Spencer Haywood Rumors
Me: Did you ever speak with the guys who decided not to play in ’68 and supported Harry Edwards’ boycott, like Kareem and Wes Unseld and Elvin Hayes? Spencer Haywood: I talked to them, but they don’t see it like that. They don’t even like to even discuss it. Kareem says, well, even back then, he said, ‘I was just going to help some kids up in Harlem. I didn’t really boycott.’ And I take him at his word. I said ‘Okay, big dog.’ But I know it’s a boycott. So history, you know, history has its way of weaving through. And I also thanked them, too. Because if they had came to the ’68 Olympics, they would never have looked at a freshman to try out and be a member of the Olympic team. As Elvis would say, thank you, thank you very much.
Me: We’ve talked about this many times over the years, and the word I would use, I guess, is frustrated. You seemed frustrated that more modern players didn’t know or appreciate the impact of what you’d done. Do you think these younger guys in the league now get it? Spencer Haywood: Yes. Because of the leadership of LeBron, I think. And the NBA, they don’t like to talk about what they did, but I’ll tell it. They did a nice doc, six-minute doc. And they had Kobe, Kevin Durant and LeBron James on that doc. And they talk about the importance of what I’d done. And that was the first time that the players ever mentioned my name. And it was about, what I was talking about in that doc was that the mothers of these players — Shaq’s mother gave me an award, LeBron’s mother came up and gave me a big old hug. And she said, ‘My boy and I, we was running from house to house.’
SH: We knew, because of Sonny Vaccaro, he’d told him and Kobe and all those guys, if you can get through high school and survive all of this stuff, Spencer Haywood paved the way for y’all to go and make a living, earn a living for your family. And they knew that. That’s been my new group. And Kevin Garnett has been awesome. And you know who has been more awesome than anybody? Charles Barkley.
Also enshrined Friday were former NBA stars Spencer Haywood, Jo Jo White and Dikembe Mutombo, women’s basketball great Lisa Leslie and referee Dick Bavetta. Tom Heinsohn was inducted as a coach after already being enshrined as a player, joined by former coaches George Raveling and Australia’s Lindsay Gaze, plus ABA star Louis Dampier and early African-American player John Isaacs.