2017 Hall of Fame

Grant Hill's intriguing case highlights potential nominees for Hall of Fame Class of 2018

Scott Howard-Cooper

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Skip the Jason Kidd conversation, because there isn’t one. As long as requisite paperwork is filed and he goes on the Hall of Fame ballot in winter, election as the biggest NBA name in the Class of 2018 should be an automatic. J-Kidd as a unanimous choice in his first year eligible should be a strong possibility actually, even if the vote totals are never revealed in the shadowy process.

The next election cycle is about Grant Hill, and not just Grant Hill the player.

Hill as a candidate for 2018, assuming, as with Kidd, he is nominated, goes beyond the usual debate over qualifications. Hill is a case study on the internal politics of the anonymous voting committee, maybe even all the way to a referendum on the selections for the basketball museum.

That would have been the case anyway, but is especially relevant in the immediate aftermath of Jerry Krause’s posthumous induction Friday night as part of the Class of ’17 with Tracy McGrady, George McGinnis and eight others from the women’s game, high school, college and Europe. Krause was long overdue, a man who merely built the roster around Michael Jordan that led to six Bulls championships. But he wasn’t popular, even within his own locker room while being famously and unfortunately mocked by Jordan, and so Krause was continuously passed over, until he didn’t live to see the day when the honor did come. Don Nelson wasn’t popular with the Hall crowd either, to where it became ridiculous that the winningest coach of all-time was not enshrined, a tribute that finally arrived in 2012.

Hill is popular with everyone. Class act. Showed perseverance to fight through injuries in the middle of his career and play much longer than most would have expected. Later a successful businessman, to help build the image a little more. And: on the Board of Governors for the Hall.

He was also obviously talented. At Duke, he was a two-time All-American and two-time national champion. He was co-Rookie of the Year with Kidd in 1995. Hill was an All-Star seven times (with one appearance lost to injury) and All-NBA choice on five occasions. That was while averaging 16.7 points, 6.0 rebounds and 4.1 assists over 18 seasons, and another wiped out by an ankle problem, with the Pistons, Magic, Suns and Clippers. That’s a nice career.

Some voters may decide it’s a nice career. It’s also easy to see them deciding Hill deserves to make it out of the first round of voting, just not all the way to enshrinement. But if he does make it to finalist and the likes of Tim Hardaway, Rudy Tomjanovich and Kevin Johnson do not, as has happened in the past, the process becomes especially suspect.

Four 2017 finalists – Hardaway, Sidney Moncrief, Tomjanovich and Chris Webber – are holdovers along with Johnson, a former finalist, amid declining support in the previous election. Kidd, Hill, Jerry Stackhouse, Rasheed Wallace and Marcus Camby are among the players eligible to be nominated for the first time.

Scott Howard-Cooper has covered the NBA since 1988. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

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