Spencer Haywood headed to basketball Hall of Fame

SEATTLE — Spencer Haywood, who won a landmark Supreme Court case to enter the NBA and waged public-relations battles in retirement to preserve his legacy, will soon join the greatest fraternity in basketball.

The former Sonics star is a member of the next class to be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Al Ross, Haywood’s agent in the early 1970s, told Fox Sports Florida the 13-year veteran of the NBA and ABA finally made the Hall 30 years after his last professional game.

The Sonics will be well-represented when the official announcement is made Monday at a news conference before the NCAA men’s championship game.

NBA sources told The Seattle Times on Thursday former Sonics star Gary Payton is a unanimous Hall of Fame choice.

The inductees will be enshrined during a Sept. 8 ceremony in Springfield, Mass.

Haywood waited a long time to get the nod, and there was a time he thought it would never happen.

“I’m what you’d call an O.G., the original gangster who challenged the status quo and I’m still paying for it,” Haywood said in a 2003 interview with The Times when the Sonics retired his No. 24 jersey.

As a rookie with the Denver Nuggets during the 1969-70 season, Haywood averaged 30 points to lead led the ABA in scoring and won the MVP award.

At 21, he challenged the NBA’s rule against signing a player whose college class hadn’t graduated.

The Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in favor of Haywood on March 1, 1971 in a decision that allowed underclassmen to enter the NBA and paved the way for generations of young basketball stars.

In five seasons with the Sonics, he appeared in four All-Star Games and averaged at least 20 points each season. During the 1972-73 season, he set the team record by averaging 29.2 points.

The Sonics traded Haywood to the New York on Oct. 23, 1975, and his career began to spiral out of control due in large part to a cocaine addiction.

He played 4-{ seasons with the Knicks and finished the 1978-79 season with the New Orleans Jazz.

Haywood spent the next season with the Los Angeles Lakers and played two years with the Washington Bullets, where he finished his career in 1983.


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