The Basketball Hall of Fame is the best stage to pay tribute to the greats that made a lasting impact on the game during their playing days.
It’s where the icons and legends of the game are forever etched on the history books of basketball.
There have been over 150 players inducted in the Hall of Fame. Legends like Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Shaquille O’Neal and many more are all included for their greatness during their playing days.
This year, new batch of hopefuls will join the illustrious group as there are now 14 finalists for the 2021 Basketball Hall of Fame.
The list consists of Paul Pierce, Bill Russell (for his coaching career), Chris Bosh, Tim Hardaway, Michael Cooper, Marques Johnson, Rick Adelman, Leta Andrews, Yolanda Griffith, Marianne Stanley, Lauren Jackson and Jay Wright.
There are already a number of locks, like Paul Pierce, whose heyday with the Celtics ended up with a title. Bill Russell, who is already in for his playing career, was the first African American to win a championship in one of the major US sports leagues during his player-coach days with the Celtics. Chris Bosh is a two-time NBA champ with the ‘Heatles’ who showed how a star can sacrifice to attain the ultimate prize.
Among the great and well-deserving talents on this list of finalists, two other names also stand out: Chris Webber and Ben Wallace.
The two have been finalists for the HOF for multiple years. This is now the third time for Wallace and the fifth time for Webber to be selected as one of the finalists.
The two made different but lasting impacts on the game while playing great basketball during their days.
For Wallace, he came into the NBA in an unconventional way.
He was part of the legendary 1996 draft class that had the likes of Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson, Steve Nash and Ray Allen.
But unlike his peers, he went undrafted but was picked up by the Washington Wizards, then known as the Bullets.
He played three seasons in Washington and only averaged 3.5 points per game but showed great potential in rebounding and defense with his 5.2 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game averages.
He was then traded to Orlando, where he played one season and put up better numbers with 4.8 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game.
His game impressed a lot of people, which is why in 2000 when Detroit decided that they’ll be trading away their then star Grant Hill, Wallace was in the package along with Chucky Atkins.
As part of the Pistons, he started showing what he can really do as the main big man of the team.
He played for Detroit and it was there where he racked up awards for himself. He led the league in total rebounds per game back in 2000-01 and 2002-03 season. He also led the league in total offensive rebounds in 2002-03 and 2005-06 season as well as in defensive rebounds back in 2000-01 season.
In the 2001-02 season, he averaged 13.0 rebounds per game and then next season, he averaged a career-high 15.3 rebounds per game.
He also led the league in total blocks in 2001-02 season with 278 total blocks and was the league leader in blocks averages that year with 3.5 swats per game.
He was the league leader in defensive rating for three seasons from 2001-02 (92.9), 2002-03 (90.0) and 2003-04 (87.5).
It was during his time in Detroit where he was selected in the All-Star team four-times, he also had five All NBA team selection and five NBA All-Defensive team selection.
His two biggest accolades as part of the Pistons were when he was named Defensive Player of the Year four-times (2002, 2003, 2005, 2006).
He also anchored a defense that won an NBA title as part of the underrated Detroit Pistons squad that took down the mighty LA Lakers in just five games. That Lakers team had Shaq, Kobe, and also signed Karl Malone and Gary Payton.
In that series, Wallace proved that despite being only 6’9, his heart would always get him over the hump. This paved the way for smaller big men today to still play with 100% effort while making an impact.
Guys like Draymond Green, Tristan Thompson, and PJ Tucker are all undersized for their positions but because of Wallace, evolved and were able to still play big despite the odds in a league filled with giants.
After being undrafted in 1996, he played 16 seasons. Putting aside his accolades and achievements, he’s also one of the perfect examples that sometimes all it takes to make it in the NBA is a shot and a legendary work ethic.
The other man who deserves to finally make it is legendary player is Chris Webber.
Unlike Wallace, Webber was a top prospect heading into the NBA.
He was part of the famous “Fab 5” along with Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King and Ray Jackson that came an unfortunate timeout short of glory.
After his college days, he was selected as the first overall pick of the 1993 NBA Draft by the Orlando Magic but was traded to the Golden State Warriors.
