Saturday, April 11, 2009

Running and Gunning for the Hall of Fame

No doubt you’ve heard that Point God John Stockton and one of the few NBA Coaches in the 1k Club, Jerry Sloan, are both first ballot Hall of Fame inductees. There are only two coaches on that list (once you sort it by wins) that are part of the 1K Club who have better career coaching win percentages, Pat Riley and Phil Jackson, and those two coaches had the benefit of coaching Kareem, Magic, Shaq (both coaches), Kobe, Wade, Worthy, Jordan, Pippen, and so forth. How much coaching is actually needed when you’ve coached the absolute best players over four generations? Sloan is in very elite company and has done so over a career where he always had to use some pretty bad rosters – that is amazing.

Similarly, there is no point even beginning to explain how great John Stockton was/is as a basketball player. Stockton and Adam Keefe would beat Deron Williams and almost every other of Deron’s current team mates in 2 on 2 (save for Memo, Boozer or maybe Andrei). That’s high praise from someone who is quite enamored with this current Jazz roster. Furthermore, I think John is highly underrated still – for a guy who absolutely owns two All-Time NBA records and will never have to fear them being broken. We hear so much about Jordan and Kobe – yet they aren’t even close to having any record like that, let alone two. John is on my personal list of Top 10 Highest Basketball IQ’s as well. (in some type of order to be determined at a later date: Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Bill Russell, Michael Jordan, Oscar Robertson, Bob Cousy, John Stockton, Isiah Thomas, and two other guys) Sloan and Stock will join Adrian Dantley, Gail Goodrich (does he even count?), “Hot Rod” Hundley and “Pistol” Pete Maravich as part of the Jazz family who are in The Hall.\

I’m proud for each of those (former) players – the Hall appears to be a place where hard work (eventually) is recognized and celebrated. Sure, Stockton never won a ring (like the dubious ring that David Robinson won as the 3rd banana), but he was one of the Top 50 players in the history of the league. I’m not trying to make this a Stockton love-fest though . . . the question remains: who else in the Jazz family can we expect to see in the Hall of Fame?

Malone Gunning The most obvious one is Karl Malone. He’s another sure shot, first ballot Hall of Famer. For all of his faults, he was still one of the best in my opinion. Sure, he doesn’t have the rings that Duncan has – but Duncan has no where near the personal achievements that Malone has; after all, Malone never had the benefit of playing his best seasons next to a guy who made life easier on the low block like Duncan had with the previously mentioned Robinson. Malone had to go to war with Greg Ostertag and Felton Spencer – which was like going to war alone. Guys like Hakeem had Otis Thorpe, Charles Barkley and Robert Horry to help him out, just as a point of reference. You kind of need two solid bigs to win, Malone just had to do the work of two bigs. And he did. When was the last time someone averaged 30 and 10 in a season? I dare you to look it up. That guy was Karl Malone.


Larry at a draft long ago in the past After Karl I kind of think that Larry H. Miller, rest his soul, has an outside chance of being inducted as an Owner/Contributor. I don’t need to get into it, but at alternating times in his career he saved a small town franchise, built success in a franchise that was a perennial loser that also lost tons of money every year, and helped to end a damaging lockout during the height of the NBA’s popularity. Aside from that, it gets really slim indeed.



May 18 1998 - Jeff over Kobe [Jed Jacobsohn Getty Images] All Jazz fans love Jeff Hornacek. Dude had no right being as good as he was. Younger fans (or just newer fans) don’t know much about him because nothing is really said about him. He came to Utah on a draft deadline buzzer beating trade that sent Jeff Malone to Philly for Jeff Hornacek. Horny turned the Jazz from a solid 2nd round team into an NBA Finals team. By the time he got to the Jazz his body was breaking down, but still had tons of veteran savvy and shooting skill. Think of a shorter, less athletic Manu with a more pure stroke who didn’t flop and had a full head of hair. Also Horny had great court vision and a very high Basketball IQ. Jeff was awesome, and he rightly deserved to have his jersey retired in Utah, but he is really not going to make the Hall of Fame. ( gives him a 0.006 chance of getting in) Horny is like a lot of the Jazz family – guys who were great for us, but obviously not great enough for the Hall – like Mark Eaton and former Coach Frank Layden.

The only other guy I can think of is Deron Williams – but he’s got a lot more games to win (and maybe make an All-Star team) before he can be really brought into the conversation.