Wednesday, June 5, 2002
Updated: June 6, 1:48 PM ET
Ex-hoopsters who should be in Hall
From the Page 2 mailbag
Earlier this week, Page 2 listed our top 10 former pro basketball players not in the Hall, and we asked you to send us your choices.
After going through nearly 200 e-mails, here is how Page 2 readers ranked their picks. Be sure to vote in the poll at right to crown the No. 1 former pro baller not in the Hall.
1. Bernard King (27 letters)
The man is legend. Recall the '83 playoffs against the Pistons? The man played with two dislocations and the flu and still dropped forty as the Knicks upset Detroit in Round 1. Additionally, the guy rips his knee to shreds only to come back (in his mid 30s no less) and become an All-Star with the Bullets. Bottom line, he was unique, had tremendous heart, leadership, and role model characteristics for all to admire. Lastly who can forget his role in one the more underrated basketball comedies of all-time, "FastBreak".
Despite being perhaps the most one-dimensional player this side of Dominique Wilkins, there haven't been many players in history who could light it up like the King. His scoring stats speak for themselves, and he deserves to be in the Hall.
2. Dennis Johnson (23 letters)
I hate the Celtics. I drove in Boston once and one rotary was
enough to make me eternally despise all things New England. All
things, that is, except Dennis Johnson. While Kevin McHale mugged
people down low, Larry Bird practiced his career-long imitation
of Rick Barry, and Danny Ainge played basketball as well as any
other Blue Jay, Dennis Johnson played defense.
The Hall's lack of Dennis
Johnson ranks as one more example of non-white Boston athletes screwed by their sports. Rather than whining about Phil Jackson, Red Auerbach should join Page 2 and
recognize that Dennis Johnson belongs in the Hall.
Las Cruces, N.M.
If I may quote Basketball Jesus, "The best player I ever played with was Dennis Johnson." -- Larry Bird. 'Nuff said.
Get DJ in the Hall.
3. Sidney Moncreif (16 letters)
"Sir Sid" was the prototypical "blue collar" guy. He worked hard on the boards, played smothering defense, and was at the helm of a Bucks team that finished a whisker away from the conference finals. Played in the East overshadowed by powerhouse teams like Bird's C's and Dr. J's 76ers. My memories of Sid are of him crashing through the lane in the final moments of a game the Bucks already had in the bag. A tough, versatile leader -- Sid belongs in the Hall.
Moncrief should be in the Hall . A lot of people don't remember that the Bucks were a pretty good team in the '80s; it didn't start with Ray Allen. Growing up a Bulls fan, the Bucks used to hand out some beat downs in the MECCA (the ugliest floor of all-time) and Moncrief was a big part of that. A model of defensive greatness and always an offensive threat -- he belongs in the Hall.
Silver Spring, Md.
4. Artis Gilmore (15 letters)
Artis gets a bad rap for not leading his teams to the NBA promised land, but look what he did accomplish: 11-time ABA/NBA all-star, all-time NBA FG percentage leader, 1975 ABA title with Kentucky, all-time NCAA record holder for rebounds per game, led college team to NCAA Final, etc. Not flashy or outspoken, the gentle giant with the big 'fro was one of the game's top big men for over a decade. His accomplishments compare favorably with those of 'Famers Dan Issel, Bob Lanier and Wes Unseld. It's time to put him in the Hall where he belongs.
Before reading your list I didn't realize all the great former basketball players who are not enshrined. The hoop Hall doesn't get the notoriety of baseball or football, so I sort of assumed Moncrief, Gilmore, McGinnis and Haywood must already be in. Of the players listed, the one I remember as a true great of his era was Artis Gilmore. He towered over people for more than a decade and was a contributing player on Spur playoff teams well past his prime. Before injuries began to hamper his mobility, he was as dominant as Kareem, Dan Issel, Bob Lanier and the other top centers of his time.
