Jordan Gets HOF Call…But Where’s Artis Gilmore?

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Jordan Gets HOF Call…But Where’s Artis Gilmore?

Postby rlee » Mon Apr 13, 2009 1:18 am

Jordan Gets HOF Call…But Where’s Artis Gilmore?
by Gil Vieira
HOF Blog

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame recently announced its 2009 Induction Class – and it could be one of its greatest classes ever. Hell, anything in basketball including Michael Jordan’s name has to be considered one of the best. Joining Jordan are fellow players David Robinson and John Stockton, plus Coaches Jerry Sloan and Vivian Stringer. And while all may be deserving of this great honor, I continue to wonder why Artis Gilmore has been the forgotten man in the Basketball Hall of Fame process.

Let me first admit; Artis Gilmore is my friend. I have known Artis since he arrived on the Florida campus of Jacksonville University in 1969. He became my fraternity brother, and remains my friend today. So, while my comments may be somewhat prejudiced, they are no less factual.

Secondly, let’s remember that it’s the Basketball Hall of Fame – not the National Basketball Association Hall of Fame. Nowhere in the Hall of Fame eligibility rules do I read anything relating to the NBA. Therefore, shouldn’t a player’s entire professional and college career be considered by voting members? And that includes American Basketball Association (ABA) numbers.

For those who snicker at the mention of the ABA, lest you forget some of the great players of that era (1967-1976) came out of the “outlaw” red, white, and blue league. Along with Artis (voted #2 greatest ABA player ever), there was its greatest player, Julius (Dr. J.) Erving; plus: George Gervin, Connie Hawkins, Rick Barry, George McGinnis, Dan Issel, David Thompson, Spencer Haywood, Charlie Scott, Moses Malone, Billy Cunningham, Maurice Lucas, Marvin Barnes, Louie Dampier, and Roger Brown. So, there should be no doubt about the quality of play in the ABA.

Therefore, ABA numbers not being included in a player’s overall professional career is questionable. Remember, the ABA didn’t actually fold. In June 1976, the two leagues made peace, and four ABA teams merged into the NBA (New York Nets, Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers, and San Antonio Spurs). Comparably, the ABA was not the World Football League. It should be considered more like the American Football League, which merged with the NFL.

Including Gilmore’s ABA stats of 22.3 points and 17.1 rebounds per game, and 750 total blocked-shots, Artis would be ranked 4th all-time in rebounding (only behind Chamberlain, Russell, and Jabbar), 9th in blocked shots, and 14th in total points. Even without ABA stats, Gilmore’s NBA numbers rank him in the top ten in rebounds, blocked shots, games played, and minutes played…and among the top 25 all-time in points. He also ranks first overall in field goal percentage. No other player with comparable statistical accomplishments has been omitted from the Hall of Fame. Unfortunately, Artis is now ineligible for enshrinement until 2012.

Regarding Artis’ college career, he led the NCAA in rebounding both his junior and senior years while at Jacksonville. He holds the Division I college rebounding record of 22.7 rebounds per game and is one of only a few players in college basketball history to average 20 points and 20 rebounds for his college career. He also led tiny Jacksonville University to the 1970 NCAA finals against mighty UCLA.

Take a look at some of Artis’ individual accomplishments – and if you can, tell me why this man is not in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

• ABA All-time team
• ABA MVP 1972
• ABA Rookie of the Year 1972
• 5x ABA All-Star
• 5x ABA First Team
• 5x ABA All-Defensive Team First Team
• 6x NBA All-Star
• 1x NBA All-Defensive Team
• NBA Career Leader in Field Goal Percentage (59.9%)

Artis Gilmore is the most glaring omission to a respective Hall of Fame. The Basketball Hall of Fame should see the error of its way and allow Artis to have his rightful place among his peers when once again eligible in 2012.
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Postby Mike Goodman » Tue Apr 14, 2009 12:28 pm

Omissions (Daniels) are often the result of just pulling names off the top of one's head. Still a great and timely writeup. In APBR terms, 3 years (2012) is right around the corner. So we should keep this campaign alive.

Some of those names are obvious alltime greats; some are ABA visitors (starting and/or ending in the NBA), or flash-in-the-pan guys. Also not seen: Boone, Wise, Paultz, Calvin, Lewis, Simpson, Beaty, Freeman, and several Joneses.
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Postby Mike Goodman » Tue Apr 14, 2009 3:51 pm

As mentioned in a concurrent thread, and repeated above, almost all of Gilmore's major awards were given in the ABA. And apparently ABA awards don't count for much in the HOF process.

As long as All-ABA selections like Doug Moe, Red Robbins and John Beasley are viewed in the same light as Gervin, Silas, Wise, Nater -- all were selected twice -- then I think ABA awards are painted with one brush: vastly inferior to NBA equivalents.

