By Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com
Posted Nov 30 2010 2:49PM
Reggie Miller, the face of the Pacers for a generation -- a shooter for every generation -- heads the list of candidates for the Hall of Fame in a likely year of change that could mean new hope of enshrinement for several hopefuls with a history of coming close.
Nominations closed Tuesday with Miller, in his first time on the ballot, the best bet for induction among players or coaches with NBA ties for the Hall that celebrates every level of basketball. An 18-year pro who only played for Indiana, Miller set league records for 3-pointers made (2560) and attempted (6,486) attempted. The five-time All-Star also included five seasons of leading the league in free-throw percentage and won gold medals in the 1994 world championships and '96 Olympics.
Since retiring, Miller has served as a NBA analyst and commentator for TNT.
That he is the leading entry from the NBA ranks comes after two years of glittering classes, starting in 2009 with Michael Jordan, John Stockton, David Robinson and Jerry Sloan and continuing to Karl Malone, Scottie Pippen, the 1992 Dream Team and the 1960 Olympic team of Oscar Robertson and Jerry West in 2010. Not only could the smaller marquee mean a different ceremony in late-summer in Springfield, Mass., the absence of star power may prompt voters to give extra consideration to nominees who have previously fallen short of induction.
There is no shortage of those with unique cases and new reason for optimism:
• Mark Jackson: At No. 3 on the career assists list, he has a better chance at reaching the next stage as a finalist after being left off last year as a first-ballot nominee. But, overall, he probably doesn't have that much reason for optimism.
• Bernard King: He has received consistently strong support, just not enough to get over the top even after a career as a scoring force who also overcame an injury that ruined nearly two full seasons, back in the day when major knee operations put a career in jeopardy.
• Chris Mullin: An All-American and Wooden Award winner at St. John's, a five-time All-Star, a two-time Olympic gold medalist who once averaged at least 25 points a game for five consecutive seasons as a tireless Warriors small forward, Mullin is facing a severe deadline. He has been a finalist the last four years and if he is for a fifth and doesn't get elected, he can not be nominated again for five years.
• Don Nelson: What timing. Nellie is up for the honor just eight months after becoming the winningest coach in NBA history ... and 2 1/2 months after being fired by the Warriors for reasons that had as much to do with approach as results. In popularity contests within the game, he loses. In a fact-based debate? Put it this way: If he didn't get in last time, while he was No. 2 on the career win list and on course to pass Lenny Wilkens for the top spot, a few more wins might not make a difference.
• Dennis Rodman: It's Year 2 of the great debate, of Rodman's obvious statistical accomplishments as a defender and rebounder against Rodman's obvious ability to turn off panelists with his personality. But eight consecutive seasons as first- or second-team All-Defense, as voted on by coaches, and another seven consecutive seasons of leading the league in rebounding, a record run, and he didn't even make finalist last year. If he doesn't at least advance to that next round this time, it could signal the Worm is forever doomed.
Other nominees via the North American committee include Maurice Lucas, Jamaal Wilkes, Rudy Tomjanovich, Cotton Fitzsimmons, Tex Winter, Spencer Haywood, Maurice Cheeks, Ralph Sampson, Bill Fitch, referee Dick Bavetta, Rick Pitino, Joe B. Hall, Jim Valvano, George Raveling and Marty Blake, the long-time head of the NBA scouting bureau.
Chet Walker is in the Veteran's committee. Arvydas Sabonis and Sarunas Marciulionis are candidates from the International committee, while Tara VanDerveer and Teresa Edwards will be candidates from the Women's committee.
Nominees must receive approval on at least seven of nine ballots in the North American group, and five of seven in the others, to become a finalist, cuts that will be announced at All-Star weekend. Finalists will need to receive at least 18 of 24 votes from a different panel -- the names of voters are never released -- to be announced at the Final Four as an inductee.
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