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Springfield, MA 01105

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Hoop Hall Welcomes All
by Joshua Pollock

I’d been at school in Amherst for almost three full years, and had driven by the new Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield hundreds of times. It’s hard to miss that massive silver dome accompanied by the bright orange sphere atop the silver spire. Every time I drove by, a glimmering thought at the back of my head resonated. “I need to go there,” I say to myself, before paying attention to the surrounding traffic. I had been to the old Hall of Fame five years ago. Now, I wanted to see what the new hall, built in 2002, 100 yards away from the old one, was all about. 

After a short trip up I-91, at 10 a.m., I stood in front of the 120-foot-diameter dome dedicated to the history of the sport invented in this city in 1891. I walked out of the museum exhausted yet excited, feeling almost as if I had gone into double overtime.

The new $103 million Hall of Fame is a significant upgrade from its former home. I was enticed to spend my day there as it boasted new interactive exhibits, a theatre, numerous eateries, and all of the history about the sport I love. 

After purchasing my $16 ticket from the box office and walking through the turnstiles, I prepared myself for a journey through the history of one of the greatest sports to grace this earth. 


As I walked into the first floor of the museum, I found myself standing on a full-scale basketball court. I had to dodge three basketballs before I made it to the center of the arena. At the center of the court was the Hall of Fame logo, crowded by children as their parents photographed them from above. People were shooting at eight basketball hoops hanging from the walls. Three shorter hoops were crowded by youths who enjoy the game. Several times a day, large crowds swarm to center court to participate in shooting competitions and games of “21.”

Up the long, curving staircase was an astonishing life like statue of Larry Bird, standing 6 feet nine inches tall, complete with blond moustache, welcoming me to the history section of the hall.


New Art Exhibit

The Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield will play host June 6 – August 21 to a collection of African American art owned by the Orlando Magic’s Grant Hill. 

The exhibit, entitled Something All Our Own: The Grant Hill Collection of African American Art, will feature 46 works of art, and will include the work of notable artists such as Romare Bearden, Elizabeth Catlett, Hughie Lee Smith and John Biggers.

Here, memorabilia of women and men's high school, college, professional and international histories were displayed in glass cases. I learned about Pat Summit's .837 career winning percentage, Phog Allen's 49 seasons of collegiate coaching, Dean Smith's successful reign at North Carolina, and John Wooden's domination of the NCAA tournament with UCLA. 

Some of the dominant teams in NBA history get their own exhibits. The Boston Celtics of the '50s and '60s is one of these teams. A colossal picture of coach and later front-office fixture Red Auerbach hung over the jerseys of former Celtics Bill Russell and John Havlicek. The Bulls of the '90s are also paid a special tribute - Michael Jordan's jersey, Scottie Pippen's warm-up suit, John Paxson's shorts and Horace Grant's goggles from the 1991 NBA Finals are just a few items encased in a special exhibit. 

Along with the history wing of the Hall, another exhibit is dedicated to the greatest games ever played. A touch-screen computer held over 30 of the greatest basketball games ever captured on video. In one sitting, I watched Celtics vs. Suns (1976), USA vs. Russia (1972), Bulls vs. Jazz (1998), and Duke vs. Michigan (1992).  Normally I have to watch ESPN Classic for a couple of weeks to see all those great games.

Feel like being a referee? On another touch-screen display, I could make the call as I watched plays from actual game footage. Want player and coach biographies? Another exhibit contained the names and biographies of some of the best players and coaches ever to set foot on a basketball court. After scrolling through these great names, I found yet another computer screen that held every statistic from every player ever recorded in an NBA game.

After absorbing all that knowledge, I wanted something more vigorous. Around the corner on the same floor was a virtual basketball exhibit, arguably the coolest interactive exhibit in the hall. No actual basketball is necessary; I stepped into a ring and was shot on camera playing my computer opponent. My every movement was captured on screen as I pretended to dribble agilely up the court and drop two on my mythical defender. He put up a good game, but I prevailed, 11-8. From here, I participated in two other exhibits that tested my vertical leap and rebounding abilities. 

As I continued through the massive orb, I got my chance to show up some of the greatest commentators ever to call a game. I sat down and put Dick Enberg to shame as I commentated Duke vs. UNC. After that, I embarrassed Bob Costas as I called Michael Jordan's last game. 

Calling a game not your style? No problem. Just around the corner, I sat at the sports desk and went through the highlights of today's sports, pretending to be Stuart Scott. 

Even more memorabilia awaited me as I headed up another staircase to the third and final floor of the hall, the Honors Ring. Here, I learned about the 258 players, coaches, and contributors and five teams enshrined in the hall. Detailed histories of these basketball elites circle the entire floor in chronological order of the year they were inducted, each with their picture overhead on the dome, looking down at me. 

Every year inductees are named at a news conference prior to the NCAA Division I National Championship Game. To be enshrined, candidates for the hall must be retired for five years, and must garner 18 of 24 votes from the hall's Honors Committee. 

After circling the top of the museum, I had worked up a serious hunger, apart from a sweat. Fortunately, there is a variety of places to eat right in the hall. McDonald's, Max's Tavern and La Vazza café offer a solid variety of food that more than met my budget. After devouring some McDonalds, I decided to treat myself to dessert at Cold Stone, a delicious ice cream shop (I recommend the mint chocolate chip). 

Finally, I ended my day at the hall by visiting the museum and Reebok stores. As I walked toward my car in the parking lot, I looked down at my watch. It was almost four o'clock in the afternoon. I had spent almost six hours in the museum. I would most certainly recommend a visit there to any basketball enthusiast.


This website was created by the students of Journalism 375 at the University of Massachusetts 2005