BY SPNW Staff 10:59AM 04/06/2015

Snubbed no more, Haywood elected to HOF

Spencer Haywood, who lobbied on his own behalf for years, finally received enough support to warrant election to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Spencer Haywood played for Seattle from 1970-75, earning five All-Star nods. / David Eskenazi Collection

Snubbed for years despite intense lobbying efforts on his behalf, former Seattle SuperSonics star Spencer Haywood finally won election to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Monday as part of a 2015 class that includes 11 members. Haywood and his classmates will be enshrined in ceremonies at Springfield, MA., Sept. 10-12.

Haywood will be joined by eight-time All-Star Dikembe Mutombo, seven-time All-Star Jo Jo White, three-time WNBA MVP Lisa Leslie, three-time NCAA Coach of the Year John Calipari and referee Dick Bavetta, who worked NBA games for 39 years.

Finalists had to receive at least 18 of 24 votes from the Honors Committee in order to gain induction. The six who reached that threshold are joined by five others who were elected directly two months ago, including former Washington State head coach George Raveling.

Haywood joined the American Basketball Association in 1969 and then went on to play for 12 years in the NBA (1970-1983), scoring 14,592 points, including 8,131 with the SuperSonics from 1969-75. During those years, Haywood represented Seattle in five All-Star games while averaging 24.9 points. He twice made NBA first-team All Pro.

The Sonics traded Haywood to the New York Knicks in 1975, and he also played for the Jazz, Lakers and Bullets through 1983. Haywood won a championship ring with the Lakers in 1980.

Haywood, who attended the University of Detroit, was the leading scorer on the 1968 gold medal Olympic team. During his time with the ABA’s Denver Nuggets, he was named Rookie of the Year and All Star Game MVP. He set ABA single-season records for most minutes (3,808), most field goals made (986), most rebounds (1,637) and highest rebounding average (19.5).

When Haywood attempted to leave Denver and sign with Seattle, the NBA tried to block the move, arguing that it did not employ athletes whose college classes had not graduated. Haywood and the Sonics sued and the case eventually reached the U.S. Supreme Court, Haywood prevailing by a vote of 7-2.

That opened the league’s doors to underclassmen and freshly graduated high school players.

Raveling, whose election was made public in February, will enter the HOF as a contributor. Based in Los Angeles, he is currently Director of International Basketball for Nike.

Raveling served as an assistant coach at his alma mater, Villanova (1963-69), and then Maryland (1970-72), where he helped lead the 1970-71 Terrapins to an undefeated regular season.

Raveling coached the Cougars from 1972-83 and led them to two NCAA Tournaments. He later coached at Iowa (1983-86) and USC (1986-94). Raveling was named Kodak National Coach of the Year (1992) and CBS/Chevrolet National Coach of the Year (1994).

In 1984 and 1988, Raveling served as an assistant coach for the U.S. Olympic teams. Raveling was the first African-American coach in the ACC and Pac-8 (now the Pac-12).

See Wayback Machine: Haywood’s Barriers to HOF


  • RadioGuy

    Outstanding! For a few years, Woody was as good a power forward as there was in the game. I first saw him on TV when he played in the ABA All-Star Game and just toying with some pretty damned good players at age 20. Unlike McDaniels and Brisker, he lost nothing in transition from the ABA to the Sonics. He started flaming out his last year in Seattle under Russell and, except for a partial season in New Orleans, was never the force he used to be. At his best, Haywood was spectacular.

    But Dick Bavetta? Longevity does not equal greatness and Bavetta is better known for (shall we say?) questionable calls made in critical playoff games he officiated while better refs weren’t being assigned to those series. Charles Barkley should send him a Christmas card every year for the rest of his life. So when does Jack Molinas get in?

    • coug73

      I agree. However, there were the Spencer Drift Wood days. And Brisker lived in the the Russell Dog House. McDaniels shined until his eclipse.

      • art thiel

        Brisker and McDaniels. Two of the great mysteries of the ABA.

    • art thiel

      Spencer’s legal case was a part of his saga that was significant in NBA history.

      Every ref is going to be doubted by fans, but players and coaches respected a guy whio had command of a game and was fair to all. A pro’s pro. Was he in the ’93 series with the Suns?

  • jafabian

    Hopefully this is for real and not a bad joke like last time. Woody was Seattle’s first sports superstar and this honor is long overdue. I was afraid with no NBA team in Seattle support for his induction would wane. I’m very happy for Spencer!

    • art thiel

      It’s real. And well deserved, despite his dubious days as a Laker.

      • jafabian

        I’m curious just how much went on behind the scenes for this. The NBA has a long memory and takes things personally. Did the NBA feel bad for what happened to Spencer last time? Was it Payton’s lobbying during his induction for Spencer that got the ball rolling? Players who left college and even jumped from high school to the NBA have acknowledged that Spencer paved the road for them. I’m guessing there was some movement behind closed doors for this to happen.