HOUSTON — Former NBA stars Charles Barkley, Joe Dumars, Dominique Wilkins, Chet Walker, Adrian Dantley and Ralph Sampson were announced Friday as finalists for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Other finalists are former coaches Don Nelson and Gene Keady; former St. Louis Hawk owner Ben Kerner; former Big East commissioner Dave Gavitt; commentator Dick Vitale; women's coaches Geno Auriemma of the University of Connecticut and Van Chancellor of the Houston Comets; international coaches Sandro Gamba of Italy and Pedro Ferrandiz of Spain, and John Isaacs of the New York Rens.
The 2006 inductees will be announced April 3 in Indianapolis before the NCAA title game.
Barkley, Auriemma and Gavitt are finalists in their first year of consideration.
Also appearing at Friday's news conference were Hall members Oscar Robertson, Moses Malone, Clyde Drexler and Gail Goodrich.
"This is a great day for me and my family and great friends," said Barkley, a former MVP and 11-time All-Star.
"Also, I want to give a special thanks to Moses. I've said many times, Moses has been probably the most influential person in my NBA career. He taught me how to work hard, got me in some shape and I always appreciated that."
Nelson, the NBA's first three-time coach of the year in 25 seasons in Milwaukee, Golden State, New York and Dallas, was at home in Maui and got the news via cellphone from his former Dallas assistant, Del Harris.
Harris, who is still on the Mavericks' coaching staff, said Nelson's cellphone is usually dead -- "Nellie's always losing the chargers" -- but Harris also keeps the number of a neighbor for situations like this.
Kobe Bryant, asked at Friday's media session what it would take for someone to score 100 points: "A lot of shots and a lot of makes."
Shaquille O'Neal, who had been silent on Bryant's 81-point game: "It was a fantastic game. I actually saw it. He shot the ball well. He was feeling it. Whenever a player is feeling it, he should go for it like that.". ... And O'Neal, on the recent spate of 40-point games: "I'm sure most of those guys scoring those points were guards, guys who've always got the ball. When you've always got the ball, you've always got the green light and always got the freedom and you can do whatever you want to do, shoot 20 times, shoot 40 times, shoot 50 times. Great feeling."
The foreign press was eager to know how O'Neal felt facing West center Yao Ming, although no one could recall whether this was the first or second time.
Said O'Neal: "I'm very excited to go out there and play for the second or first time against Yao Ming."
Andre Iguodala got an early start on showing off his slam dunks as he scored 30 points, leading the sophomores over the rookies, 106-96, in the Rookie Challenge on Friday night at Houston.
The Philadelphia swingman is one of the four players in tonight's slam dunk contest, and he had a chance to show his leaping skills Friday.
All three of his first-half field goals were dunks, then he helped the sophomores break open the game early in the second half with a few more, which helped him earn most valuable player honors.
Rocket guard Luther Head and Toronto's Charlie Villanueva each scored 18 points for the rookies, who were seven for 26 (27%) from three-point range.
\o7The Associated Press contributed to this report.