The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced their list of candidates for the Class of 2018 with several Pistons represented among the new entries. Most notable are Chauncey Billups, Rip Hamilton, and Grant Hill.
But a number of former Pistons greats are around for entry with the highlights among those including Ben Wallace, Mark Aguirre, and Jack McCloskey. Current Pistons coach Tim Hardaway is also still up for entry.
Ben and Chauncey
Every time the 2005 Pistons come up, there’s always the question of how much individuals within the squad deserve accolades due to their team-oriented nature. And it remains tedious.
Chauncey Billups should be a Hall of Famer. No question. Here’s the top players in win shares during the decade from 2000-2010. Billups is fifth. It goes Dirk Nowitzki, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, Chauncey Billups, and LeBron James. Yes, all of those players should obviously be in the Hall of Fame.
Chauncey was never as flashy as some. An efficient-scoring, durable point guard who doesn’t commit turnovers and plays defense isn’t as exciting as someone like 2016 HOFer Allen Iverson, but is even more deserving.
Ben Wallace may be even more deserving. He was the other superstar of that team. The Pistons never would have won a championship were it not for their defense. They held teams under 70 points 17 times that season. 2017 has only seen one team fail to break 70 points so far this season.
During his time with the Pistons, Big Ben led the league in defensive win shares. In defensive rating. In defensive box plus-minus. He was a four time Defensive Player of the Year. He was the Pistons’ identity. And if you are a wins produced follower, it’s even more obvious.
Tell me, when was the last time a MVP or face of the franchise of a title winning team didn’t make the HOF? Here’s the full list of NBA champions and MVPs. The only eligible MVP I’m aware of who hasn’t made the Hall of Fame is Cedric Maxwell, though correct me if I’m missing someone. And anyone whose fingerprints were as much on the team as Ben Wallace’s is in there.
Get those two in there.
Jack McCloskey and Mark Aguirre
Adrian Dantley played for seven teams in his career. He compiled some impressive individual credentials. But he never won a championship. It was only after moving Dantley for Mark Aguirre that the Pistons went on to win back to back NBA championships.
Dantley is in the Hall of Fame. Aguirre isn’t.
Perhaps even more glaring of an omission is that the guy who orchestrated that deal also isn’t in the Hall.
It got buried under a flurry of awesome preview stuff coming into this season, but over the summer I wrote a bit on the Pistons history that I was proud of - go check it out if you missed it.
In researching for that piece, I did a ton of reading. A lot of it was really dry, painful reads. I love history, but I much prefer reaping the rewards of other historians turning parchment into compelling literature rather than being the guy to do the parchment work. But that was the case for this piece (and thanks again to Laz’s editing work to bring it together).
So in that work, it spelled out just how shitty the Pistons were between their move to Detroit in 1957 and Jack McCloskey taking over in 1979. And perhaps even more important, how irrelevant they were to the city.
Were it not for Trader Jack and his creation of the Bad Boys in the late 80s, the Detroit Pistons might not exist. If McCloskey would have flopped as the Pistons were looking to move on from the Silverdome, would they have moved even farther out from the city than Auburn Hills? Like St. Louis?
The Pistons had failed to turn a profit through their first 17 years in Detroit, which was enough year-after-year to make even a stubborn SOB like Fred Zollner give up on the market. Jack’s moves worked, enough to bring a title. But they also saved the franchise. Many of the other names that were part of that salvation are in the Hall of fame - Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars, Chuck Daley, Dennis Rodman, and Bill Davidson. None of it would have happened without McCloskey.
In writing this last paragraph, I realized Bill Laimbeer isn’t in the Hall of Fame. I just assumed. He leads the Pistons in win shares. But every other major Piston is in. Bob Lanier, Dave Bing, George Yardley, Dave DeBusschere. But not Laimbeer? Nah. Dude has won two NBA championships as a player and three WNBA championships as a coach. Dude belongs.
Which brings us back to Trader Jack. The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame has had a tendency of fueling a Detroit vs. Everybody mentality. Fred Zollner made the Hall of Fame in 1999. The fucking NBA wouldn’t have existed without him bringing a merge between the NBL and the BAA at his place in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. He should have had the second spot on the board behind James Naismith. Fred Zollner, aka Mr. Pro Basketball, had been dead for 17 years by the time he made the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Jack McCloskey died earlier this year. The HOF is already overdue for bringing him in. It’s a shame they hadn’t already.
Oh by the way, get Laimbeer in there.
Rip Hamilton and Tim Hardaway
Someone else will need to make this case. Comments.
I’m torn. Eye test, he was one of the most unique power forwards I’ve ever seen. His athleticism, passing, and shooting. I’m still waiting for the day that I get over the 2002 Western Conference Finals. What a team.
During his short time with the Pistons, we saw what made him great. He’s also memorable as part of Michigan’s Fab Five.
But he’s kind of a pointz guy. Meaning that he’d accumulate the numbers, but not in a very effective way. During his four All Star years in Sacramento, he averaged a 51.7 percent true shooting percentage (which sucks). Which is important since his 24.8 points per game is his primary card into the HOF.
He was still an impressive passer, an ok rebounder, and racked up some blocks and steals. So I don’t really know. Curious of y’alls thoughts.
The first time I was in Springfield at the Hall of Fame was somewhere around 2011. I walked through the place and enjoyed it, but was surprised by the lack of the Pistons. It was all Celtics, Lakers, and Bulls.
That’s ok. But we’re in modern history now. Looking back at the 2000s. The sport needs to recognize the awesomeness that was the 2004 Pistons and the Going to Work crew. It was a time of grinding basketball, hand checks and low scoring games. Of physical ball that culminated in The Brawl. Part of what comes with understanding the history of eras is recognizing the history of eras.
This time period was a time that saw Tim Duncan as it’s key star, that saw a franchise rise and fall behind figures like Ron Artest and Stephen Jackson, that saw excessive isolation ball as a thing, but saw a franchise ultimately win it all behind a bunch of underdogs. Because in this era, you could win behind having the toughest defense in town and an offense that was just good enough to survive 7 minute droughts.
This year needs to see Chauncey Billups and Ben Wallace in the Basketball Hall of Fame.