From Comcast SportsNetHOUSTON (AP) -- Gary Payton, Tim Hardaway and Mitch Richmond were among 12 finalists announced Friday for election into the Basketball Hall of Fame.Former Houston Cougars coach Guy Lewis, current Louisville coach Rick Pitino and UNLV coach Jerry Tarkanian also are finalists for the 2013 class. The others included former NBA stars Maurice Cheeks, Spencer Haywood and Bernard King, longtime North Carolina women's coach Sylvia Hatchell and five-time WNBA All-Star Dawn Staley. Boston Celtics great Tom Heinsohn, already inducted as a player, is a finalist in the coaching category.The announcement of the finalists kicked off All-Star Weekend in Houston. The 2013 class will be announced at the Final Four in April.Brazilian great Oscar Schmidt, former NBA deputy commissioner Russ Granik, former ABA star Roger Brown, six-time All-Star Richard Guerin and Edwin Henderson, a black player from the early part of the 20th century were directly elected for induction. Granik worked as the NBA's executive vice president from 1984-90 and was the president of USA Basketball from 1996-2000."Russ Granik's induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame is so richly deserved," NBA Commissioner David Stern said in a statement. "The entire NBA family is thrilled that Russ is receiving this tremendous recognition."Longtime Bucks announcer Eddie Doucette and writer John Feinstein were recipients of the Curt Gowdy media awards and former college coach George Raveling was honored with a lifetime achievement award.The careers of Payton, Hardaway and Richmond overlapped in the 1990s and early 2000s and they practiced together in California each summer. They were reunited on Friday, now first-time finalists for Hall of Fame election."To actually be sitting next to the guys and being a finalist is awesome," Richmond said. "I think we're better friends now than we were then, because back then, we were really going after each other."Payton was the most decorated of the three, a nine-time All-Star who earned the nickname "The Glove" for his defensive prowess. He ended his career ranked fourth in career steals (2,445).Payton played 13 of his 17 NBA seasons in Seattle and lately, he has been focused on the city's efforts to get another team. The SuperSonics were sold in 2006 and relocated to Oklahoma City, but a Seattle ownership group recently reached an agreement to purchase the Sacramento Kings and formally filed for relocation."All we have to do is hope. Seattle deserves it," Payton said. "I'm feeling a lot of confidence from everybody."Hardaway was a five-time All-Star and averaged at least 20 points in four consecutive seasons. He ranks 13th in both career assists (7,095) and 3-point field goals (1,542). He and Richmond were teammates along with Chris Mullin in Golden State, a high-scoring trio that became known as Run TMC. It was quickly broken up when Richmond was traded to Sacramento in 1992."I played with Mitch for three seasons, and our families became close-knit and keep in touch," Hardaway said. "One part of Run TMC is in there (Mullin), and it'd be great to get myself and Mitch in there. We played hard, we sacrificed a lot and we had fun together."The inclusion of Lewis among the finalists was a significant victory for former Cougar Clyde Drexler, who's lobbied for years to get his beloved college coach into the Hall. Lewis, now 90, led the Cougars to 14 NCAA tournaments and five Final Fours. He also coached three players who are already in the Hall of Fame -- Drexler, Elvin Hayes and Hakeem Olajuwon."With all of the support around the world for Guy Lewis, it's hard for me to think that he wouldn't make it this time," said Drexler, who stood and applauded when Lewis' name was announced Friday. "We've been disappointed in the past, but I'd be really disappointed this time."Drexler and Olajuwon were members of Lewis' famed Phi Slamma Jama teams of the early 1980s. The Cougars appeared in three consecutive Final Fours, but never took home a championship. Their loss to Jim Valvano's N.C. State team in the 1983 title game is considered one of the greatest upsets in NCAA tournament history.But Lewis was also one of the first coaches in the South to recruit and sign black players. He also was the visionary behind the "Game of the Century" between Houston and UCLA and the Astrodome in January 1968, the first nationally televised regular-season game."He's more deserving (of induction) than Hakeem Olajuwon, Elvin Hayes and myself," Drexler said. "He's the one who helped shape and mold us into the players we became."Hatchell and Staley were the other first-time finalists.Hatchell recently became the third Division I women's coach to win 900 games. She's a three-time national coach of the year and has led the Tar Heels to three Final Fours, including the 1994 championship. Staley was a two-time college player of the year at Virginia and a three-time Olympic gold medalist with the U.S. team.
