Basketball hall inductees include historic '66 Miners

Posted: April 03, 2007

In the years immediately after Texas Western won the 1966 NCAA championship with an unprecedented five black starters, some critics denigrated the achievement of coach Don Haskins' team.

The Miners from remote El Paso were a fluke, some said. Yet while they might have been scorned and, for many years, forgotten, Texas Western's players always believed their time was coming.

"We may never have gotten our just due," said guard Willie Worsley. "But, see, history will give us our just due. People say your reward is in heaven. Our reward will be in history."

Yesterday Texas Western, whose improbable upset of top-ranked Kentucky also sparked an era of unmatched integration in college athletics, got its due. That team and six individuals were elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

In addition to the '66 Miners, voters selected Phil Jackson, who coached the Lakers and Bulls to a record nine NBA titles; Philadelphia-born Mendy Rudolph, a longtime NBA referee; Roy Williams, who coached Kansas and North Carolina to NCAA championship games and won the 2005 title with the Tar Heels; WNBA coach Van Chancellor; legendary Spanish coach Pedro Ferrandiz, and Yugoslavian star Mirko Novosel.

All will be inducted into the Hall during September ceremonies in Springfield, Mass.

When Texas Western - now Texas-El Paso - met Kentucky in the title game, it marked the first time an all-black starting five had reached college-basketball's championship.

"Whites then thought that if you put five black players on the court at the same time they would somehow revert to their native impulses," said Perry Wallace.

But the Miners, playing tight defense and walking the ball up court, stunned Rupp's top-ranked Kentucky team, 72-65, in a game played at the height of the civil-rights movement, in a University of Maryland arena just below the Mason-Dixon line.

That taboo shattered, colleges, even in the deep South, began immediately to integrate at a record pace.

A subsequent study found that the percentage of blacks on college basketball teams jumped to 34 percent in 1975. In the two decades after Texas Western's triumph, the average number of blacks on those teams jumped from 2.9 to 5.7.

"Young black players told me years later that it gave them confidence and courage," said Harry Flournoy, a Texas Western forward that night. "Some of them, before that game, had been afraid to go to white schools."

Haskins had seven blacks on his team that year, but in the win over Kentucky those were the only players he used. They were David Lattin, Bobby Joe Hill, Flournoy, Worsley, Orsten Artis, Willie Cager and Nevil Shed.

Jackson, a cerebral and enigmatic ex-player, guided the Bulls of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen to championships in 1991, '92, '93, '96, '97 and '98. He then led Los Angeles, where he still coaches, to three straight titles from 2000 to '02.

Only legendary Boston Celtics coach Red Auerbach has as many titles as Jackson.

Rudolph refereed 2,112 NBA games, including eight All-Star Games and at least one NBA Finals contest for 22 consecutive years.

Never beloved in his native Philadelphia, where frustrated fans of the Warriors and 76ers were convinced the flamboyant official favored the despised Celtics, Rudolph and Pottstown native Earl Strom were the only refs to work all seven games of an NBA Finals, in 1961.

Williams, still the Tar Heels' coach, is just the third coach in history to lead two colleges, Kansas and North Carolina, to an NCAA title game. (Larry Brown and Frank McGuire were the others.) His teams have made 18 straight NCAA appearances.

Chancellor coached the WNBA's Houston Comets to four straight league titles from 1997 to 2000. His 1998 Comets still hold the record for the highest winning percentage in WNBA or NBA history (27-2, .900).

Ferrandiz has compiled a record of 437-90 while leading Real Madrid to a record 12 Spanish Cup titles and four European Cups.

Novosel was the star of the 1980 Yugoslavian team that won the Olympic gold medal. As a coach, he led Cibona to three national titles.


Basketball Hall of Fame Inductees

TEAM

The 1966 Texas Western University men's team

COACHES

Phil Jackson

Roy Williams

Van Chancellor

INTERNATIONAL

Pedro Ferrandiz

Mirko Novosel

POSTHUMOUSLY

Marvin "Mendy" Rudolph (referee)


Contact staff writer Frank Fitzpatrick at 215-854-5068 or ffitzpatrick@phillynews.com.

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