This afternoon, NBA TV will be announcing this year’s Hall of Fame inductees. Before they get a chance to do that, I sat down with the staff at Fansided and talked about this year’s most deserving candidates. Today’s roundtable features Brad Rowland, Reece Hooker, Ben Beecken and myself.
1. Is Gary Payton a lock for the first ballot?
Seerat: I won’t say lock, solely because stranger things have happened in the Hall of Fame voting process than the idea of the Glove not getting in right away. However, if I had a vote, he’d definitely get mine. Payton, unlike any other elite point guard in the history of the league, could shut down any transition player in the game. Including Michael Jordan. Don’t believe me? Watch the 1996 NBA Finals. For the first time ever, I noticed that his Airness was actually visibly frustrated by a perimeter defender. Sure, the Bulls would still go on to win the series, but when it comes to facing up against MJ, there isn’t a greater moral victory than even temporarily slowing him down.
Ben: A lock? I hesitate to use the word “lock”, but there’s no question he should get in this year. Certainly a top-40 player in NBA history, his Sonics were perennial contenders in the 1990′s in large part due to Payton’s stellar defense and steady offensive proficiency. Here’s
hoping that the RINGZ crowd will resist staging a protest, as Payton only lead Seattle to the NBA Finals once and the Western Conference Finals one other time before winning a title with the Miami Heat and Dwyane Wade in 2006. Verdict: yes, he will get in this year. I just hesitate to call him a “lock”.
2. What about Jerry Reinsdorf?
Seerat: Here’s the thing with Jerry: He’s either overrated or underrated, depending on who you’re talking to. If we’ve learned anything from the Lebron/Dan Gilbert/comic-sans era, it’s that being gifted with the best player in the league doesn’t mean anything if you can’t surround him with the right talent. Let me start by saying this: Scottie Pippen was not an easy find. The Bulls may have lucked out considering how great really turned out, but the ownership had been tracking him for an entire season. Their sole reason for trading up in the 1987 NBA Draft was to grab Pippen. In fact, the only reason he was drafted so high was because he wowed teams in his workouts. The Bulls though, had known about him for far longer. Horace Grant, and notable role-player’s such as B.J. Armstrong were all acquired through the draft.
Aside from that, the ownership always surrounded the duo with the right guys. Signing role players like Paxson, Cartwright and Kerr played a definite role in the team’s championship runs.
Fast-forward ten years: they drafted Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and Luol Deng, the team’s foundation. As a Bulls fan, I’m no fan of Jerry Reinsdorf penny-pinching his way away from the luxury tax, but I can’t deny that he deserves to be enshrined in Springfield. Anyways, I’ll show myself out of this question before you all start questioning me about why I know so much about the history of a dynasty that was conceived before I was born.
Ben: Reinsdorf might get into the Hall this year, but I would not vote for him. Yes, the Bulls continue to be a profit machine and Reinsdorf oversaw Jordan’s Bulls and six championships in the 1990′s, but let’s not pretend that Reinsdorf had much more responsibility than signing the checks when it came to the Bulls’ roster. His handling of the talent on the roster and coach Phil Jackson was iffy at best when the Bulls neared the end of their run of titles, and there seems to be little argument for his induction outside of the Jordan/Pippen championships. Verdict: a coin-flip. I’m not sure I have a good handle on his legacy with the committee and voters, but he may get in simply because he was the owner of one of the NBA’s great dynasties.
3. What about everyone else? Who’s in and who’s out?
Seerat: Upon a first glance, the name’s Vlade Divac, Bernard King and Mitch Richmond stand out. Let’s not mince words here: Divac belongs in the Hall of Fame. If his NBA career, which is outstanding on its own, isn’t enough to get him in then his international resume should push him off the ledge. Remember, it’s the basketball Hall of Fame… not the NBA Hall of Fame. And like, he was flopping before it was cool, so that counts for some points too. Originally nominated in 2004, Bernard King has yet to find his way into the hall. I can’t say that I think something will change the voters mind this year, although I wish they would. As far as Mitch Richmond goes, he’s probably going to have to wait another year.
Ben: Bernard King remains on the ballot and may still get into the Hall. Vlade Divac is on the ballot for the first time, and he should absolutely be inducted, and maybe even this year. His impact in beginning a steady of stream of European players that have entered the NBA cannot be overstated. Tim Hardaway also has a shot to make it this year, but it’s hard to see him making it before King. Referee Dick Bavetta stands a chance, simply because he’s officiated the most games of anyone in history, but there seems to be enough mystery and suspicion surrounding portions of his career that I would stay away from voting for him. Overall, it’s a tough class to pin down a ton of names from, and I would only confidently stick with Payton and Divac on my ballot.
Reece: Aside from Payton, I think it’s due time for New York’s own Bernand King and the late, great Vlade Divac to get recognized Mitch Richmond probably deserves a call up too, earning a ton of accolades throughout his career including an Olympic gold medal, NBA title, Rookie of the Year and six All-Star appearances. Mendy Rudolph was picked in 2007, and Bavetta has eclipsed his record for games officiated and incredibly has not missed an assignment game in 38 years. Steve Nash was a one year old. Let that sink it.