Thirty-one candidates are moving forward via selection from the North American committee, the section that handles the majority of the nominees from the NBA. The next step after that is judging by a nine-member panel. Seven votes are needed to advance to the finalist stage, an outcome that will be announced at All-Star weekend in Houston in February. Then, a separate group of 24 voters makes the ultimate ruling. Support from 18 of the 24 is required for induction, with the results revealed at the Final Four in Atlanta in April.
The Women’s committee has a similar process and timing. The only difference is that the initial panel is seven voters and five approvals are necessary. Election into the Hall requires the same 18 of 24 as the North American field.
Five other categories have direct-election with one layer of balloting and a limit of one inductee per committee: ABA, Early African-American Pioneers, Veterans, International and Contributor. Six votes are required among seven ballots sent to people with a background in each area, with winners announced at All-Star weekend.
The International committee has nominated Vlade Divac and Sarunas Marciulionis, who both had long careers in the NBA, and Oscar Schmidt, best known in North America for scoring 46 points to lead Brazil past a United States team (with David Robinson, Danny Manning and several other future NBA players) to win the gold medal at the 1987 Pan-American Games in Indianapolis.
The ABA list includes Zelmo Beatty, Ron Boone, Roger Brown, Mack Calvin, Louie Dampier, Bob (Slick) Leonard and George McGinnis. A year after the induction of Mel Daniels, the Pacers have a good chance to be represented again.
Payton, a trash-talking, menacing two-way player who was named first-team All-Defense by coaches nine years in a row with the SuperSonics, is clearly the strongest candidate among the nominees with an NBA connection. Payton was nicknamed “The Glove” for his tight defense and averaged at least 20 points a game seven times. He also logged at least eight assists a game in five of those seven.
“Sometimes in timeouts when we go to the bench I just sit there and I’ll close my eyes,” Damian Lillard said.
With his eyes closed, he does breathing techniques taught to him by strength and conditioning coach Anthony Eggleton of Advanced Sports Training Institute (ASTI). The two met when Lillard was in eighth grade through his AAU coach, Raymond Young of the Oakland Rebels.
“It definitely helps me just calm myself,” said the Portland Trail Blazers’ riveting rookie, sounding much wiser than his 22 years. “It helps me relax and stay in the moment and keep my focus.”
Much has been made of Lillard’s temperament. Poised. Unflappable. Even-keeled. Use whatever word you want. What separates him from other rookies is not just the gaudy numbers — 18.4 points and 6.4 assists per game, both easily best in his class — but the manner in which he plays the point, calmly directing older teammates and making big plays in big moments. It doesn’t hurt that he’s been putting in work on the mental side all along.
“I’ll do the breathing techniques and I’ll center myself,” Lillard said. “Maybe two or three timeouts a game I’ll do it and get back on the court just to keep myself where I need to be.”
When it came time to get ready for the draft process this past summer, Lillard favored familiar faces. Eggleton, his partner Aalim Moor II and their assistants at ASTI put him through intense workouts designed to increase his lateral quickness, explosiveness and leaping ability. No matter what Eggleton asked of him, Lillard never said he was too tired to continue. “That was a shock to me,” said Eggleton. “I’ve trained a lot of athletes. I’ve trained world-class triathletes, I’ve seen them fatigued. But Damian, never.”
“He helped me a lot,” Lillard said of Eggleton. His performance at the NBA Draft Combine and the individual team workouts vaulted him into the sixth slot in the draft.
“When he went to the workouts that people saw, they were amazed about the workouts and why he still had energy at the end,” said Eggleton. “When he and I [were training], when he was getting tired I’d tell him to focus on this point between [his] eyes, just breathe and concentrate, and that will take over and have you do just about anything. And that’s why they were amazed when Dame got the dunk at the end after that vicious workout. And he and I looked at each other and laughed and he says, ‘That stuff, it works.’
New Year’s Eve turns into New Year’s Day and everyone knows the kids are out at the clubs or someone’s house, right?
Practice for that day is long over, there’s not another game for two days, the benevolent dictators who run things around the Raptors schedule a rare mid-afternoon practice on Jan. 1 so that the kids can go out and have their fun.
He’s a 22-year-old lad, with wealth and fame and notoriety beyond his wildest imagination and surely some A List event is beckoning.
He’s in bed most of the night. Watching videos. Of himself. Playing basketball. So he can get better.
“New Year’s? I was watching film that night,” DeRozan said Thursday. “I probably watched film for about two hours. A lot of my mistakes, a lot of my decision-making, a lot of little things like that.”
No, DeMar. We’re talking New Year’s Eve here.
“New Year’s night. Right after they said Happy New Year,” he said. “It was about 1:30 in the morning until about 3 in the morning. I was just laying in bed and watching. I’m just trying to better myself at every part.”
The conversation post-practice got to that point because DeRozan is dead certain that his improved play overall is directly attributable to his improved study habits. He spends countless hours, he says, critiquing himself on a television screen because that’s what the true greats do and it’s finally hit him than if he wants to be elite, he has to emulate those better than him.
NEW YORK — An hour before tip-off on New Years Day, prior to his first game at Madison Square Garden, Damian Lillard sat relaxing on the empty Portland Trail Blazers bench and taking in the historic aura that The Garden exudes.
He’d just finished his pre-game workout, one in which he got some shots up, attacked the paint, worked on his floater and practiced some post defense.
Despite being in NYC on New Years Eve 2012, Lillard had only relaxed the night before, and 60 minutes before tip-off the 22-year old rookie out of Weber State looked and spoke like the calmest person in the building.
He would go out an hour later and score 21 points on 9-for-19 shooting — making the biggest shot of the game (video below) — as Portland defeated the Knicks 105-100.
“Nothing special, man,” said Lillard, beginning to speak about how he’s become such a good shooter over the years. “I just shot the ball a lot. I did form shooting to warm up in high school because our team had to. I never really did stuff like that. I’d go out there and just start shooting the ball. My dad always told me to start in close and then just start working your way out. I never did anything special though. I always just shot the ball.
“My dad taught me how to shoot – how to roll the ball off of my fingertips – but that was pretty much it, man. Just from shooting the ball and playing all the time.”
In a nutshell, that’s what this game is for Lillard; it’s that type of attitude – that he’s doing ‘nothing special’ – combined with a brilliant basketball mind, unselfish attitude and the skills to match these traits, especially for a such a young player at the lead guard position.
Chris Palmer: You’re quickly developing a reputation for being unflappable. Where did that trait come from?
Damian Lillard: That’s just the type of person I am. There’s no reason to be scared out there. It’s just a basketball game, so I never get worried or rattled by the situation. If you’re going to win, you’re going to win. If you’re going to lose, you’re going to lose. I want to win games, but I’m not affected by any situation. My emotions go up and down like everybody else’s, but I don’t feel the need to show the world.
Palmer: Are you afraid of hitting that rookie wall?
Lillard: I’ve talked to my coaches about that. I’m only 22, so it’s not a physical thing. It has a lot to do with teams starting to figure you out, scouting you and having a plan for the next time they see you. For example, when I come off the pick-and-roll, teams now want me to give up the ball, so they’ll blitz me.
Palmer: How comfortable are you with being a leader?
Lillard: Well, I’m not just going to come in and tell people what to do, but the more I see things, the more I speak up. And if I’m working hard and listening, I’ll gain respect from people who have more experience than I do.