I will not purport to claim a great knowledge of the other categories (though I do love Jennifer Azzi). So I will concentrate on the American male players category.
I will drop guys who are coaches or contributors or someone like Geese Ausbie who was a great Globetrotter. I mean, how do you evaluate that? Did the fans like him more? Did the Washington Generals have more trouble stopping him?
My goal here will be to identify no more than 6 male player Finalists.
As I have opined in the past, there are a lot of clunkers in the Basketball Hall of Fame, so I really cannot concentrate on things like "Is he better than Calvin Murphy or Guy Rodgers or Mitch Richmond?"
I am not going to say "Well, Ralph Sampson is in, so...." That is not a true HOF test. Instead, we will look at my criteria for NBA players:
Was he any of the following:
1) a top 3 starter on a championship team;
2) a couple times first-team all-NBA;
3) top 10 in MVP balloting at least 2 times;
4) possessed with some otherworldly skill that deserves recognition (10 times all-defense, 3 times defensive POY, rebounding champ 4+ times, etc.); or
5) top 10 all-time in one particular positive stat of note.
Let's look at the list:
Guys who have been left out forever (10):
Paul Westphal, Jack Sikma, Sidney Moncrief, Kevin Johnson, Marques Johnson, Bobby Jones, Mo Cheeks, Terry Cummings, Swen Nater, Junior Bridgeman
Guys who have been left out for a some time (5):
Tim Hardaway, Mark Price, Steve Smith, Mark Aguirre, Muggsy Bogues
Newer Candidates (4):
We have 19 Guys and I am trying to knock the list down to 6.
In Fairness, Let's Use my Criteria to Identify Guys Who Don't Meet the Bare Minimum Qualifications.
Mo Cheeks, Terry Cummings, Swen Nater, Junior Bridgeman, Steve Smith, Mark Aguirre, Muggsy Bogues, Glenn Robinson are all out. (I do not consider Cheeks to be a top 3 Sixer or consider his 10th place finish in steals per game to be enough, even with his 4x all-defense awards).
That leaves 11 guys for 6 spots.
All 11 are excellent players and deserving of consideration.
Category A -- The 2 Locks
McGrady and Ben Wallace.
1) Tracy was 2x first-team all-NBA, 6X in the top 10 in MVP voting, 7X all-star. He had a season with 16 WS. He is in.
2) Big Ben is #1 all-time in Defensive Box Score Plus-Minus. #1. Ever. DPOY, 5X first-team all-defense. Starter on a title team and a great team that went to 7 games in the Finals. He is in.
Category B -- The 4 Guys Who Don't Deserve It
Best to Worst -- Mark Price , Tim Hardaway, Kevin Johnson, Marques Johnson
These are all "very, very good" players, but they were all guys who were elite for only 3-4 years. Not to say that they could never get in, but I couldn't skip them forward in the line while others stayed out.
They have a combined 3 first-team all-NBAs and a combined 11 times being voted top 10 in MVP voting. Between the 4 guys.
That leaves us with 5 guys for 4 spots -- Westphal, Sikma, Moncrief, Bobby Jones, Chris Webber.
Category C - Left Out In the Cold
Poor Jack Skima. He was great as a champion Sonic, very good as a Buck, and he has 112 Win Shares - the most by anyone on the list. He was 7X all-star, tied for most of anyone on the list. But if you put a gun to my head and said, "rank the 5 guys left" I'd say Moncrief, Westphal, Jones, Webber, Sikma.
Jack was never first-team all-NBA or first-team all-defense. He only finished top 10 in MVP balloting twice. Despite playing forever, he is not really well known for any great particular skill or statistical achievement.
So he is out, but I would not cry if he got in.
Category D -- They Get My 3rd Through 6th Votes
3rd -- Sidney Moncrief -- the fact that Sidney Moncrief is not in the HOF should be mentioned to every HOF voter every day of his or her life until the problem is remedied. Sid is 4x all-defense, 5x top 10 in all-NBA balloting. He personally stopped Moses' quest for Fo-Fo-Fo. Top 7 player in the league 5 or 6 years. Only 1X first-team all-NBA, but it is a joke he is not in HOF.
4th -- Paul Wetsphal -- this will not be a popular take, but stick with me. Paul Westphal was first-team all-NBA 3 times. First-team. He was one of the 2 best guards in the league 3X. 5X all-star. Took his team to the NBA Finals. One would find his career roughly the same or similar to Spencer Haywood. I just don't think you can have a HOF where you say "sure you were deemd one of the best guys for 3-5 years, but fuck you." Is hurt by only having 62.7 career WS.
5th Bobby Jones -- he was great in the ABA, great in the NBA, played on the great Sixers teams. He was 9X first-team all-defense. 9X. And none of those were fluke all-defense awards. He was great on the ball, great off the ball, great on chase down blocks. He shot a high percentage, moved the ball, was a good teammate, his teams always won. He was just a great overall player.
6th Chris Webber -- now, if someone came up to me and said "Webber is out and Sikma or Mark Price is in" I would not lose a great deal of sleep. Chris was 1X first-team all-NBA and 5X top 10 in the MVP balloting. Chris was great with Sacto, not so great with anyone else. For more thoughts on Webber, see my old entry. http://hoopramblings.blogspot.com/2013/09/the-difficult-hall-of-fame-case-for.html