Richmond Olympian to be inducted into Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame

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Richmond Olympian to be inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame
USA 1976 Women's Olympic Basketball Team. (Photo courtesy of USA Basketball)

By Kathy Chouteau

Richmond resident Mary Anne O’Connor will be inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame—along with her teammates from the U.S.A.’s 1976 Women’s Olympic Basketball Team—on August 12. Together, the team will be members of the class of 2023.

O’Connor and the team won a Silver Medal in the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, which was the first time women’s basketball occurred as an Olympic sport. The team’s trailblazing achievement occurred 20 years before the WNBA was founded.

The Point Richmond resident said “it’s just amazing” to be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, adding, “I mean, we’re from 1976!” She reflected that, after the Olympics, some of her teammates kept playing, as she did, and others transitioned into coaching. “People talked about us like we jump-started women’s team sports in the United States…we were kind of the ambassadors of basketball in a way.”

The Silver Medalist is looking forward to seeing her teammates again at the August event. “We haven’t seen our teammates altogether since ’97,” O’Connor said, noting that some members, like their coach, Billie Moore, have passed away.

Prior to the Olympics, O’Connor attended and graduated from Southern Connecticut State University—where, as a freshman, she was selected for the varsity basketball team, according to info provided by Ada Harrigan, O’Connor’s wife. She made the US National Team in 1974 and 1975, which eventually led to her competing in the Olympics in 1976.

She and her teammates competed against other teams only three weeks before the Olympics, and they earned their spot. Regarding the Olympics, O’Connor said that “the favorite was the USSR—they had such a good team” and eventually won gold. She said “We were so excited we won the silver because it was a round-robin tournament [with] only six teams, not like they have now…Our last game was against Czechoslovakia, and we either won and got Silver, or we lost and got nothing.”

O’Connor said winning Silver in the Olympics was “a dream come true.” Later adding, “And my parents were at the games along with my 85-year-old grandmother.”

These days, O’Connor is retired from basketball, but is a big fan of the Golden State Warriors. “I love the way they play, with the synchronicity they have on offense and defense…when it’s working on the same page,” she said. She added that she also follows Stanford and Cal basketball.

Aside from living in Point Richmond, O’Connor runs an IT and operations consulting firm there too: O’Connor and Harrigan Associates, LLC.

John L. Doleva, president and CEO of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, said that “The Naismith Hall of Fame Class of 2023 is remarkable and truly embodies the breadth and impact of the global game today.” He added that “The ultimate achievement of a storied career is enshrinement in the Naismith Hall, and this class punctuates and defines what it means to be a Hall of Famer.”

The Class of 2023 will be enshrined during festivities in Springfield, MA and Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, CT on Aug. 11-12. The Aug. 12 enshrinement will be broadcast live on NBC. Learn more here. Those wanting to learn more about the 1976 Women’s Olympic Basketball Team can check out their inclusion in the book, Inaugural Ballers, by Andrew Maraniss.