Which NBA vets deserve enshrinement in Springfield?
The Hall of Fame
is set to announce its Class of 2007 on Monday. To mark the occasion, we thought it would be fun to predict which of today's current players will soon be joining the enshrinees in Springfield, Mass.
The only caveat
is that we're only going to consider players who are in their ninth season or more. Sorry, LeBron and D-Wade
, but you'll have to wait. For now we want to just analyze those players who have a long and proven track record in the NBA.
Keep in mind, the Basketball Hall of Fame
is a very exclusive club
. It is not like the baseball Hall, which seems to allow in every pitcher who manages to hang around 15 seasons. In basketball, you're lucky if one or two guys make it in a given year. In fact, over the past five years there have been only seven players inducted (not counting veteran's committee selections): Charles Barkley, Joe Dumars, Dominique Wilkins, Clyde Drexler, Robert Parish, James Worthy and Magic Johnson.
Also, this is by nature a subjective exercise. We happen to prefer players who leave a mark on the game more than those who pile up big stats. You might have a different view, and that's OK. But here's a note that might be of interest: Every past MVP has made it to the Hall (which is good news for Kevin Garnett).
No-brainers: These guys are in
- Ranks with Chamberlain, Russell and Abdul-Jabbar on the list of all-time greatest pivots; has four NBA rings and an MVP.
- One of the greatest power forwards ever to play; three NBA titles and two MVPs make him a first-ballot shoo-in.
- The best scorer under 6-foot-5 ever to play the game; owns the third-highest scoring average of all time.
- One of the greatest scorers ever, but also a fierce competitor and three-time NBA champ.
- The NBA's Ernie Banks; even if he never wins a ring, the '04 MVP deserves it for all-around excellence and love of the game.
- The only player under 6-5 to win two MVPs. Plus, he's Canada's biggest contribution to basketball since Naismith.
Probably in, but have to think about it
- One of the all-time best point guards, and the most creative passer of his era; played the game at both ends, and made it to two NBA Finals with Nets.
- One of the game's top defenders; was also a 20-point scorer who led Sonics to the NBA Finals, and won a ring as backup with Heat in '06.
- Maybe the best European player ever, the 7-foot German has established himself as one of the top scorers of his era. But if his Mavs blow it again, all bets are off.
- Eight-time All-Star and one of the all-time best dunkers, but has never won anything and had a messy departure from Toronto.
- Seven-time All-Star and owner of one of the all-time prettiest jump shots, but has never led his team past the conference semifinals.
May go down as the greatest scorer in Celtics history, but has none of the playoff success associated with Boston's glorious tradition.
- One of the premier scorers of his era, but he too lacks postseason validation. His next playoff series triumph will be his first.
- Four-time Defensive Player of the Year and anchor of the Pistons' 2004 championship. But should he get in if he only played at one end?
- Unlike Wallace, he has a 10-point scoring average to go with his four Defensive Player of Year trophies. But he doesn't have the ring.
Early Hall potential has since faded away
- The former Duke standout was well on his way before a foot injury derailed his career. Too bad, because he is also one of the game's all-time gentlemen.
- A few years ago I thought he should get in, but I've changed my mind. Now I think he'll be remembered more for his courageous comeback from kidney disease than his fierce defense and shot-blocking. And that's not a bad thing.
- Like Hill and Mourning, he had a chance before suffering a devastating injury (knee). At least he's regaining a measure of pride in Detroit.
As for everyone else ...
... you had your moments and you made a nice chunk of change. But sorry, Chauncey Billups, Mike Bibby, Rashard Lewis, Jermaine O'Neal, Stephon Marbury, Michael Finley, Robert Horry, Sam Cassell et al. -- you'll need to buy a ticket for this Hall of Fame.