Pierce. Bosh… Toni Kukoč? Who REALLY Belongs in the NBA Hall of Fame?
Every year, the NBA Hall of Fame selects their new class and some eye-popping headline grabs your attention. Something like…
“Kwame Brown Leads This Year’s Hall of Fame Honorees!!”
Well…maybe not KWAME BROWN, but now that I’ve got your attention – read on….
The 2021 NBA Hall of Fame Inductees
Over the years, the Hall of Fame celebration of some highly decorated players has been obvious – like perennial All-Stars Shaq, Kobe, Allen Iverson, and some legendary coach or broadcaster. BUT - during some “off years,” your lead entrant to the Hall of Fame is an old white guy who invented the “3-Man Weave” and an international guy with no rings like Vlade Divac. (No offense Vlade, you were a beast, but that lack of a title makes me give your selection look… strange?)
But this past week, the NBA Hall of Fame discussion became more interesting, as the COVID-delayed 2020 ceremony and the 2021 class honorees butted up against each other in their anointment to the most celebrated honor in the NBA. (Two classes in one calendar year!) Headlines about both classes were everywhere, and per usual, critics and fans all came out in droves agreeing with – or protesting the selections of basketball icons. For the first time in a while, I got pretty heavily involved…
Maybe it’s because all these guys graduated high school the same year I did.
Truth be told, a total of five players who I could have possibly played basketball against in high school were elected over these two new classes. FIVE! Of course, I never made it that far as a basketball player due to numerous reasons:
But now, numerous guys my OWN AGE are being elected to the Hall of Fame… The pantheon of NBA accomplishment… The paramount… The top.
These guys are now in the HALL OF FAME.
Me? I own a DVD copy of the movie Fame.
- My height peaked at 6’2”
- I wasn’t that good.
- I got into the Grateful Dead my junior year.
Are These New NBA Hall of Fame Picks Really Deserving?
The 2020 NBA Hall of Fame ceremony saw deserving legends like Kobe, Kevin Garnett, and Tim Duncan all enter with emotional speeches from admirers and career tributes that made me long for NBA action back in 2002. (Shout out to Tim Duncan’s incredibly new dreadlock game…)
But then – the 2021 class was announced, with Paul Pierce, Ben Wallace, Toni Kukoč, and Chris Bosh leading the way. The internet went nuts, and it made me pick apart just how much these individual players belonged in the upper echelon of the game’s elite.
That being said, let’s take a quick look at the class of 2021….
Breaking Down This Year’s Inductees
Chris Webber (It was his 5th time on the ballot, FYI)
Chris Webber was the ultimate badass for my generation. A 6’8” beast in the long shorts, the black socks, the Fab Five… what a spectacle. What an offensive player. And what a great run he had with the Sacramento Kings (I honestly think the 2002 Lakers have one less championship in today’s “review” culture) – but alas, Chris Webber was a LEGIT ballplayer. Up until this year, the internet has claimed he wasn’t deserving of the Hall of Fame because he never won a championship and his NBA career was fine, but not spectacular.
So does Chris Webber deserve a selection for never making the Finals and for being a 5-time NBA All-Star?
I have to be honest here. It’s the “Everybody Gets a Trophy” factor. In this writer’s humble opinion? If we are talking sheer NBA numbers, Webber’s 4-5 great years do not equate with me for Hall of Fame numbers. His Michigan years? YES. Elect him to the NCAA Hall of Fame, but we need to clarify everything deeper from here on out.
It’s like the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame at times. In reality, who cares? As a lifelong music fan, I sure do not – but the web does - and when the Go-Go’s are on the list, you have to think that everybody with a top ten hit should be given an easy entrance from here on out.
The NCAA Hall of Fame is in Kansas City, Missouri. Webber and guys like Larry Johnson should be the face of that establishment… just not the guys in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Musically, I had a viral hit on the internet back in 2006 with a song about the TSA. Where is my first-round ballot? #CANCELLED.
From undrafted to a four-time DPOY? Chris Webber had 5 All-Star years – so what’s the difference between C-Webb and Wallace here? Well, defense is a less-than-celebrated award to win but at least it’s an AWARD. What did Webber win?
Also, Ben Wallace has an NBA title, which makes me ask – how important does the chip matter to Hall of Fame inductees? Kobe and Duncan and Bosh have no issues with that argument… but Webber is once again the oddly questionable choice.
I mean… sure, Webber is pretty much the most handsome player ever, and a serviceable broadcaster, but Ben Wallace is way more deserving to be in the NBA Hall than Webber.
Part of the most obnoxious “Big Three” in NBA history – but still a killer inside and outside, Chris Bosh, unfortunately, saw a legitimate career cut short by his blood clots. Luckily, he had incredible years in Toronto followed by his NBA titles in Miami… but it’s impossible to think what Bosh could have become without his unfortunate medical condition…
Is Bosh a Hall of Famer? 11-time All-Stars are always Hall of Famers. Sorry. If he had stayed healthy, then Bosh would possibly have 15 All-Star years and a third ring. I’m way on board for Bosh being in the Hall of Fame – the dude was unguardable for a few years there.
And then there is…
Wait, what? How did…? Are you – whaa? Okay, look – Toni Kukoč is an International Committee selection, but yeah, Kukoč was that dude for a minute on the ‘90s Bulls. He saved at least one title from slipping away and was as legitimate of a sixth man as the NBA saw back then… He has THREE titles. BUT – so does Danny Green… (right?) So where does Toni Kukoč exist without Michael Jordan or Scottie Pippen? NOWHERE. Love this guy, a nice little player, but Kukoč is really only joining the Hall of Fame as one of the so-called “Big Six of international basketball” from the 1980s.
He’s just one of those guys who had a last name ending in the letter “C” who were the pioneers of the international invasion. Basically – no Kukoč? No Jokić. No Dragić. And no Luka Dončić.
That being said, he’s a trailblazing player, but a Hall of Famer? Well… sure. The league has changed since he braved American soil after his 11 titles overseas. RESPECT.
In my opinion, the only unanimous selection in this 2021 class goes to The TRUTH.
19 seasons. 1 NBA title (The super team, but still). 1 Finals MVP. 10-time All-Star. One time over-sharer of his personal life as a massive weed smoker.
Most of us haven’t done ANYTHING consistently for 19 years…
I loved Paul Pierce as a player. His NBA resume is enough to get him elected to the HOF and the fact that he was cut from the Inglewood High School basketball team freshman and sophomore year only to become California “Mr. Basketball” by 1995 made him a legend in my mind. Plus, he was always a walking quote – a media dream with his fun interactions.
So hit the grow farm, Truth. You deserve it. The rest of y’all do too – after all, who knows why you persevered along your paths to NBA greatness while I was pathetically wallowing through a mushroom trip during “Truckin'” at the Vegas ‘95 Grateful Dead show.
We all have different paths.
We all have different opinions.
And only the Hall of Fame has the real way to determine who is deserving of the NBA Hall of Fame...
But this new class of players will be forever my guys. They all were around my age when they hit the league, so it means a lot to see these guys get celebrated.
If only I had any last name ended in a “C” – I might be right alongside my fellow middle-aged baller heroes…
Then again, I got into the Grateful Dead. That was a long time ago…
Enjoy the playoffs.
“What a long strange trip it’s been…”
- Jerry Garcia