This year Bobby Leonard was selected to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame by the ABA committee — he was a former college star at Indiana (he hit the game winning free throws to give Indiana the 1953 national championship) who after a seven year NBA playing career went on to coach the Pacers to three ABA titles. You probably know him as the Pacers’ color commentator on broadcasts.
Nat Clifton, the former Knick who was the second African-American ever to sign an NBA contract and play in the league, who went on to be an All-Star in 1957, was elected directly to the HOF by the Early African American Pioneers Committee. Sarunas Marciulionis will be in the Hall thanks to a vote by the International Committee.
Do those guys deserve to be in the Hall? Do they deserve a direct election by subcommittees?
A few years back the Hall of Fame election process was opened up to allow a few “direct elections” by committees who could help bring in guys overlooked by the current system, to help out guys who deserved recognition. But now some are questioning if those committees have run their course.
Jerry Colangelo, the guy in charge of the Hall of Fame now, may be one of those guys. He talked with Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com about it.
“Let’s put it this way,” said Jerry Colangelo, the chairman of the Springfield, Mass., basketball museum. “This year, for the first time, we brought that up, to say, ‘You know, when we did this, we said it’s not forever.’ The concept was we felt people had slipped through the cracks. This was a catch-up kind of a thing, so we’re not locked in. We need now to review it each year, to say maybe we’ve taken care of what needed to be taken care of in this category or that category. But it’s just too early to say what we’re going to do.”
The current format with the direct-elections will “probably” remain in place for at least one more year, Colangelo said, because the Hall would prefer to phase out categories rather than make an abrupt end. That leadership is having conversations now, though, indicates internal questions have already developed about whether enough deserving candidates exist for the specialized categories beyond 2015.
Understand that this doesn’t mean guys from the ABA (or whatever category) couldn’t make the Hall of Fame, they just would have to go through the usual process — be voted in as finalists then get elected via a final round of voting (where nobody knows who is doing the secretive voting process).
It also does not mean guys finishing their careers now will go through a different process, nothing is changing for Alonzo Mourning and other current candidates.
We will see how this plays out.
I will not use this space to go off on another personal rant about ow we need a separate NBA Hall of Fame. But I should.