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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Tennessee State legend Dick Barnett finally gets call for Basketball Hall of Fame

More than 50 years after his final NBA game, Dick Barnett will finally take his place among basketball’s greats in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Barnett, an HBCU basketball icon who was best known for his time with the New York Knicks, was announced as a part of the Basketball Hall of Fame’s 2024 induction class on Saturday.

Born in Gary, Indiana, Barnett played at Tennessee A&I College, now Tennessee State University, under head coach John McClendon. He helped lead the Tigers to three straight NAIA championships between 1957 and 1959. Barnett was also a three-time Associated Press Small College All-American before being drafted by the Syracuse Nationals in the 1959 NBA Draft.

Barnett played two years for the Nats, one year with the Cleveland Pipers in the forgotten American Basketball League and three years for the Los Angeles Lakers before joining the Knicks in 1965.

Barnett was a veteran presence on a team that featured young stars Willis Reed (Grambling State), Walt “Clyde” Frazier and Bill Bradley, providing instant offense with his left-handed, leg-kicking jumper he called the “Fall-Back, Baby.”

Barnett’s cool demeanor and quick shooting was a part of the Knicks’ glory years, including NBA championships in 1970 and 1973. After retiring in 1973, Barnett’s No. 12 was retired by the Knicks.

Barnett and his Tennessee A&I teammates were inducted in the Hall of Fame as a team in 2019.

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