After several tries and one failed induction, Spencer Haywood is finally heading to Springfield.
Haywood, who spent five seasons with the Sonics from 1970-1975, will be announced as one of the 2015 inductees into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, according to several sources. He will then be inducted during a ceremony taking place on September 10-12.
Haywood averaged 20.3 points and 10.3 rebounds over his illustrious career and won an NBA Title with the Los Angeles Lakers in 1980. He was a five-time All-Star and an Olympic Gold Medalist. He was the ABA Rookie of the Year and MVP in the same season. He also changed the game forever.
Haywood was the first player to ever leave college early and head straight to the pros. In 1970, this wasn't allowed by the league. So Haywood took them to court, all the way to the Supreme Court, in fact, who sided with Haywood 7-2. Some say this is the reason that Haywood has been held out of the Hall, despite it paving the way for players like Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and even Michael Jordan to leave college and enter the NBA. However, the NBA in that fight was represented by a young upstart lawyer by the name of David Stern. We all know how the rest of that story goes.
Now, after years of waiting, Haywood finally gets to take his rightful place in the Hall. In 2013, Spencer was told he would be inducted, only to not have his name called on induction day. "This is so embarrassing, " Haywood told the Las Vegas Review-Journal then. "My stomach has been so bad I can't eat, I can't sleep. This isn't a punch in the stomach. It's below the stomach."
Now Haywood will have a new feeling in his stomach, one of pride. Congratulations, Spencer, you've earned it.
Haywood will be joined by fellow inductees Dick Bavetta, a 39-year NBA referee, Kentucky coach John Calipari, eight-time NBA All-Star Dikembe Mutombo, seven-time NBA All-Star Jo Jo White, and three-time WNBA MVP Lisa Leslie.
It's unknown at this time which jersey will represent Haywood in the Hall, but here's hoping he joins Gary Payton in honoring the Sonics with that old green and gold number 24 that will someday take its rightful place in the rafters of a brand new Seattle arena.