Posted April 08, 2013

Spencer Haywood calls surprise Hall of Fame snub ‘punch below stomach’

Ben Golliver, Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, Spencer Haywood
Spencer Haywood, center, believed he had been inducted into the Hall of Fame, only to find out he was snubbed again. (Dick Raphael/Getty Images)

Spencer Haywood, center, is not a member of the 2013 Hall of Fame class. (Dick Raphael/Getty Images)

By Ben Golliver

In a bizarre and heartbreaking reversal, Spencer Haywood, who thought he was informed earlier this week that had been elected to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame’s 2013 class, is once again on the outside looking in.

Haywood, 63,  has been bypassed for selection for years, but the unusual circumstances over the last week surely makes this snubbing the worst of all.

On Friday, FoxSportsFlorida.com reported that Al Ross, Haywood’s former agent, mistakenly confirmed that Haywood would be joining the 2013 class, which will be officially announced on Monday.

“They couldn’t keep him out anymore,” Ross said of Haywood finally entering the Hall of Fame. “He’s really excited.”

Less than 24 hours later, the Seattle Times reported that Haywood, who was officially announced as a 2013 finalist at All-Star Weekend in Houston back in February, did not make the final cut needed to earn induction.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported Haywood’s version of events.

“I don’t know why there was confusion,” Haywood said Saturday from Atlanta, where he is attending the Final Four. “Someone from the NBA told me I was in, then I found out Friday night that I wasn’t in. This is so embarrassing. My stomach has been so bad I can’t eat, I can’t sleep. This isn’t a punch in the stomach. It’s below the stomach.”

The Hall of Fame’s official announcement comes Monday at the Final Four. The Hall — not the NBA — informs finalists beforehand if they received the required votes for induction.

“I don’t know how it was decided,” Ross said Saturday. “Spencer called me and told me that he was in. First he was in. Then he’s not in. It’s the most ludicrous, absurd thing I’ve ever seen.”

Haywood played 12 seasons in the NBA with the SuperSonics, Knicks, Jazz, Lakers and Bullets, holding career averages of 19.2 points and 9.3 rebounds. A four-time NBA All-Star and two-time All-NBA first-team selection, Haywood was a member of the 1980 title-winning Lakers and the gold medal-winning 1968 Olympic team and he had his No. 24 jersey retired by the Sonics.

In 1970, Haywood filed an anti-trust lawsuit against the NBA’s rule that players needed to spend four years in college before entering the league. USA Today reported the details of the lawsuit in 2009.

He left the University of Detroit after his sophomore year to join the Denver Rockets of the ABA in 1969-70. Then he signed with the NBA’s Seattle Supersonics in violation of an NBA rule that said players must be four years out of high school to be eligible. And when the NBA cried foul, Haywood took the league to court. The Supreme Court ruled in his favor in 1971. He’d like to be remembered as the patron saint of early entrants, paving the way for Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan to leave college early for the NBA — and for Kobe Bryant and LeBron James to leapfrog college into the league.

Earlier this week, Haywood told the Las Vegas Review-Journal  that he felt that his legal challenge had been a factor in keeping him out of the Hall of Fame over the years.

“I’m still suffering,” said Haywood, who lives in Las Vegas and owns a construction business. “If you look at all the things I did on the court, I would have been in a long time ago. But the (Supreme) court fight is the reason I’m not in. But I believe this is going to be my time.”

“I’m still a pariah,” Haywood said. “I’ll be around Kobe, LeBron, Carmelo (Anthony) at USA Basketball camp and they won’t talk to me. What they don’t know, or want to know, is without me, there’s no them. But they’re in denial.”

While this serves as an excellent case study for why early leaks of official announcements can be a less preferable path than remaining patient, Haywood’s excitement at his (assumed) election is totally understandable given the history involved and the quality of his résumé. This saga raises all sorts of questions, and there was clearly a communication breakdown at some point along the way.

At the very least, the NBA and the Hall of Fame owe public statements as to their understanding of this week’s events. Did anyone from either organization contact Haywood? If so, could that communication have been interpreted in any way as an induction invitation? If the answers to those questions are “yes,” to any degree, one or both organizations owe Haywood an apology, at the very least. If not, everyone involved will surely try to forget the events of the past week as quickly as possible, however difficult that might prove to be.

A number of 2013 class inductees leaked in advance of 2013′s ceremony. According to multiple reports, Gary Payton will be enshrined this September. Bernard King will reportedly also earn induction.

28 comments
shag112002
shag112002

 It wouldn't surprise me if those guys don't talk to him. My babyboomer generation was given a since of history, but too many of us got caught-up in drugs, materialism, me-ism, etc., to pass it along to our children. Very sad. 

Natural-Outlaw
Natural-Outlaw

I watched Haywood play in the 70's, particularly with the Sonics. He was a star in the league. In his latter years minutes, points and rebounds seem to dwindle. Yet his career stats are still impressive. Has his former lawsuit against NBA effected his Hall snub? I have no way to measure this.  

