HoopsHype Spencer Haywood rumors

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April 7, 2013 Updates

Several generations of players owe thanks to Haywood for his courage to take on the NBA and pave the way for them to become multimillionaires earlier than they would have been entitled. But that courage has come with a price. Curt Flood, who had fought baseball for the right to play where he wanted to, told Haywood his life would be hell for doing what he did. Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American justice on the U.S. Supreme Court, heard the case and told Haywood afterward that he would be ostracized. They may have been right. Haywood compiled a Hall of Fame-worthy resume during 14 NBA seasons — he averaged 20.3 points and 10.3 rebounds, was a two-time All-NBA first-team selection and a four-time NBA All-Star and won an NBA title in 1980. He also won an Olympic gold medal in 1968. Yet, he still has not taken the call from the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. “I’m still suffering,” said Haywood, who lives in Las Vegas and owns a construction business. “If you look at all the things I did on the court, I would have been in a long time ago. But the (Supreme) court fight is the reason I’m not in. But I believe this is going to be my time.” Las Vegas Review Journal

Haywood, 63, is one of 12 finalists, among them former UNLV coach Jerry Tarkanian and fellow Las Vegas resident and former NBA star guard Gary Payton. Speaking at the Discovery Children’s Museum, where his company installed the flooring and tiles in the bathrooms, Haywood talked candidly about his life — a life that was never about taking the safe route. “It was that kind of time in American sports,” said Haywood, referring to the early 1970s, during which Flood challenged baseball’s reserve clause and boxing great Muhammad Ali fought for his right to refuse induction into the U.S. Army and not have to fight in Vietnam. “Here’s the thing — I wasn’t looking for trouble. I just wanted to earn a living playing basketball. So when Seattle signed me (in 1970), and the NBA said I couldn’t play, I was angry. I couldn’t provide for my family. So I did what I had to do.” Las Vegas Review Journal

With the support of SuperSonics owner Sam Schulman, who had signed Haywood to a $1.5 million, six-year contract, and a sharp legal team headed by Pete Brown and Al Ross, Haywood sued. But when he tried to play, he was served an injunction just prior to tipoff, and he had to leave the arena. “The P.A. announcer would say to the crowd, ‘We have an illegal player on the Seattle roster,’ and that’s how I was introduced,” Haywood said. “Then I’d have to leave the building after they’d serve me with the injunction. I remember being in Cincinnati, and we were playing the Royals and I stood outside of Cincinnati Gardens in the snow waiting for the game to end so I could rejoin the team. I went through a lot of humiliation.” Las Vegas Review Journal

Yet, the ghosts of the past still seem to cling to Haywood. He said today’s players don’t seem to understand what he did in 1970. “I’m still a pariah,” Haywood said. “I’ll be around Kobe, LeBron, Carmelo (Anthony) at USA Basketball camp and they won’t talk to me. What they don’t know, or want to know, is without me, there’s no them. But they’re in denial.” Las Vegas Review Journal

April 5, 2013 Updates

Al Ross, Haywood's agent in the early 1970s when he sued the NBA and won the right by the Supreme Court to enter as an underclassmen out of college, confirmed Haywood's election on Friday to FOX Sports Florida. The forward will be enshrined Sept. 8 in Springfield, Mass. "It's one of the most important things ever (in NBA history),'' Ross said of Haywood's case. "It opened the door for all these superstars like Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson to enter the NBA.'' FOXSports Florida

It was decided on March 1, 1971, by a 7-2 vote by the Supreme Court that Haywood was eligible to play. That has paved the way for countless stars to enter the NBA before their college eligibility expired. The attorney representing the NBA in the Haywood case was David Stern. He later became NBA Commissioner and will leave office next February. "Isn't that ironic?'' Ross said of Haywood getting into the Hall of Fame in the last class in which Stern is the commissioner. FOXSports Florida

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