Rodgers with Warriors owner Eddie Gottlieb (left) and Warriors coach Frank McGuire
By Art Beitchman, DOCBLOG
When the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame class is enshrined this weekend in Speingfield, Mass., the big names will be players Alonzo Mourning and Mitch Richmond, coach Garry Williams former NBA commissioner David Stern.
And Philly’s own Guy Rodgers.
Stern’s contributions to the NBA are well known — check out FASTPHILLYSPORTS.COM’s Business section for a great profile —but there are three that stand out to me. Since he took the league’s reins in 1984 (he retired this past February), NBA annual revenue has jumped from $165 million to $5.5 billion!!! — staggering growth by anyone’s standards. Player salaries have risen from an average of $290,000 to $5.7 million. Merchandising has increased from $35 million a year to $3 billion
And the league has a much bigger worldwide reach than ever before, which may Stern’s greatest accomplishment.
Northeast High and Temple alum Rodgers was a quicksilver magician with the ball who retired from the NBA as the third highest assists leader. Rodgers also was Wilt Chamberlain’s main feeder of in Big Wilt’s record 100-point game in 1962, recording 20 dimes in the historic game. Rodgers died in 2001 and all of Philly’s basketball fans will proudly remember he was a Northeast Viking, a Temple Owl (leading Harry Litwack’s team to the 1958 Final Four) and a Philadelphia Warrior who on that last team in 1961-62 started four Philly players — Wilt, Rodgers, Paul Arizin and Tom Gola.
Rodgers is a worthy addition to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.