Mark4
Mark4

Moral of the story:  wait for the official announcement.

bigblacque
bigblacque

I saw the majority of the 70's players up close and personal as a child growing up in the midwest. Pretty much all of the players that I thought would be in the Hall from the early 70's are in or going in very very soon. Spencer was that guy that you saw on the walls in the barber shop next to the Maury Wills poster. I just remember him as being one of my favorite cats to go see next to Connie Hawkins and Tiny Archebald. If they take the total career, high school, college, ABA/NBA then he gets in. Maybe not next year after this mixed up but soon.

K.r.Qunynghamm
K.r.Qunynghamm

When he was with the Knics, the only time he found his legs was when Bob McAdoo was injured. Otherwise, he was a coat rack. He was  good, solid basketball player, but a borderline Hall of Famer.  Look up some of the players of his era, and you'll find several with similar numbers that aren't in or headed for the HOF. LBJ nor Kobe Bryant have any idea who Heywood even is. It's not like he's in the news every day or a commentator like Kenny Smith or Charles Barkely. Maybe if he went up and introduced himself or did a little self promotion. As for his stomach problems due to this, uh, Spencer, aren't there more pressing issues out there?  BTW, the idea of players staying in school the whole 4 years wasn't a bad one. It would have lessened  our having to see so many head cases, poor shooting nights, rotten free throw shooters and guys who are 'athletic' but can't make a lay-up.

mutilatedwave
mutilatedwave

What a chum...poor ego...waaaaaahhh. He's just like Chris bosh...let them both fail the losers...

Action
Action

I'm pretty sure the reason Kobe and LeBron don't talk to Spencer Haywood is because they don't know who he is in the first place.  Nor did I until now.

tnkd3
tnkd3

Spencer Haywood, as a pro, was NOT a Hall of Fame player.  PERIOD.   Good ballplayer, yes, but not a HOF player.  I too wonder if anyone really "informed" him that he was elected.  I also remember that during the 1980 finals he went on a "mission" before either the series opener or one of the games and was immediately suspended from the Lakers.  DURING THE NBA FINALS!!!!! 

James C
James C

Should Haywood be in the Hall of Fame? Based simply on his basketball playing career, it is very questionable. His professional basketball statistics are pretty solid, averaging 20.3 points per game, 10.3 rebounds per game, and 1.8 assists per game in his combined NBA and ABA career. His average points per game ranks him 51st in NBA/ABA career scoring average. This average ranks ahead of 40 players who are already enshrined in the Hall of Fame. There are only 9 players ranked ahead of him in scoring average not in the Hall of Fame, although several of those are still in the "exclusionary period" before being eligible to be inducted including Shaq. 

 

He is also 45th in Rebounds per game, but that average puts in him the grey area. 16 retired players rank higher in rebound average per game. The magic number of induction seems to be 12 rebounds per game, as all 18 players (except Dwight Howard) averaging over 12 rebounds per game are in the Hall. The first non-12 rebound per game player is no in the Hall. 

 

Do other factors need to be considered? Yes, including impact on the game. The NBA may not like it, and the Naismith committee might not like it, but the legal challenge he made did change the way the game moved forward allowing a lot of future Hall of Fame and will be Hall of Fame players to leave early. That needs to be considered as a positive even if they don't like it. 

DanDippel
DanDippel

I don't see anywhere in the article where it says he was a 4 time MVP just that he was a 4 time All Star. Maybe they went back in an edited it before I read it.

PatrickM
PatrickM

Haywood has a Hall of Fame mouth. Nothing more. He played at a Hall of Fame level for a couple of years and then loafed through the rest of the 1970s. He's been whining about not being in the Hall for too long. And then nonsense about their not being any Kobe or Lebron without him is just that: nonsense.

I also seriously doubt that anyone told him he was in. He has zero credibility because of all the nonsense he has said over the years. He and his agent cooked this up to get sympathy so he'll get in next year. But it's not going to happen because Spencer Haywood was not a Hall of Famer on or off the floor. He's an earlier version of George McGinnis.

@dougherty
@dougherty

Major typo with the 'four-time MVP' call. Keep in mind that his 2 time 1st team All-NBA awards came during the ABA years. If he goes in, then Bernard King should have been in on the first ballot. I just can't see Spencer Haywood as a HOF player when his best feats are that he married Iman and free-based everything but the sugar packets at Musso & Frank's.

WilyCoyoteSuperGenius
WilyCoyoteSuperGenius

The NBA Hall of Fame is a joke. Play in the league five years and you get in eventually. I think they even take ball boys and the guys who wipe the court.

Gmoneyblaster
Gmoneyblaster

He was a 4 time All-star not 4 time MVP! Makes a big difference for his case to be in the HOF!