Gilmore and his '71-72 entry-classmates actually raised ABA competition to nearly NBA levels, though with fewer competitors (teams). All-ABA 1st team in any of the last 5 ABA years should be roughly equivalent to all-NBA 2nd team at least.
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Postby Mike Goodman » Tue Apr 14, 2009 3:58 pm

In another thread, I wrote that had Gilmore with merely a 10% estimated chance of reaching the Hall of Fame, based on his pro career. I should reproduce here part of what Justin says about his "HOF Probability" process:
ABA statistics, honors, and championships were not important predictors of Hall of Fame status, which is why I only used NBA statistics in my final model. I don't like ignoring the ABA statistics, but that's what the voters have apparently done. Keep in mind that my goal was not to determine who should be in the Hall of Fame, but rather who is likely to be in the Hall of Fame.
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Postby Keith Ellis » Tue Apr 14, 2009 7:09 pm

Mike Goodman wrote:As long as All-ABA selections like Doug Moe, Red Robbins and John Beasley are viewed in the same light as Gervin, Silas, Wise, Nater -- all were selected twice -- then I think ABA awards are painted with one brush: vastly inferior to NBA equivalents.

Jumpin' Joe Fulks, who once dropped 63 points on Burl Friddle's Indianapolis Jets, HoFd on the basis of his All-BAA laurels. The son-in-law of Bruce Hale, Friddle's Jet predecessor, Rick Barry is oftentimes an ABA critic, but Barry said Doug Moe was as tough defensively as Dave DeBusschere & a better scorer. For ABA vets to be "tainted" by association w/ Moe perpetuates the error of his blacklisting by the NBA, a move ultimately overturned by US courts as unjust in The Hawk's & Rajah's settlements.

For every Red Robbins & John Beasley justified to dock A-Train's accomplishments we have two-time All-Leaguers like Stan Miasek & Bones McKinney who didn't keep Fulks out. Terry Cummings is a two-time All-Leaguer yet nobody considers him HoF-worthy.

Daniels himself is disparaged for having played in the era of Red & Beasley. Yet Mel beat the A-Train in the only World's Championship they disputed. If rank-&-file ABA players were inferior, why didn't ABA stars rack up stats & enjoy success on scales similar to that the Wilts & Lews enjoyed in their early seasons? For every precocious Spencer Haywood who splashed in to lead the league in Pts & Rebs, we have a Chamberlain, or a Big E who also did the same year Haywood rookied.

Rank-&-file ABA players performed as well as their NBA counterparts once the Merger gave them the chance. NBA apologists will never gain by running down the lower-level ABA veterans' supposedly suspect accomplishments. People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.
Keith Ellis

Postby rlee » Sun Feb 14, 2010 2:20 am

Hall of Fame blocks Gilmore's entrance -- again

by Steve Aschburner

Not to get melodramatic about this or anything, but there was a poignant moment Friday morning when Magic Johnson talked about the 1992 "Dream Team'' and its just-announced nomination to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. "A bittersweet moment,'' Johnson said, that the coach of that team, Chuck Daly, wasn't around to enjoy the honor.

Never mind that Daly, the great Detroit Pistons coach who died last May, already had been enshrined in Hall back in 1994. Or that several others from that most famous of U.S. Olympic basketball squads have been as well (rendering the nomination for the team a little redundant, don't you think?).

Johnson's point was that sometimes a lifetime achievement like Hall of Fame recognition can come too late. Which made it all too easy for me to connect the dots with Artis Gilmore, the dominating NBA/ABA center whose induction is way, way overdue. In a recent conversation with Gilmore, he said he had resigned himself to never making it to Springfield, Mass., certainly "not in my lifetime.''

That would make it way, way, way overdue. Frankly, Gilmore should have been in years ago.

Gilmore wasn't on the list of 19 finalists for the Class of 2010 released Friday. A whole bunch of deserving folks were -- Karl Malone, Don Nelson, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Johnson and Cynthia Cooper among them -- but Gilmore wasn't, Dennis Rodman wasn't and Mark Jackson wasn't. There were others, of course, who didn't get thumbs-up from the Hall's selection process, fed by four different committees (North America, International, Women's and Veterans'), but it says here that overlooking Gilmore doesn't snub him as much as it embarrasses the process.

Let's put this in perspective:

• Gilmore ranks 20th in NBA/ABA history in scoring. Pretty good, right? Consider that the 19 players ahead of him on that list either are in the Hall or will be soon after they become eligible. Consider, too, that the 14 players behind Gilmore also are either in the Hall already or will be soon after they become eligible.

