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Scott Howard-Cooper

Hall of Fame, Springfield, Mass.
The Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass.
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

NBA could get shut out in this year's Hall of Fame class


Posted Mar 31 2011 9:20AM

Maybe one of the players previously passed over for enshrinement finally joins the Hall of Fame when the Class of 2011 is revealed Monday in Houston. That would fit well with the drive of Jerry Colangelo to ensure that candidates from the past do not get lost in the ages. The Hall chairman sees that as enough of a priority that he helped create a pair of old-timers' committees that are each guaranteed one inductee a year.

Or not. Maybe Chris Mullin, Dennis Rodman, Jamaal Wilkes, Maurice Cheeks and Ralph Sampson have another round of disappointment and no player with deep NBA roots get in this year. That would fit well with history -- each has failed in previous bids, some several times. Mullin has missed five times in a row. He'll be off the ballot the next five years if he is not elected this time.

After the glittering ceremonies of the past three years -- Michael Jordan, Karl Malone, David Robinson, Scottie Pippen, Patrick Ewing, Hakeem Olajuwon, the Dream Team, the 1960 Olympic squad of Oscar Robertson and Jerry West -- the ceremonies this August in Springfield, Mass., could go on without anything close to the same NBA star power. In fact, based on past voting, there is the chance of zero representation, by player or coach or administrator, from the best league in the world.

Strange. Just far from unprecedented. This could be the third time in the last seven years it has happened.

In 2005, Hubie Brown made it and so did college coaches Jim Boeheim, Jim Calhoun and Sue Gunter, along with Hortenciade Fatima Marcari from the International committee. But Dominique Wilkins did not. Joe Dumars did not. Adrian Dantley did not. Four coaches.

It happened again in 2007. Phil Jackson, Roy Williams, Van Chancellor, referee Mendy Rudolph, Spanish coach Pedro Ferrandiz, Yugoslavian coach Mirko Novosel and the 1965-66 Texas Western team that became the first school to win the NCAA title while starting five African-American were elected. Three former NBA players who were finalists -- Mullin, Dantley and Richie Guerin -- all missed the cut.

Wilkins and Dumars got inducted in 2006, with headliner Charles Barkley, and Dantley was elected in 2008, as part of the class with Olajuwon, Ewing and Pat Riley. But two times in three years, no NBA player was enshrined.

It's a possibility now simply because every candidate has been passed over before, although this is Rodman's first time as a finalist after failing to make the initial cut for the Class of 2010 in his first year of eligibility. Reggie Miller, who would have seemed to have the best case for induction this time, was not voted a finalist in a secretive voting process that has been cast increasingly in a negative light.

Cheeks, Mullin, Rodman, Wilkes, Sampson, Al Attles (contributor), Dick Motta (coach) and Tex Winter (coach) advanced out of the North American committee, along with Herb Magee, coach at Division II Philadelphia University, and college referee Herb Nichols. There also are candidates from other committees.

A former NBA player could sneak in, elected via the ABA selection (though their biggest mark would have come in the now-defunct league) or the Early African-American Pioneers of the Game committee, the two groups Colangelo helped develop. Both committees were given the unique ability to choose one person for automatic induction, without having to become a finalist and then receive at least 18 of 24 votes for enshrinement.

It's often pointed out, by those around the NBA, that the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame is not the NBA Hall of Fame. We'll find out Monday, when the inductees are revealed at collge basketball's Final Four, whether the NBA will be represented at all this fall in Springfield, Mass.

Scott Howard-Cooper has covered the NBA since 1988. You can e-mail him here and follow him on twitter.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.

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