Three former pro basketball stars with Baltimore ties -- Buddy Jeannette, Gene Shue and John "Red" Kerr, who distinguished themselves as players and coaches -- were among 11 men and women nominated yesterday for the Basketball Hall of Fame.
To gain election to the basketball shrine in Springfield, Mass., a nominee must receive 18 of 24 votes by the honors committee. Balloting will take place Feb. 8.
The other nominees were: Minneapolis Lakers star Vern Mikkelsen; New York Knicks and St. Louis Hawks coach Richie Guerin; Los Angeles Lakers forward Jamaal Wilkes; Louisville coach Denny Crum; former Detroit Pistons and current New Jersey Nets coach Chuck Daly; women's basketball stars Joan Crawford, an Amateur Athletic Union star from the 1950s, and Carol Blazejowski, who holds the women's career collegiate scoring record with an average of 31.7 points; and Cesare Rubini, who coached Milan to 10 international titles.
For Jeannette, 76, the player/coach of the 1947-48 champion Baltimore Bullets, getting nominated by the veterans committee proved an 18-year ordeal, requiring strong endorsements from many of his peers, including Al Cervi of the Syracuse Nationals, Andy Phillips of the Chicago Stags and former Rochester Royals owner and coach Lester Harrison.
Performing in the 1940s Jeannette played for six championship teams in four cities -- Detroit, Sheboygan, Wis., Fort Wayne, Ind., and Baltimore.
"It's no coincidence he played for all those winners," said Harrison. "Bobby McDermott was Jeannette's teammate in Fort Wayne, He was a great set-shooter and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1987. But, believe me, Jeannette was the better player and the heart and soul of that Pistons team. He was a winner, period."
Jeannette, a native of New Kensington, Pa., who played in college for nearby Washington & Jefferson, came to Baltimore in 1946 to lead the Bullets in the then-American League.
"At that time, I knew I wasn't going to be playing much longer and I was looking to get into coaching," he said. "I told Jake Embry, who owned the Bullets, that if he paid me $15,000, which was as much as anyone made back then, I'd be his player/coach. I was surprised when he agreed."
Shue, 61, was the first native Baltimorean to star in the pro ranks after gaining fame at Towson Catholic and Maryland.
An excellent shooter and strong defender, the guard was selected to the All-NBA team in 1960 and 1961.
He began his coaching career here in 1966 and transformed the Bullets from the worst team (20-61) to the best record (57-25) in two seasons, winning Coach of the Year honors in 1969.
Shue inherited a 9-73 Philadelphia 76ers team in 1973, and, in four seasons, directed them to 50 victories. He made another trip to the championship round in 1977, losing a six-game series to Bill Walton and the Portland Trail Blazers.
Shue returned to coach the Washington Bullets from 1980 to 1986, making the playoffs three times.
Kerr, 61, was one of the standout centers in the NBA in the 1950s, playing nine seasons for the Syracuse Nationals. He set standards with his pinpoint passes and jarring picks, leading to his self-deprecating joke, "Twenty years in the pivot without the ball."
The 6-foot-9 Chicago native, who starred at Illinois, finished his playing career with the Baltimore Bullets in the 1965-66 season. His then-record consecutive-game streak of 844 ended Nov. 4, 1965, when then-coach Paul Seymour failed to summon him off the bench.