Cool
Cool

I am not finding any information about him being a 4 time MVP either, but I was able to read that he had a cocaine addiction and was kicked off his team because he was high and fell asleep during a practice.  He then went to Italy to play ball.  So my guess would be that it was not so much the supreme court battle as it is the image of a young player, hooked on cocaine, being kicked out of the league. 

m.guszak
m.guszak

"A four-time NBA MVP"?

 

This guy was before my time, so I don't know much about him. But if he won four MVPs, he should be in. But I am fairly positive he was never MVP once, much less four times. Clean up your story, SI.

 

Matakenyalaki
Matakenyalaki

My word! If Ralph Sampson can get voted in, why not Spencer Haywood?

joe8254
joe8254

Haywood claims that Kobe, LeBron and Carmelo won't talk to him at the USA basketball camp. Perhaps they don't know of his history, especially since he's not in the HOF. Many of their heroes are probably from the 80s and 90s. Kobe's dad even played with Dr. J, one of Haywood's contemporaries. It might not be the slight Haywood seems to thinks it is.

 

Chet "The Jet" Walker was a  great player in his time, with similar stats to Haywood, and he wasn't selected to the Hall until he was 73, nearly 40 years after he retired. Some great players from before the NBA's popularity explosion (driven by Bird-Magic-Jordan in the 80s and 90s) have waited a long time to get in. I used to wonder why Jamaal Wilkes, a key player on UCLA, 80s Lakers and Warriors (1974-75) championship teams, wasn't in the Hall. But he finally got in a couple of years ago. Since he's come thisclose, it's only a matter of time before Haywood is also elected.

 

Sometimes players from the 70s are overlooked because it was a horrible time for the league. Today it receives billions of dollars to show NBA Finals games live in prime time; back then some finals games were relegated to being shown on tape delay after midnight.

joe8254
joe8254

There's a major mistake in this article: Haywood was not a four-time NBA MVP. Any player with at least that many MVPs on their resume is already in the Hall (e.g. Chamberlain, Russell, Abdul-Jabbar, Jordan). Those names are the elite of the elite.

scwmd1
scwmd1

Anyone that knows anything about professional basketball in the USA knows that you deserve to be in the Hall of Fame and unfortunately that may just have to be satisfying enough for you.  Sorry.

eddiej
eddiej

If it's true that Kobe,LBJ,Melo,etc.won't talk to him that bad.If it's because of his court win that's downright shamefully.Without him there would be no them and their early start careers.

joe8254
joe8254

 @DanDippel They did edit it later. I read the original posting around 7 or 8 this morning.

joe8254
joe8254

 @@dougherty I had forgotten about his drug laden past. The article is largely about him supposedly being slighted by the Hall and today's superstars, plus his flimsy contention that his suing to leave college early has had a major impact on the game (on that basis, Curt Flood should be in the baseball HOF). It's odd that his drug use is not reported by this writer. It makes for an imbalanced perspective on Haywood's career.

 

I have a feeling that one reason he's not in the hall because he was a prime example of someone who squandered a lot of his talent in the pursuit of drugs. He averaged 19/9 while destroying his mind and his body. What would he have accomplished if he had disciplined himself? His case reminds me of Dave Parker's in baseball, another top tier talent from the 70s whose ability was diminished by drug abuse.

 

I agree with you about Bernard King. He was a great scoring small forward in an era full of them (Bird, Dominique, Worthy, Dr. J). Plus he was very productive after blowing out his ACL at a time when that usually meant your career was over. His induction is long overdue.

James C
James C

 @WilyCoyoteSuperGenius There is no NBA Hall of Fame. This is the Basketball Hall of Fame. Unlike MLB, pro football, and the NHL, this includes all that a player or coach did, not just what they did while playing as a professional. 

 

Rick Patino does not deserve to be in the Hall of Fame as an NBA coach, but his coaching career in college is more than deserving which is why he will be announced Monday evening as a new member being inducted over the summer. (Hopefully he loses the game after he gets announced). 

 

The two most interesting inductions to me are John R Wooden, who was inducted as a player in the 1960 class (the second class to be enshrined). Yes,this is the same John R Wooden who is also in as a coach at UCLA, but he was enshrined as a player prior to ever being a national championship winning coach. 

 

Lenny Wilkins is another person I remember as a coach first, but that had a hall of fame playing career. He was enshrined with class of 1989 as a player, and then again as coach 1998 as the first coach to reach 1000 career wins. 

 

Bill Sharman is the only other person inducted as both a player and as a coach. 

 

All of those three had solid professional playing careers, as Wooden was a player in the NBL, while the other two played in the NBA. 

 

One of the other interesting Hall of Fame members is Amos Alonzo Stagg, whos has the rare distinction of having a college football Bowl named after him (DIII Championship Game), being a member of the college football hall of fame, and being a member of the basketball hall of fame. 

 

 

mutilatedwave
mutilatedwave

@Cool fell asleep high on cocaine are you sure you got the drugs right!?

Nagurski
Nagurski

 @Cool Fall asleep while high on cocaine? That's a Hall of Fame accomplishment.