Hall of Fame (archive)

Tracy McGrady, Ben Wallace headline newcomers eligible for 2017 Hall of Fame

Tracy McGrady and Ben Wallace head the list of first-time nominees with strong NBA ties for the Hall of Fame, a group of candidates released Wednesday that also includes Muggsy Bogues, super agent David Falk and former referees Jake O’Donnell and Sid Borgia.

McGrady and Wallace have the strongest candidacies among the newcomers in an election cycle without a lock for 2017 induction, an opening after Shaquille O’Neal and Allen Iverson this year and Jason Kidd in a 2018 field that could also include Grant Hill. The competition for votes for McGrady and Wallace within the North American committee – the panel that handles most with NBA, ABA and NCAA ties – is mostly among carryovers, especially Kevin Johnson and Tim Hardaway.

McGrady was a two-time scoring champion for the Magic in the early-2000s and a seven-time All-Star with Orlando and Houston as part of a 15-season career with six teams. He finished in the top 10 in scoring average six times, though is only 62nd on the career list for total points, and was first-, second- or third-team All-NBA seven times.

Wallace won Defensive Player of the Year four times, was first-team All-Defense five times and second-team once, made four All-Star games, finished in the top 10 in rebounding seven years and the top 10 in blocks seven years, and was second-team All-NBA on three occasions and third-team two others. He was a key part of a title in Detroit in 2004. While his name was not ordinarily associated with Hall of Famers, Wallace’s numbers compare favorably to 2015 inductee Dikembe Mutombo, who was Defensive Player of the Year four times, first-team All-Defense three times and second-team three times, had eight All-Star appearances, finished in the top 10 in rebounding 11 years and the top 10 in blocks another 11, and was second-team All-NBA once and second-team twice. He did not win a championship, but was a third-team All-American in college.

That was enough to get Mutombo elected on his first year on the ballot. The same outcome seems unlikely for Wallace in the secretive, unpredictable world of Hall voters whose identity is kept secret, but he should at least have a case.

Meanwhile, several former players have yet to be nominated despite being eligible for consideration: Penny Hardaway, Brent Barry, Bruce Bowen, Robert Horry, Bobby Jackson, Matt Harpring and Tyronn Lue, among others.

The finalists from the North American and Women’s committee, after an initial round of voting, will be announced at All-Star weekend in February in New Orleans. The inductees from all the categories, including the four others that require a single balloting, are revealed at the Final Four in April in Phoenix.

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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