What has become of the Naismith basketball Hall of Fame? They’d tell you that In the halls of it’s hallowed building in Springfield, Ohio it’s become a sanctuary of all time great basketball players, coaches, and contributors.
In reality, it’s a hollowed gesture that allows “kind of good” basketball players to be mentioned in the same breath as phenomenal basketball players. Recent inductee Chris Mullin should not be mentioned in the same sentence as Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Oscar Robertson, Bill Russell, or Larry Bird.
And yet, Mullin, a decent basketball player who appeared in 5 All Star games, albeit consecutive (89 – 93); with a total of zero MVP’s, zero scoring titles, zero NBA titles, zero Finals MVP’s, and zero lasting impact on the game, will be enshrined alongside these extraordinarily transcendent players.
What’s wrong with this picture? To quote Bob AKA Mr. Incredible from the animated film “The Incredibles” – “It’s psychotic! They keep creating new ways to celebrate mediocrity!” Chris Mullin was hardly equal to his newest collection of peers on the basketball court, and should not share the rewards of their excellence off of it.
To be clear, this is not an article to bash Chris Mullin. He’s just one of dozens of examples of good players
being given the privilege to bask in the glory of greatness. Unfortunately, I’m using him as an example. Do the writers think the fans have forgotten what actually happened on the basketball court?
That Mullin, though a crafty scorer, if called upon could not guard his shadow? That he never once led his teams to anything closely resembling a NBA championship? That he barely played in one Finals as a bench player?! That he struggled heavily with alcoholism, and never kept himself in shape? That he played 16 seasons in the NBA and only made 5 All Star appearances?!
And that’s where it all becomes clear. Mullin is being inducted into the hollowed grounds of the Hall for 5 seasons of good, not great, basketball. Surely, not his entire body of work. Insert: sarcastic grin.
For five consecutive seasons, from 1988 until 1993, Mullin scored an average of 25 or more points and five rebounds per game. He became the only Warrior player besides Wilt Chamberlain to ever have five consecutive 25 ppg seasons. In that span, the Warriors made five straight playoff appearances. See a pattern here? Five’s are wild!
Mullin also won Olympic gold twice-as a member of the 1984 amateur team, and for the 1992 Dream Team where he was essentially a bench role player. To sum it up, Mullin was never the catalyst for any team that achieved greatness or excellence on the basketball court.
In comparison, Magic Johnson led his 79 Michigan State team to an NCAA title, the Lakers to 5 NBA titles, 3 MVP’s, 3 Finals MVP’s, 9 NBA first team selections, 12 All Star selections, 2 All Star MVP’s, and started for the 1992 Dream Team that won Olympic Gold. Oh, and by the way is on the NBA’s 50th Anniversary All Time team. Pure greatness. The same goes for Jordan, Jabbar, Robertson, Russell, Bird…you get the picture.
Hall of Fame inductees should be great players, coaches, and contributors. Chris Mullin was not a great player. Period. The game of basketball would still be OK if Mullin never played. It’s a fact.
In the end, it’s not Chris Mullin’s fault he was picked for an undeserving honor. It’s on the shoulders of the writers that put him there. It speaks loud to the old adage, “it’s not who you are, but who you know”. If I’m Michael Jordan or Larry Bird, or even John Stockton I’m highly offended.
For all the sacrifice and long hours perfecting their games, playing for / winning multiple championships and MVP’s, all the while transcending the sport into a global phenomenon, they get to look to their lefts and rights and see a career slacker who put in 5 good years. That’s like receiving the 30 yr retirement package for 5 yrs of service.
No one said life is fair, but some things are outright egregious.
Rumor has it, there’s a groove right underneath the inductee podium at the Hall of Fame. The consensus is Michael Jordan put it there after his unforgettable and mostly uncomfortable speech last year. Hey, great players are afforded that luxury – they’ve earned it.
I have a feeling when Chris Mullin gets up to give his inductee speech, he’ll never notice the groove is even there. But, he’ll still get the honor of being in the same “shoes” as Michael Jordan.