Passionate Vitale headlines 2008 class

Associated Press
Dick Vitale: Despite limited success as a coach, Vitale was elected to the Hall of Fame for his impact as a college analyst.

SAN ANTONIO --- Broadcaster Dick Vitale, a man who had limited success as a coach but brought the game of basketball to millions of TV viewers, was selected to the game's Hall of Fame on Monday alongside Pat Riley, one of the most successful NBA coaches of all time.


Overcome with emotion, Vitale broke into tears during the announcement in San Antonio, site of the NCAA Men's Final Four.

"I can't run, can't jump, can't shoot, but just have had a tremendous -- I'd like to think -- passion about the game," said Vitale, who had a short stint as an NBA coach in the late 1970s but made his name as a college basketball analyst.

Others in the Class of 2008 were Hakeem Olajuwon and Patrick Ewing, two greats who battled on the court for years; player Adrian Dantley; coach Cathy Rush; and William Davidson, owner of the Detroit Pistons since 1974.

Riley, the third-winningest NBA coach ever, called his election "unbelievable, absolutely unbelievable."

Riley won four NBA titles with the Lakers, then grabbed another two years ago with the Heat. He also has one title as an assistant and another as a player.

The new class, which Riley joked will be the best-promoted because of Vitale's inclusion, will be inducted Sept. 5 in Springfield, Mass., home of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Olajuwon and Ewing both played in three Final Fours, with Ewing's Georgetown team beating Olajuwon's Houston squad for the 1984 national championship. Olajuwon won two NBA titles in a row with the Houston Rockets.

Dantley, a six-time NBA All-Star, played for seven teams during his 15-year NBA career.

"It happened," said Dantley, who was a finalist six times before being elected. "It took a long time, but it happened."

Rush led Immaculata University to three consecutive AIAW national titles from 1972 to 1974, won 149 games , and lost just 15 -- a .908 winning percentage.