Mohegan Sun Host Hall of Famers
By Earl Heath, Uncasville, Connecticut
For the past several years the Mohegan Sun Casino has played host to the Ring ceremony where basketball greats receive their rings. This year’s induction class to the Basketball Hall of Fame was led by a cast of guards that’s hard to beat. Grant Hill, Maurice Cheeks, Steve Nash, Jason Kidd and Ray Allen all had a common theme, “longevity.” They all had lengthy careers.
Grant Hill spent 19 years in the league, retiring at age 40 after winning two national titles at Duke and an Olympic gold medal. He becomes the first Duke player to enter the hall. .”I might be the first Duke player enshrined but I can promise you I won’t be the last,” said Hill. Hill is the son of former All-Pro NFL great Calvin Hill.
Ray Allen was a first round pick of the Minnesota T-Wolves and was traded to Milwaukee where he began his career
In 1996 and averaged 13 ppg. and was named All-Rookie 2nd team. Allen went on to make 2,973 three-point shots and three times he led the league in 3 pointers made.
Allen was a two-time NBA champion who also spent time with the Supersonics, Celtics and Heat.
”When I first got into the league I was told not to shoot so many three’s because it was settling,” said Allen. ”So I had to work on my midrange game and I attacked the basket quite a bit.”
Cheeks was with the 76er’s and played along- side “Dr. J” –Julius Erving and Moses Malone, together they won the NBA title in 1983.
Charlie Scott was a bit ahead of his time. He was a native New Yorker who set the stage as the first African American to receive an athletic scholarship to the University of North Carolina.
He was signed by the Virginia squires of the ABA and was named Rookie of the Year after averaging 27 point per game. He spent time as a Boston Celtic helping win a title in1976 He had a great outside jump shot
Katie Smith was the Gatorade Nation Player of the Year in high School. She was the female player to have her number retired at Ohio State University. She finished her career averaging 20 points nearly 6rpg and 4 apg.
In 2006 she became the only player to win a title in the ABL and WNBA helping the Detroit Shock defeat the Sacramento Monarchs.
“It’s just unbelievable.You almost immediately start to reflect on all the people that helped make this happen” said Smith. “This was not something I thought about doing or happening. You literally did it because you love the game.”
She is the all-time leading scorer in women’s basketball have scored over 700 points in ABL and WNBA. She was named head coach of the New York liberty in October 2017.
Tina Thompson had a heck of a career in the WNBA. She was the first player drafted in 1996 and won four titles with the Houston Comets. “Of all the thing you think about during your career. I wanted to be an Olympian and hopefully an All-Star. I wanted to win a championship. Those are the goals I felt I could reach. To be inducted into the basketball Hall of Fame is something I never thought about.” The Morningside high and USC star in now is head coach at the University of Virginia.