• Gilmore, who primarily played for Kentucky in the ABA and Chicago and San Antonio in the NBA, ranks fifth all-time in rebounding. Only Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, Moses Malone and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar grabbed more.

• For those who favor more new-fangled stats, Gilmore ranks sixth all-time in "win shares,'' which attempt to measure a player's role in team success. On that list, only Abdul-Jabbar, Chamberlain, Karl Malone, Michael Jordan and John Stockton outrank him.

• No one in NBA history ever was more accurate from start to finish than Gilmore's career .599 field-goal percentage. No one in NBA/ABA history either (.5819).

Lest anyone quibble about Gilmore's split career -- five seasons in the ABA, 12 in the NBA -- remember that we're talking about the Naismith shrine, which embraces all levels and permutations of the game. Frankly, it ought to weigh in Gilmore's favor that he was a major force in college and in two U.S. pro leagues and, at the end, even added a little Euro flavor with a season in Italy.

After learning the disappointing news Friday, the courtly Gilmore took the high road, fitting for someone 7-foot-2.

"I wouldn't have any idea how to respond to it,'' he said. "I don't know what I could possibly say. I was not expecting anything. It would have been, really, extraordinarily nice to have been on the list ... It is what it is.''

If Gilmore wouldn't beat the drum for himself, others on the All-Star scene Friday would:

• Hall of Fame center and rival Bill Walton: "If I were in charge, things would be different. Artis was not the best player that I played against -- that was Kareem -- but Artis was the toughest player I played against. He was so difficult to guard. The biggest, strongest, most powerful player. And I'm not sure if Artis read the rule book. I'm not in charge here. My heart goes out to him. As did my support -- I wrote in support of Artis' nomination.''

• Denver coach George Karl, working the Western Conference sideline Sunday and a former ABA opponent of Gilmore: "A force. He was that Shaq-like force, a Wilt Chamberlain-force. And they had many good years [with him in the NBA] in San Antonio, but the Lakers were always a little better.''

• Dominique Wilkins, the Atlanta Hawks star who felt snubbed by having to wait till the second ballot for his Hall pass in 2006: "Artis Gilmore was a monster. The strongest man I have ever seen in this game, ever. And one of the highest percentage shooters in the history of the league.''

• Stan Love, a former ABA player and father of Minnesota forward Kevin Love: "Are you kidding me? Of course he should be in.'' (Love recalled a basketball trip to Japan that he took in the 1970s with Gilmore and still has a photo of people there gathered in awe around the giant towering above them.)

If there was a glimmer of hope for Gilmore -- eventually, maybe, some day -- it came when Jerry Colangelo, the Hall's chairman, talked of similar omissions. "I have an opinion that certain people, teams, have slipped through the cracks,'' he said. "And some how, some way, we need to address the process ... to give some of these people another bite at the apple, another opportunity to be in that elite membership.''

Asked specifically about Gilmore, Colangelo said: "[He] is a good example of the kind of people that need to have re-consideration. Some of them have been nominated in the past, but after being nominated so many consecutive times, you kind of slip away.''

A fresh start for the selection process is encouraging. Less so was Colangelo's apparent view of "transparency.'' With baseball, voting results are made public. Both Cooperstown (baseball) and Canton (pro football) have systems in which voters' names are easy enough to learn, which helps with accountability. But Colangelo, despite talking about wanting "fan'' input as part of the process, wasn't interested in full disclosure.

"In order to have a process that's clean, you can't have people know who's on the committee, because you don't want people soliciting votes,'' he said. "I think that's really unhealthy. I'll know who's on the committee and it will be my judgment how we get the kind of transparency I believe we need.''

So things might change in Gilmore's favor or they might not. We might know why, though we probably won't.

If there is transparency, it might happen. If there's justice, it will. In 2011.
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Postby Mike Goodman » Sun Feb 14, 2010 11:57 am

Was Gilmore actually eligible this year?
There's some waiting period between a nominee's latest 'rejection' and the next time he become re-eligible.
I recall when it was a few years away; but that was a few years ago.
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Postby kovit123 » Sun Feb 14, 2010 5:29 pm

Artis "A-Train" Gilmore is the hall of famer in my book and electing active college coaches over retired NBA players which great numbers which doesn't lie which total B.S. I don't know if the committee are bias against other NBA players with great numbers that don't lie or they're smoking pot, but whatever anyway. I hope Gilmore get into the hall of fame one day with the Adrian Dantley style of over due and I hope Bernard King gets into the hall of fame finally I hope with my finger cross.
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Postby rlee » Sun Feb 14, 2010 5:37 pm

Mike, I believe Gilmore becomes eligible again in 2012.
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Artis Gilmore's basketball career remains underappreciated

Postby rlee » Mon Mar 15, 2010 4:01 am

Artis Gilmore's basketball career remains underappreciated

by Jerry Crowe

March 14, 2010

If you're a UCLA basketball fan of a certain age, your first glimpse of Artis Gilmore probably was at the Final Four.

