Monday, June 3, 2002
Updated: June 10, 3:16 PM ET
Best pro hoopsters not in Hall of Fame
Page 2 staff
On Wednesday, the Basketball Hall of Fame will reveal its class of 2002 inductees. The nominees include Magic Johnson, Maurice Cheeks, Chet Walker, James Worthy, Adrian Dantley and Bobby Jones. This week, Page 2's List looks at the 10 best pros -- NBA or ABA -- not in the Hall of Fame (and not nominated this year).
Take a look at our list, then take a look at how Page 2 readers ranked the best former pros not in the Hall of Fame. And be sure to vote in the poll to crown the No. 1 former pro basketball player not in the Hall of Fame.
1. Spencer Haywood (F/C, Denver Rockets of the ABA, Seattle SuperSonics, New York Knicks, New Orleans Jazz, LA Lakers, Washington Bullets, 1969-83)
Haywood was a revolutionary player -- the first to leave college early and
wind up in the NBA. In his first pro season with the Denver Rockets of the
ABA, who he joined after his sophomore year at the University of Detroit, the
6-foot-9 forward led the league in scoring, and was named both MVP and Rookie
of the Year. The next year -- his first with the NBA -- was hampered by a
landmark lawsuit. The NBA sued Haywood and the Sonics for violating league
rules against signing players who hadn't graduated college, and the case went all the way to the Supreme Court -- which ruled for Haywood
and opened the floodgates. Often during his first NBA season, he'd be served
papers just before a game started, and then not be allowed to play.
In his first five seasons, he was a four-time All-Star. Then the Sonics
traded him to the Knicks, and Haywood went Broadway. He married the
supermodel Iman and lived the high life, literally, becoming addicted to
cocaine. Despite fading in his final years, he played 76 games for the 1979-80 championship Lakers, averaging 9.7 ppg. His
ABA/NBA career totals: 17,111 points (a 20.3 average) and 8,675 rebound (10.3 per game).
2. Artis Gilmore (C, Kentucky Colonels, Chicago Bulls, San Antonio Spurs, Boston Celtics)
Sometimes the 7-2 Gilmore, who played five years for the ABA's Kentucky
Colonels and 12 years for the Bulls, Spurs and Celtics, was listed as 7-7 --
which took his 5-inch afro into account. But the 'fro wasn't all that was
spectacular about Gilmore: How about an NBA record .599 lifetime field goal
percentage, averages of 22.3 ppg in the ABA and 17.1 ppg in the NBA, one ABA
MVP award, and five ABA and six NBA all-star appearances?
3. Sidney Moncrief (G, Milwaukee Bucks, Atlanta Hawks, 1979-91)
In 11 NBA seasons (his first 10 with the Bucks), Moncrief, a five-time
All-Star, averaged 15.6 points per game, and was named defensive player of
the year in 1983 and 1984. Milwaukee ran off seven straight division titles
during Moncrief's first seven seasons. "At 28 Moncrief is the best
pentathlete of the NBA -- no one does so many things so well," wrote Jaime
Diaz in a 1985 SI profile. "Moncrief is a relentless rebounder and inside
scorer, a reliable outside shooter, a creative passer and a master of the
man-to-man, switching and rotation defenses in coach Don Nelson's hefty defensive playbook."
4. Bernard King (F, New Jersey Nets, Utah Jazz, Golden State Warriors, New York Knicks, Washington Bullets, 1977-93)
In his 14-year NBA career, King was a four-time All-Star. In his first
season, with the Nets, he was Rookie of the Year, and he led the league in
scoring in 1984-85 with 32.9 ppg, and scored 19,655 points during his career,
averaging 22.5 points per game.
5. George McGinnis (F, Indiana Pacers of the ABA, Philadelphia 76ers, Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers, 1971-82)
McGinnis was, like Haywood, an ABA "hardship case" -- he was allowed to leave
Indiana early, after leading the Big 10 in scoring as a soph, and turn pro.
