Posted Feb 18 2011 9:43PM
LOS ANGELES -- Jerry Colangelo, left to speak for the voters -- whoever they are -- tried to explain, but his words made things murkier. Shadowy even. That's a good word for the process. Shadowy.
Reggie Miller was not among the finalists for the Hall of Fame, Colangelo suggested as chairman of the Hall's Board of Governors, because of timing. Being a first-ballot nominee made moving forward more difficult, he reasoned. So Miller missed the cut while Al Attles, Maurice Cheeks, Division II coach Herb Magee and Chris Mullin moved forward.
Don Nelson was not among the finalists, Colangelo said, because "you could look at the record and say you lost as much as you won. Didn't win a championship. You could use those things if you wanted to build a case. But I think it was a collective." So Nelson, who actually has a .557 win percentage along with the record for career victories, missed the cut while college referee Hank Nichols, Dennis Rodman, Ralph Sampson, Jamaal Wilkes, Tex Winter and Dick Motta advanced -- the same Dick Motta who had a .479 percentage.
In trying to explain the inexplicable, Colangelo fronted for the voters because the voters are never revealed and rarely, if ever, step forward on their own. The ballot totals were not released either, also expected.
But Colangelo insists that finding a voting process that is transparent is a priority.
The Hall created two new selection groups, the Early African-American Pioneers of the Game and the ABA committees, to ensure players from past generations would not be forgotten. Both were given the immediate clout -- along with the International and Veteran's committees -- to induct someone in a direct vote, without becoming a finalist and then facing a second balloting for enshrinement. The major misstep of last year was corrected when Rodman reached the finalist stage.
Still, that doesn't change the perception of a flawed system that is losing credibility at the very time Hall officials are moving to connect more with fans. They continue to consider giving fans a voice in the elections and will again hold the induction ceremony in August in hopes more people will be able to attend the festivities in Springfield, Mass., during summer vacation, as opposed to the previous September slot. But there is no way the voters -- whoever they are -- can justify some calls.
A case certainly can be made against the selection of Rodman, Miller and Nelson. But to say Miller shouldn't have been a finalist this year -- first time on the ballot or 20th time -- or that the winningest coach in NBA history should wait in line behind several other coaches, referees and contributors is illogical.
"I think what we just did in announcing these [new] committees and talking about direct election is an incredible step from a year ago," Colangelo said, disagreeing with the premise the Hall has a growing credibility problem. "The fact that I'm going to be out there in front of everybody telling you a lot of things that you never heard before, I think that's a lot about transparency. The only thing I'm not saying is who the people are who are voting, that's all. I want to protect the integrity of our process by not identifying the individuals. I'll do everything, almost, but that."
The finalists -- Attles, Cheeks, Magee, Motta, Mullin, Nichols, Rodman, Sampson, Jamaal Wilkes and Winter -- must have approval from at least 18 of 24 voters in the next round of balloting to be inducted. That outcome will be announced April 4, at the Final Four in Houston.
Enshrinement in Springfield will take place Aug. 11.
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