Forty years ago this week, looking every bit the heir apparent to former UCLA star Lew Alcindor as college basketball's dominant big man, the 7-foot-2 Gilmore led upstart Jacksonville to the championship game of the NCAA tournament.

Once there, however, Gilmore and the Dolphins were cut down to size by Sidney Wicks and UCLA, the Bruins winning their fourth consecutive title and an unflattering image of Gilmore forming in the minds of skeptical fans from coast to coast.

Gilmore had four shots blocked by Wicks, who gave away six inches in height but nothing in fire or moxie.

Gilmore would go on to play 17 seasons in the ABA and NBA, scoring nearly 25,000 points and leading the Kentucky Colonels to an ABA title, but to some he never shook the initial impression that he was too nice for his own good, too sensitive to be great — or at least as great as everybody seemed to expect.

Perhaps that's why Gilmore, 22 years removed from the NBA, still has not been voted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame despite numbers suggesting that he belongs.

Not that Gilmore, 60, is about to plead his own case.

"I don't really have any comment I can make," says the Florida native, who returned to his alma mater two years ago to serve as a special assistant to university President Kerry Romesburg. "Certainly, I would like to be in the Hall of Fame, but the individuals that make those decisions. …"

His voice trails off.

He'll leave it to others to suggest that his omission from the Hall of Fame is perhaps the basketball shrine's most glaring.

Hubie Brown, who coached Gilmore and the Colonels to an ABA championship in 1975, calls it "baffling." Along with Wilt Chamberlain and Shaquille O'Neal, Brown says, Gilmore ranked among the three strongest players in NBA history.

Born into poverty in Chipley, Fla., a village of 3,000, Gilmore grew into a "Tyrannosaurus rex … in a league of giraffes," one writer noted, with a 32-inch waist and 27-inch thighs.

One of 10 children, he wanted to play football in high school, but his parents couldn't afford the insurance required.

"We couldn't afford many things," says Gilmore, whose father was an itinerant fisherman who didn't work. "Most of the time it was whether or not we could afford to put food on the table."

In two seasons at Jacksonville, Gilmore averaged 22.7 rebounds a game, setting an NCAA record that still stands.

Of his championship matchup with Wicks and the Bruins, Gilmore says, "He was a good player; he was able to block a couple shots. I can't look back and say it was goaltending because it wasn't called, but there were some questionable decisions that were made, probably on my part as well."

In his first season with the Colonels, Gilmore was the ABA's rookie of the year and its most valuable player.

Generally considered the ABA's second-best player behind Julius Erving, Gilmore joined the Chicago Bulls in 1976 after the ABA-NBA merger. A six-time NBA all-star, he averaged 17 points and 10 rebounds in 12 seasons with the Bulls, San Antonio Spurs and Boston Celtics. He made 59.9% of his shots, setting a still-standing league record for career field-goal percentage.

As a pro, he averaged 18.8 points and 12.3 rebounds.

Critics, however, dismissed the shy and soft-spoken Gilmore as methodical and dispassionate, saying that he rarely showed emotion and played the game with an expressionless face.

"I have no idea what that meant," Gilmore says. "When we played, if I dunked the ball, there was no celebration. You didn't stand over your opponent, beating your chest.

"That's not what we did. We weren't about that."

Says Brown, who coached Gilmore during the big man's last two seasons in Kentucky: "I don't understand the criticism or the lack of support because I saw how he dominated in the ABA — and I don't think anyone could say we didn't have talent.

"He was an excellent rebounder, great shot-blocker, intimidator in the painted area and, for me, a major scorer.

"If you didn't like his gait, please look at his numbers."

Gilmore, in his playing days, often escaped into environments where he was treated like anybody else, such as underwater, where he was an oversized but enthusiastic scuba diver.

He no longer dives, he says, but loves to golf.

He and his wife, Enola Gay, married 37 years, have three sons and two daughters. Like her father, daughter Priya played in an NCAA championship game — with the Louisiana Tech women's basketball team in 1998.

"That," Gilmore notes, "was quite a thrill."

No less thrilling, he imagines, would have been making it into the Hall of Fame while his mother, Mattie, was alive.

A diabetic and double amputee, she died in 2004.

"She was the backbone of our family," Gilmore says. "I thought it would be an incredible acknowledgement to her to be sitting in front with that beautiful smile of hers, enjoying the moment.

"That would have been one of the highlight moments of my life."

But she's gone, and he's still waiting.
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