Basketball Hall of Fame

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, located in Springfield, Massachusetts, United States, honors exceptional basketball players, coaches, referees, executives, and other major contributors to the game of basketball worldwide. The Basketball Hall of Fame was first incorporated in 1959 at Springfield College - the institution where James Naismith invented the sport in 1891 - and in that year, the hall inducted its first class of members.

Located in Springfield, Massachusetts, the Basketball Hall of Fame is dedicated to preserving and promoting basketball at all levels and also serving as the ultimate library of the sport's history. To date, the Basketball Hall of Fame has honored 305 individuals and eight teams.

History of the Springfield building

The Naismith Hall of Fame was established in 1959 by Lee Williams, a former athletic director at Colby College. In the 1960s, the Basketball Hall of Fame struggled to raise enough money for the construction of its first facility. However, during the following half a decade, the necessary amount was raised and the building opened on Feb. 17, 1968, less than one month after the National Basketball Association played its 18th All-Star Game. The Basketball Hall of Fame's Board named four inductees in its first year. In addition to honoring those who contributed to basketball, the Hall of Fame sought to make contributions of its own. In 1979, the Hall of Fame sponsored the Tip-Off Classic, a pre-season college basketball exhibition. This Tip-Off Classic has been the start to the college basketball season ever since - and although it does not always take place in Springfield, generally it returns every few years.

In the 17 years that the original Basketball Hall of Fame operated at Springfield College, it drew more than 630,000 visitors. The popularity of the Basketball Hall of Fame necessitated that a new facility be constructed - and in 1985, an $11 million facility was built beside the scenic Connecticut River in Springfield. As the new hall opened, it also recognized women for the first time, with inductees such as Senda Berenson Abbott, who first introduced basketball to women at Smith College. During the years following its construction, the Basketball Hall of Fame's second facility drew far more vistors than ever anticipated, due in large part to the increasing popularity of the game but also to the scenic location beside the river and the second Hall's interesting modern architecture.

In 2002, the Basketball Hall of Fame moved again - this time merely 100 yards south along Springfield's riverfront - into a $47 million facility designed by renowned architects Gwathmey Siegel & Associates. The building's architecture features a metallic silver, basketball-shaped sphere flanked by two similarly symmetrical rhombuses. The dome is illuminated at night and features 80,000 square foot (7,400 m²,) including numerous restaurants and an extensive gift shop. The second Basketball Hall of Fame was not torn down but rather converted into an LA Fitness center and a popular Mexican restaurant, (Mama Iguana's.) The current Basketball Hall of Fame features Center Court, a full-sized basketball court on which visitors can play. Inside the building, there is a game gallery, many interactive exhibits, several theaters, and an honor ring of inductees. A large theater for ceremonies seats up to 300. The honorees inducted in 2002 included the Harlem Globetrotters and Magic Johnson, a five-time NBA champion, three-time NBA finals MVP and Olympic gold medalist.

As of 2011, the current Basketball Hall of Fame has greatly exceeded attendance expectations, with basketball fans traveling to the Hall of Fame from all over the world. Despite the new facility's success, a logistical problem remains for the Basketball Hall of Fame and the City of Springfield. The two entities are separated by the Interstate 91 elevated highway - one of the eastern United States' busiest highways - which, essentially, inhibits foot-traffic and other interaction between the Basketball Hall of Fame and Springfield's increasingly lively Metro Center. Both the Hall and Springfield have made public statements about cooperating further so as to facilitate even more business and recreational growth for both; however the placement and height of Interstate 91 remain physical obstacles. Urban planners at universities such as UMass Amherst have called for the I-91 to be moved, or to be re-configured so as to be pedestrian-friendly to Hall of Fame visitors. In 2010, the Urban Land Institute announced a plan to make the walk between Springfield's Metro Center and the Hall of Fame (and riverfront) easier.

Criteria for induction

In contrast to the Pro Football and the National Baseball Halls of Fame, Springfield honors international and American professionals, as well as American and international amateurs, making it arguably the most comprehensive Hall of Fame among major sports. As of 2011, the induction process employs a total of six committees to both screen and elect candidates. Four of these committees screen prospective candidates:

  • North American Screening Committee (9 members)
  • Women's Screening Committee (7 members)
  • International Screening Committee (7 members)
  • Veterans Screening Committee (7 members), with "Veterans" defined as individuals whose careers ended at least 35 years before they are considered for election.

Two committees formed in 2011 directly elect one candidate for each induction class:

  • American Basketball Association Committee
  • Early African-American Pioneers of the Game Committee

Individuals who receive at least seven votes from the North American Screening Committee or five votes from one of the other screening committees in a given year are eligible to advance to an Honors Committee, composed of 12 members who vote on each candidate and rotating groups of 12 specialists (one group for female candidates, one group for international candidates, and one group for American and veterans candidates). However, each screening committee is limited as to the number of candidates it can put forth to the Honors Committee—10 from the North American Committee, and two from each other committee. Any individual receiving at least 18 affirmative votes (75 percent of all votes cast) from the Honors Committee is approved for induction into the Hall of Fame. As long as the number of candidates receiving sufficient votes from a screening committee is not greater than the number of finalists that committee can put forth, advancement to the Honors Committee is generally pro forma, although the Hall's Board of Trustees may remove any candidate who "has damaged the integrity of the game of basketball" from consideration.

To be considered for induction by a screening committee, a player must be fully retired from play for at least five years, while a coach or referee must be fully retired for at least five years or have been active full time in his/her respective craft on the professional, collegiate or high school level for at least 25 years. No years of service criterion is applied to those who have made a "significant contribution to the game of basketball". Sportswriters and commentators are elected as full-fledged members (in contrast to the Baseball Hall of Fame that places them in separate wings that are not considered in the "real" Hall of Fame).


Controversy has arisen over many aspects of the Hall's voting procedures, including voter anonymity. While sportswriter voters of other major sports' Halls of Fames openly debate their choices, the Naismith Hall does not make the process transparent. The Hall has also been criticized in opinion columns for a tendency to enshrine active collegiate coaches and relatively obscure players while omitting some accomplished players and coaches.


Since 1959, 310 coaches, players, referees, contributors, and teams have been inducted, with the most recent class entering on August 12, 2011.John Wooden, Lenny Wilkens, and Bill Sharman have each been inducted as both player and coach (Wooden in 1961 and 1973, Sharman in 1976 and 2004, and Wilkens in 1989 and 1999).

Three times the Hall has inducted new classes without honoring a player - 1965, 1968, and 2007.

Bob Hurley, the coaching legend of St. Anthony High School in Jersey City, New Jersey, is one of the prominent high school coaches to be inducted into this hall of fame.

Other Hall awards

In conjunction with the Final Four of each year's men's and women's Division I NCAA basketball tournaments the Naismith Hall gives out several awards to college basketball athletes:

For men, the Hall presents the Bob Cousy Award to the top point guard from among players in Divisions I, II, and III. This award, given since 2004, is voted on by Cousy and a selection of basketball writers, college basketball coaches, sports information directors and fans.

The Hall also presents the Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award to the female player no taller than 68 inches in height and the male player no taller than 72 inches determined to have been the nation's best student-athletes. The men's award, given since 1969, is voted on by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC), and the women's, given since 1984, by members of the Women's Basketball Coaches Association.

Building Activity

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  • Jonathan Reed
    Jonathan Reed commented
    Giant ball had some hard to find issues with leaks early on.
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  • william medina
    william medina commented
    Very modern design. Thing lights up like a Christmas tree at night though!!! Very beautiful! Clean lines.
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