This year was a quality Hall of Fame class. David Stern was a must, even for those of us who see his legacy as mixed. Alonzo Mourning and Mitch Richmond deserved the call, as did Nat Clifton and Sarunas Marciulionis.
Now, what about next year’s class?
First, the voters should put in some of the guys who didn’t make the cut this year but deserve to be in — Tim Hardaway should be in, and Chris Webber deserves to be in the conversation (he wasn’t even nominated last year). Other guys to consider are Penny Hardaway and Spencer Haywood. (Sorry, I’m not in the group that thinks Robert Horry should be in.)
The reason to focus on those guys? Because the rookie eligibility class is not very strong. Scott Howard-Cooper listed the top names over at NBA.com’s hangtime blog.
One name deserving of consideration is Dikembe Mutombo — eight time All-Star, four time Defensive Player of the Year and one of the great players to come to the NBA from Africa (not to mention he had a strong career at Georgetown and this is a basketball, not NBA, hall of fame).
After that the pickings in the rookie class get slim: Bruce Bowen, Brent Barry, Bobby Jackson, Matt Harpring, Tyronn Lue and Mark Madsen are the names you know, and none of them are really Hall of Fame guys. Some good players, but not HOF.
Next year will be an interesting case, it might be time for a smaller class than normal heading into the Hall of Fame.