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September 12, 2009

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Jordan, four greats set to be inducted

MICHAEL Jordan will be enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame today, a final honor for someone who's already won everything else.

David Robinson, John Stockton, Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan and Rutgers University women's coach Vivian Stringer will also be inducted. But the attention is largely on Jordan, the six-time NBA champion, five-time league MVP and 10-time scoring champion.

Others have won more or scored more, but Jordan might top them all. "I think you have to be realistic," Charles Barkley said. "Michael Jordan to me is the best basketball player ever."

His entrance into the Hall is bringing unprecedented attention, forcing the enshrinement ceremonies to be moved to Springfield, Massachusetts's Symphony Hall, with a capacity of about 2,600 that is more than double what the Hall of Fame can hold.

"Every class is special, there's no question about that, but this one seems to rise a bit above the normal class and obviously it's because of who's in the class," said John Doleva, the Hall's president and CEO.

He added that nearly 60 Hall of Famers are returning for the festivities.

Besides Jordan, those on hand will see Robinson, who helped San Antonio win two NBA titles and the United States win two Olympic gold medals; Stockton, the NBA's career leader in assists and steals who also won Olympic gold in 1992 and 1996; Sloan, Stockton's longtime coach who has won more than 1,000 games in Utah; and Stringer, the first women's coach to lead three schools to the US college semifinals.

It would be an elite class even without Jordan. With him, it becomes perhaps the strongest and has Springfield buzzing.

Besides replica jerseys and rings from the championships he won playing for the University of North Carolina, the Chicago Bulls, and the US Olympic team, Jordan's exhibit honors his legacy as a pitchman. There's a collection of his Air Jordans, the backbone of an endorsement empire that won the sneaker market for Nike and paved the way for today's players to make millions off the court.


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