Saturday, February 16, 2013

Dawn Staley named Hall of Fame finalist

Our first thought upon learning that former Virginia great Dawn Staley is one of the finalists for induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame was, "Wait, you mean she's not in that already?" I mean, check out this resume:

- The 1998 National High School Player of the Year (USA Today)

- A two-time national collegiate player of the year (1991, 1992) and a three-time Kodak All-American.

- Leader of a Virginia team that reached three Final Fours and the 1991 title game.

- The only player in NCAA Tournament history to win the event's Most Outstanding Player award despite playing for the losing finalist.

- A three-time Olympic gold medalist and two-time FIBA world champion as a player and an assistant coach for a fourth Olympic gold medal-winning U.S. squad.

- A player whose exploits in the fledgling American Basketball League were so captivating Magic Johnson implored the NBA to buy the whole league just to get Staley. "She's a show-stopper," Johnson raved.

- A five-time WNBA All-Star, and a player whose charitable exploits were so extensive the league named its community service award after her (the Dawn Staley Community Leadership Award).

- A member of the WNBA's "Top 15" honoring the most influential players in the league's history.

- The winningest coach in Temple history while leading the Owls to six NCAA Tournament appearances.

- A member of the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame (2008) and the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame (2012).

Now, strange things have been known to happen on these hall of fame committees, so despite her accomplishments it shouldn't be taken as a given that Staley will actually be among the finalists to hear her name called when the Class of 2013 is announced on April 8. But clearly, Staley's been hall of fame-worthy for quite some time now. Here's hoping the committee does the right thing.

If inducted, Staley would become the 16th woman inducted in the Naismith Hall primarily for her accomplishments as a player, joining Luisa Harris-Stewart, Nera White, Ann Meyers, Uljana Semjonova, Carol Blazejowski, Anne Donovan, Cheryl Miller, Nancy Lieberman, Joan Crawford, Denis Curry, Lynette Woodard, Hortencia de Fatima Marcari, Cynthia Cooper-Dyke, Teresa Edwards and Katrina McClain.

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