Mullin’s enshrinement opens Hall of Fame ceremony

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SPRINGFIELD, MASS. (AP) - Chris Mullin’s journey from New York star to Hall of Famer is complete.

Mullin was enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday to begin the ceremony for the class of 2011, earning basketball’s highest individual honor after being recognized with the Dream Team last year.

A five-time All-Star with one of the game’s best jump shots, Mullin also won a gold medal at the 1984 Olympics.

The left-hander followed a decorated amateur career by scoring more than 17,000 points in the NBA. The New York city product recalled his hometown in his speech, saying “Looking out, I realize I’m a long way from Flatbush Ave., but Brooklyn’s definitely in the house tonight.”

He stayed in New York to play in college at St. John’s and was presented for enshrinement by his coach, Lou Carnesecca.

“I chose the best coach in the best city, and I played in the world’s most famous arena,” Mullin said.

Dennis Rodman was the other headliner in the 10-person class, arriving Friday night in a gray suit with a feather-lined cowboy hat and giant white sunglasses.

The class also included coaches Tara VanDerveer, who has led Stanford to two national championships and won more than 800 games, Tex Winter and Division II Philadelphia University coach Herb Magee, the career leader at the collegiate level with more than 900 wins. Eight-time NBA champion Tom “Satch” Sanders, big men Artis Gilmore and Arvydas Sabonis; the late Reece “Goose” Tatum of the Harlem Globetrotters, and women’s star Teresa Edwards, who won five Olympic medals _ four golds _ and is entering her fifth Hall of Fame, also were to be honored at Symphony Hall.

VanDerveer called her enshrinement an “exciting homecoming for my mother, Rita,” because her parents met at Springfield College. She ignored her father’s pleas to focus on her algebra homework instead of basketball, learning from whatever coaches she could and going on to win a gold medal coaching the 1996 U.S. women’s Olympic team.

“Thank you, Hall of Fame, for honoring my life’s work,” she said. “I’m forever grateful.”

The induction of Rodman and Winter, the architect of the triangle offense, brought back Scottie Pippen and other players and coaches from the Bulls’ dynasty of the 1990s. Winter, an assistant to Phil Jackson on nine NBA championship teams, has been slowed after a stroke and struggles with his speaking, but felt well enough to make the trip for the weekend and what many considered overdue enshrinement.

“We’re really excited for him. I know he is to. He’s very happy about it,” Jackson said. “He’s been jumping the gun all night and all day yesterday, so I think it’s a good time for him to do it, even though I wish he could express himself and say what he really has on his mind.”

Sabonis, a dominant player in Europe long before he finally came from his native Lithuania to the NBA at 31, was presented by Bill Walton, who had described the versatile center as a “7-foot-3 Larry Bird.” Later came the enshrinement of Gilmore, an ABA champion who went on to make six All-Star teams in the NBA, where he is still the league’s career leader with a .599 field goal percentage.

“Millions of people have laced up their sneakers since Dr. Naismith invented the game several miles from here in 1891 and every one of them would love to be in my shoes today,” Gilmore said.

Rodman was scheduled to speak near the end of the ceremony, with the usual anticipation of how he would look and what he might say. The big question before the event was what he would wear, and sure enough one fan in the crowds lining the street was wearing a wedding dress, as Rodman once did to a book signing.

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