(AFP) George Carl lost 19 of his first 21 games as a coach in the NBA. Tim Hardaway spent hours dodging alone in an unfinished basement when it was too cold to get out in his hometown of Chicago. Teresa Grentz’s family lost all of their belongings in a house fire in 1970, leaving only the yellow pajamas she was wearing at the time.
There were no signs that basketball immortality was waiting for any of them.
Now, they are members of the most sought-after club in the game. Karl, Hardaway and Grinitz are among 13 people who will be officially honored at the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts, Saturday night — a group that has been largely tied to what they beat en route to a long list of accomplishments that includes NCAA titles, NBA titles and Olympic gold medals.
“You learn from adversity,” Grentz said Friday. “You don’t have to be perfect. You take what you have, you make it, and you make the most of what you have, not what you think you need. We were there, I had absolutely none, but nonetheless tomorrow night—and I Nervous from this – I’m going to the Hall of Fame.”
Karl was one of five people selected by the North American committee, along with West Virginia coach Bob Huggins, the late referee Hugh Evans and NBA stars Manu Ginobili and Tim Hardaway.
Swin Cash, Marianne Stanley, and Lindsay Whalen were selected by the Women’s Committee. Veteran coaches Dale Harris and Larry Costello were selected by the shareholder panel, while six-star Lou Hudson was selected by the Veterans Committee. Grentz – who played in the legendary Immaculata and led the Rutgers to the final AIAW title in 1982 – was selected by the Women’s Veteran Committee and FIBA Hall of Famer Radivoj Korac by the International Committee.
Karl’s career as a coach in the NBA began in 1984 with the Cleveland Cavaliers, starting 0-9 and 2-19, but he mustered this season to face Boston in the opening round of the playoffs. The Celtics won the set 3-1, and Karl still thinks the Celtics got a favorable whistle.
“Going to the Finals… Experience playing against Michael Jordan and the Bulls…”
– NBA TV (NBATV) September 9, 2022
“They’ve taken all the calls,” Karl said sadly.
Maybe so. But after half a life, Carl gets a call from Hall.
Harris’ coaching career has included working with several Hall of Fame players – Rick Barry, Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Yao Ming, and Magic Johnson – along with some sure-footed players like Dirk Nowitzki.
“I think I still, in one way or another, contributed to the game and didn’t just play it or coach it,” Harris said.
Hardaway was a four-time finalist for the Hall, and he never entered. This year’s call from Hall of Fame President and CEO John Doleva was one he didn’t want to accept, fearing he was about to go 0 for 5.
“Shaking, sweating, so many feelings going on,” Hardaway said of that moment. “I saw the Hall of Fame number coming through my phone. I didn’t want to answer the phone because I didn’t want to accept another refusal.”
He will never have to worry about that again.
Whalen, a four-time WNBA champion who is now the coach at her alma mater of Minnesota, said that one of the first great teams she saw in person was the 2002 UConn Huskies – the Cash Excellence Team. Not lost on Wallen that she enters the hall along with Cash, Grinitz and Stanley, who also played at Immacolata before embarking on a long training career.
“Teresa and I, Marian, Swain, get in together, I think we represent a lot of what has been great in women’s basketball over the years,” Wallen said. “And I think there are now girls and women who are sitting there and seeing us and that can become a realistic goal and dream about them if they work hard.”
Among the five presenters Cash chose to be by her side at Saturday’s party is her UConn coach, Geno Auriemma.
– NBA TV (NBATV) September 9, 2022
Cash praised Auriemma for his constant pursuit of nothing but excellence.
“You were trying to be the best and practices were always harder than a game,” said Cash, a two-time NCAA champion, three-time WNBA champion, two-time Olympic gold medalist and now part of the front office with the NBA. “But this mentally prepares you to understand what you want to achieve. And every year, the pub has been a national championship. For some people, the pub is a conference tournament or ‘Hey, we made the tournament.’ Whereas we in Connecticut hang banners.”
There are now members in the hall three selections selected by the Committee of Early African-American Pioneers: Wyatt “Sonny” Boswell, Lyman Jackson and Albert “Ronte” Bollins – all of whom, among others, were members of the Harlem Globetrotters.
Huggins — who, like Whalen, also trains at his alma mater — deviates from his 916 career-winning tally as a college coach, 844 of those coming in at the Division I level.
“Good players,” Huggins said. “I was lucky.”