5. Dominique Wilkins (14 letters)
How could you not put Dominique Wilkins on this list? He was the "Rodney Dangerfield" of the NBA: No Respect. In his prime, he was arguably offensively comparable to Michael Jordan. People criticize him for his lack of defense, but 75 percent of the NBA didn't play a lick of D during his era anyway. Timing is everything and 'Nique played at the wrong time when he was without a doubt overshadowed by greats like MJ, Bird, Worthy and Dr J. Players today like Vince, Stackhouse and Sprewell are pretty much Dominique clones, yet they don't get a wiff of the heat 'Nique took.
Few in history can match 'Nique's speed, power and flair. He is The Human Highlight Reel. I could list his impressive stats, but a Famer enters the hall by numbers AND nature. If anyone's play sticks out more than their stats, it's Dominique's.
San Jose, Calif.
6. Adrian Dantley (12 letters)
I can't believe you forgot Adrian Dantley. While with the Jazz, AD was instant offense. Led the league in scoring, and otherwise put New Orleans back on the map after Pistol Pete. Then completely transforms into a defensive whiz with the Bad Boys of Detroit. He is the complete player.
Adrian Dantley certainly should be on this list. His lack of size -- with the exception of his large posterior -- did not prevent him from becoming one of the 10 most prolific scorers in NBA history. The fact that he didn't get along with Isiah Thomas (in retrospect, not a big deal) should not preclude him from the Hall.
7. Andrew Toney (10 letters)
Andrew Toney, and his dominance over the Boston Celtics, should be enough to garner his place in the Hall. I mean, you don't earn the nickname "The Boston Strangler" without doing something remarkable. In his career, he is also one of the very few players (not to mention shooting guards) to have a shooting percentage of .500. He is commonly the most forgotten 76er of the early '80s playing with Moses Malone, Maurice Cheeks and, of course, the Doctor. Maybe it should be time to recognize men of basketball who actually played, coached and lived basketball the way it was supposed to be. If it is that time, Andrew Toney should have his marker in the Hall.
8. Mo Cheeks (nine letters)
Mo Cheeks, Mo Cheeks, Mo Cheeks! He was one of the all-time great classic point guards. He protected the ball, made dazzling passes, played stifling defense, was a team leader, and his teams won. How many of the Hall of Fame points scored by Dr. J.,Moses Malone and Charles Barkley came from a Mo Cheeks pass. Among the all-time leaders in assists and steals. Along with Andrew Toney, he is also a member of the most under-appreciated backcourt in league history, which also happenes to be on the most under-appreciated team in NBA history (1983 Sixers).
My vote would have to be for Maurice Cheeks. Not only was he the quarterback for a formidable 76ers team (including the 1983 championship team), he is No. 6 all-time in assists and No. 3 all-time in steals. He shares the NBA Finals single-game record for most steals in a game with six, and he shares the single-game playoff record for most steals with eight. He was a four-time selection for the NBA's All-Defensive Team and he played in four All-Star games. Are there players with a better resume who are Hall-of-Fame eligible? Certainly. However, it is an oversight to a wonderful player and great human being to omit Maurice Cheeks.
9. James Worthy (eight letters)
James Worthy has to be without a question the best pro basketball player not in the Hall of Fame. I think that he was done a terrible injustice by not being let into the Hall with Magic. It is an utter shame that the voters did not choose what was definitely the most proper moment for Worthy to enter the hall.
"Big Game" James. Incredible that he continues to be left out after being the clutch big-game player of the Showtime Era. There was no one smoother gliding through the lane or spinning off his defender baseline. His performance alone in the 1988 finals makes him "worthy" of the Hall.
10. George McGinnis (six letters)
What a list! But George McGinnis stands head and shoulders above these incredibly talented players (Artis Gilmore? Dennis Johnson? Not in the Hall of Fame? Despicable!) If George had been in the NBA his entire career, he'd be considered one of the 10 best players of all-time.
In his prime he was the quickest and strongest forward in the game.Amazing physical talent! If he had better off-court work habits, his career would have been more legendary then the Doctor's. Also was the best high school player I ever saw by a wide margin.