Payton, Pitino headline finalists for Hall of Fame

Gary Payton and Rick Pitino were among 12 finalists announced Friday for the 2013 class of the Basketball Hall of Fame.

Payton, a nine-time NBA All-Star, joined Tim Hardaway, Mitch Richmond, Tom Heinsohn, Sylvia Hatchell and Dawn Staley as first-time finalists.

Pitino, a six-time NCAA Final Four coach, is a finalist for the second year in a row. Maurice Cheeks, Spencer Haywood, Bernard King, Guy Lewis and Jerry Tarkanian are also returning to the ballot for election.

"We are proud to share an incredible group of finalists for the Class of 2013 -- a distinct list of coaches and players who excelled at many levels of basketball," said Jerry Colangelo, chairman of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Board of Governors. "It will be a difficult decision for the Honors Committee to select the final class members from this prestigious group of individuals, each of whom has given so much to the game."

The 2013 Hall of Fame class will be announced Monday, April 8 at a news conference prior to the NCAA Tournament men's national championship game in Atlanta.

A finalist needs 18 of 24 votes from the Honors Committee for election into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Induction ceremonies will take place Sunday, September 8 in Springfield, Mass.

Payton, in addition to his nine All-Star Game selections, was a nine-time NBA All-Defensive Team selection and 1996 Defensive Player of the Year during a 17-year career with Seattle, Milwaukee, the Lakers, Boston and Miami. He averaged 16.3 points and ended his career ranked fourth all-time in steals with 2,445 and eight in assists with 8,966. A two-time Olympic gold medal winner (1996 and 2000), Payton won an NBA championship with the Heat in 2006.

Pitino is the only coach in men's college basketball history to lead three different schools to the NCAA Final Four, doing so with Providence, Kentucky and Louisville. He led Kentucky to the 1996 national championship and then reached the title game again with the Wildcats the following year. He has won more than 600 games in his collegiate career and reached the Final Four six different times (1987, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2005 and 2012) while leading his teams to 20 postseason appearances. He also held two stints as an NBA head coach with the New York Knicks and Boston Celtics, leading the Knicks to two playoff appearances.

Hardaway was a five-time NBA All-Star during his 13-year career from 1989-90 through 2002-03 with Golden State, Miami, Dallas, Denver and Indiana. He averaged 17.7 points and ranks 13th in NBA history with 1,542 3-point field goals. An All-NBA First-Team selection in 1997, Hardaway was a member of the gold-medal winning 2000 U.S. Olympic team and was the 1989 WAC Player of the Year at UTEP.

Richmond was a six-time NBA All-Star and the league's top rookie in 1989. He also played for Sacramento, Washington and the Lakers in a 14-year career, winning an NBA title with the Lakers in 2002, and averaged more than 21 points per game for 10 consecutive seasons.

Heinsohn, a Hall of Fame inductee as a player in 1986, is now a finalist as a coach. He guided the Celtics to the NBA title in 1974 and '76, earning Coach of the Year honors in 1973 during his tenure from 1969-78.

Hatchell and Staley are women's committee finalists. Hatchell recently became the second women's college coach to reach 900 career wins and is the only coach in history to win national championships at three different levels (AIAW, NAIA and NCAA). Since taking over at the University of North Carolina in 1986, she has led the Tar Heels to three NCAA Final Fours, eight ACC championships and the 1994 national championship.

Staley is among the most decorated players in women's basketball history -- a three-time Olympic gold medal winner (1996, 2000 and 2004), five-time WNBA All-Star and two-time national college Player of the Year (1991-92). She led Virginia to three Final Fours and still holds the NCAA career record for steals with 454.

Cheeks finished his 15-year pro stint with 7,392 assists. He was a four-time All-Star who helped the 76ers to the 1983 NBA title, and has gone on to NBA coaching stints with Portland and Philadelphia. At his retirement, he was fifth on the NBA's career list in both assists and steals with 2,310.

Haywood was a four-time NBA All-Star and averaged over 20 points six times during his career. He won an Olympic gold medal in 1968 and was the ABA's top rookie in 1969 before moving on to the NBA the following year, winning an NBA title with the Lakers in 1980.

King was a four-time NBA All-Star and a two-time NBA First-Team selection during a 15-year career that included stints with the New Jersey Nets, Utah Jazz, Golden State Warriors, New York Knicks and Washington Bullets. He averaged more than 22 points per game and was the NBA Comeback Player of the Year in 1981.

Lewis led the University of Houston to five Final Four appearances (1967, 1968, 1982, 1983 and 1984) and nearly 600 wins during his 30 years as head coach. He won national Coach of the Year honors in 1968 and 1983, and coached 29 future NBA players, including current Hall of Famers Elvin Hayes, Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon.

Tarkanian led UNLV, Fresno State and Long Beach State to the NCAA Tournament during a lengthy career that included four Final Fours and a 1990 national championship with UNLV. A four-time national coach of the year, he also owns the highest winning percentage at the junior college level at .891.

Also announced Friday were five directly-elected members of the Class of 2013. They include Roger Brown, voted in from the American Basketball Association (ABA) Committee, Richie Guerin from the Veterans Committee, Oscar Schmidt from the International Committee, Russ Granik from the Contributors Direct Election Committee and Edwin B. Henderson from the Early African American Pioneers Committee.

This marks the third year of the direct elect process.