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Hakeem Olajuwon and Patrick Ewing, who battled for NCAA and NBA titles, and Miami Heat coach Pat Riley were selected as finalists Friday for the Basketball Hall of Fame.

Holdover candidates Chris Mullin, Adrian Dantley, Dennis Johnson and Golden State coach Don Nelson also are among the 15 candidates for enshrinement. But Ewing and Olajuwon are the big names in this years class.

EDUCATED MEN & 1 Coach

Olajuwon and Ewing both played in three Final Fours, with Ewing’s Georgetown team beating Olajuwon’s Houston squad for the 1984 national championship. Olajuwon got his revenge as a pro, leading the Houston Rockets to the first of two straight titles with a seven-game victory over Ewing’s New York Knicks in the 1994 NBA Finals.

These two men have had some great battles in the 90’s and were most likely the most dominant centers of those 90’s. Riley said of Ewing, who was on that Knicks team in the finals, “Having Patrick Ewing inducted with me would be incredible.” “To have one of my favorite all-time players that I coached, be inducted at the same time, if it were possible for both of us, would have a special added meaning for me.” That is a great statement from one of the best coaches in NBA history.

That speaks a lot for the type of person that Ewing is! The class of 2008 will be announced April 7 before the NCAA men’s championship. The induction ceremony is set for Sept. 5 in Springfield, Mass. So I would bet a lot of money that those three men will definitely be in.


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