It was accidentally brought to my attention earlier today that Artis Gilmore, one of the greatest big men in basketball history, isn’t in the Hall of Fame.
How is this humanly possible?
Admittedly, few people take the Basketball Hall of Fame seriously. It’s just too much of a mishmoshâ€”an obscure women’s player here, a Russian you’ve never heard of there. Truth be told, the NBA really needs its own Hall, similar to the way the NFL does things. The Pro Football Hall of Fame will never induct, say, Chuck Fusina based on his brilliant USFL passing career. That’s a good thingâ€”nobody cares about Chuck Fusina.
I digress. Whether the NBA has its own hall or not, Artis Gilmore belongs. In 1970, he led Jacksonville (yes, Jacksonville) to the NCAA title game, and he’s still the top rebounds-per-game player in NCAA history. In five seasons with the Kentucky Colonels of the ABA, Gilmoreâ€”and I’m stealing from Wikipedia hereâ€”established league records for career field goal percentage (0.557), career blocked shots (750), blocked shots in a season (287 in the 1973-74 season), and rebounds in a game (40). He also averaged 22.3 points and 17.1 rebounds per game. In 11 more NBA seasons, Gilmore was a six-time All-Star who teamed with George Gervin to: A. Kick ass in San Antonio; B. Form the greatest Afro duo in league history.
This, from Wikipedia:
Despite an ABA career in which he averaged 22.3 points and 17.1 rebounds per game, NBA career averages of 17.1 points and 10.1 rebounds per game, ranking in the top ten in rebounds, blocked shots, games, and minutes played, among the top 25 all-time in points, and first overall in field goal percentage, Gilmore has yet to be elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame. No other player with comparable statistical accomplishments has been omitted from the Hall. For the past three years, he failed to receive even a single vote of support from a panel of nine anonymous members serving on the North American screening committee. He remains ineligible for enshrinement until 2012.
Of all the major sports, basketball is the best at infuriating me. The NBA, in particular, routinely spits the bit when it comes to All-Star selections and oddball honors. Remember the 50 Greatest Players of eight or nine years back? No Dominique Wilkinsâ€”just so Bill Walton could make it. Baffling.
Simple point: There is no argument to be made against Gilmore. None.
Get it right.