It seems like almost everyone gets into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame with a large number of players, coaches, and other major contributors annually earning their way in. There are also players who are left on the cusp and these 10 have continually been overlooked, with most of them well into their retirement and still wondering if they’ll even make it into Springfield. We all expect greats like D-Wade, Ginobili and Dirk to get in when their time arrives, yet there are some heroes from yesteryear on the outside looking in that deserve to be inducted.
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Résumé– 7x champ
Career Averages – 7.0 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 2.1 APG
Anyone who played for the Celtics in the 60’s helped themselves to an annual championship. In fact, eight of the nine players with 7 or more rings all played for Boston during their dynastic run. Robert Horry was the exception, making him one of the most successful winners the league has ever seen. Claiming seven championships with three different franchises and earning the nickname ‘Big Shot Bob’, Horry’s per-game numbers don’t jump off the page, but he was the epitome of a role player capable of winning titles. It’s hard to justify adding a player who averaged 7.0 PPG into the HOF, but if you’re going to do it, Horry is the one who belongs.
Résumé– 3x All-NBA, 3x All-Star, ’03 Most Improved
Career Averages – 20.7 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 5.3 APG
Agent Zero was one of the best scorers the league had to offer in the early 2000’s with Arenas averaging 27.7 PPG during the three consecutive seasons he was an All-Star. While Gilbert is well known for his antics off the court, his short-lived prime saw Washington capture four straight playoff appearances where they were unable to get past a young, dominant force in LeBron James. Sadly, injuries and legal woes plagued Arenas during his final few seasons and despite his innate ability to score the rock, he doesn’t deserve to make the cut.
Résumé– ’11 champ, 2x All-NBA, 4x All-Star
Career Averages – 15.2 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 1.9 APG
Best known for his days with the Phoenix Suns, Shawn Marion was an accomplished perimeter defender and the proud owner of the most unorthodox jump shot the league has ever seen. Averaging a double-double in four different seasons, Marion emerged as a genuine star during a successful Suns era, complementing fellow All-Stars Steve Nash and Amar’e Stoudemire, before capturing an elusive title in 2011 with Dallas. While he deserves to be in these conversations, Marion falls into the ‘Hall of Very Good’ rather than qualifying as one of the greats.
Résumé– 5x All-NBA, 6x All-Star, ’03 Rookie of the Year
Career Averages – 18.9 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 1.2 BPG
Sticking with the Phoenix theme, another distinguished player from the early 21st century has a case to be mentioned amongst the basketball elite, with Amar’e Stoudamire still on the outside looking in. Entering the NBA straight out of high school, Stoudamire was an assertive scoring force inside the paint, although countless knee issues meant that the powerful forward didn’t stay at the peak of his powers for long. He chalked up six All-Star and five All-NBA appearances over a seven-year period while making the Suns a contender thanks to his partnership with Steve Nash. Stoudamire never lived up to his full potential, however, his resume is extensive enough for me to believe Amar’e should be inducted.
Résumé – ’14 All-NBA, 2x All-Star, ’14 Defensive Player of the Year, 3x All-Defence
Career Averages – 19.2 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 2.0 APG
I found it tough to determine Joakim Noah’s fate with the Bulls big man certainly in the mix for a HOF spot despite playing just 672 career games. The high-energy center turned himself into one of Chicago’s most beloved figures during his pro tenure, capturing a Defensive Player of the Year award and finishing 4th in MVP voting in 2014. Those achievements give us an insight into just how good Noah was for a stretch of time in Chicago, but it wasn’t long enough for him to earn a gig in the Hall. Even when you account for the two titles he won with Florida during his college career, Noah fails to meet the criteria.
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Résumé– 3x All-NBA, 6x All-Star
Career Averages – 14.6 PPG, 8.4 RPG, 1.6 APG
One of the most popular stars of his era, the high-flying Shawn Kemp was a player who put bums on seats and drew fans in. While he’s best known for posterising his peers it wouldn’t be fair to say Kemp was ‘all flash no substance’, earning a place on three straight All-NBA 2nd teams while giving Michael Jordan and the Bulls a run for their money in the 1996 Finals. As an integral part of some successful Seattle teams, Kemp was a joy to watch when he was firing on all cylinders and his fate may be the hardest to determine of the 10 players. For me, he misses out, but I could be swayed.
Résumé– 5x All-NBA, 3x All-Star, ’89 Most Improved
Career Averages – 17.9 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 9.1 APG
Kevin Johnson boasts the averages of a Hall of Famer, showcasing his ability to both score and distribute the ball over his 12-year career. Emerging as one of the best point guards in the NBA throughout the 90’s, KJ helped the Suns remain an annual title contender and came close to winning it all in 1993 once Charles Barkley arrived in Phoenix. During his first seven seasons with the Suns, the franchise averaged 56 wins and Johnson went on to feature in five All-NBA teams as a result of his high level of play. Much like his peers in this article, injuries were a big reason for his shortcomings, however, he achieved enough in his career to earn a berth.
Résumé– ’04 champ, ’04 Finals MVP, 3x All-NBA, 5x All-Star, 2x All-Defence
Career Averages – 15.2 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 5.4 APG
In my mind, there’s no doubt that Chauncey Billups belongs in the Hall. The Pistons legend earned the nickname ‘Mr Big Shot’ for his contribution to winning, culminating in their shocking 2004 Finals triumph against the L.A. Lakers, with Billups crowned Finals MVP. During his six full seasons with Detroit, the Pistons made six consecutive Conference Finals trips, with Billups averaging 17.6 PPG and 5.9 APG in that stretch. His per-game numbers don’t scream ‘induct me’, but it’s obvious that Billups should have a place in the Hall of Fame.
Résumé– 4x champ, ’94 All-Star, 4x All-Defence
Career Averages – 11.2 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 2.2 APG
Horace Grant’s HOF case is boosted by his 1987 collegiate achievements where he claimed ACC Player of the Year honours, becoming the first player in ACC history to lead the league in scoring, rebounding and field goal shooting. He maintained his high level of play as an interior force when the Bulls drafted him, thriving as their main low post defender en route to their first three-peat in the early 90’s. Grant was close to a walking double-double for a decade with Chicago and Orlando, while also playing an important role on the 2000-01 Lakers title team, and yet, he doesn’t quite have the list of individual achievements to warrant a spot in the Hall.
Résumé– 4x All-NBA, 4x All-Star
Career Averages – 15.2 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 6.7 APG
To this day, Mark Price is one of just 10 players in the 50-40-90 club with his career averages coming close to reflecting those noteworthy numbers. With the sharp-shooting floor general on their roster, Cleveland experienced a ton of success, qualifying for the postseason in seven of the nine seasons Price spent there. It never translated to a deep run, but Price more than held up his end of the bargain, regularly finishing the season amongst the league leaders for assists, three-point and free throw shooting percentage. While the Cavs guard could be classified as a star of his generation, I don’t think his legacy is lofty enough to earn a place amongst the basketball giants.
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