The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame is an American history museum and hall of fame, located at 1000 Hall of Fame Avenue in Springfield, Massachusetts. It serves as the sport's most complete library, in addition to promoting and preserving the history of basketball. Dedicated to Canadian-American physician and inventor of the sport James Naismith, it was opened and inducted its first class in 1959.
As of the induction of the Class of 2017, the Hall has formally inducted 365 individuals. Thirteen more have been announced as 2018 inductees and will be formally enshrined on September 6.
|Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame|
|Type||Professional sports hall of fame|
The Naismith Hall of Fame was established in 1959 by Lee Williams, a former athletic director at Colby College. In the 1960s, the Basketball Hall of Fame struggled to raise enough money for the construction of its first facility. However, during the following half-decade the necessary amount was raised, and the building opened on Feb. 17, 1968, less than one month after the National Basketball Association played its 18th All-Star Game. The Basketball Hall of Fame's Board named four inductees in its first year. In addition to honoring those who contributed to basketball, the Hall of Fame sought to make contributions of its own. In 1979, the Hall of Fame sponsored the Tip-Off Classic, a pre-season college basketball exhibition. This Tip-Off Classic has been the start to the college basketball season ever since, and although it does not always take place in Springfield, Massachusetts, generally it returns every few years.
In the 17 years that the original Basketball Hall of Fame operated at Springfield College, it drew more than 630,000 visitors. The popularity of the Basketball Hall of Fame necessitated that a new facility be constructed, and in 1985, an $11 million facility was built beside the scenic Connecticut River in Springfield. As the new hall opened, it also recognized women for the first time, with inductees such as Senda Berenson Abbott, who first introduced basketball to women at Smith College. During the years following its construction, the Basketball Hall of Fame's second facility drew far more visitors than ever anticipated, due in large part to the increasing popularity of the game but also to the scenic location beside the river and the second Hall's interesting modern architecture.
In 2002, the Basketball Hall of Fame moved again—albeit merely 100 yards south along Springfield's riverfront—into a $47 million facility designed by renowned architects Gwathmey Siegel & Associates. The building's architecture features a metallic silver, basketball-shaped sphere flanked by two similarly symmetrical rhombuses. The dome is illuminated at night and features 80,000 square foot (7,400 m²), including numerous restaurants and an extensive gift shop. The second Basketball Hall of Fame was not torn down but rather converted into an LA Fitness health clubs. The current Basketball Hall of Fame features Center Court, a full-sized basketball court on which visitors can play. Inside the building there are a game gallery, many interactive exhibits, several theaters, and an honor ring of inductees. A large theater for ceremonies seats up to 300. The honorees inducted in 2002 included the Harlem Globetrotters and Magic Johnson, a five-time NBA champion, three-time NBA finals MVP and Olympic gold medalist.
As of 2011, the current Basketball Hall of Fame has greatly exceeded attendance expectations, with basketball fans traveling to the Hall of Fame from all over the world. Despite the new facility's success, a logistical problem remains for the Basketball Hall of Fame and the City of Springfield. The two entities (along with the riverfront area entirely) are separated by the Interstate 91 elevated highway—one of the eastern United States' busiest highways—which, essentially, inhibits foot-traffic and other interaction between the Basketball Hall of Fame and Springfield's increasingly lively Metro Center. Both the Hall and Springfield have made public statements about cooperating further so as to facilitate even more business and recreational growth for both; however the placement and height of Interstate 91 remain physical obstacles. Urban planners at universities such as UMass Amherst have called for the I-91 to be moved, or to be re-configured so as to be pedestrian-friendly to Hall of Fame visitors. In 2010, the Urban Land Institute announced a plan to make the walk between Springfield's Metro Center and the Hall of Fame (and riverfront) easier.
In contrast to the Pro Football and the National Baseball Halls of Fame, Springfield honors international and American professionals, as well as American and international amateurs, making it arguably the most comprehensive Hall of Fame among major sports. Since 2011, the induction process employs a total of seven committees to both screen and elect candidates. Four of these committees screen prospective candidates:
Since 2011, the Veterans and International Committees also vote to directly induct one candidate for each induction class.
Three committees formed in 2011 directly elect one candidate for each induction class:
Individuals who receive at least seven votes from the North American Screening Committee or five votes from one of the other screening committees in a given year are eligible to advance to an Honors Committee, composed of 12 members who vote on each candidate and rotating groups of 12 specialists (one group for female candidates, one group for international candidates, and one group for American and veterans candidates). However, each screening committee is limited as to the number of candidates it can put forth to the Honors Committee—10 from the North American Committee, and two from each other committee. Any individual receiving at least 18 affirmative votes (75% of all votes cast) from the Honors Committee is approved for induction into the Hall of Fame. As long as the number of candidates receiving sufficient votes from a screening committee is not greater than the number of finalists that committee can put forth, advancement to the Honors Committee is generally pro forma, although the Hall's Board of Trustees may remove any candidate who "has damaged the integrity of the game of basketball" from consideration.
To be considered for induction by a screening committee, a player, retired coach, or referee must be fully retired from that role for at least three full seasons. This period had originally been five years, but was first changed to four years in December 2015, and to three seasons in December 2017. Prior to the induction class of 2018, referees had been eligible for induction upon 25 years of full-time service, even if still active. Changes to the criteria for consideration of active coaches were announced at the same time as the most recent changes to the induction process. Currently, coaches become eligible upon 25 years of full-time service at the high school level or above, or three seasons after retirement. Effective with the class of 2020, active coaches must meet the years of service requirement and be at least 60 years old. No years of service criterion is applied to those who have made a "significant contribution to the game of basketball". Sportswriters and commentators are elected as full-fledged members (in contrast to the Baseball Hall of Fame that places them in separate wings that are not considered in the "real" Hall of Fame).
Controversy has arisen over many aspects of the Hall's voting procedures, including voter anonymity. While sportswriter voters of other major sports' Halls of Fame openly debate their choices, the Naismith Hall does not make the process transparent. The Hall has also been criticized in opinion columns for a tendency to enshrine active collegiate coaches and relatively obscure players while omitting some accomplished players and coaches.
Since 1959, 375 coaches, players, referees, contributors, and teams have been inducted, with the most recent class entering on September 8, 2017. John Wooden, Lenny Wilkens, Bill Sharman, and Tom Heinsohn have each been inducted as both player and coach (Wooden in 1960 and 1973, Sharman in 1976 and 2004, Wilkens in 1989 and 1998, and Heinsohn in 1986 and 2015). John McLendon has been inducted as both coach and contributor, entering in 1979 as a contributor and 2016 as a coach.
On three occasions, the Hall has inducted new classes without honoring a player – 1965, 1968, and 2007.
For men, the Hall presents awards to the top players in Division I at each of the five standard basketball positions.
Each of the award winners is chosen by a Hall of Fame selection committee, plus the award's namesake.
The Hall, in cooperation with the Women's Basketball Coaches Association, presents analogous awards for the top Division I women's players at each position. One has been awarded since 2000; the others were first presented in 2018.
As with the men's awards, the selection committee for the women's awards includes each award's namesake.
The Hall also formerly presented the Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award to two college seniors—one male player no taller than 72 inches (1.83 m), and one female player no taller than 68 inches (1.73 m)—determined to have been the nation's best student-athletes. The men's award, given since 1969, was voted on by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC), and the women's, given since 1984, by members of the Women's Basketball Coaches Association. Both awards were discontinued after the 2012–13 season.