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McHale Goes to the Hall of Fame
By Michael Khoo
June 24, 1999
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Minnesotan Kevin McHale will soon be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. The Hibbing native led all vote-getters in the class of inductees announced yesterday. McHale was a star player for the Gophers before spending 12 years with the Boston Celtics. Though McHale now seems an obvious choice for the hall, no one - not even the lanky Iron Ranger himself - seems to have considered him destined for the honor.

Kevin McHale's trademark now is his bottle of water. He met the media at Target Center Wednesday.
Photo: Michael Khoo
DURING HIS YEARS WITH THE BOSTON CELTICS, Kevin McHale helped form, along with Larry Bird and Robert Parrish, what many consider the greatest front line in the history of basketball. He helped lead the team to three NBA titles and was part of seven All-Star teams. McHale says his induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame is a great honor, but he never thought of his time on the court as work.
McHale: It was so much fun to me, and I had so much fun playing. And to get an honor for something you had so much fun doing, sometimes doesn't feel right. It's like, you know, I don't deserve it because I just enjoyed doing it. I always played basketball because I loved to play. I retired from basketball when I didn't enjoy playing anymore because the injuries and everything else had stolen the fun. And then it was time to go.
McHale didn't go very far from the game. Today, he is the vice-president of basketball operations for the Minnesota Timberwolves. Steve Bulpett is a sports reporter for the Boston Herald and covered McHale during his Celtics career. Bulpett remembers McHale for his obvious talent and, more importantly, because he says McHale always kept basketball in perspective.
Bulpett: Kevin McHale treated the NBA as if it were, you know, like a fraternity basketball game. He would give his heart and soul for the frat, but he realized that he had a life; that there were other things that were more important than basketball. And, you know, I think that kind of rubbed some people strange some times. But, you know, the heck with them.
McHale's easy-going nature isn't news to Gary Addington. Addington coached McHale during his last two years at Hibbing High School. The team made it to the state tournament both years. Addington, who is now the activities director for the Rochester Public Schools, says McHale earned his later success all on his own.
Addington: Kevin's physical ability, together with his personality and his loyalty to his teammates and just his attitude and his approach to the game, are what made him the player he was. I can't take credit for any of those things. He's just a great person and a great player.
Milt Verant also knew the young Kevin McHale. Verant is the athletic director at Hibbing High and was also McHale's math teacher.
Verant: He was very gangly as a ninth-grader and wasn't too well coordinated at that time, and was just starting to, you know, feel his own muscles and get his basketball game going as a ninth-grader. And then he progressed considerably as a tenth-grader. But, you know, at the time I watched him play and I didn't think, you know, I thought he's a good basketball player, but you never realize, you know, how good.
McHale says he didn't realize his own potential at the time. During his high school days, he says he had more immediate concerns than a future NBA career.
McHale: I never sat in my driveway and shot for hours thinking I'm going to be in the Hall of Fame. I mean, I sat in my driveway for hours thinking I might be able to beat Virginia, Chisholm, or Buhl in a game, you know?
McHale will be formally inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in October.