Today the NBA announced 5 new members to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Michael Jordan, David Robinson, John Stockton, Jerry Sloan, and C. Vivian Springer will enter the Hall in September ’09, in Springfield, MA. It doesn’t seem like it’s been 5 years since they last played a game, as everyone has a memory of each player. Let’s look at the newest class of entrants to the Hall of Fame:
Michael Jordan – Arguably the greatest player ever to take the court. MJ is synonymous with greatness, a failed baseball career not withstanding. The 1-time NCAA chamption and 6-time NBA Champion is one of the greatest winners the world has ever seen. If there was a game on the line, you wanted the ball in his hands. More often than not, he won you that game.
His lore began at UNC, where he was named ACC-Freshman of the Year in 1981. The following year, he buried the game winning shot in the title game, to capture his first National Title. He left a year later to revolutionize the NBA as the third overall pick.
A summary of his accomplishments in the NBA: 6-time champion (6-time finals MVP), 5-time league MVP, 14-time All-Star, 9-time All-Defensive First team, and 2-time dunk champion. His image is known worldwide by his dominance. He parlayed that all into remarkable marketing and business success.
He also was a 2-time Olympic Champion and member of the legendary 1992 “Dream Team”. Needless to say, there are no arguements that he belongs in the Hall. The only question is whether they rename it after him.
David Robinson –“The Admiral” was one of the classiest players of his era, and one of the greatest centers of all time. As a senior at Navy, he was named the National Player of the Year in 1987 and was then drafted first overall in the NBA Draft by the San Antonio Spurs. As a Navy Officer, he needed to serve the country for 2 years before entering the league.
He finally entered the league and led a then-league record turnaround, improving the Spurs by 35 wins. He was Rookie of the Year,, 10-time NBA All-Star, an MVP, 3-time Olympian, 2-time Olympic Gold Medalist, and 2-time NBA Champion. He is one of four players to post a quadruple double in a game (34 pts, 10 reb, 10 blocks, 10 assist). He combined with Tim Duncan to become the “Twin Towers” and win the ’98-’99 and ’02-’03 NBA titles. He was also recognized for his sportsmanship in 2001. He was also one of the most physically dominant players of all time.
John Stockton – The all-time assist and steal leader, who along with Karl Malone, was a cornerstone of the Utah Jazz for 19 years. The Oregon native put Gonzaga University on the college basketball map after a 4-year collegiate career.
He was drafted by the Utah Jazz in 1984 and spent his entrire 19-year career playing for the franchise. He combined with Karl Malone to form the best pick-and-roll duo the NBA has ever seen. For his career, he averaged 13.1 points and 10.5 assists a game. A league ironman, he only missed 22 games in his entire career, many seasons which ended with lengthy playoff runs. He helped lead the Jazz to 2 NBA Finals, falling short in each to Jordan’s Bulls.
He was a member of the 1992 Olympic Dream Team and also the 1996 US Olympic Team, winning the Gold Medal each time. He kept the short-shorts alive well into the 90’s and he ended his career as the leader in assists and steals, two records that are not soon to fall. Stockton was named, along with Jordan and Robinson, as one of the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players of All-Time in 1996.
Jerry Sloan – Sloan is one of five coaches with 1,000 career victories and is one of the most successful coaches to stand on the sidelines. He has been coaching the Utah Jazz since 1988 and is the longest tenured coach for one team in any professional sport in the United States.
As a player, he was recognized for his passion for defense, which is fitting because that is what his teams are known for now. He has a 60% winning percentage as an NBA coach. He guided John Stockton and Karl Malone to 2 NBA Finals appearances and it is fitting that the coach will be entering the hall at the same time as his star point-guard.
C. Vivian Stringer – A consistant winner in her coaching career, leading three different women’s college programs to the NCAA Final Four. She lead Cheyney State College in 1982, University of Iowa in 1993 and Rutgers in 2000 and 2007 to the Final Four.
She is the third most winning coach in women’s college basketball history and 3-time Coach of the Year.
Accomplishments aside, she is best known nationally for her objection to a comment made by Don Imus in 2007, where he called her and her team “a bunch of nappy-headed hoes.” She gained nation recognition for her stand against the comments.
My take – There is no objection from me on the first four individual’s on this list. Jordan is the single greatest player I’ve ever seen play, Robinson one of the classiest, and Stockton and Sloan the faces of a franchise for nearly 2 decades.
Which brings me to Ms. Stringer. One can only wonder if the comments by Imus were never made or never reacted to, would anyone really know who she is? It does answer a long-time question of mine: if someone makes a racist comment about a sport nobody cares about, does it make a noise?
Nobody watches women’s basketball, and to be cited as one of the most winning coaches in the sport is like calling your son the smartest kid in special-ed. It doesn’t carry much weight in a “sport” where only 2 teams are competitive nationally each year. Not to mention not having won a single national title in such a non-competitive league. Pretty weak credentials if you ask me.