And from that moment on, the 6’10 versatile forward proved that winning would be his calling card.
In his lone year with the Warriors, he helped them reach the playoffs 1994 playoffs by averaging 17.5 points and 9.1 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.2 steals and 2.2 blocks.
This got him the Rookie of the Year honors.
After his rookie year, he was traded to the Washington Bullets, where once again he showed his capability to lead a team as in his four seasons there, they made the playoffs at least once.
In the 1997 Playoffs, they took on Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in the first-round and he put up averages of 15.6 points, 8.0 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 2.3 blocks.
After his three years in Washington, he finally arrived in Sacramento, where he was traded for Mitch Richmond and Otis Thorpe.
As part of the Sacramento Kings, he joined forces with Jason Williams, Vlade Divac and Peja Stojaković to become one of the most flashy and entertaining team in the history of the league. Their mix of slick passing, long distance shooting, and high IQ basketball set a template for many modern teams to follow.
It was in 2001-02 season where the dream of a title has become more serious as the Kings traded away Williams to the Memphis Grizzlies then known as Vancouver Grizzlies for Mike Bibby.
With Bibby’s arrival, as well as the stellar averages of Webber with 24.5 points, 10.1 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.7 blocks, the Kings made it to the Western Conference Finals.
There they met the dynamic duo of Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant and the elite team of the LA Lakers.
Despite being the underdog in the series, Webber averaged 24.3 points, 10.9 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 1.0 steals and 1.4 blocks in 51.3% shooting from the field and was clearly the second-best player in the entire series.
He even helped the Kings have a commanding 3-2 lead in the series and had a great chance to close out the series in Game 6.
However, controversy took over in Game 6 and Game 7. Some even call it; one of the biggest fixes of all time.
Long story short, Webber and the Kings failed to close out the series and it was the last time that they had a legitimate the chance to win an NBA title.
Since then, Webber bounced around the league a couple more times playing for Philadelphia 76ers and Detroit Pistons before retiring in 2007-08 season as member of the Warriors, the team he first played for.
In his prime days with the Kings, Webber averaged 23.5 points, 10.6 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.5 blocks.
For his entire career, he averaged 20.7 points, 9.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.4 blocks.
During his playing days, he had to go up against the likes of Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett and Dirk Nowitzki in the Power Forward position and here are their numbers for comparison.
- Chris Webber – 20.7 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 4.2 APG, 1.4 SPG and 1.4 BPG in 47.9% FG in 15 seasons
- Tim Duncan – 19.0 PPG, 10.8 RPG, 3.0 APG, 0.7 SPG and 2.2 BPG in 50.6% FG in 19 seasons
- Kevin Garnett – 17.8 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 3.7 APG, 1.3 SPG and 1.4 BPG in 49.7% FG in 21 seasons
- Dirk Nowitzki – 20.7 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 2.4 APG, 0.8 SPG and 0.8 BPG in 47.1% FG and 38.0% 3PT FG in 21 seasons.
In comparison, Webber’s numbers are similar if not better than these three first ballot future Hall of Famers. What he doesn’t have compared to then is at least one ring.
Webber played in the All-Star game five times and was selected in the All-NBA team five times (1x – First Team, 3x Second Team and 1x Third Team).
He may not have won an NBA Title or does not have as many accolades as his legendary peers, but his game influenced the bigs of this generation.
Aside from his legendary output as a player, his capability of being a playmaker despite being a 6’10 Power Forward was a precursor to the success of skilled players like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant and Ben Simmons.
He may not be as athletic as Antetokounmpo, but he could run the floor, explode from the post and grab rebounds at a high-level. He may not be as a great of a shooter as Durant, but he could knock down a mid-range jumper or blowby bigger opponents or cross them up like a guard. He may have played like a pure point guard like Simmons, but his passing was well-respected.His skills would still be perfect for this era.
These two would become stars in today’s NBA but there is no doubt that their efforts during their playing days are more than enough to finally get a call into the Hall and there is no better timing than this year.
Do you think the two will enter the Hall of Fame this year? Who’d you rather have make it? Sound off in comment section.