In the wake of news surrounding their retirement, there’s been talk of whether Allen Iverson and Tracy McGrady players are Hall of Famers. The burden of proof seems to fall more heavily on McGrady, who is light on postseason success.
These discussions are fun, but the "T-Mac shouldn’t be in the Hall!" camp should take note of just how arbitrary basketball’s Hall of Fame has been. For one thing, it’s a "basketball" Hall of Fame, which means it includes a lot of people who never stepped foot on an NBA court. Tracy McGrady couldn't make it past the first round of the playoffs? A lot of these guys never made it to the business of professional basketball.
Take a look at some Hall of Fame inductees from over the past five years. If you know a great deal about all the players listed below, you’re probably Curtis Harris.
2013: Roger Brown
2013: Richie Guerin
2012: Mel Daniels
2011: Goose Tatum
Goose Tatum was a Harlem Globetrotter, by the way. The Globetrotters do have a rich tradition of basketball comedy, but should Tracy McGrady, a guy who gave us one of the best individual seasons ever, really be excluded when Globetrotters get in? That travesty could only be surpassed by Washington General inductions. (Note: Said "travesty" seems more acceptable after I learned that Goose invented the skyhook.)
Not only did McGrady once score 30.2 points per game, he did so efficiently, and in an era where other perimeter players shot like the NBA was a rigged carnival game. The reason people are so disappointed in his playoff track record is precisely because T-Mac was obviously a Hall of Fame level player. Nobody would care about dashed playoff hopes if this guy was merely pretty good.
Feel free to hold the lack of playoff success against McGrady, even if injuries and a dearth of surrounding talent make for good excuses. But don’t pretend that it’d insult the Hall to include him with the likes of Goose Tatum, Andy Phillip, Tom Gola, and enough college coaches to clean out an arena-sized sweater vest factory.
Until the Hall of Fame adopts new, specific, NBA-based standards, it’s best to lean towards inclusivity. Otherwise, you’re just penalizing guys like McGrady for being more famous than the relatively anonymous folks who got in. And why was McGrady famous? Because he was great.