NBA should consider creating its own Hall

What the Hall of Fame did to Dominique Wilkins is akin to Cooperstown ignoring a player with 3,000 hits and selecting his batting coach instead.

Updated: April 5, 2005, 1:48 PM ET
By John Hollinger | ESPN Insider
This institution can no longer be saved.

The Basketball Hall of Fame, or as I call it, the College Coaches Hall of Fame, lost any remaining shred of credibility this week with the announcement that this year's inductees included three college coaches but no NBA players. Superstar Dominique Wilkins was among those inexplicably denied entry.

This year's class (Jim Boeheim, Jim Calhoun, Sue Ginter, Hubie Brown and Hortencia de Fantima Marcari) represents the perfect storm, a selection so egregiously flawed that one hopes it will compel the institution to reform itself.

Dennis Johnson (left), Dominique Wilkins
Snubbing Johnson (left) and Wilkins is just the latest Hall Of Fame mistake.

Now before you Big East fans get your shorts in a wad, just do me a favor: Compare the list of college coaches in the Hall with the list of pro players and coaches. The NBA is a higher, more difficult level than college hoops, as countless Tim Floyds and Rick Pitinos prove every year, but you'd never know that from a trip to Springfield.

Included among the Pantheon are a plethora of NCAA coaches who never got near the national title game, let alone won it. But if you're an NBA coach, winning a title is the minimum standard, and even then it's no guarantee (just ask Bill Fitch or Dick Motta). Since 1997, exactly five pro coaches have been elected into the Hall of Fame, one of whom (Larry Brown) probably would have been stiffed if he hadn't also won an NCAA title. In that same span, the Hall honored 16 NCAA coaches– nine from the men's game and seven from the women's game.

While it was at it, the selection committee opened the doors to two foreign coaches, and even a high school coach. Including this year's class, there are 74 coaches in the Hall, of whom exactly 10 did the majority of their work in the NBA. Can you imagine going to Cooperstown and seeing that Triple-A managers outnumbered their major-league counterparts by six to one? Yet that's effectively what the Basketball Hall of Fame has done.


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