Class of 2019 Officially 💫Enshrined into Basketball Hall of Fame

  |   Basketball

The Class of 2019 was officially inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday night, with new members Vlade Divac, Sidney Moncrief, Paul Westphal, Jack Sickma, Bobby Jones, Al Attles and Teresa Weatherspoon on hand. Chuck Cooper and Carl Braun were inducted posthumously, and Bill Fitch was unable to attend for health reasons.

Also honored at Springfield's Symphony Hall were the 1957-59 teams from Tennessee A&I, a historically black school that won three straight NAIA titles a decade before Texas Western fielded the first all-black starting five in the NCAA Tournament.

The Hutcherson Flying Queens from Wayland Baptist - the first school to offer women's basketball scholarships - were also inducted. Sponsored by a local aircraft company, they won a record 131 consecutive games in the 1950s.

Sikma had a large contingent to support him, and they broke into laughter when the video screens showed a picture of him with a blonde bowl cut shortly after he was drafted in 1977. A seven-time All-Star in nine seasons with the Sonics, he also played five years with the Milwaukee Bucks and remains the only center in league history to lead the league in free throw percentage for a season (.922 in 1987-88).

Divac, who won an Olympic silver medal with Yugoslavia and another with Serbia after the country broke apart in a civil war, was one of the NBA's first European stars. Among those he thanked were his former Yugoslav teammate Toni Kukoc, who is Croatian.

''The people of the Balkans are like a dysfunctional family. We may fight and argue, but in the end we are family,'' said Divac, who played eight years with the Los Angeles Lakers and six with the Sacramento Kings. ''To me basketball was always about love.''

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