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Miller omission from Hall list perplexingPosted Monday, February 28, 2011, at 1:19 PM
I admit that I am a bit biased when it comes to Reggie Miller, who for 18 seasons was the heart and soul of the Indiana Pacers.
But to leave Miller, the 17th leading scorer in the history of the NBA, off the list of the 2011 finalists for possible induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame borders on insanity.
You wonder what the voters were smoking.
Those who are not Miller fans might have a case in saying that he should not be a first ballot Hall of Famer, but to leave him off the list of finalists is ludicrous.
I wanted to examine some of the other NBA players that made the list.
Dennis Rodman is ranked as the 22nd best rebounder in NBA history. He had almost 12,000 career rebounds, averaging over 13 per game.
Rodman, who was an important part of five NBA championship teams in Detroit and Chicago, had 10 straight years of averaging between 11.2 and 18.7 rebounds per game, leading the league on the boards in four seasons.
Maurice Cheeks was one of the most underrated point guards in the history of the NBA. Cheeks, who helped the Philadelphia 76ers win a championship with Doctor J and Moses Malone, is fifth in career steals and 10th in assists with 7,392.
He was no liability on the offensive end, shooting over 52 percent for his career. He scored over 12,000 career points as well. If you ask me, Cheeks is the most deserving of these five.
Chris Mullin, who was a great college player at St. John's, finished with 17,911 points, 65th on the career list. If you consider his collegiate career, he should be considered a Hall of Famer.
Jamaal Wilkes, an important part of title teams at UCLA and with the Los Angeles Lakers, managed 14,644, which ranks 133rd on the list of all-time NBA scorers.
Wilkes was at best a complimentary player on some very good teams.
Ralph Sampson had 7,039 career points and 4,011 rebounds during his eight-year NBA tenure. Even if you consider his college career at Virginia, he is a borderline candidate at best.
Rodman was very, very good at his craft -- rebounding -- and might have been considered great. But was he a greater rebounder than Miller was a scorer?
This brings us down to Reggie, who played 18 seasons for the Pacers.
In any Hall of Fame discussion, longevity often is viewed as a negative.
But the fact is that Miller played in 1,389 regular games, seventh most all-time. The most impressive part of that is he played in 96 percent of the scheduled games, only missing 55 of 1,446 games. There were only 50 games during the strike year of 1999.
Six times he did not miss a game, five times he missed one game, one season he missed two games and he missed three games twice. He went four straight seasons without missing a game.
Skeptics can say that he only made five All-Star Games and never was voted high than third team All-NBA.
His career average of 18.2 ppg just barely makes the top 100 in that category.
He only appeared in one NBA Finals, but he played on a team that made the playoffs in 15 of his 18 seasons and went to the Conference Finals five times in a seven-year period.
Reggie's career free throw percentage of .887 is ninth. He is 14th on the list of made free throws, but only 27 in attempts.
In eight seasons, he shot .900 or better.
His 2,560 3-pointers was the most in NBA history until recently being passed by Ray Allen.
For his career, he shot .395 from beyond the arc, including 10 times at 40 percent or better.
Uncle Reggie, as he became known as by his teammates later in his career, scored 25,279 points, which is tied with Rick Barry for 17th most in NBA/ABA history.
Even if you take away his 3-pointers, Miller, whom many consider to be one of the top clutch shooters of all-time, still would have scored 22,719, 28th best. He had six seasons where he averaged 20 points or more.
He was not Michael Jordan or even close, and had the misfortune of playing during the Jordan era.
Very few have ever meant more to their franchise for a longer period of time than Miller.
This is not a strong group of Hall of Fame candidates, which makes it even more perplexing that Miller's name isn't even on the list. That means it will only get tougher for him to ever gain enshrinement.
But if guys like Artis Gilmore (24,941 points and 16,330 rebounds during his ABA/NBA career) and coach Bobby "Slick" Leonard (573 career wins and three ABA championships) and others with ABA ties aren't in the Hall, why would I think that a guy that played in a small market would get a fair shake.
Reggie, a fierce competitor and a better defender than he ever got credit for, liked being the enemy during his career. Even if the voters didn't like him, I would have at least thought they would have respected him for his accomplishments on the court.
B.J. Hargis is the sports editor of the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (812) 847-4487, ext. 12.
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