Spencer Haywood was a star on the court and an even bigger one off it.
That will be recognized Monday by the Basketball Hall of Fame, when Haywood is announced for enshrinement.
Al Ross, Haywood's agent in the early 1970s when he sued the NBA and won the right by the Supreme Court to enter as an underclassmen out of college, confirmed Haywood's election on Friday to FOX Sports Florida. The forward will be enshrined Sept. 8 in Springfield, Mass.
"It's one of the most important things ever (in NBA history),'' Ross said of Haywood's case. "It opened the door for all these superstars like Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson to enter the NBA.''
Haywood had left the University of Detroit after one season to join the ABA's Denver Rockets in 1969, a time when the NBA did not allow players to compete who had not fulfilled four years of college. Haywood tried to enter the NBA with the Seattle SuperSonics in 1970, but was initially barred. He was able to play, though, under a court injunction.
It was decided on March 1, 1971, by a 7-2 vote by the Supreme Court that Haywood was eligible to play. That has paved the way for countless stars to enter the NBA before their college eligibility expired.
The attorney representing the NBA in the Haywood case was David Stern. He later became NBA Commissioner and will leave office next February.
"Isn't that ironic?'' Ross said of Haywood getting into the Hall of Fame in the last class in which Stern is the commissioner.
Haywood had been an instant star when he joined the Rockets, winning ABA MVP and Rookie of the Year honors while averaging 30.0 points and 19.5 rebounds. Haywood continued his success in the NBA, being named to four All-Star Games. In an NBA career that spanned from 1970-80 and 1981-83 with the SuperSonics, New York Knicks, New Orleans Jazz, Los Angeles Lakers and Washington Bullets, Haywood averaged 19.2 points and 9.3 rebounds.
Haywood also was an Olympic star. Coming right out of high school in Detroit, he was the leading scorer as Team USA won the gold medal in 1968.
"They couldn't keep him out anymore,'' Ross said of Haywood finally entering the Hall of Fame. "He's really excited.''
Haywood could not be reached Friday. He is in Atlanta, site of the Final Four, where he will be formally introduced Monday at a Hall of Fame press conference.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @christomasson