Monday , Sep , 11 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Barkley, Wilkins and Dumars inducted into Basketball Hall of Fame

Springfield, MA (Sports Network) – Charles Barkley, Dominique Wilkins and Joe Dumars were inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Friday.

Joining the noted trio were University of Connecticut women’s coach Geno Auriemma, former Big East commissioner Dave Gavitt and European coach Sandro Gamba.

Barkley, Wilkins and Dumars inducted into Basketball Hall of Fame

Barkley, on the ballot for the first time, played for the Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns and Houston Rockets during his brilliant 16-year NBA career. He averaged 22.1 points and 11.7 rebounds per game, was elected to 11 All-Star games and won an Olympic gold medal in 1992 with the Dream Team. He is a member of the NBA’s 50th anniversary team and won the 1993 NBA Most Valuable Player award.

"My teammates in Philadelphia taught me to work hard and become a man," said Barkley. "All any player wants is an opportunity to win and I was lucky enough to get that. I have never had a job in my life. That’s how fun this was to me. I want to thank everyone who has done the heavy lifting for me,"

Wilkins, better known as "The Human Highlight Film," played the majority of his NBA career with the Atlanta Hawks and was a nine-time NBA All-Star and a two-time NBA Slam Dunk champion. He also played with the Los Angeles Clippers, Boston Celtics, San Antonio Spurs and Orlando Magic.

"I played the game of basketball with a lot of heart, a lot of will and respect," said Wilkins. "Basketball taught me how to become a man. I didn’t know I would end here but the people that pushed me to have excellence in life deserve the credit."

Dumars, who played his entire NBA career in Detroit, was a six-time All-Star and helped the Pistons to back-to-back championships in 1989 and 1990. The MVP of the 1989 NBA Finals, Dumars currently serves as president of basketball operations in Detroit.

"This night is about the people that helped get me here," said Dumars. "You can’t get here by yourself. You need good people behind you. If you are a good person, you are going to attract good people. This is as humbling an experience to me as I will ever have in my life. Without the great people around me, I would have never made it here."

Auriemma has led the Lady Huskies to five national championships, eight Final Four appearances, two undefeated seasons, 30 or more wins in a season 10 times and has 17 straight NCAA Tournament appearances. He has been named National Coach of the Year five times and was enshrined in the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2005.

Gavitt first made his impression on the basketball world as the head coach at Providence College where he led the team to eight consecutive 20-win seasons, five NCAA Tournament appearances and one Final Four. He was the first commissioner of the Big East Conference and served as the Chair of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee from 1982-1984, during which time he was responsible for the expansion of the tournament to 64 teams and the use of domed stadiums for the Final Four.

Gamba has coached in Europe for over 30 years and piloted four Italian Olympic teams including the 1980 silver medal squad. His Italian professional teams have won five Italian League championships, a European Championship, a Champions Cup and Cup of Cups title.