He led the Pacers to two ABA championships in four years, and was the ABA
co-MVP (with Dr. J) in 1975. In his first NBA season, he led the previously
woeful 76ers to the playoffs, then teamed up with Erving to lead the Sixers
to the NBA finals in 1977 (which they lost to the Blazers). In 11 seasons,
McGinnis scored 19,162 points and pulled down 10,461 rebounds. But it wasn't
just numbers -- McGinnis dazzled. "We would watch him do unbelievable
things," said Phil Jasner of the Philadelphia Daily News, "then we'd look at each other and say, 'Don't write it down, it never happened.' "
6. Mel Daniels (C, Minnesota Muskies, Indiana Pacers, Memphis Sounds, New York Nets, 1967-77)
In eight seasons, Daniels was named to the ABA All-Star team seven times, was
named MVP in 1969 and 1971, was a member of three Indiana Pacers championship
ABA teams, and holds the ABA record for rebounds -- 9,494 in his career, an
average of 15.1 per game. Daniels was also rookie of the year in 1967-68, his
only season with the Minnesota Muskies. Daniels, who is currently the Pacers'
director of player personnel, is one of only three players in the team's
two-league history who's had his number (34) retired.
7. Dennis Johnson (G, Seattle SuperSonics, Phoenix Suns, Boston Celtics, 1976-90)
Johnson, a 6-4 guard, was no stranger to the postseason. He started for the
Sonics team that reached the NBA finals in 1977-78 (Seattle lost to
Washington in seven games), and again in 1978-79, when the Sonics won the
title in a rematch with Washington. He then became the backcourt leader on the Celtics championship teams of 1983-84 and 1985-86. During his 14 years in the NBA, Johnson was a five-time All-Star and was named to the all-defensive team nine seasons in a row. When he retired in 1990, he was only the 11th player to have tallied career totals of 15,000-plus points and 5,000-plus assists.
8. Maurice Stokes (C/F, Rochester Royals/Cincinnati Royals, 1955-58)
A sentimental pick, but a worthy one nonetheless. The story of the premature,
tragic end of Stokes' career due to post-traumatic encephalopathy after a
brain injury during a game in Minneapolis is well-known. The second draft pick in 1955,
Stokes led the NBA in rebounding with a 16.3 average his rookie year. He also
averaged 16.8 ppg, and was named rookie of the year. In his second season, he
set an NBA record with 1,256 rebounds, and was a triple threat -- he also
scored 15.6 ppg and dished 4.6 assists. In three seasons, he was a three-time All-Star, and averaged 16.4 points, 17.3 rebounds, and 5.3 assists in his all-too-brief 202-game career. Stokes was, said Bob Cousy, "The first great, athletic power forward. He was Karl Malone with more finesse."
9. Marques Johnson (F, Milwaukee Bucks, LA Clippers, Golden State Warriors, 1977-90)
Johnson was a remarkably consistent scorer, averaging between 16.4 and 21.7 points per game in nine of
his 10 full seasons -- and 25.6 ppg in his sophomore campaign. A five-time All-Star, Johnson, a forward, finished his career with 13,892 points, an average of 20.3.
10. Max Zaslofsky (G, Chicago Stags, New York Knicks, Baltimore Bullets, Milwaukee Hawks, Fort Wayne Pistons, 1946-55)
"Slats" Zaslofsky led the BAA (the NBA's precursor) in scoring in 1947-48,
averaging 21 ppg for the Chicago Stags. After he played with them for four
years, the Stags folded and he played three seasons for the Knicks. During
his 10-year career, most of it played before the introduction of the
24-second clock, he averaged 14.8 points a game, and also excelled in
postseason play, averaging 14.3 ppg in 63 playoff games. "He was one of the
better two-handed shooters of all time," said Dick McGuire, who played with
Zaslofsky with the Knicks. "He knew how to use people very well to get himself free for his shots."
Also receiving votes:
Paul Westphal -- G, Boston Celtics, Phoenix Suns, Seattle SuperSonics, New York Knicks, 1972-84
Roger Brown -- G/F, Indiana Pacers of the ABA, Memphis Sounds, Utah Stars of the ABA, 1967-75
Richie Guerin -- G, New York Knicks, St. Louis Hawks/Atlanta Hawks, 1956-70
Gus Johnson Jr. -- F, Indiana Pacers (ABA), Baltimore Bullets, Phoenix Suns, 1963-73