While we argue about which era of basketball was the best, and who is the greatest player of all time, let’s give a shoutout to players who have fallen through the cracks. A starting five of great players, a coach, and an executive, who aren’t in the Basketball Hall of Fame but I believe deserve to be.
CENTER – This is the toughest position to choose since all of the top centers are already in the Hall of Fame. With that in mind, let’s pick a rare player who was an integral part of a championship team.
My choice is BEN WALLACE.
Wallace’s skill set was similar to that of Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman. Wallace led the league in rebounding twice, blocks once while being named All-Defensive first team five times.
POWER FORWARD – CHRIS WEBBER – C-Web had a tremendous career averaging 20.7 points 9.8 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game.
A five-time All-Star, Webber also had a near great college career, leading Michigan to two NCAA Finals where they lost to Duke and North Carolina.
Webber richly deserves to be in the Hall.
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SMALL FORWARD – MARQUES JOHNSON, who happened to be my favorite player growing up.
Johnson, a five-time All-Star, averaged 20.1 points, 7 rebounds, and 3.6 assists per game in leading Milwaukee to five consecutive division titles. Johnson elevated his play in the post-season. In three game sevens, he averaged 27 points, 10 rebounds, and 4 assists.
In addition to his outstanding pro career, Johnson had a distinguished collegiate career at U.C.L.A., winning a National Championship in 1975 and being named National Player of the Year in 1977.
Johnson also had another fan a little more famous than me. As we saw in “The Last Dance”, Johnson was one of Michael Jordan’s favorite players while MJ was playing at North Carolina.
In retirement, Johnson has quenched his creative juices as an actor, writer, radio personality, and analyst. His body of work is deserving of that of a Basketball Hall of Famer.
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SHOOTING GUARD – LOU HUDSON – A six-time All-Star as a member of the St. Louis and Atlanta Hawks.
Hudson averaged 20.2 points per game in his 13-year career. In seven of those years, Hudson averaged more than 20 points per game, including a career-high 27.1 points per game during the 1972-73 season.
Hudson passed away in 2014.
Shooting Guards such as; Mitch Richmond and Paul Westphal are in the Hall. I believe Hudson was at least their equal and belongs in Springfield.
Before giving you my choice, take a look at the stats of two players. One a Hall of Famer. The other not.
1018 Career Games
2x NBA Champion
1043 Career Games
NBA Finals MVP
Not In The #BasketballHOF
Player A is Joe Dumars.
Player B, Chauncey Billups.
If Dumars is in the Hall, Billups should also be.
HEAD COACH – DICK MOTTA is 13th in NBA career coaching wins with 935. Motta led the Washington Bullets to the 1978 NBA Championship. Motta also led the Chicago Bulls to four consecutive 50 win seasons in the early ’70s. He was named NBA Coach Of The Year in 1971.
However, his greatest coaching accomplishment may have been his seven-year run as head coach of the expansion Dallas Mavericks. Under Motta, the Mavs win totals went from 15 – 28 – 38 43 – 44 – 44 to 55.
Motta also had a productive college coaching career at Weber State where he won three Big Sky Championships in six years.
EXECUTIVE – JACK McCLOSKEY was the architect of the Detroit Pistons back-to-back championships in 1988-89 and 1989-90. He built a champion around 6-foot point guard Isiah Thomas. In addition, he traded for Bill Laimbeer, Vinnie Johnson, Rick Mahorn
and Adrian Dantley to form a contender.
He drafted John Salley and Dennis Rodman and then moved Dantley to Dallas for Mark Aguirre. And, of course, McCloskey took a chance on Chuck Daly as his head coach after Daly’s 9-32 stint as head coach in Cleveland.
The Lakers and Celtics won 8-of-9 Championships in the 1980s. Michael Jordan and the Bulls won six titles in the ’90s. In the middle of those runs were the “Bad Boy” Pistons created by a man with the apropos nickname “Trader Jack”.
McCloskey also had an outstanding 17-year college coaching career at PENN and Wake Forest. He should be enshrined in the Basketball Hall Of Fame, posthumously.
With a Hall of Fame that includes Dino Radja, these magnificent seven should be immortalized in Springfield, Massachusetts.
John Sapochetti is Co-Host
Of The GET OFF MY LAWN PODCAST WITH KEEGAN & SAP – Heard On FullPressCoverage
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