Philadelphia, PA – After Chris Bosh rather recklessly claimed last week he was absolutely a Hall of Famer ("Hell, yeah, of course."), who else will be enshrined in one day?
Hall of Fame debates rage in the blood of sports fans.
I've seen beer mugs sail over my head about baseball Hall of Famers' candidacies. I've battled an acquaintance literally into the wee hours of the morning about the candidacy of James Worthy.
One man's or woman's criteria for admittance into immortality varies from another's. There's no formula to plug in and say, "Pack your bags for Springfield."
In honor of Mr. Bosh, let's examine the cases of who will be getting into the Hall of Fame upon retirement.
Two rules to remember, one the Hall's and one is mine: First, The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame is all-encompassing. College careers matter as does international and Olympic experience.
My rule - this debate will be waged under the guideline that a player, or coach, or executive will be judged if he walked away from the sport tomorrow.
And one more thing you should know about me - I'm harsh when it comes to Hall of Fame judgment. I have an eye test and if you pass, you're good with me. I don't dig too deeply into statistical data unless I'm torn.
Also, the worst phrase in sports is "first-ballot Hall of Famer." Either you are a Hall of Famer, or you're not. Numbers don't improve after retirement and deeming someone unworthy of first-year entrance when their eligibility is met is ludicrous.
So, let the beer mug throwing begin ...
If you don't know why these players are guaranteed Hall of Famers, I deem you unworthy of finishing this column.
That is it in my mind for locks. The next group will clarify things better, but these are the only people who would get in no questions asked if they retired in the morning.
These guys all have pretty impressive qualifications, but something is just missing from making them no-doubt-about-it guys. Remember in the case of Ginobili, international play is part of the vote.
TOO YOUNG BUT HEADING TOWARD LOCK STATUS
Hard to argue the first three in my opinion, but consider this with Rose: every MVP winner has been elected.
NOW THE FUN DEBATES (These all required some statistical information since I was torn.)
Since his comments were the impetus for the column, we'll examine his career first. Bosh's career averages of 19.7 ppg and 9.0 rpg are Hall worthy. Factor in his scoring went down once he joined the Heat and became the third wheel, and it's still strong. Bosh made his eighth All-Star team and counting. Plus, he now has an NBA Championship on the books. But Bosh has made one All-NBA team, a second-team nod after the 2006-07 campaign, and that was the only season he finished in the top 10 in MVP voting. That was a seventh. Do those last two numbers show an indispensable member of the league? I don't think so. Third bananas get into the Hall of Fame, just look at Robert Parish and James Worthy, but Bosh needs more. He'll have to make 10 All-Star teams and win a few titles before he gets my vote.
Scorers have a place in the Hall of Fame. Look at Dominique Wilkins. The question is, was Carter a dominant-enough scorer to take his team to a different level? Carter never played in an NBA Finals. In his prime, Carter averaged close to 25 ppg. That's a big number and his career average is still over 20 ppg despite playing a bench role or playing for lousy teams late in his career. Carter made eight straight All-Star games, finished in the top 10 once for MVP (10th in 1999-2000 season) and made two All-NBA teams, but never a first. He's just short in my mind.
Scoff if you will, but remember, this includes college careers. Hill was spectacular at Duke, starting all four years, winning two titles and losing in the championship game his senior season. As a pro, Hill was incredible in his first six years, all healthy ones and all in Detroit. He averaged 21.5 ppg, 7.7 rpg (including two years over nine a game), 6.2 apg and 1.6 spg. Those are crazy numbers. Then the ankle and foot injuries piled up and Hill was never the same, although they came close to 20 ppg in a full 2004-05 season for the Orlando Magic. You shouldn't ever consider what his career would have been had the injury not occurred, but it's hard not to with Hill. He made the All-Star team seven times, all deservedly, not some fan voting nonsense, made the All- NBA first or second team five times and finished in the top 10 five straight seasons. Late in his Orlando career and during his Phoenix Suns tenure, Hill was a respectable player, although nothing near his Pistons days. The college career is enough to sway me. Hill would get my vote.
Gasol was the NBA Rookie of the Year in 2001-02. He has made four All-Star teams, three All-NBA teams, picked up two rings, but never factored in an MVP race. The Spaniard's career averages are 18.4 ppg, 9.2 rpg and 1.7 bpg. That's stout. Being a decorated European league star and two-time silver medalist in the Olympics, while outplaying some Americans during those two games is enough for my vote.
Knew it would happen and Stoudemire was the guy whose career I undervalued. Stoudemire has made six All-Star teams, five All-NBA teams (either first or second) and finished in the top 10 four times in MVP voting. That is a really strong resume for a guy who has been dinged up quite a bit on top of putting up 21.4 ppg and 8.7 rpg. Still a no from me, but those numbers caused pause.
Absolutely one of the most interesting cases of looking at whole picture, Collins doesn't have a single distinguishable aspect of his career that warrants induction. He was a good college player at Illinois State, good enough to be the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft in the 1973. Collins was an Olympian and hit the two free throws that led to the controversial finish of the 1972 gold medal game against the Russians. Collins made four All-Star teams in the NBA and his coaching career has been solid, if not borderline great. After leading the Bulls to the Eastern Conference Finals, he took over the Pistons, Washington Wizards and Philadelphia 76ers. In his first season at those three stops, the win totals went up 18, 18 and 14 from the season before. That's massive improvement. Plus, Collins is one of, if not the best broadcasters of the last 20 years. So, if you look at each piece individually, Collins isn't close. If you add them all up, he's an interesting candidate to me. Still, a no however.
And we have one last category.
THANKS FOR A GREAT CAREER, BUT YOU'RE NOT GETTING IN
His later runs with the Pistons and Denver Nuggets gets him closer and his reputation as a leader and big-game player are commendable. However, Billups didn't do enough over the entirety of his career.
Four All-Star games, two All-NBA teams and over 16,000 points make you think a little harder about him.