-- James Worthy and Robert Parish squared off in the classic Lakers-Celtics NBA Finals of the 1980s. Now they could enter the Basketball Hall of Fame side by side.

Worthy and Parish were among 21 finalists announced today, the largest group ever by the North American screening committee, which considers the men's college and pro game. At least 18 votes from the 24-member honors committee are needed to be a finalist.

This September's inductees will be announced April 7 during the NCAA Final Four in New Orleans.

Worthy, one of the game's great fast-break finishers, led North Carolina to the NCAA title in 1982 and helped boost Los Angeles to three NBA championships (1985, 1987, 1988). He is one of seven Lakers to have his number retired.

Parish holds the NBA record for most seasons (21) and most games (1,611) and helped lead Boston to NBA titles in 1981, 1984 and 1986. He holds the NBA record for defensive rebounds (10,117) and scored 23,334 points during a career that included stints with Golden State, Charlotte and Chicago as well as 14 seasons with the Celtics.

Parish's Celtics and Worthy's Lakers met in the NBA Finals in 1984, 1985 and 1987. The Lakers won in 1985 and 1987.

Also proposed as players were the late Gus Johnson, a crashing rebounder for the Baltimore Bullets; Philadelphia 76ers guard Maurice Cheeks; Celtics defensive specialist Dennis Johnson; scoring star Adrian Dantley; North Carolina defensive ace Bobby Jones; seven-time all-star Chet Walker; and Phoenix scoring star Walter Davis.

Five coaches were named as finalists: Guy Lewis, who compiled a 592-279 record during his 30 years at Houston; Norm Stewart, with a 634-333 record in 32 years at Missouri; Eddie Sutton, who has amassed a 702-278 record in 32 years of coaching at Creighton, Arkansas, Kentucky and Oklahoma State; Lefty Driesell, who compiled a 786-394 record during a 41-year career at Davidson, Maryland, James Madison and Georgia State; and Bill Sharman, who was enshrined as a player in 1976.

Proposed as contributors were Harlem Globetrotters star Meadowlark Lemon; Phoenix Suns Chairman Jerry Colangelo, instrumental in creating the WNBA; former Duke coach Vic Bubas, who pushed expanding the NCAA tournament field to 64 teams; Tex Winter, now with the Lakers, who is in his 54th season of coaching at the major college or professional level; the late Junius Kellogg, who founded the National Wheelchair Basketball Association, and the late Chick Hearn, who broadcast 3,338 consecutive games for the Lakers.

College official Hank Nichols was proposed as a referee.