PHOENIX — Overwhelming. Humbling.
That’s how former Phoenix Suns point guard and Ring of Honor member Kevin Johnson described in regards to being one of 10 finalists for enshrinement in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2014.
“The first thing you think about is all the people you need to thank for even being listed. That’s everybody here in Phoenix that I played with. And then the second thing you think about is—when you look at the list of people who make it in the Hall of Fame, that’s a pretty big deal,” he said prior to the Suns game against the Houston Rockets on Sunday.
During his playing days, Johnson, now the mayor of Sacramento, was a three-time NBA All-Star and five-time All-NBA pick. He is one of only five players in league history to average 20 points and 10 assists in three straight seasons.
“I’m a kid from Sacramento, grew up in the poor part of a community like South Phoenix here; went to college and played a great career and now be a finalist…it’s really overwhelming and quite humbling,” he said.
Johnson, who was the first player to have his jersey retired at Cal, was acquired from Cleveland during his rookie season and played 12 years in Phoenix.
He was in town Sunday night to celebrate the 20th anniversary of his dunk over Hakeem Olajuwon during Game 4 of the 1994 Western Conference Semifinals.
“I don’t think you ever say (the Hall of Fame) is a goal, but at some point you get nominated—or in my case, I got nominated, I think, a couple of years ago,” said Johnson. “I was like, ‘Whoa.’ And I’m very competitive so then it becomes a quick goal: If I got nominated, I need to get in.”
A finalist needs 18 of 24 votes from the Honors Committee for election and this year’s inductees will be announced on Monday, April 7 at a press conference prior to the NCAA Men’s Championship game.
Johnson is one of six first-time finalists, joining Alonzo Mourning and coaches Nolan Richardson, Eddie Sutton and Gary Williams as well as Immaculata University’s AIAW National Championship teams of the early 1970s.
Previous finalists included again this year for consideration are Tim Hardaway, Spencer Haywood, Mitch Richmond and six-time AAU National Champion coach Harley Redin.
“Everybody that’s listed and is a finalist are certainly worthy to be in the Hall of Fame,” Johnson said. “I’m just happy to be hanging out with the group.”