Dear Hall of Fame Voters: Here’s What You Can Do With Your First Ballot Exclusion
Reggie Miller won’t make the Hall of Fame this year. Apparently, he wasn’t even deemed good enough to be on a list of finalists that included Maurice Cheeks and Reggie’s long-time teammate and friend, Mark Jackson. Now, I love both of those players, but anybody who thinks they belong in the Hall ahead or instead of Reg is – quite simply – drunk.
But that’s not the point here. The point is the arbitrary, artificial, and monumentally silly mystique constructed around the idea of “first ballot” induction. Reggie wasn’t measured against the others up for induction this year. Bizarrely, Reggie – and every other player in their first year of eligibility – is measured against Wilt and Russell, Bird and Magic, Michael and Scottie.
And this is patently ridiculous.
There is no restriction on annual inductees. There is no special section of the Hall devoted to those who made it on the first ballot. You can’t go to the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame website and find out who they are. Neither they nor Basketball-Reference list any information at all saying on what ballot the members were inducted.
Either someone is in the Hall of Fame, or they aren’t. Either someone belongs in the Hall of Fame, or they don’t. Guys like Reggie – or Dominique Wilkins or Dennis Rodman or Dennis Johnson – shouldn’t be forced to spend time in purgatory for this nonsense.
It’s as if people fear that Reggie Miller making the Hall on the first ballot somehow cheapens it for everyone. That somebody, somewhere will use that fact to draw equivalence between Reggie and Michael Jordan.
Look, if you’re talking to someone who would do that, or would argue that Reggie was as good as Michael – and they aren’t his mom – run away! You’re talking to an idiot.
It’s true that there are arguments to be made against Miller’s inclusion in the Hall. He never won a title. He never won an MVP or was a serious candidate. His mantle is not full of All NBA or other awards. However, he has enough accomplishments (25,000+ career points, recently broken 3-point record, 5 All Star appearances) to go along with his reputation as a playoff performer and his iconic presence in Pacer lore to get a relatively broad consensus to agree he belongs.
But – again – beside the point.
I would be less angered (or just disappointed) today if I thought the voters felt he didn’t belong. However, I have the unshakable conviction that there were voters who felt Reggie Miller (and others before him) belonged in the Hall of Fame, but not on the first ballot.
And that’s just bullshit.
I’ve said pretty much all I have to say, so I’ll have to leave it up to the pantheon-level badass, Robbie Benson, to say what people can do with their first ballot exclusion.