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Good enough? Dantley — again — hopes for call from hoops hall

Published: Sunday, April 1 2007 12:06 a.m. MDT

Adrian Dantley can't understand why he hasn't gotten where he so desperately wants to go. Neither can some of the game's greats who have already made it there.

Intended destination: the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass.

"I think I should have been in the Hall of Fame a long time ago," said Dantley, the prolific NBA scoring star whose uniform number will be retired by the Jazz on April 11. "But you just have to wait."

And wait, and wait and, in Dantley's case, wait a while longer.

The Washington, D.C., native who spent the majority of his seven-team, 15-year NBA career playing in Utah was first named as a Hall finalist in 2001. It happened again in 2002, '03, '05, '06 and this year as well. On Monday, when an announcement of the 2007 class of inductees is made in conjunction with NCAA Final Four festivities in Atlanta, the sixth time may be Dantley's charm.

Or not.

The Rocky Mountain News in Denver, where Dantley is now an assistant coach for the Nuggets, cited an unidentified "source with knowledge of the selections" in reporting Saturday that the Hall's door has been closed yet again on the six-time NBA All-Star.

If that's indeed the case, a locker room full of Hall members will continue wondering why.

"A.D., I think, should have been in it a lot earlier," Earl "The Pearl" Monroe said in February after Dantley was named an '07 finalist during NBA All-Star Game Weekend at Las Vegas. "It's just unfortunate that he hasn't been elected earlier, but I'm very hopeful he does get his chance to shine."

"A.D. is, in my eyes, a Hall-of-Famer," George Gervin added. "I hope he becomes one, because he deserves it."

One of Dantley's biggest backers seems to be Bill Walton, who calls the exclusion "one of the most egregious errors in the history of basketball" and "a travesty" that he had hoped would be rectified this week.

"It is shocking that Adrian Dantley is not in the Hall of Fame already," Walton said, "and you really have to question the legitimacy of everything when someone like Adrian Dantley is not in."

Walton suggests one need only look at Dantley's resume to see the injustice, and remember that it's the Basketball Hall of Fame, not the NBA Hall of Fame.

"Adrian Dantley is a historical-level figure who changed the course of basketball at every level. High school. Notre Dame. Professional NBA basketball," Walton said. "You look at the numbers, you look at the success, you look at the way he absolutely dominated every level of basketball — this guy is what the Hall of Fame is all about."

...

Adrian Delano Dantley was a scholastic All-America player playing for legendary prep coach Morgan Wooten at DeMatha Catholic High School in Maryland.

He played at Notre Dame from 1973-76, winning first-team All-America honors from The Sporting News for the 1974-75 (when he averaged 30.4 points and 10.2 rebounds per game) and 1975-76 seasons. As a freshman in '73, Dantley helped the Irish beat UCLA and end the record 88-game win streak that belonged to a John Wooden-coached Bruins club that featured Walton at center. In '76, he was named the nation's outstanding men's college basketball player by the United States Basketball Writers Association — winning an award now known as The Oscar Robertson Trophy, which this year went to University of Texas star Kevin Durant.

It was also in 1976 that Dantley was the leading scorer on the United States team that won Olympic gold at the Summer Games in Montreal.

He was named NBA Rookie of the Year in 1977 and NBA Comeback Player of the Year in 1984 after missing 60 games the previous season with torn wrist ligaments but returning to lead the league in scoring with an average of 30.6 points per game.

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