Has the basketball Hall of Fame lost its prestige?
By LUKE HILLMER
It has been over a month since the NBA announced the 2018 Basketball Hall of Fame inductees.
An anonymous poll of 40 randomly selected students and faculty members at UMW shows that, out of those selected, only 40% of them could recognize any of the names of basketball players that were in this year’s Hall of Fame. This statistic shows that the inductees of this year’s Hall of Fame class may not be exactly “famous”.
To compare, all 100% of those polled were able to recognize the name of 2009 Hall of Fame inductee Michael Jordan, 77% were familiar with the name of 2016 hall of famer Shaquille O’Neal, but only 17% were familiar with the name of 2016 hall of famer Dikembe Mutombo.
David Craig, a junior computer science major, said that he thinks that notoriety should play into becoming a hall of famer in any sport.
“I imagine a hall of famer would have exceptional stats across the board, broken records, and amount of time involved with the sport, but I would think they also have to have some kind of name if they want to get in there in the first place,” said Craig.
This harkens back to a debate on Sept.17 between basketball hall of famer and four time NBA champion Shaquille O’Neal, and two time cancer survivor and famous sports talk show host John Kincade. The debate regarded the legitimacy of the 2018 Hall of Fame inductees. Kincade was especially vocal about his thoughts on two time NBA champion Ray Allen.
“I never watched Ray Allen and thought I was watching a hall of famer,” said Kincade. “There are many people who have a skill, but that doesn’t make you a hall of famer. You have to be able to go against the greatest names and belong.”
Kincade reiterated his point by bringing up Shaquille O’Neal as a specific example.
“When Shaq walked into the room and there’s busts surrounding him of Will Chamberlin, and Kareem, Shaq belongs. Pull up a seat at the table. With Ray Allen there’s a debate, and if there’s a debate, you’re not a hall of famer.”
Shaq retorted with a different outlook on what it means to be a hall of famer, and congratulated all of the athletes that were inducted in the 2018 class.
“Isaiah Thomas said to me that there’s two hall of fames,” said Shaq. “There’s the bad MF, ain’t no questions asked, don’t even think about it hall of fame. Then there’s the one that everyone else is in. I want to congratulate these guys, it doesn’t matter if you’re in the big penthouse, or the small penthouse, so long as you’re in the building that’s what’s important.”
“There is no set hall of fame [in E-Sports], but if you were to ask any E-sports fan, there are players that they would name off for each video game,” said junior Marshall Steven. “I’m not a the biggest sports fan, but I would assume that Michael Jordan and Lebron James would be hall of famers: because those are the names that I see when I browse reddit, and I assume that popularity means that they’re skilled players.”
There may not be a definitive consensus or agreement for what it means to be a hall of famer, but perhaps this speaks to a greater message about today’s society. Perhaps it is an example of how our society views celebrity athletes, how our society views greatness, or how much legacies and accolades really weigh in today’s world. Only time will tell how these things will change, but that is all the more reason to continue to ask these questions.