Reggie Miller has made the Hall of Fame. Someday, the Hall of Fame will, too
The Basketball Hall of Fame is an absolute joke. The Baseball Hall of Fame could elect a series of Jack Morris-types in, twice a year, and the Football Hall of Fame could enshrine Tim Tebow before he even suits up for the New York Jets later this year; and those two collectives would still appear as mindful, knowledgeable organizations in comparison to this NBA-addled, logo-shilling front. Call into question whatever practices the Baseball and Football-wings toss out every voting season, and it wouldn't hold a candle to the transparently corporate practices that the shoe company-driven and David Stern-obsessed Hall of Fame routinely churn out. No amount of Dennis Rodman inductions will change that.
This was the case last year, when Indiana Pacers legend Reggie Miller was left off the ballot. This is the case this year, when it comes time for Miller's induction.
We'll fawn over Miller in late summer, when he takes to the stage for his induction speech. For now, the story is that Reggie Miller was voted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, a weird catch-all collective that is also bringing former coach and player Don Nelson into its mix, as well as former Virginia and Houston Rockets center Ralph Sampson. Does Miller belong? Does it matter?
At this point, no. A decade ago, Stern heard the criticism surrounding the Hall of Fame's seeming love of long time college coaches and international players over his league's B+-level non-champions, and he drew his scythe. Cleared the mess, and burned a logo into the crops. No more would types like Dominique Wilkins be ignored in favor of some coach who made the Final Four in 1982 and 1993. Stern and Jerry Colangelo, with help from ESPN's "labor negotiation advisor" Russ Granik, took over that building, planting a swoosh anywhere it could.
Reggie Miller, flush with shoe ads and Madison Avenue cred during his mid-1990s heyday, didn't need the help. His stats, even taking into considering the fact that his later seasons tempered his percentages, won't blow you away. His career 21.4 Player Efficiency Rating is outpaced this year by both Marcin Gortat and Kyrie Irving, mainly because Miller didn't do much more besides curl off of screens (up until the 2000-01 season, mostly, which we'll get to in August) and not turn the ball over. He was never an all-around guard in the mold of a Michael Jordan or even a Clyde Drexler.
He was, and is, famous. And to borrow a hack-y baseball sportswriter phrase, it's the Hall of Fame, man, not the Hall of Pretty Good.
Reggie Miller was pretty, pretty damn good at what he did. He was the go-to offensive force for a deep Pacer team that never quite got over that hump. A pretty-good team that nobody would ever confuse with, say, the Suns or SuperSonics or Jazz or even Knicks teams that lost out on rings during Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon's championship runs. Miller was no martyr, because he was afforded all the benefits of a superstar, even if his teams weren't good enough. Even when he came close to acting the heel, Knick superfan Spike Lee still somehow came off worse.
All that, plus working knees, cushy TV gigs that nobody can justify, and a Hall of Fame induction. Not a bad haul, considering.
This is why, in the time between now and Miller's induction, we have to take a step back while considering his Hall of Fame credentials. Because we should be beyond that, by now. It's like arguing over the Grammys. The organization really is that insipid.
Congratulations, Reggie Miller. Come late summer, we'll be ready to fawn over your time as a player in the wake of your induction. In the meantime, as was the case last year when the Hall of Fame didn't even deign to put you on the ballot, we're just going to remind ourselves of what a joke the Basketball Hall of Fame is and will continue to be.
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