April 7, 2008
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Two-time University of Notre Dame basketball first-team All-American and 1976 national college player of the year Adrian Dantley Monday was named to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
The announcement was made in San Antonio, Texas, in conjunction with the NCAA men's basketball Final Four.
Dantley had been named one of 15 finalists for 2008 back in February (in conjunction with the NBA All-Star Game in New Orleans) - and he previously had been a finalist in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2007.
Dantley joins the seven-member 2008 induction class that also includes Hakeem Olajuwon, who led the University of Houston to three straight NCAA Final Fours and the Houston Rockets to back-to-back National Basketball Association titles; Patrick Ewing, a two time Olympic gold medalist, 1984 NCAA champion at Georgetown and 11-time NBA All-Star; Pat Riley, head coach of the Miami Heat who has captured a total of five NBA championships as a coach with the Heat and Los Angeles Lakers; ESPN sportscaster Dick Vitale; Detroit Pistons and Detroit Shock owner Bill Davidson; and women's basketball pioneer and former Immaculata University coach Cathy Rush.
"It means a lot," Dantley told CBS announcer Jim Nantz on the dais after the announcement. "You and I go way back. I remember you at Utah. I mentioned that I'd make the Hall of Fame one day. And it happened. It took a long time, but it happened."
Dantley found out Thursday after practice. He received a message on his phone but was afraid to listen to it until he got home.
"I got a little watery-eyed," he said. "It's quite an accomplishment."
A finalist needs 18 of 24 votes from the honors committee for election into the Hall of Fame. The class of 2008 will be enshrined Sept. 4-6, 2008, during festivities in Springfield, Mass. Tickets to the 2008 Enshrinement Gala and all weekend activities are available by calling the Hall of Fame at (413) 781-6500. Ticket information is also available on line at www.hoophall.com.
"This is a tremendous tribute to Adrian Dantley's accomplishments, both at Notre Dame and in his professional career. We couldn't be more pleased that he now can call himself a Hall of Famer," said Notre Dame athletics director Kevin White.
"Notre Dame basketball has had a great connection over the years to the Washington, D.C., area, and one of the reasons is the success that players like Adrian Dantley have had," said current Irish coach Mike Brey.
"Adrian Dantley was a dominant college basketball player. He was more than capable of taking over games by himself, and he was an absolute fierce competitor," said former Irish coach Digger Phelps, who coached Dantley at Notre Dame.
Named national player of the year as a junior in 1975-76 by the United States Basketball Writers Association, Dantley was a two-time first-team All-American in 1974-75 and 1975-76. He also was a member of the United States Olympic basketball team that won the gold medal in Montreal in 1976.
Dantley averaged 18.3 points per game as a starting forward as a freshman for the Irish in 1973-74. He finished second nationally in scoring as a sophomore with a 30.4 average, ranked fourth nationally in scoring as a junior in '75-'76 with a 28.6 average and served as captain of Phelps' Irish team as junior. He played on teams that finished 26-3, 19-10 and 23-6, earning mention on NCAA all-regional teams as a sophomore and junior.
Dantley ranks second on the Irish career scoring list (behind Austin Carr) with 2,223 points. He posted a 25.8 career scoring average and a 9.8 career rebound average and made more free throws (615) than any player in Irish history. He also ranks as the last Irish player to average 10 or more rebounds in successive seasons.
After passing up his senior season to make himself available for the NBA draft, Dantley returned to finish his degree requirements at Notre Dame by 1978.
The sixth overall pick in the '76 NBA draft by Buffalo Braves, he was named the NBA rookie of the year in '77 with a 20.3 scoring average and a 7.6 rebound mark. He played 15 seasons in the NBA, averaging 24.3 points per game. He led the league five times in free throws made in a season and led the NBA in scoring in '81 at 30.7 and '84 at 30.6. He twice was a second-team all-NBA pick.
His 23,177 career points still ranks 18th all-time in the NBA. In all but four seasons as a professional, Dantley averaged 20 points or better, including topping the 30-point mark four straight years (1981-84). The six-time NBA All-Star (1980-82, 1984-86) was named NBA Comeback Player of the Year in 1984, the year he led the league in scoring (30.6).
Dantley played with Buffalo in '76-'77, with Los Angeles and Indiana in `77-`78, with the Lakers in '78-'79, then seven years with Utah ('79-'80 through '85-'86), and Detroit in '86-'87 and '87-'88. He was traded from Detroit to Dallas midway through the '88-'89 season, played all of '89-'90 in Dallas and later played with Milwaukee Bucks at the end of the `90-`91 season.
He was an assistant coach at Towson State for two seasons from 1993-95 and currently is an assistant coach with the NBA Denver Nuggets. A scholastic All-America player at DeMatha Catholic High School (Md.), he was born Feb. 28, 1956, in Washington, D.C.
Dantley becomes the sixth individual with Notre Dame connections to be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. He joins George E. Keogan (enshrined in 1961), Elmer H. Ripley (1973), Edward "Moose" Krause (1976), Raymond J. Meyer (1979) and J. Walter Kennedy (1981).
Keogan spent 20 seasons as Notre Dame's head coach between 1923 and 1943 and amassed 327 victories, while losing only 97 times for a .771 winning percentage. His teams won Helms Foundation national titles in 1927 and 1936.
Ripley served Notre Dame as head coach in only one season, finishing 17-4 in '45-'46. He played for the Original Celtics and coached at Georgetown, Yale, Columbia, Army and Regis. He coached the '60 Canadian Olympic team and also coached the Harlem Globetrotters for three seasons.
Krause began as a three-time All-American as Notre Dame's center in the early 1930s, won 98 games as Irish head coach for six years-- and spent 32 years as Notre Dame's athletic director.
Meyer, a '38 Notre Dame graduate, was a two-time Irish basketball captain as a guard on the '36-'37 and '37-'38 squads. He was named head coach at DePaul in 1942 and retired following the '83-'84 season after 42 seasons in that position. His 724-354 career record makes him one of only a handful of coaches in Division I history to reach the 700-victory plateau.
Kennedy, a '34 Notre Dame graduate, served as Notre Dame's sports information director prior to a 12-year stint as commissioner of the National Basketball Association.
In addition, Carr in 2007 became Notre Dame's first representative into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame, located in Kansas City, Mo.