By Dominic Scianna
Chicago Public League (CPL) alumni, Tim Hardaway (one of 13 new inductees) along with Inman “Big Jack” Jackson and Albert “Runt” Pullins (Early African American Pioneers Committee selections) were enshrined into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on September 10.
The three newest members join Yolanda Griffith (2021 inductee) and Maurice Cheeks (2018 inductee) as three of only the now five total CPL alumni and Chicago natives to enter the hallowed halls in Springfield, Massachusetts since 2018.
Griffith was a Carver High School classmate of Hardaway’s and earned her 2021 induction honors with a stellar career of her own. She was a first-round draft pick of the WNBA’s Sacramento Monarchs in 1999 and won the regular season MVP award that same year. The eight-time WNBA All-Star won a WNBA championship and Finals MVP in 2005 and two Olympic gold medals for Team USA’s women’s basketball team in 2000 and 2004.
Cheeks, a DuSable High School graduate, entered the Hall of Fame in 2018. He starred in college at West Texas State and was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers in the 1978 NBA Draft. Cheeks would go on to win a World Championship title in 1983 teaming with fellow Hall of Famer’s Julius “Dr. J” Erving and Moses Malone.
His number #10 jersey has also been retired by the 76ers after an outstanding professional career. He currently is an assistant coach on Billy Donovan’s staff for the Chicago Bulls.
Hardaway starred at Carver in Chicago before heading off to college at the University of Texas El Paso (UTEP). He then became a part of Golden State folklore, drafted by the Warriors in the first round of the NBA Draft in 1989 and is best known as a key member of the Warriors “Run T-M-C” highlight reel trio named for Tim, Mitch (Richmond), and Chris (Mullin).
The five-time All-Star played for 14 seasons in the NBA and amassed 15,373 points and 7,095 assists in his Hall of Fame career. Hardaway was also a member of the gold medal winning USA men’s basketball team in the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, and his #10 collegiate jersey was retired by his alma mater, the UTEP Miners.
“A kid from the Eastside of Chicago made it all the way to Springfield, Massachusetts is simply incredible,” said Hardaway during his induction ceremony. “My basketball journey was far from smooth and against all odds, yet it was also a beautifully paved road filled with inspirational men and women who guided and supported me every step of the way.”
One of those inspirational mentors who guided Hardaway during his formative years was Donald Pittman, his elementary school basketball coach in Chicago, well known for his work with CPS most notably as principal at Marshall H.S., and former Carver High School boy’s basketball coach.
Jackson and Pullins were posthumously inducted and were teammates on the original Harlem Globetrotters basketball team in the late 1920’s. The duo was added to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame by the Early African American Pioneer Committee which recognizes Black players, coaches, and contributors from the “Black Five” era, before the game was integrated in the 1950’s.
Jackson attended Wendell Phillips High School in Chicago and played professionally for the Globetrotters from 1929-1943. He played center and was instrumental in leading his team to the 1940 World Championship.
Pullins also attended Phillips High School. He was a 5-foot-8 guard and original star attraction for the Globetrotters because of his exceptional ball handling and shooting skills. In addition, he was also a member of the 1928 Phillips basketball team that won the Chicago lightweight city basketball championship, a first by an African American team in the history of the Public League.
Griffith’s prolific and emotional Hall of Fame speech in 2021 is a testament to all five CPL Hall of Famers in perfectly capturing the sentiment of everyone’s journey in receiving basketball’s highest honor.
“I was unknown and came out of nowhere, yet I never gave up on my dreams,” said Griffith. “Now here I am at the pinnacle, the Naismith Hall of Fame, and I am honored and humbled.”