Sunday, February 16, 2014

Temple's Guy Rodgers finally gets the call to the Hall of Fame

PHILADELPHIA - Temple legend and former Philadelphia Warriors star Guy Rodgers was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Friday.

He will be enshrined with the class of 2014 along with Lithuania star Sarunas Marciulionis, former Indiana Pacers coach Bob ''Slick'' Leonard, former New York Knicks player Nat ''Sweetwater'' Clifton and former NBA Commissioner David Stern.

Alonzo Mourning, Tim Hardaway, Mitch Richmond, Kevin Johnson and Spencer Haywood were chosen as finalists, as were college coaches Eddie Sutton, Nolan Richardson and Gary Williams, former women's coach Harley Redin and the women's team from Immaculata College, which won three straight national championships. The full class to be unveiled April 7 during the NCAA men's Final Four.

Rodgers becomes the third Temple men's basketball person inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame, and joins former Temple coaches John Chaney and Harry Litwack in the Hall.

Rodgers is arguably the best point guard to ever play basketball in the City of Philadelphia. A two-time All-America selection, he helped Temple to a 74-16 record over his three-year playing career (1956-58), tallying a then-record 1,767 points. The three-time Big 5 Most Valuable Player went on to an All-Pro career in the NBA, playing primarily for the Philadelphia/San Francisco Warriors.

At Temple he was played alongside Hal Lear, teaming for what many consider to be the greatest backcourt in Philadelphia Big 5 history.  The duo played together just one season, 1955-56, and led Temple to its first NCAA Final Four.  Two years later, Rodgers again took the Owls to the Final Four, leading the Cherry and White to a 27-3 record.  He was named First Team All-America for the second straight season, and that season as well as to the All-Final Four squad.

Rodgers is one of four Temple players to have the jersey numbers retired. His #5 hangs in the Liacouras Center rafters along with Lear (#6), Mark Macon (#12) and Bill Mlkvy (#20).

The Philadelphia native spent twelve years (1958–1970) in the NBA, and was one of the league's best playmakers in the early to mid-1960s. Rodgers led the NBA in assists twice, and placed second six times.

The 1954 Northeast High graduate played alongside the great Wilt Chamberlain from 1959 through 1964, and during Chamberlain's famous 100-point game, he led the way with 20 assists. In the 1962–63 season, Rodgers led the NBA in assists with an average of 10.4 per game, and played in his first NBA All-Star game. On March 14 of that same season, Rodgers tied Bob Cousy's record of 28 assists in a single game — a record that wasn't broken until nearly 15 years later.

Rodgers was the point guard on the 1964 Warriors team that made the NBA finals but eventually lost the series to the Boston Celtics four games to one. In 1966 Rodgers was traded to the expansion team, the Chicago Bulls. He played the 1966–67 season in Chicago and was named NBA All-Star for the fourth and final time in his career. That same season, Rodgers handed out a then-NBA record 908 assists, which is still the Chicago Bulls single-season record.

With four games played in the 1967–68 season, Rodgers was traded to the Cincinnati Royals. After finishing the season in Cincinnati, Rodgers moved to Milwaukee and joined the Bucks for his two final seasons.

Rodgers passed away on February 19, 2001 at the age of 65 of a heart attack.

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