This Year’s Hall of Famers Not Named Jordan
Michael Jordan dominated his opponents during his basketball career (excluding his time in Washington, of course), much like he has dominated the news coverage of this year’s Basketball Hall of Fame inductees. He deserves it, of course. Being the best player to ever live certainly has its privileges. But all of the Jordan coverage has overshadowed some individuals who are very deserving of the honor they’ve received and maybe aren’t getting enough attention today. With the very tiny bit influence I have on the basketball world, I thought I’d give a little bit of love to some of the other guys.
Even though many people recognize Stockton as one of the game’s greats, I believe he is still one of the most underrated players ever. He tops the NBA’s all-time lists for assists and steals but is often left off of people’s lists of the best point guards and remembered for his short shorts and for allegedly being a dirty player. No, he wasn’t as flashy as Magic Johnson, as versatile as Oscar Robertson or as explosive as Isiah Thomas, but Stockton got the job done night after night. He rarely missed games, playing a full 82 games 16 times, a full 50 in the lockout season and only missing four in another. He shot 51% for his career, which is unheard of for a guard. His career high was 57% in the 87-88 season, where he also put up nearly 14 assists and three steals per game. The major detractions to his career are his teammate Karl Malone and his lack of a championship. Even Jordan played with another Hall-of-Fame caliber player and it can be argued that Jordan did not do for Pippen what Stockton did for Malone. The "Stockton to Malone" combination should be celebrated instead of viewed as a negative thing. As for championships, Stockton’s Utah Jazz teams were twice a victim of Jordan’s Bulls teams and only a hair away from a couple of other Finals appearances.
Sloan coached Stockton and Malone and is still coaching the Utah Jazz. He has coached that team for 21 of his 24 seasons as a coach. He is fourth on the NBA’s all-time career wins list (1136) and is the only coach to win 1000 games with the same team. slaon-coached teams have only missed the postseason five times and have finished under .500 only thrice. Despite his extensive success, Sloan has never been named Coach of the Year. Sloan has also been criticized for never winning a title, falling victim to the Jordan era. Despite this he is regarded by many as one of the best ever, evidenced by his inclusion in the Hall of Fame.
Never has a player so great received so little credit and been the subject of so much ridicule. Robinson was a nice guy, which was used against him quite frequently. He was called soft because he lacked the mean streak that many NBA players needed to be great. If being soft is what it takes to be MVP, a two-time NBA champion, a ten-time All-Star, ten-times All-NBA, Defensive Player of the Year, eight times All-NBA defense, Rookie of the Year and a three-time Olympic medalist, then so be it. Robinson is also one of only four players to ever record a quadruple-double. His other career honors are too numerous to name here, but he managed to achieve these things while being active in the community. He also fulfilled a two-year commitment to the Navy, taking away from what could be an even more illustrious career.
C. Vivian Stringer
Never let it be said that HoopsVibe doesn’t pay attention to women’s basketball. While most people had never heard of Stringer until she defended her players from being called "nappy-headed hoes," she has been in the coaching game for a long time. She is third on the list of all-time winningest coaches in women’s basketball history and is the only coach, male or female, to take teams from three different programs to the Final Four. She has accomplished these things while dealing with deaths of those close to her and a personal battle with breast cancer.