SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — Former Oklahoma basketball coach Lester Lane was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday along with his teammates on the 1960 U.S. Olympic team.
Lane was born in Purcell in 1932 and was named coach at OU in 1973. He died of a heart attack a short time later while playing in a pick-up game and never coached a game with the Sooners.
Lane was on the 1960 Olympic team that won the gold medal. Others on the team included Oscar Robinson, Walt Bellamy, Jerry West and Jerry Lucas.
That group of college players went 8-0 in Rome, winning by 42.4 points per game.
"I played on, I think, the greatest amateur team that ever played," West said.
"Not a day goes by that I don't think about those days. The greatest thrill of my life was to win a gold medal, not to win an NBA championship."
Also inducted Friday was the 1992 "Dream Team" which also won Olympic gold.
Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley were among those on the 1992 team, which had some eye-popping stats: 117.3 points per game, a victory margin of 43.8 per game.
"That was probably one thing that we never got credit for," said Barkley. "It's easy to sit there and say you're going to win every game by 40 or 50 points, but we went out and actually did it."
Dream Teamers Karl Malone and Scottie Pippen also were inducted as individuals.
"Think about it. To go in as a player and as a team... it's just awesome," Malone said.
Cynthia Cooper, the first Hall of Famer from the WNBA, coach Bob Hurley of St. Anthony's High School in New Jersey, and Lakers owner Jerry Buss were inducted as individuals. Dennis Johnson, former Baltimore Bullets star Gus Johnson and Brazilian Maciel "Ubiratan" Pereira were enshrined posthumously.
Dennis Johnson, who died in 2007, was a favorite teammate of Bird's and well-respected by opponents for his tenacious defensive play. His wife, Donna, cried as she tried to say how she proud she was and offer thanks for her husband's long-awaited induction.
With Malone and Pippen being inducted, it leaves only Chris Mullin, a finalist this year, and Christian Laettner as the only players from the Dream Team who aren't in the Hall as individuals.
Barkley expects Mullin to get in, and called Laettner one of the greatest college players ever.
Like Barkley, Malone never won an NBA title, leaving Olympic gold as his only championship despite winning two MVP awards and retiring in second place on the league's career scoring list.
The sports jacket each inductee was awarded was nowhere close to fitting over Malone's muscular physique, falling well short in the arms. He said he only wanted the Hall of Fame patch, having never thought growing up he would end up there.
"You can't get traded, you can't get put on waivers, you can't get cut on this team," he said.