Tracy McGrady will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday evening during a star-studded ceremony at the Springfield Symphony Hall. The gala event will be attended by more than 50 Hall of Famers and, if past history is any indication, will feature some rambling speeches and at least one ACL tear.
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Although we’re excited for this year’s event, we’re already wondering who will join McGrady from the potential Class of 2018. Will newly eligible pros like Jason Kidd and Grant Hill make the cut? How about previously snubbed stars like Chris Webber and Ben Wallace? We have the odds on which players are most likely to hear their names called at next year’s ceremony.
NAISMITH MEMORIAL BASKETBALL HALL OF FAME: 2018 INDUCTION ODDS
JASON KIDD: 1/100
Even if Jason Kidd never appeared in a single NBA game, he’d likely still be called to the Hall of Fame based upon the strength of his international resume alone. J-Kidd compiled a perfect 58-0 record with the senior men’s team from 1999 to 2008 and was the starting point guard on five gold medal-winning squads.
His NBA career wasn’t half bad either. Kidd brought a winning mentality to every team he joined and had a habit (however cliché) of making every player on the court better. He transformed the moribund Nets into two-time NBA finalists in 2002 and 2003, and helped the Mavs reverse years of mediocrity when he guided them to their first championship in franchise history in 2011. Hell, he even made the Knicks watchable during his final season in 2012-13, leading them to a 54-28 finish and first place in the Atlantic Division. Forget about the Hall of Fame; that should qualify him for sainthood.
Along the way, Kidd was named to ten All-Star teams, nine All-Defensive teams, and five All-NBA First Teams, and he ranks second all time behind John Stockton in career assists and steals. He may have had one of the ugliest and least effective shots in the NBA, but in the end, it doesn’t matter, because Kidd could flat out win. His ability to lift teammates and franchises alike has earned him a permanent place in Springfield.
GRANT HILL: 1/9
Charles Dickens could have been describing Grant Hill’s career when he wrote, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” The two-time NCAA champion was considered by many to be the next Jordan when he entered the league in 1994 and he largely lived up to the hype. He shared Rookie of the Year honors with Kidd during his freshman campaign and went onto average 21.5 points, 7.8 rebounds, 6.2 assists, and 1.6 steals per game during his first six seasons.
That’s when everything changed. Hill signed with the Magic during the summer of 2000 and his career quickly began to unravel due to a series of debilitating ankle injuries. He missed 200 regular-season games during his tenure with Orlando, and nearly died from a surgery-related infection in 2003. Subsequent surgeries helped correct the many issues that plagued Hill, but they robbed him of the explosiveness and fearlessness that had made him one of the NBA’s most exciting young stars.
Hill played out the remainder of his career with the Suns and the Clippers, where he proved to be an excellent teammate and valuable role player. His exceptional basketball IQ helped him to compensate for his diminished athleticism, and he missed only three games during a three-year stretch from 2008-2011.
Like Bill Walton before him, Hill deserves a spot in the Hall based upon the brilliance he exhibited during the first half of his career. His body may have let him down, but his dedication and love for the game never abated.
CHRIS WEBBER: 12/1
In many ways, Chris Webber is the anti-Jason Kidd: a heavily-hyped player who never managed to win despite being surrounded by exceptional talent. C-Webb fell famously short in a pair of NCAA championship games despite playing with the best teammates boosters could buy, and he consistently came up empty-handed in the NBA playoffs despite being surrounded by All-Star talent. Put Kidd on those Sacramento teams from 2000 to 2005 and you would have had an NBA dynasty.
Players don’t need to have a championship on their C.V. to make it into the Hall of Fame, but they’d better have phenomenal statistics to support their cause. Webber’s career averages (20.7 points, 9.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists) are certainly good, but are they truly Hall-worthy? Players like Tom Chambers, Elton Brand, and Shawn Kemp put up similar stats during their primes, and none of them are likely to make it into the Hall unless they buy a ticket. In Kemp’s defense, if there’s a Hall of Fame for Absentee Fathers, he’s a slam dunk for induction.
Things won’t get much easier for Webber if he doesn’t sneak into the Hall in 2018. The stacked class in 2019 includes newly eligible players like Steve Nash, Ray Allen, Chauncey Billups, and Jermaine O’Neal. The clock is winding down quickly for Webber, and he doesn’t have any timeouts left to stop it.
TIM HARDAWAY: 40/1
Tim Hardaway is best known to young fans as the father of the Knicks’ pricey new shooting guard, and that’s kind of a shame, because the 51-year-old could seriously hoop during his day. Senior was a five-time NBA All-Star who spearheaded Golden State’s thrilling Run TMC line-up during the early 1990s. His killer crossover and fearless forays to the hoop made him nearly impossible to guard, and he averaged over 20 points per game five times during his 15-year career.
Hardaway has been eligible for the Hall for some time, but his candidacy may be complicated by the very public homophobic views he’s expressed in the past. Tim Bug has reportedly taken steps to educate himself and the NBA community appears to have forgiven him, but it’s unclear whether Hall of Fame voters share the same sentiment.
BEN WALLACE: 50/1
Ben Wallace is living proof that it isn’t the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog. (He’s also living proof that you don’t have to be good at basketball to be good at basketball.) The four-time All-Star played center during the NBA’s most punishing era and regularly got the best of goliaths like Shaquille O’Neal, Alonzo Mourning, and Yao Ming despite being just 6’9” (or 7’4” if you count his afro). His relentless effort and exceptional mobility allowed him to lead the league in rebounding twice, and he’s one of just two players to win the league’s Defensive Player of the Year award four times. The other, Dikembe Mutombo, was enshrined in 2015.
That’s the good news for Wallace’s candidacy. The bad news is that he couldn’t score ten points if you locked him in a gym overnight. Big Ben averaged just 5.7 points over his 17-year career, and when teammates passed him the ball, he got rid of it so quickly you would have sworn it was a live hand grenade. A lack of offensive acumen didn’t stop Dennis Rodman from getting into the Hall in 2011, but unlike Rodman, Wallace has one championship instead of five. We hope he doesn’t get defensive if he reads this, but the one-sided nature of Wallace’s game will likely prevent him from ever getting into Springfield.