Larry Bird, a star on both the collegiate and NBA levels, was among eight players and three coaches to be nominated today for the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Bird, the national college player of the year at Indiana State, a three-time NBA MVP and a member of the league's 50th anniversary all-time team, was one of four first-time nominees among the players, but the only one who made it in his first year of eligibility.
Other first-time nominees were Adrian Dantley and Chet Walker, who had successful careers in both college and the NBA, and Marques Haynes, who entertained millions as the ballhandling wizard of the Harlem Globetrotters.
Nominated again as players were: Larry Costello, an NBA all-star in half of his 12 seasons; Artis Gilmore, one of the stars who played in both the ABA and NBA; Gus Johnson, considered one of the best power forwards in NBA history; and Sidney Moncrief, the guard credited with making the Milwaukee Bucks one of the best NBA teams of the '80s.
The coaches nominated were Alex Hannum, one of two coaches to win titles in both the ABA and NBA; John Thompson, who has led Georgetown to one national championship and three Final Fours; and Tex Winter, an assistant coach with the Chicago Bulls for their five NBA titles and a long-time college coach.
Bird and Magic Johnson are credited with helping vault basketball into one of the world's most popular sports. His 1978-79 Indiana State team went 33-1, the lone loss to Johnson and Michigan State in the national championship game, still one of the most watched college games ever.
Bird led the Boston Celtics to three NBA titles (1981, 1984, 1986) and their rivalry with Johnson's Los Angeles Lakers lifted the league to unprecedented levels of popularity and revenues. Bird, in his first year as coach of the Indiana Pacers, will coach the East team in the NBA All-Star game.
The nominees, selected by a screening committee, will need at least 18 votes from the 24-member Honors Committee for election. Further nominees will be forthcoming in the women's, veterans and international categories.