Kentucky Coach Calipari, Mutombo Headline Basketball Hall Class

John Calipari was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame, two days after his University of Kentucky team fell to its only defeat of the season in the semifinals of the NCAA tournament.

Other members of the 2015 class announced Monday were Dikembe Mutombo, Lisa Leslie, Spencer Haywood, Jo Jo White and referee Dick Bavetta. They will be inducted into the Springfield, Massachusetts-based Hall on Sept. 11.

Calipari, 56, said he had to pull over his car when he got the call telling him he was elected.

“I got emotional,” Calipari said Monday during the election ceremony in Indianapolis. “To be here with these guys and at the dinner last night, it’s surreal to me.”

A three-time Naismith College Coach of the Year, Calipari has led three different schools to the NCAA’s Final Four, including his only national title with Kentucky in 2012.

He’s also the only coach in National Collegiate Athletic Association history to have Final Four appearances vacated at two different schools, though he wasn’t personally implicated in the violations that led to punishment levied against the University of Massachusetts and the University of Memphis.

Calipari led Kentucky to four of the past five NCAA semifinals and this year the Wildcats was 38-0 until losing Saturday to Wisconsin, which plays Duke tonight in the NCAA title game.

Active Members

Calipari is the seventh active men’s college coach in the Hall, joining Jim Boeheim (Syracuse), Larry Brown (Southern Methodist), Mike Krzyzewski (Duke), Chris Mullin (St. John’s), Rick Pitino (Louisville) and Roy Williams (North Carolina).

Mutombo, 48, was an eight-time NBA all-star and four-time Defensive Player of the Year. A native of Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mutombo led the National Basketball Association in blocked shots for five straight seasons from 1994-98, often using his trademark finger wagging motions after rejections.

“Coming from the place that I come from, from the poverty, and today standing here holding up this jersey, is a dream come true,” Mutombo said.

The first player to dunk in a Women’s NBA game, Leslie is the league’s all-time leader in rebounds (3,307) and second in blocks (822). She won two WNBA titles with the Los Angeles Sparks and is a four-time Olympic gold medalist, winning with the U.S. team in 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008.

White, 68, was a seven-time NBA All-Star and two-time NBA Champion with the Boston Celtics. Haywood, 65, played in both the NBA and ABA and was the leading scorer on the 1968 U.S. Olympic team that won a gold medal.

39 Years

Bavetta was an NBA official for 39 consecutive years, working 2,635 games without missing one. He officiated 270 playoff games, including 27 Finals contests.

Other member of the 2015 class, previously announced through special committees, include players John Isaacs and Louie Dampier, Australian coach Lindsay Gaze, former player and Boston Celtics coach Tom Heinsohn, and George Raveling, a former coach, commentator and Nike Inc. executive.

Finalists not elected this year include Kevin Johnson, Tim Hardaway and Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan.

The Hall also announced Monday that it was in the middle of a $20 million capital campaign to raise funds to secure the future of the facility and institution. About $10 million will go to technological upgrades to the building, and the other $10 million will become the museum’s first-ever endowment.

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