Friday, February 17, 2006

NBA All-Star Weekend in Houston; Hayes Involved in Activities

Tonight begins the annual NBA All-Star Weekend, this year being held in Houston. Among tonight's events is the game between top NBA rookies and second-year players.

Activities surrounding all-star games often try to involve local heroes, and this year is no exception. Elvin Hayes, who led the UH Cougars to victory over UCLA in the Game of the Century and later played professionally for the Houston Rockets, is serving as an assistant coach for the rookie team.

In conjunction with his appearance back in Houston, Hayes was the subject of an article in today's Houston Chronicle. The article talks about Hayes's role in the GOTC, to be sure, but primarily features his reflections on playing in NBA all-star games. Hayes saw these games as opportunities to develop camaraderie with other elite players around the league. In fact, the article discusses how Hayes feels these gatherings helped warm up relations between him and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (formerly Lew Alcindor), his rival from UCLA in the GOTC:

Hayes credits his All-Star appearances for easing a rift between him and Abdul-Jabbar. After they were pitted as rivals in college, the tensions carried over to the NBA.

"Once we got an opportunity to get into the All-Star situation and really begin to talk and be around each other, it became less strenuous," Hayes said. "It was less of a strain and effort to put forth, 'Hello, how do you do?' That kind of breaks the ice, breaks the walls down. The All-Star Game can resolve a lot of problems that players have on the court."

With Houston becoming the basketball hub of the universe this weekend, the city also served as the site for the announcement of this year's nominees for the Basketball Hall of Fame.

Guy V. Lewis, the UH coach in the GOTC, will still have to wait to get in the Hall, as he was not among this year's nominees. One discussant on the CoogFans chat board thought Lewis might not be eligible any longer for election via the regular route and must now go through a veterans' screening process; this may or may not be true. (I'm "AlanTech" in the discussion thread.)

How coaches such as former Purdue skipper Gene Keady, whose best NCAA showings are two Elite Eights, can be nominated ahead of Lewis, who coached UH to five Final Fours (including two title game appearances), has baffled a lot of people (nothing personal against Keady, of course).