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Saturday, February 28, 2015

Louie Dampier Earns Direct Election into the Basketball Hall of Fame

Louie Dampier is the fifth nominee directly elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame by the ABA Committee, joining Artis Gilmore, Mel Daniels, Roger Brown and Bobby "Slick" Leonard. I covered the Basketball Hall of Fame press conference five years ago when Jerry Colangelo, the Chairman of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Board, pledged that under his leadership the Basketball Hall of Fame would honor players and teams that had "slipped through the cracks." I asked Colangelo specifically about several worthy ABA veterans and Colangelo replied, "I am hopeful that over a period of time these people will be recognized for their contributions." It is delightful that Colangelo has been true to his word and helped the Basketball Hall of Fame uphold the standards that it should have applied many years ago.

Artis Gilmore is a familiar name to NBA fans, "Slick" Leonard still does radio commentary for his beloved Pacers, Roger Brown was recently the subject of a wonderful documentary produced by Ted Green and Mel Daniels won two ABA regular season MVPs (second in league history behind Julius Erving's three MVPs) but Dampier's contributions and skill set may be less familiar to casual and/or younger basketball fans.

The 6-0, 165 pound Dampier holds the ABA career records for regular season points (13,726), games played (728), assists (4044) and three point field goals made (794). Dampier held the career ABA-NBA three point field goals made record until Dale Ellis broke it during the 1992-93 season (the NBA first used the three point shot in the 1979-80 season but the long ball did not immediately become a major weapon). Dampier ranked in the top five in three point field goal percentage for eight straight seasons, leading the ABA with a .387 mark in 1973-74. He twice led the ABA in three point field goals made and his 199 treys in 1968-69 stood as the ABA-NBA single season record until John Starks made 217 three pointers for the New York Knicks in 1994-95, the first of three seasons in which the league experimented with a shorter three point line (Dan Majerle and Mookie Blaylock each made 199 three pointers that season as well). Dampier's record for most three pointers made in a season with the three point line at the normal distance stood until Antoine "I only shoot threes because there are no fours" Walker shimmied his way to 221 three pointers in 2000-01.

Dampier was one of the outstanding players during the ABA's early years, ranked third in the league in scoring in 1968-69 (24.8 ppg) and fourth in the league in scoring in 1969-70 (26.0 ppg). He participated in all nine of the ABA's seasons as a member of the Kentucky Colonels, earning seven All-Star selections and four All-ABA Second Team selections.

Indiana native Dampier played a prominent role in the Kentucky Colonels--Indiana Pacers rivalry. He averaged 16.9 ppg (third on the team) and a team-leading 7.5 apg in the 1975 playoffs as the Colonels defeated the Pacers 4-1 in the ABA Finals to claim the franchise's only championship.

After the Colonels did not participate in the ABA-NBA merger, the San Antonio Spurs (a former ABA team) acquired Dampier. He spent three seasons with the Spurs in a reserve role, retiring the year before the NBA adopted the three point shot.

Dampier was not a franchise center like Daniels and Gilmore, nor was he an all-around superstar like Brown, but he was a tremendous shooter and playmaker who made a significant contribution to some very successful Kentucky teams. Dampier's Hall of Fame selection is well deserved and overdue.

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posted by David Friedman @ 2:42 AM


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At Wednesday, March 04, 2015 5:47:00 PM, Anonymous Mike S said...

Many observers still say Dampier was the best shooter they ever saw. Adolph Rupp said he was the best shooter he ever coached. I have a 1978 playoff game between Washington and San Antonio on tape in which Pete Maravich is doing color analyst work. At one point, as soon as a 20 footer left Dampier's fingertips, Maravich said "That's in"...then swish.

At Friday, March 06, 2015 5:02:00 PM, Blogger Nick F said...

Back when I was a lad tracking down old ABA footage on Kazaa and eBay, Dampier was one of the first players that really stuck out to me. Not remotely athletic, but undeniably effective. Sorta reminds me of Mike D'Antoni (Italian league) in that way. Plus, he had an awesome, awesome mustache.

At Friday, March 13, 2015 11:32:00 AM, Anonymous Mike S said...

We should compare ABA footage to see if either of us has some the other doesn't or maybe share ideas on where to find more. I'm at mdbloom@hotmail.com


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