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Adrian Dantley, a six-time All-Star during his seven seasons with the Utah Jazz and a two-time NBA scoring champion, has been elected to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.
Dantley, now an assistant coach with the Denver Nuggets, did not attend the team's game in Seattle on Sunday night, the Rocky Mountain News reported. Instead, Dantley was heading to San Antonio, where the Hall of Fame's Class of 2008 will be officially announced today.
"I couldn't be happier," former Jazz coach, general manager and team president Frank Layden said. "It's long overdue. That's just a wonderful thing."
Dantley played with the Jazz from 1979-86, leaving via a trade to Detroit just as Utah emerged as a perennial playoff team.
"He carried us on his back for a long time," Layden said. "For a while, he was the only star player we had."
In 461 regular-season games with the Jazz, Dantley averaged 29.6 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists. In his career, he shot 54 percent from the field.
Dantley spent 15 seasons in the NBA. In addition to Utah and Detroit, he played for Buffalo, Indiana, Dallas, Milwaukee and the Los Angeles Lakers.
"Even if he had never played pro basketball, he would have deserved to be in the Hall of Fame," Layden said. "He was a great, great high school player and he was one of the greatest college players of all time."
Dantley played for legendary high school coach Morgan Wooten before attending Notre Dame, where he was a two-time All-American. He also played on the the gold medal-winning U.S. Olympic team in 1976 before embarking on his NBA career.
Buffalo made Dantley the sixth overall pick in the 1976 draft. He spent one season with the Braves before being traded twice in three months - first to Indiana and then to the Lakers.
On Sept. 13, 1979, the Jazz acquired Dantley from L.A. in exchange for Spencer Haywood.
In Utah, Dantley averaged over 30 points per game in four of his seven seasons. He never averaged less than 26.6 points for a team that made the playoffs for the first time in 1984.
The Jazz retired Dantley's No. 4 on April 11, 2007 during a ceremony at a Jazz-Nuggets game at EnergySolutions Arena.
According to the Rocky Mountain News, Denver coach George Karl took the phone call from the Hall of Fame on Thursday, informing Dantley he was going to be inducted. This was the seventh time in the last eight years he had been a finalist.
"I'm very proud of him," Karl told the News. " . . . He's a funny cat because he didn't want to take the call because he thought he was going to get rejected. I kept saying, 'Tell him to take the phone call. It's going to be a yes.' "
Karl was right.
Dantley and other members of the Class of 2008 will be inducted into the Hall of Fame during festivities in Springfield, Mass., in September.