There has been a lot of talk about various halls of fame this week with the retirement of Ray Lewis, the baseball Hall of Fame inductions to be announced on Wednesday and now word that, for the first time in five years, legendary University of Houston basketball coach Guy V. Lewis will return to the ballot for the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Lewis has been left off the list since 2007 because he was so lacking in support at the time that, due to Hall of Fame bylaws, they were required to remove him from the ballot for at least five years. With that time now up, his name is back on the list.
The fact that Lewis is not in the Hall is one of the great travesties of Hall of Fame consideration for any sport. Not only are there numerous examples of players and coaches whose résumés fall far short of Lewis's already in the Hall, but Lewis is nearly solely responsible for popularizing the game of college basketball, thanks to his organizing of the "Game of the Century" between his UH Cougars featuring Elvin Hayes and John Wooden's UCLA Bruins featuring Lew Alcindor (you kids might remember him as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar). The game at the Astrodome in January of 1968 set the stage for the televising of regular season games, essentially putting NCAA basketball on the map as a national sport.
Lewis is also responsible for numerous inductees into the Hall including Hakeem Olajuwon, who entered last year, Clyde Drexler and Hayes. He has also made
four five appearances in the Final Four, two times making it to the championship game.
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Unfortunately for Lewis, it was his first championship appearance that sealed his fate. In that game, the Phi Slama Jama team led by Olajuwon and Drexler had dominated the NCAA, but were ousted on a last-second tip in by Lorenzo Charles of the upstart North Carolina State Wolfpack.
That single game, one of the great upsets in NCAA basketball history, has prevented the induction of one of the most successful and influential coaches in basketball history from taking his rightful place among the greats of the game. It is a travesty and a mockery of the game that coaches with fewer wins, fewer appearances in the Final Four, lower winning percentages and substantially less impact on the game are in the Hall and Lewis is not.
Here's hoping the Basketball Hall of Fame finally does the right thing and puts him where he belongs once and for all.