author at:
www.theodorenewsletter.com or on his Facebook page at Basketball Coaching 101
NEXT POSTINGS: (tentative):
OCTOBER 1: On the OHI Day IV
NOVEMBER 1: On “THE” Election
DECEMBER 1: On the 2016-17 Hofstra Basketball Season
JANUARY 1: One Purely Chaste, Pristine, and Random Thoughts XXIV