There was some recent article about Mark Jackson and Dennis Rodman and whether they were hall of fame worthy guys on NBA.com. I'm too lazy to go look it up, but it does beg the question would you put either of these guys in the hall?
This kind of gets down to the essence of what the Hall of Fame is about. First, let it be clear, the basketball Hall of Fame is just about the worst of any major hall. Only 1/3rd or so of the people in it are there because they played pro basketball. I understand contributors and coaches deserve spots in the hall, but they shouldn't outnumber the players two to one in my opinion.
So when I look at it that way, I'm tempted to throw all kinds of guys into the Hall. Let's just get some players in there for Pete's sake. Also, when you look at the older generation of players who are in the hall, modern players stack up pretty well. Part of this was because they had low standards initially just so the building wasn't empty.
If you were a Boston Celtic in the dynasty run you were in the Hall almost automatically. Could you imagine the 5th or 6th best player on a title team making the Hall of Fame today?
Still, you don't want to throw in more guys because other guys were undeserving. You have to decide, is it the hall of fame or is it the hall of very good? Neither Dennis Rodman or Mark Jackson were good enough players to be the best or second best player on a title team. Depending on your view of the sport, that could be enough to eliminate them right there.
However, that's only one way to look at the Hall. Would any reliever in baseball be good enough to be the most important guy on a title team? Would any safety, tight end, or kicker be good enough in football? Could you really anchor your team with a dominant center in the NFL?
You can also put guys in because they're the best at what they do, even if they aren't necessarily the best players in the game. In the NFL, the top 15 most valuable players are probably all QBs, but we're not shutting the hall down of other players. You might say the same thing in baseball with regards to starting pitching.
From that type of argument how do you deny possibly the league's greatest rebounder in the history of the sport? (and if you bring up the fact that his rebounding average pales in comparison to that of older generation players then I will smack you across the face for not understanding basketball statistics, warning sent) Rodman was also a top notch defender and big contributor on five title teams. He was more or less worthless on offense, but then again, Bill Russell wasn't doing a whole lot on offense either.
Granted Russell was considered the greatest player of his era despite his lack of offense whereas no one would consider Rodman a top 20 player in his era most likely.
I can go either way on this one. There's a part of me that thinks he simply wasn't good enough overall. Many believe he also gave up on many parts of the game in order to chase rebounds and celebrity. If you could take a historical draft of all players in league history for a team and have them play in their prime, how many guys are ahead of Rodman? It's got to be a ton.
At the same time, five rings, tons of defensive awards, all the rebounding titles, some of the stuff he's done is still pretty special. It really comes down to this (IMO anyway):
Do you let a specialist into the basketball hall of fame?
If the answer is yes, then Dennis is in. If the answer is no, then he's out. We let specialists into the Halls of other sports even if they aren't really guys you'd build a team around, but basketball is fundamentally different in the way the team controls who the go to guys are rather than the situations.
I don't know, so you convince me.
(Btw, I just say no on Mark Jackson, if you let Jackson in, then you're using the "he was good for a really, really, really long time even if he was never great" rule. I don't like that one. I'd rather take guys who were really great but one dimensional over guys who were just good.