Recently retired San Diego State basketball coach Steve Fisher is eligible for selection to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, the Springfield, Massachusetts, organization announced Thursday.
Fisher, who retired after the 2016-17 basketball season, is one of three coaches to become eligible for the first time, along with still-active Bob Huggins of West Virginia and Willie West, who coached for decades and turned out numerous stars at Crenshaw High School in Los Angeles.
Fisher went from little-known assistant to household name in a matter of a couple of weeks when he led Michigan to the 1989 national championship, taking over the team when then-head coach Bill Frieder was fired after announcing he planned to leave for Arizona State.
Later, he and assistant Brian Dutcher recruited the famed “Fab 5” class that took the Wolverines to a pair of national championship contests. One of the Fab 5 members, Chris Webber, is also a hall candidate.
Fisher and Dutcher took over a moribund San Diego State program in 1999 and produced an 18-year record of 386-209, eight NCAA tournament appearances that included two Sweet 16s, and five NIT appearances that resulted in a pair of trips to Madison Square Garden in New York for the semifinals.
Steve Fisher…always great interview …blunt honest…Can you say Hall of Fame Coach
— Lee Hacksaw Hamilton (@hacksaw1090) March 8, 2012
Jalen Rose: Steve Fisher would be in the Hall of Fame were it not for one man. https://t.co/F2PAureI8k
— Dana O’Neil (@DanaONeilWriter) April 12, 2017
Former Michigan star Jalen Rose told ESPN in April that his old coach “absolutely deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, and if it doesn’t happen, it goes back to where he was implicated in something he was not guilty of.”
Rose, now an ESPN analyst, was referring to Fisher’s Michigan firing in the wake of a scandal involving players getting more than $600,000 from Ed Martin, a longtime booster and bookmaker.
“[Teammate] Chris Webber didn’t own what he did and still hasn’t apologized, and there’s been a lot of collateral damage because of that, the number one person [hurt] being Steve Fisher.
“He wasn’t the person who lied to the grand jury. He’s not the person not choosing to apologize or reconcile any of that. Yet what he accomplished doesn’t get recognized.”
Dutcher succeeded Fisher after last season.
Star players eligible for the first time include Ray Allen, Grant Hill, Jason Kidd and Steve Nash.
Finalists will be announced during NBA All-Star Weekend on Feb. 17 in Los Angeles. Induction is scheduled for September.
— City News Service contributed to this report.