What does it require for a player to be inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame? This is a topic that I haven't really seen discussed all that much (except maybe the occasional 'shit-post' on reddit), but the 2017 ballot was announced earlier this week and I just felt compelled to start the conversation. What really makes you Hall of Fame worthy? What criteria must be check-listed to give you the open doorway into basketball immortality?
Let's dive into this head first and get right down to it. My critique is directed more towards the player side than coaches, etc. What is the actual standard for who gets elected into the HOF? It seems for some it takes a career-worth of credentials, and in some cases purely the players stats get them the nod. Sometimes it is weighed on how much of an impact they made for their team/city, the measure of success, whether they won a championship, or how many awards and all-star selections they garnered. I believe the criteria of what makes a hall of famer has been somewhat inconsistent and needs to be put under the microscope to find a certain standard to adhere to moving forward. As a basketball fan, I would like to see some consistency of prestige here. Tracy McGrady was one of the many people selected for this upcoming Hall of Fame induction and we all know T-Mac was a really good player and one of the most likeable guys of his generation. He was selected for 7 straight all-star appearances and All-NBA teams during the prime of his career averaging 26.9ppg, 6.6rpg, 5.4apg during that span (2001-07).
Sure, T-Mac was an incredibly fun player to watch, but are these short list of credentials really Hall of Fame worthy?
There is a fine line between the “Hall of Fame” and the "Hall of Really Good”. Not to mention, that during his prime years, where he was the main star on his team, he did not win ONE single playoff series. Again, this is not a knock against McGrady, it is a knock against the league and Hall of Fame standard that has no real levels to it. To me it takes some of the weight away from what it means to be a Hall of Famer, especially for some of the all time greats that deserve to be in a class of their own like Chamberlain, Russell, Abdul-jabbar, Magic, Bird, Jordan, Olajuwon etc.
Some of the names you see when scrolling through the HOF has me mind-blown at how players such as Terrell Owens hasn't made the HOF for Football, although they do have a higher standard than the NBA in this regard, other players not as good as Owens have made it…. but anyway, back to the NBA. You take a look at Tracy McGrady and see his body of work then take a player such as Dwight Howard and compare, but before you compare if you had a poll made on social media who they liked more/thought was better of these two players, I’m willing to bet that T-Mac would win in a landslide. Now compare what you know of Tracy’s career then look at Dwight. He is still in the league currently, is an 8 x all-star and named in 5 x All-NBA first teams (already more than McGrady had). He also has 3 Defensive Player of the Year awards, 5 all defensive teams awards, 04-05 all rookie team, on 17.5ppg, 12.7rpg, 1.5apg, & 2 blocks.
Still I have heard lots of talk that this doesn't get you in the Hall of Fame. How??? But McGrady is first ballot? Is it because people have some personal thing against Howard? Because they think he is a locker room cancer? Because he didn't have a ring? This again brings up the Terrell Owens point, that he is having the same reasons….or excuses rather, used on him as to why he's yet to be inducted.
Looking deeper into this I found some players that aren't in the Hall of Fame that I think might be better than or compare to Tracy, some may disagree but then again it's just my opinion. One name that comes to mind is Chris Webber, “In 15 NBA seasons, Webber averaged 20.7 points, 9.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.4 blocks” on 5 all star & all NBA selections, 93-94 Rookie of the Year, and made it to a conference finals where he was beat out by the team that went on to win their 3rd straight title in the LA Lakers. Webber was a dynamic player scoring the ball and was a monster on the boards who also had a great college career to go along with his solid NBA resume.
Another guy would be Sidney Moncrief, who was a 5x all-star, 5x all NBA, 5x all defense, and a 2x Defensive Player of the Year. Injuries, much like McGrady & Webber plagued a shorter than expected career and prime for them all. “In 11 seasons, Moncrief averaged 15.6 points, 4.7 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.2 steals.”
IF the league is going to stay this hit or miss. I just feel as if the standards to get in are too low. In my opinion, you should be if not borderline legendary, to be a Hall of Famer. When most think “Hall of Fame”, they don't think of guys who were just really good and fun to watch for a handful of years or a little more. You think of guys who LIVE on the all star stage and all NBA teams. top scorers, assist & rebound leaders all time, how many championships they won, how you changed the game if you changed it, and longevity. Maybe it will change, maybe it won't, to me it will all depend on if the players speak up on it will be the only way and adjustment is made to the process.