SPRINGFIELD, Mass.(Merced Sun Star)—Basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian, who won 784 games during his storied career at Fresno State, UNLV and Long Beach State, was part of a 12-member class inducted Sunday into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Tarkanian, who had heart surgery less than two months ago, came on stage with a walker and smiled when he received a standing ovation.
Tarkanian, 83, coached the Bulldogs from 1995-2002 and had six straight 20-win seasons and NCAA Tournament appearances in 2000 and 2001. He won the 1990 national championship while at UNLV.
On Sunday night, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval praised Tarkanian for his induction, saying it’s a “well-deserved honor.”
One of the other headliners at Sunday’s induction was current Louisville coach Rick Pitino, fresh off of winning this year’s national championship in April.
Pitino still remembers the training meals at the pizza place where his Boston University teams ate more than 30 years ago.
Even Hall of Famers have to start somewhere.
That obscure beginning provided a foundation for a coaching career that took him to two NBA teams and three other colleges, all reaching the Final Four and two winning NCAA championships.
“Coaches don’t get in the Hall of Fame,” Pitino said Sunday. “Players put them in the Hall of Fame, and I’ve had a great journey along the way.”
It started for him as a head coach in 1978 just 90 miles east of Springfield Symphony Hall, where the ceremony was held for him and the 11 other honorees.
He had to “learn the trade from the bottom” at Boston University, Pitino said. There were those “training meals,” he said, and the time when champagne was served at Midnight Madness.
“Nine drunks showed up,” he said, “and no one else.”
He spent five years with the Terriers, then two as an assistant with the New York Knicks before spending the next two as head coach at Providence, leading the Friars to a surprising berth in the Final Four. He kept moving — two years as head coach with the Knicks, eight with Kentucky, four with the Boston Celtics and the past 12 with Louisville.
Also inducted Sunday into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame were Gary Payton, the only NBA player with 20,000 points, 8,000 assists, 5,000 rebounds and 2,000 steals; Bernard King, who averaged 22.5 points in 15 NBA seasons with five teams; Guy Lewis, 91, who took Houston to five Final Fours; North Carolina women’s coach Sylvia Hatchell; five-time WNBA All-Star Dawn Staley; former Knicks guard Richie Guerin; former NBA deputy commissioner Russ Granik; and Oscar Schmidt, who played in five Olympics for Brazil.
E.B. Henderson, who learned basketball at Harvard in 1904 and then introduced it to African-American students in Washington, D.C., and four-time ABA All-Star Roger Brown of the Indiana Pacers were enshrined posthumously.