Charlotte, N.C. • The Basketball Hall of Fame announced its finalists for the Class of 2019 on Friday evening, and Utah Jazz center Mark Eaton didn’t make the cut.
Eaton, who holds NBA records in blocks in a season (456) and blocks per game in a career (3.5) was named a nominee in December, but fell short in the committee’s eyes of the 13 finalists named Friday.
Those finalists included eight players, four coaches, and one referee. Four of the 13 were first-time finalists: Marques Johnson, Jack Sikma, Ben Wallace, and Paul Westphal. Nine were returning: coach Leta Andrews, referee Hugh Evans, coach Bill Fitch, Bobby Jones, Sidney Moncrief, coach Barbara Stevens, coach Eddie Sutton, Theresa Weatherspoon, and Chris Webber.
Eaton wasn’t the only notable snub. Former Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich is the only multiple-time NBA Finals winning coach who is not in the hall, while point guard Chauncey Billups has a notable Hall of Fame case thanks to his long stint with the Detroit Pistons that included an NBA title.
Utah Stars great and Jazz broadcaster Ron Boone is still eligible for selection, as he was named as a direct-elect candidate by the Hall of Fame’s Veterans Committee.
Donovan Mitchell’s dinner with greats
Donovan Mitchell arrived here Thursday and immediately headed to Dwyane Wade’s One Last Dance dinner, as the latter continues his farewell tour. And while the two have had dinner before, in both Miami and Salt Lake City, this one was a little bigger, featuring some of the legends of the game.
“You had Magic, you had Pat Riley, Isaiah Thomas, Carmelo (Anthony), Chris Paul, Steve Smith, Grant Hill, Caron Butler. You have those guys coming to see him, and he idolized most of those guys? That says a lot in itself,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell said he wants to follow in Wade’s footsteps in a few different ways.
“He won a championship in his third season, that’s extremely impressive,” Mitchell said. “He has such an impact on the game on and off the floor that I want to replicate, it’s great to see something like that from a guy of that stature.”
NBA reveals “smart jerseys”
At every NBA All-Star Weekend for the past 20 years, the league has hosted a Technology Summit to highlight the future of technology in the league. This year, the headliner was a “smart jersey” that can change the name and number displayed on the fabric at the touch of a button.
The presentation was part of the league’s vision of how following the game might be different in the 2038-39 season, twenty years from now.
Michael Jordan’s birthday
One of the biggest reasons the All-Star Game is being held in Charlotte this weekend is due to the influence of Hornets owner Michael Jordan. Perhaps appropriately, the celebrations for the city will also include celebrations for Jordan himself: his 56th birthday comes Sunday.
Mitchell spoke about Jordan’s influence growing up.
“Obviously I wear 45 because of Michael and baseball. He’s the greatest basketball player of all time, and he always will be,” Mitchell said. “That’s one thing you have to give him. 6 championships. For me to be here, it means a lot. Everything’s coming around full circle.”
Mitchell has yet to meet Jordan, though hopes to make time to do so this weekend.