Although the familiar names of the 2007 Basketball Hall of Fame inductees are Phil Jackson and Roy Williams, here at AO we'd like to focus our congratulations in the direction of Mendy Rudolph. I am much to young to remember Rudolph or even recognize his name. So I decided to do a little research. What I found was very interesting...
Mendy (1926-1979), a Philadelphia native and known to many as the pioneer of officiating in the NBA, is best known for officiating over 2,100 NBA games in his career. Just to put that in perspective, the ancient one Dick Bavetta just recently eclipsed the 2,100 game mark (2,134 as of Feb 8, 2007). Officiating was in Mendy's blood as his father Harry was also a basketball referee and a baseball umpire in nearby Wilkes Barre. Mendy positioned the number 5 on the back of his jersey and to this day no NBA official has ever worn that number during an NBA game. Back in 1975, he became the first referee to hit the 2,000 game plateau. He worked in 8 NBA All-Star games, and for 22 seasons in a row, he appeared in at least 1 game during the NBA finals. He first began officiating along side his father in the Eastern League back in the 1940's. According to cbahoopsonline.com Mendy helped keep the peace in the Eastern League where fistfights between opponents was not uncommon. I'm sure Ron Artest, Latrell Spreewell and Carmello Anthony wish they could have somehow been apart of that league. That would have surely resulted in fewer suspensions for them.
Mendy was known as a heavy gambler. According to his wife, he was once in debt to a Las Vegas gambler who made him an offer. Shave points during games and I'll erase your debt. Mendy said the following, "It goes against all my principles. I love the game too much, respect it too much. I couldn't do it to you. I couldn't do it to the memory of my father, and I couldn't do it to myself. If I have to go into bankruptcy, something I'd hate to do, I'd do it." Hmmm, if only Pete Rose would have had the same philosophy.
Long time friend and colleague Earl Strom has been trying to get Mendy nominated and elected into the Hall of Fame for sometime now - and thankfully his work has finally paid off. On April 2, 2007 Mendy Rudolph became the 12th official to be elected into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
During the 1979-1980 basketball season, all NBA officials wore a number 5 patch on their sleeve to honor Mendy.
Congralutions Mendy, this achievement is well deserved and long overdue.
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