Sunday, August 15, 2010

Hall Passes For Mailman, Scottie, The Dream Team and DJ

Things are happening way too fast in so much time. August is literally the month where everything is crammed in to fill the last month of summer. Case in point, the NBA Hall of Fame induction coming exactly a week after the NFL's.

Sports overload? Sure, but anything can distract me from the Dodgers' Thursday implosion.

Scottie Pippen and Karl Malone are no brainer Hall of Famers to me. Growing up in the 90's, you knew that the Mailman would average 25 and 10, show up to work every day and make any opponent work extra hard to beat him. You also knew that Scottie would show up every game as one of the hardest matchups in the league and the best sidekick to His Airness (just saying that reminds me of the NBA on NBC theme song)

I hated Scottie because I hated those 90's Bulls. I hated Malone and John Stockton because they stood in the way of the Lakers in the late 90's and pick-and-rolled us to death. But they embodied greatness.

Scottie was a point-forward who killed you on defense and could do anything offensively on the court. He had one of the greatest dunks of all time when he absolutely destroyed Patrick Ewing in the 1994 playoffs. Best part? Standing over him like MJ would and then jawing at Spike Lee after the play. (I miss fierce rivalries like that now)

Mailman redefined the power forward position with his combo of brute strength, hustle, efficiency and consistency. Dude was as country as it gets with his down-home Louisiana drawl and his love of guns while being in lillywhite Salt Lake City. But he brought his hard hat every day to work and did it as well as anybody who played the 4 position.

He defined Utah with Stockton and then he tried to come to L.A. to get a ring by taking less money. Unfortunately, he came to a Lakers team in turmoil thanks to Kobe's Colorado troubles and egos run amuck between him and Shaq. The best chance to have a ring and we blew it for him along with his knees finally giving out.

But I'm even happier Dennis Johnson made the Hall of Fame. One word - underrated. Underrated in L.A.'s history of great basketball players, underrated as a scoring superstar early in his career, underrated for shifting his game to a defensive-minded point guard for the Celtics and underrated for his role in one of the greatest postseason plays ever (darting to the basket and scoring after Larry Bird's steal of an Isiah Thomas inbounds pass in 1987).

He was a product of Compton Dominguez HS and just like Paul Pierce, he made his mark for the city's hated rival. Bird called him the greatest teammate ever and the only regret is that DJ died three years ago and watched from above as his family celebrated him finally getting his due.

And then there's the Dream Team. Every kid of my era couldn't believe that this team could exist. Looking back on it, it's just jaw-dropping sickness. Charles Barkley before his MVP season, MJ and Pippen rounding into domination, Chris Mullin at his peak. David Robinson/Karl Malone budding into stars, Patrick Ewing as a force. Clyde Drexler fresh off an MVP-caliber season. And that's not even mentioning Magic and Larry.

Oh yeah, some guy named Christian Laettner - the greatest COLLEGE player of the last 20 years. He was so deserving of that slot ahead of some LSU guy named Shaquille O'Neal and since Laettner's in the HOF, his NBA career was oooooooh so much better than Shaq or the #2 pick of the 1992 draft, Alonzo Mourning. *drip...drip....drip***

All they did was 1) Destroy anybody in their path to a gold medal, 2) Pave the way for international players to work on becoming NBA-ready, 3) Increase interest in European Basketball as well as Asia and Latin America, 4) Remind future generations how much more fundamentally sound/team-oriented older players were compared to the mid 1990's-mid 2000's.

Greatest basketball team ever? Without a doubt. Props to the 1960 team as well with the equally great backcourt of Jerry West and Oscar Robertson, two of the greatest guards EVER.

A special note to one of the greatest owners in basketball history - Jerry Buss. He deserves all of the accolades for his 31 years of watching the Lakers enter the Showtime Era into the Lake Show, Shaq/Kobe era and now the 2-time defending champions. He played favorites without question but Magic Johnson would be not the great entrepreneur that he is without Dr. Buss' advice.

So in a sense, the redevelopment of the inner cities of L.A. owes a small debt to Dr. Buss for spurring Magic to consider his life beyond basketball and have his business game on point. Compare that to the Clippers' Donald Sterling, whose relationship with minorities in the city has been far less than even cordial.

Cynthia Cooper deserves a shoutout too - from being an underrated cog in the Cheryl Miller era of USC's women's bball dominance behind 3 stars of their day (Pam and Paula McGee too) to a WNBA legend who became one of the first stars of the league.

Congrats to all in the Hall. Now when do we get Dennis Rodman in there? My bro Muggsy Mutombo at MojoHoops primes the pump for a solid argument.

1 comment:

  1. Ah man yes!
    Great minds yo...
    Very well stated on Scottie! Yes on the Patrick dunk. I love watching that dunk. Vicious. Pretty sure Charley Oakley would've kicked his ass at some point but Scottie prob knew better than to ever go that route

    Malone- I've never seen anybody play harder than that dude. Physical on both ends and ran his ass off up and down the court all night long. He only knew how to play hard.

    Dennis. Yessir. Amen to all you wrote

    Dream Team. Laettner! What a sick lineup. There isn't a single hoops fan that wouldn't trade places with Laettner. He makes it more real. Like he's Christa MacCauliff who survives the space shuttle and writes a book. Laettner needs to write a book about it.

    Buss, Cooper yes, yes.

    Thanx for Rodman links and even more for mentioning Dennis. That dude will bawl his eyes out if he gets elected in. I wonder who he'd ask to bring him in? Probably Isiah. That would be unbelievable.
    Like seeing Michael Jackson marry Lisa Marie Presley. So right for some, so wrong for others, so right by me.

    Great post!