Caught in the Web Indiana Pacers blog - Two true Pacers could finally break down Hall wall in 2012
Two true Pacers could finally break down Hall wall in 2012
Not long after we produced a three-part series detailing the near-total ignorance of the Indiana Pacers by the Naismith Hall of Fame, the list of nominees for the Class of 2012 is positively streaked with blue and gold.
Coincidence? Probably, but the timing certainly is interesting.
The list of nominees, as reported by Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com, includes six true Pacers representatives: Reggie Miller, Mark Jackson, Donnie Walsh, Mel Daniels, Bobby "Slick" Leonard and George McGinnis.
You could add Tim Hardaway to the mix and expand the list to seven but Hardaway played only the final 10 games of his career with the Pacers in 2003 in a last-ditch comeback attempt and is not primarily identified with the franchise -- much like the only four Hall of Famers with ties to the team: Chris Mullin, Gus Johnson, Adrian Dantley and Alex English.
Being on the list of nominees is only the first step. The original list will be trimmed to a group of finalists, with that announcement scheduled for Feb. 24. The actual Class of 2012 will be revealed during the NCAA Final Four.
So what are the chances of induction for the Pacers' nominees? It appears two -- Miller and Daniels -- could actually down Indiana's wall to the Hall this year, with perhaps more to follow.
Reggie Miller -- He has the combination of stats, image and impact to earn the induction in his second year of eligibility. Of course, most of the NBA world thought he was a slam-dunk to make it last year but he didn't even make the list of finalists, we we've been burned before. It won't happen again. This is Reggie's year. He ranks second all-time NBA career 3-pointers made (2,560) and is 14th in points (25,279). He was a five-time All-Star, three-All-NBA third team selection and a two-time gold medalist (1994 World Championship, 1996 Olympics). He was the face of an elite franchise, as Miller and the Pacers made six trips to the Eastern Conference Finals and one to the NBA Finals.
Mark Jackson -- Dennis Rodman's induction last year opens the door for Jackson to get a serious look. Statistically, Rodman was only dominant in one category, rebounding, and so you can make an argument for Jackson, who ranks third all-time in assists, sandwiched behind John Stockton and Jason Kidd and ahead of Magic Johnson and Oscar Robertson. Jackson was a much more complete player than Rodman but because he lacks the championship pedigree, his odds at the Hall remain long.
Donnie Walsh -- Few would argue against Walsh's record, turning the Pacers from a perennial doormat into an annual contender while overcoming the financial and practical obstacles of working in a small Midwestern market. Hall voting tends to be dominated by those from the major Eastern media markets and Walsh (like Jackson) is a native New Yorker with a strong reputation in the city, thanks in no small part to his work as boss of the Knicks. He may very well go into the Hall of Fame one day but it would be a surprise if he made it this time.
Mel Daniels -- Of all the players nominated by the ABA committee, he has the strongest case. A two-time league MVP, Daniels averaged 18.7 points and 15.1 rebounds in his career, ranking fourth in ABA history in points and first in rebounds. He anchored all three of the Pacers' ABA championship teams. Because of the balloting structure of the Hall, only one member nominated by the ABA committee will be inducted each year. Artis Gilmore was the first to benefit from this relatively new wrinkle, and Daniels very likely will be the second.
George McGinnis -- Though very likely the most talented player ever to wear the Pacers' uniform, the one most capable of dominating on any given night, McGinnis likely will pay the price of potential. He's remembered by many in the national media as much for what he did not become as what he did. Even so, McGinnis' record demands a close and objective look. He was a three-time All-Star in both the ABA and NBA, posted career averages of 20.2 points, 11.0 rebounds and 3.7 assists. From 1972-79, McGinnis averaged 24.4 points, 12.5 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 2.09 steals.
Bobby "Slick" Leonard -- If you ask his former players, they will say the coach that led them to three championships is the most deserving Hall of Famer of the bunch. In nine years coaching in the ABA he racked up 387 wins, by far the most in that league's history, and wound up more rings than any other coach. For his overall career he won 579 games as a head coach in the NBA and ABA, hit the game-winning free throws for Indiana University in the 1953 NCAA championship game and played seven sevens in the NBA, averaging 9.9 points. Had Leonard coached the Celtics or Knicks to three NBA championships, he'd have been a first-ballot inductee 30 years ago. Because he coached the Pacers in the ABA, he faces an uphill climb.
What of Hardaway's chances? Like fellow Run TMCer Mullin, he has strong if not spectacular career statistics and could one day wind up in the Hall. But Mullin, who also was a prolific collegian in New York, had to wait more than five years to make it, so chances are Hardaway will have to wait at least that long -- if he is to make it at all.
Related Article: Pacers praise Hall of Famer Mullin as "consummate pro"