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Is the Basketball Hall of Fame too easy to get into?

NBA Hall of Fame

One of the biggest gripes some fans have over the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame is that it’s the furthest thing from being impenetrable. The institution that’s supposed to safeguard the history of the NBA and basketball as a whole is filled with borderline stars and unknown names to the common fan.

Take Calvin Murphy, for example. His name is legendary in Houston, Texas, having spent his entire 13-year career with the Rockets. Part of what made Murphy so beloved by the fan base was the fact that he stood at a mere 5-foot-9 but could score with the best of them. But was his career worthy of entry into the Basketball Hall of Fame?

His career averages were solid, but nothing to tell your grandchildren about. (Special exception if you’re actually Calvin Murphy. You can tell your grandkids about your numbers.) Murphy put up 17.9 points, 4.4 assists, and 2.1 rebounds per game in a thousand-game sample size.

He made just one All-Star team and was also selected to the All-Rookie team his first year in the league, but that’s where the list of accolades ends. As far as his reach goes, he’ll probably be 10 times more recognizable in Houston than in any other place in the country.

Calvin Murphy is far from the only questionable entrant that’s made it into the Hall of Fame. Names like Bill Bradley, Mitch Richmond, and Gail Goodrich have been brought up as examples of the same, at one point or another.

It becomes fair to question to ask if a guy like Calvin Murphy belongs in the same Hall of Fame with the likes of Bill Russell, Michael Jordan, Tim Duncan, and Kobe Bryant.

The case people make is the fact that a lenient selection process ultimately dilutes the quality and meaning of having your name forever enshrined on location at Springfield, Massachusetts. But my question right back is – does it really?

There are six NBA stars who made it into the 2021 Basketball Hall of Fame class: Paul Pierce, Chris Bosh, Chris Webber, Toni Kukoc, Ben Wallace, and Bobby Dandridge. Not all those names are revered equally.

Pierce, arguably the most decorated of the bunch, delivered his acceptance speech with the same level of bravado that made fans either love or loathe him, an attitude he’s kept throughout his entire career.

“Coming into the draft I was a first team All-American, projected number two pick. So I’d like to thank the Clippers, the Vancouver Grizzlies, Denver Nuggets, Toronto Raptors, Golden State Warriors, Dallas Mavericks, Sacramento Kings, Philadelphia 76ers and Milwaukee Bucks, the nine teams that passed on me… I appreciate that. Thank you for passing on me and adding fuel to my fire.”

Paul Pierce got his proverbial flowers from his NBA peers and fans alike and was celebrated like the surefire Hall of Famer that he is.

His classmate Bobby Dandridge, though a worthy entrant, is obviously at a notch below Pierce in terms of his place in NBA history. But as a Washington Wizards fan myself, Dandridge was a critical part of our franchise’s only NBA championship back in 1978. His influence around the broad spectrum of the NBA is nowhere near that of Pierce, Bosh, or even the other names like Ben Wallace or Toni Kukoc.

But just the same as Calvin Murphy provided unquantifiable value to a smaller scope of people, so too did Bobby Dandridge. His perceived value may not be as all-encompassing as the outspoken Pierce, but it exists just the same.

And the most important part is it doesn’t affect Pierce’s own induction in the slightest. Why would it, really? The question posed earlier was whether or not including these so-called “lesser” candidates dilutes the quality of the Hall of Fame.

The answer should be a resounding no for the simple fact that the Hall of Fame doesn’t make the players suddenly worthy of distinction, it’s the players themselves who do that.

Having some lesser-known stars in the same group as legends of the game doesn’t make us appreciate the greatest ones any less. Paul Pierce will have the 2008 NBA Finals. Ben Wallace will have his mean mug and DPOY awards. Toni Kukoc can have his Michael Jordan stories.

They’re not lessened in any way by the fact that Bobby Dandridge, with his two titles, one with the Washington Bullets, is being inducted right alongside them.