0:43 - Tom Curran, Kayce Smith, and Michael Holley talk about Bill Belichick saying it’s “incomprehensible” that people expect the Patriots to be on the same level as last year at this point in the season.
11:55 - Tom Giles, Kayce Smith, and Michael Holley discuss J.R. Smith’s comments about the Celtics not being a threat to the Cavaliers.
15:38 - Abby Chin, Chris Mannix, and A. Sherrod Blakely join BST from Cleveland to talk about Marcus Smart and the Celtics failing to agree to a contract extension, making him a restricted free agent in July. They also preview Tuesday’s Celtics-Cavaliers season opener.
19:25 - Reports say Alex Cora is the frontrunner for the Red Sox managerial position, but Brad Ausmus interviewed for the position on Monday. Who is the right man for the job? Tom Giles and Michael Holley discuss.
BOSTON – When Brad Stevens took the Boston Celtics job in 2013, he knew what he was getting into.
Yes, the Celtics at that time were rebuilding which usually means years and years of slow but steady progress – if you’re lucky.
And then after maybe a few years of struggling to win games, a breakout season occurs and just like that – you’re back in the playoffs.
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But here’s the thing with the Celtics.
While most rebuilding teams spend years working their way towards being competitive, Stevens hit the ground running and in just four years, he led the Celtics from being a 25-win team to one that was just three wins away from getting to the NBA Finals.
He has the kind of basketball resume that’s impressive on many levels.
But Stevens knows good isn’t good enough in this town.
“We’re here in Boston,” he said. “Winning is good, but hanging one of those (banners) up is what it’s all about. That’s what makes this such a special franchise.”
And for Stevens, a franchise where the expectations for success under his watch have never been greater than they are now.
Boston only returns one starter (Al Horford) from last year’s squad which advanced to the Eastern Conference finals after having won an East-best 53 games.
However, they added a pair of All-Stars in Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving to join Horford. In addition, they drafted Jayson Tatum with the third overall pick in last June’s NBA draft.
Boston also has a slimmed-down Marcus Smart (he lost 20 pounds from a year ago) as well Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier who will both benefit from having another NBA season under their belts.
And while it’s a small sample size and consists of just two teams (Philadelphia and Charlotte), the Celtics breezed their way through the preseason with a flawless 4-0 record which included at least one game in which they did not play their usual starters which shows how impactful their depth may be this season.
That success can only help, especially with a challenging schedule that includes seven of their first 11 games being on the road.
Still, the potential of this Celtics team has never been greater than it is right now since Stevens took over in 2013.
And just like the increased expectations of the team, the same can be said for Stevens who is considered one of the better coaches in the NBA.
Marcus Morris will begin his first season with the Celtics, but had a lot of respect for Stevens well before he was traded to Boston from Detroit this summer.
“You hear a lot of good things about him from other players,” Morris told NBC Sports Boston. “And once you get in here and start working with him and seeing what he does every day, you see what they’re talking about. He’s a good coach, man.”
This team’s success will hinge on how the players perform, but there’s an added element of pressure on Stevens to find the right combinations that will position the Celtics for success.
“We have a lot more guys who can do a lot more things on the court, so it will be a little more challenging for us to figure out how to best play with each other, and for Brad to figure out which combinations are the best ones,” Boston’s Al Horford told NBC Sports Boston. “But we’ll figure it out. Brad’s a really good coach, a really smart coach. And on our team, we have a lot of players who are smart, high basketball I.Q. guys. We’ll be OK.”
Basketball smarts aside, the Celtics’ success will hinge heavily on how quickly they can bring a roster with 10 new players up to speed quickly.
It’s still early, but players like what they’ve seen from the collective body in terms of team chemistry.
“I think that’s the beauty of a lot of guys on the team,” said Gordon Hayward. “It’ll be different each night with some of the different roles we play.”
Which is why the Celtics, while lacking experience as a team because of so many new faces, are still seen as capable of winning because they have a number of players who can impact the game in many ways.
But as good as they are, it still comes back to Stevens doing a good job of putting them in the best positions to find success individually as well as for the Celtics team.
When you look at how time with Stevens jumpstarted Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder’s careers, or how it helped revitalize the career of Evan Turner, it’s obvious that he has the Midas touch when it comes to getting the most out of players.
For Boston to have the kind of success they believe they are due for, it’s going to take the contributions of many.
And even that might not be enough.
But having the path being bumpier than expected is something Stevens embraces.
“Here in this league,” he said. “You have to love challenges.”