Guy V. Lewis is once again a finalist for induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and it's time the voters got it right.
The iconic University of Houston Cougars coach should have made his way to Springfield, Mass. a long time ago. In his 30 seasons on the sidelines, his teams won 592 games, went to the NCAA Tournament 14 times, made five trips to the Final Four and played in back-to-back championship games in 1983 and 1984.
Lewis was an innovator, too. In 1968, there had never been a nationally televised regular season college basketball game — until the Cougars took on top-ranked UCLA and pulled off a stunning upset.
Oh, yeah, and to make the game even bigger, it was played in the Astrodome. Again, that was a first.
Back in the early 1980s, the dunk was certainly not unknown, as old YouTube videos of the ABA will attest, but that was the pros. The college game was still fairly staid. Most teams had one, or maybe two, players that could slam it home.
And then there was the University of Houston's Phi Slama Jama, where everybody played above the rim. Every time the Cougars got the ball on a fast break, you absolutely, positively knew the other team was going to be completely demoralized at the end.
Lewis was behind all of that. He encouraged his players to dunk because it was a high-percentage shot that rarely went astray. Other coaches soon followed suit and basketball hasn't been the same since.
Getting into the Hall of Fame will not be easy. There are 24 members on the Honors Committee and the nominees need to get 18 yes votes for induction.
The 12 finalists do not compete against each other, because committee members can vote for as many people as they want, but this year's slate is especially tough. The coach nominees alone include Lewis, Tom Heinsohn, Rick Pitino and Jerry Tarkanian.
Lewis is 90 years old and he won't have many more opportunities to get into the Hall of Fame, but that is not the reason he should be inducted this year. The reason he should get the call is because basketball finally needs to get around to showing how grateful it is for his contributions to the game.