2018 Hall of Fame

Jason Kidd, Steve Nash among 13 finalists for Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2018

Steve Aschburner

Steve Aschburner

LOS ANGELES, Ca. – Of the 13 finalists announced Saturday for the last round of balloting for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, six of them – four former NBA players, two past WNBA stars – would be waiting at least another two years even to be considered, if not for a change in the Hall’s eligibility rules.

* Official release

* Bernstein, Burke named recipients for Curt Gowdy Award

That means an especially starry field of candidates and some “very difficult decisions” for the 24 voters on the Honors Committee that will decide the enshrinees in the coming weeks, according to Jerry Colangelo, chairman of the Hall’s Board of Governors.

Consider: Ray Allen, Grant Hill, Jason Kidd and Steve Nash are newly eligible candidates joining fellow former NBA stars Maurice Cheeks and Chris Webber among the 2018 finalists. Katie Smith and Tina Thompson of WNBA fame are on the ballot as first-timers.

The Hall shortened the waiting period for players to three years after retirement from five, the traditional gap still used by the Baseball, Pro Football and other sports shrines. One argument for the longer duration is that a candidate’s career is easier to put in context over time.

But another side of that? “Out of sight, out of mind,” Colangelo said. “There’s no reason to wait that amount of time.”

It’s not as if any of the candidate adds any statistics or exploits to his resume.

“Their number speak for themselves. They are who they are,” Colangelo said. “And whether it’s three years, four years or five years, the sooner the better. They can be recognized when they can enjoy it.”

Nothing is worse than receiving a posthumous award, after all, though that’s more of an issue for coaches.

“We’re pretty current as far as our sport because our fans know our players,” Colangelo added. “They come face-to-face with them every game, in the arena or on TV, in a way they don’t with football or even baseball. We think it’s a way to maximize that exposure and do it sooner rather than later.”

Out of sight, out of mind. There’s no reason to wait that amount of time.”

Chairman of HOF’s Board of Governors Jerry Colangelo on waiting period reduced to three years

Said Dominique Wilkins, one of 11 Hall of Famers on the stage for the finalists announcement: “The [longer] waiting period made it interesting. But things change, and you have to change with the change.”

The Hall’s use of “direct elect” categories in recent years – for African-American pioneers, for international candidates, for contributors and for a list considered by a veterans committee – has alleviated what had been a backlog of worthy selections, Colangelo said. For instance, the ABA category was done away after several deserving alumni of that upstart league, such as Artis Gilmore and Roger Brown, were enshrined.

The other five finalists announced Saturday morning at a new conference at STAPLES Center were: Maryland coach Lefty Driesell, Houston Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich, women’s coach Kim Mulkey, former NBA referee Hugh Evans and the 1954-58 Wayland Baptist University women’s program in the team category.

A finalist must receive 18 votes from the 24-member Honor Committee, with no minimum or maximum for induction. In theory, all 13 could make it, though Colangelo said most Hall classes have range from four to eight per year.

The Class of 2018 will be announced March 31 at the men’s NCAA basketball Final Four in San Antonio. This year’s enshrinement at the Naismith Hall in Springfield, Mass., is set for Sept. 7.

Four others were announced Saturday as winners of the Hall’s traditional awards. The 2018 John Bunn Lifetime Achievement honorees are Jim Host, a marketing pioneer for college basketball, and Harley Redin, who posted a 431-66 record in women’s college basketball and led teams to six AAU national titles from 1956 to 1971.

The Curt Gowdy media awards for 2018 were announced, with longtime NBA photographer Andrew Bernstein being recognized in the print category and ESPN/ABC color analyst Doris Burke honored in broadcast media.

Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

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