SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — Elvin Hayes, one of the game's best power forwards, and guards Earl Monroe and Dave Bing were elected today to the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Also to be inducted May 15 is the late Neil Johnston, a hook-shot artist with the Philadelphia Warriors who led the NBA in scoring in three straight years in the 1950s. The four will join 168 individuals and four teams in the Hall of Fame in this city where basketball was born nearly a century ago.
"It's just unreal," Hayes said in an interview from his car dealership in Cleveland, Tex. "It's just like winning your first high school basketball championship or your first NBA championship. It's just one of those feelings. You work so hard and have your dreams and then it happens.
"This is sort of thing that happens to people from New York, not Rayville, La. These are legends in the Basketball Hall of Fame, the guys I emulated on the playgrounds and who really made basketball."
Hayes, who played for the Houston Rockets and Baltimore Bullets, said he is delighted at being in such good company this year.
"Dave Bing gave so much to the game, and Earl Monroe was the first 'Mr. Magic' and did so much for basketball," he said. "I'm only sorry that Neil Johnston isn't around to enjoy it."
After starring at the University of Houston where his 1968 confrontation with UCLA's Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in the Astrodome attracted one of the largest crowds ever to watch a college game, Hayes was the NBA Rookie of the Year in 1969 and led the league in scoring with 28.4 points a game.
He averaged 21 points and nearly 12.5 rebounds a game and was named to 12 All-Star teams during his 16-year pro career. He was the NBA's top scorer during his rookie season, averaging 28.4 points a game and the league's top rebounder in 1970 and 1974.
While Hayes was elected in his first year of eligibility, it took two years for Bing and four years for Monroe, who is the sixth player on the New York Knicks 1973 championship team to be enshrined.
Monroe, a flashy and elusive guard who averaged 41.5 points a game in his senior year at Winston-Salem State and led the Rams to the 1967 NCAA championship, was Rookie of the Year in his first season with Baltimore in 1968.
During his 12-year pro career in Baltimore and New York, he averaged 18.8 points a game and was named to four All-Star teams, plus the NBA's Golden Anniversary squad.
Bing, an All-America at Syracuse, was Rookie of the Year in 1967 with the Detroit Pistons. He led the league in scoring, averaging 27 points a game the following year. He averaged 20 points and nearly six assists during his 12-year pro career with Detroit, Washington and Boston.
Johnston, who died in 1978 while playing basketball in Bedford, Tex., at the age of 48, decided to try professional basketball after his minor league baseball career was cut short by a sore pitching arm. During his eight seasons with Philadelphia, he led the NBA in scoring in 1953 and 1954 and in both scoring and rebounding in 1955. He was named to six All-Star teams.