Sweaty Men Endeavors

The sports blog with the slightly gay name

Monday, April 03, 2006

What makes a Hall of Famer?

Affirmation, baby. If I'm looking at this through Pistons-colored glasses and not seeing the larger picture, please let me know, but I'm not sure there's been a more underrated great player in NBA history than Joe Dumars.

While flashier guys like Reggie Miller seized the spotlight, Joe D had the more complete game, excelling on both offense and defense. If the Pistons needed him to score 30 points, he could do that. Play tough defense on the other team's top scorer? Okay. Take the ball to the basket? Yep. Knock down three-pointers? You got it. Hit all of his free throws? Absolutely.

He won two championships in his prime - earning the MVP award of the 1989 NBA Finals - and later in his career, showed his leadership qualities by willingly taking on the role of mentor, showing a younger team how to win as the torch was passed to Allan Houston and Grant Hill.

Dumars has only added to his considerable legacy by taking that winning touch to the front office, and becoming one of the NBA's top general managers (which could warrant its own Hall of Fame status). And as Terry Foster points out, he's also a good person, both on and off the court - which is exemplified by the league citizenship and sportsmanship awards he was given while he played. He absolutely belongs in the Basketball Hall of Fame, and it's great to see him inducted.

But Dominique Wilkins? A Hall of Famer? Really?

Help me out with this. Okay, he's the NBA's ninth all-time leading scorer, which obviously deserves recognition. Maybe this is harsh, but to me, 'Nique was largely a ball-hogging showboat who seemed to care more about making highlight clips and racking up points than winning games. If I recall correctly, he refused a move from small forward to shooting guard because he felt it'd cost him a spot on the All-Star team. To me, Wilkins' career is summed up by his Game 7 shootout with Larry Bird in the 1988 playoffs. 'Nique scored 48 points to Bird's 37, but the Celtics won the game.

Of course, it's not the NBA Hall of Fame, so Wilkins' college career at Georgia - where he's the fourth-leading scorer in school history, and holds the single-season record for points scored - also factored heavily into his induction.

Charles Barkley didn't win any championships either, but he got his team to the NBA Finals, dominated at a position for which he was undersized, and was highly regarded enough to be named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA history.

I'd expect plenty of people to disagree with my questions about Wilkins, and maybe he just had the misfortune of playing in the same era as the great Celtics, Pistons, and Bulls teams of the late 80s/early 90s. But I guess I'm wondering what the standard for a Hall of Famer is.

Perhaps I'm influenced too much by baseball's more rigid criteria, which might be too strict. Yet it seems like basketball and football allow most everyone in. Having a good career seems enough in those sports. And maybe that's the way it should be. But to me, it seems like the Hall of Fame should represent the top level of excellence in a sport. Is that what we're really seeing here?


  • At April 03, 2006 11:22 AM, Blogger the sports dude said…

    I agree with you on all points about Dumars, the man definitely deserves it! The fact that Jordan singled Dumars out and said he was the one guy he dreaded defending him is enough for me. But, even if his stats (like you pointed out!) were not so impressive, in a day and age where we are trying to stress "team" to our youths, he should get in on his merits and his citizenship alone. I mean, they named the damn award after him, that should be enough right there.

    The only thing I can say about 'Nique is maybe the fact he brought dunking to a whole new level. Otherwise I agree with you, why him?

    Lastly, did you watch any of the Pistons-Suns game yesterday? At halftime they did a "in or out" segment for the hall of fame and the names that I caught were Webber and Mourning and all three guys (Pippen, Wilbourn and Marc Jackson) said those cats were all in. Sorry, I still love me some C-Webb from the Fab 5 days, but neither of those cats deserve it.

  • At April 03, 2006 12:46 PM, Blogger Greg Eno said…

    Check out my ruminations about Dumars...

    And I agree that 'Nique is a borderline Hall of Famer.

  • At April 03, 2006 2:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    You don't know what you're talking about. Wilkins was one of the greatest scorers of all time, and one of the best small forwards in the league when he played. Just because he's not on that 50 Greatest Players list (which he should be) doesn't mean he's not a Hall of Famer.

  • At April 04, 2006 12:38 PM, Blogger The Armchair Quarterback said…

    Dumars is a solid Hall of Fame choice. I would say Wilkins is as well. There are plenty of guys even in baseball's hall of fame that never took their teams to an elite status, were selfish and yet had great offensive numbers. Dominique could dominate a game and he did it for an extended amount of years. He's not in Bird, Magic or Jordan's stratosphere but I think he belongs in the Hall.


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