Provoked by the announcement that Charles Barkley, Dominique Wilkins and Joe Dumars have been elected into Springfield, MA’s Basketball Hall Of Fame, the New York Post’s Peter Vescey wonders about some prominent omissions.
Today’s plan is to reduce to rubble my reputation for sticking it to to Phil Jackson, Pat Riley, Gregg Popovich (above) and, to a lesser extent, Rudy Tomjanovich.
Out of the last 24 NBA titles, starting in 1982, the above coaches have accounted for 18; nine by Jackson’s Bulls and Lakers, four by Riley’s Lakers, three by Popovich’s Spurs and two by Tomjanovich’s Rockets. Rudy T also won Olympic gold.
None is in the Hall of Fame, and, if I’m not mistaken, not one of them has ever been nominated.
Yet each year, when the new inductees are celebrated and the achievements of Jackson, Riley, Popovich and Tomjanovich are disregarded, the league’s Hall monitors and the rest of roundball pitifully look the other way and let the shameful slight slide.
Exactly where have Jackson, Riley, Popovich and Tomjanovich fallen short? Have they not satisfied every single standard of excellence?
Aside from his wealth of championships (only Red Auerbach flaunts as many), Jackson is the league’s all-time leader in winning percentage (.712). Popovich (.673) is fifth. Riley (.661) is sixth.
No disrespect to Geno Auriemma, but are we to believe the Fame’s anonymous nominating and selection committees genuinely believe the University of Connecticut women’s coach is more worthy than Jackson and Riley?
With all due disrespect to Dave Gavitt, you mean to tell me the two committees were lucid when they concluded the former Big East commissioner/Providence & Olympic coach/Hall of Fame underboss is more deserving than Popovich and Rudy T?
(April 7 ADDENDUM : Vescey admits that he wasn’t aware of the Hall’s eligibility requirements.
According to Hall of Fame by-laws, candidates cannot officially be considered for enshrinement unless, if active, they’ve coached a minimum of 25 years at the high school, college or pro level – assisting on the sidelines full time counts as well – or have been retired at least five years.
Neither Jackson nor Riley qualify. Same goes for Gregg Popovich and Rudy Tomjanovich, the other two whose counterfeit cause I negligently championed.
Hall of Shame on me!)