spencer hayoodThe National Basketball Association Legends: Detroit Chapter will honor NBA great Spencer Haywood and commemorate the 45th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court case — Haywood v. National Basketball Association — that forever altered professional basketball.

”A Tribute for Spencer Haywood … The Trailblazer” takes place on Thursday, Jan. 28, at 5:30 p.m. at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, 315 East Warren Avenue in Midtown Detroit’s Cultural Center.

Haywood made history when the Supreme Court ruled that he could enter the NBA as a “hardship case” prior to college graduation. Until then, the NBA had prohibited the drafting or signing of a player before his college class graduated.

“I first met Spencer when he was a high school player at Pershing, and it was obvious to me that he had the ability and skills to become an NBA player,” said former Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, an inaugural member of NBA Legends: Detroit Chapter. “At the age of 19, he made the decision to enter professional basketball based on financial need. Due to his stance, other talented players were able to enter the NBA without four years of college eligibility.”

In addition to Bing and Haywood, NBA Legends: Detroit Chapter President Derrick Coleman and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inductee George Gervin will make remarks during the event’s program. Several former NBA players will attend, including Jalen Rose, Greg Kelser, Rick Mahorn, John Long, Earl Cureton, Lindsey Hunter, Willie Norwood, and Willie Burton.

Tickets for the tribute are $50 and can be purchased on Eventbrite or by calling the Wright Museum at (313) 494-5800. The event takes place just one day before Haywood’s jersey is retired at the University of Detroit Mercy, where he attended from 1968-69 and led the nation in rebounding.

The NBA Legends: Detroit Chapter is active in the community. The group’s activities include facilitating food drives during the holidays and visiting ill children in the hospital in partnership with NBA Cares.

“We are honored to host an evening to celebrate “Mr. Hardship,” the man who paved the way for so many young players, and gave them the opportunity to be able to pursue their dreams at a young age,” said Coleman. “We look forward to paying tribute to more legends, as this is the first of what we hope to become a signature event for our organization.”

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