The second greatest accomplishment in the career of a professional basketball player is to be inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame (1). Every kid that plays basketball dreams about being enshrined with the greats such as Bird, Russ, Magic, Michael, and the list goes on. With that being said, the Hall of Fame is the place where the greatest of the great can and do exist forever. Time cannot wipe away the memories of the legends that reside in the Hall. Furthermore, I don’t need to express the magnitude of importance and pride that goes along with being a member of the Hall. There is truly nothing that compares (2). Many players know this. In fact, way too many players know this.
My biggest beef with the Hall of Fame is their level of selectivity. Everyone gets in anymore. Everyone. For example Chet Walker. You may be asking yourself, who is Chet Walker? To put it in perspective, Chet “the Jet” retired 17 years before I was born, and at the time was 52 years old. The rules for the Hall of Fame say that a player has to be five years removed from playing his last game in the league to be eligible for the Hall. When was the Jet’s last game you may ask? May 14, 1975. Again, how many years do you have to be out of the league for the Hall? FIVE (3). How many was Chet? Almost thirty-seven. Did he get better over the past thirty years, or did he merely get in because there was finally an open spot in a weak Hall of Fame class? (Yes, there is a right and wrong answer).
What about Ralph Sampson? He and Hakeem were supposed to be the Twin Towers. In reality, they were more like Shaq and C-Webb than they were Robinson and Duncan (4). Sampson is getting into the Hall based on potential and not much else. The ’84 season was arguably the best of his career (5). While stats don’t tell the whole story a lot of times, Ralph was in the top five in four statistical categories that year: turnovers, blocks, personal fouls, and rebounds. However, he did enough to earn the Rookie of the Year in ’84 and the All-Star MVP in ’85, but that’s about it. His career was on the downturn from that point, riddled with injuries. My favorite part of Sampson’s career is the trendy fad that he subliminally started. Sampson was the first player (that comes to my mind anyway) to sign with the Bullets at the end of an above average career shortly before retiring. This trick has been repeated by others who have felt the need to end their career with somewhat of a Bullet/Wizard flare, including the likes of Bernard King, Charles Oakley, and most famously, Michael Jordan. The true legacy of Ralph Sampson ladies and gentlemen.
Easily the best ex-player in the class, Reggie Miller is still a second-ballot selection. If this HOF class were a band, Reggie would be the clear-cut lead singer. The only problem is that the band’s name is Creed (or Nickelback, pick your poison). Reggie is most known for his trash-talking, flopping, and clutch shooting. Two of those things don’t have to do with skill. Despite being one of the most popular players in the 90s, Reggie was one of the most overrated players in the history of the game (6). Ask somebody on the street who they think the top five shooting guards of all-time are, and I’ll guarantee that 76-93% will include Reggie Miller in their list (7). He only averaged above 20 points for six of his eighteen seasons in the league, nor did he ever lead the league in 3pt% (what he was “best” at). He turned it on in the playoffs, but never won a championship, even given the blessing of two years without MJ in the mid-90s. To top it all off, he was an all-star five times in his career that, again, lasted eighteen years. Regardless, he’s the one that probably deserves to be in the Hall the most, but he’s still not even close to being a perfect candidate. It may seem like I’m ripping these guys to shreds, but in all honesty, they were all really good basketball players. I’m just judging them as HOF inductees in a class that probably shouldn’t have any players in it to begin with (8).
(1) No Charles Barkley, getting head isn’t number one.
(2) …is what I’ve heard. Clearly I wouldn’t know, myself.
(3) Inside joke with my friends that will definitely be a recurring thing. 5 is our number, and will oftly be written as FIVE. I’m not shouting it, just maintaining a not-so-inside-anymore-joke.
(4) You may be wondering “I thought Shaq and C-Webb never played together”. You’re right.
(5) It was also his rookie season, which implies that he never got better during his time in the NBA.
(6) I almost wrote ‘in my opinion’, but, since it’s my blog, naturally it’s all ‘in my opinion’.
(7) The only way he smells the scent of my top five is if you literally define the position as a ‘shooting’ guard. Then he would be in at the fourth spot, behind Allen, English, and Gervin. Reggie was good, but I’m a sucker for the smooth guys, and I’m man enough to admit it.
(8) Ending sentences/posts with prepositions is where it’s at.