By Matt Moore
In this week's edition of the Friday 5, we delve further into the idea of an NBA Hall of Fame. Who would Ken take in the inaugural class? Why won't this happen? And by the way, did Kobe pumping up the union really mean anything?
1. Let's say the NBA didn't figure out how to blow a $930 million media deal, the merchandising, ticket sales, sponsorship money, and various investments, and instead had the money to open their own Hall of Fame. You get six guys, and six guys only to put into the inaugural class. Who goes in? Players, coaches, league personnel, etc.
KB: Good question. I'd have to go: 1. Michael Jordan; 2. Wilt Chamberlain; 3. Bill Russell; 4. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar; 5. Oscar Robertson; 6. Magic Johnson. It's tough to leave Elgin Baylor, Larry Bird, Shaquille O'Neal, and Hakeem Olajuwon out, but six spots are six spots. Also, tough call not to have Red Auerbach among the first inductees, but the NBA has always been and will always be a players' league.
2. If you were designing said Hall, what would you have its primary mission statement be?
KB: The mission would be simple: To honor, recognize and remember the greatest contributors in the history of NBA basketball.
3. Who leads the coaching exhibit, Red or Phil?
KB: Though Phil passed Red for the most titles, there is no surpassing Auerbach's legacy. Aside from nine championships in 10 years as a coach, there were the titles he orchestraed as GM, and most importantly, his achievements with racial integration at a time of segegation and deep racial divides in America -- and especially, in Boston. Auerbach drafted the first black player in the NBA, hired the first black coach in any American professional sport, and had the first all-black starting lineup in NBA history.
4. What's the biggest reason outside of financials for the league not to do this?
KB: Politics. Does the NBA risk alienating itself from the basketball community by breaking away and declaring its independence from a sport whose various tentacles -- college, international -- are intertwined?
5. Jumping back to reality real quick. What exactly is there for the players to unite around that Kobe's talking about? Isn't it pretty much just "don't spend all your money and get desperate?"
KB: No, there's much more than that. With the various income levels and priorities among the players, it could be easy for a wedge to be driven into the NBPA. So while there's a divergence of opinion about executive director Billy Hunter's strategy not to decertify or disclaim interest, it is in the best interests of the players to stand behind that strategy until it is exhausted as a viable option. The agents pushing for decertification are forgetting that the strategy turned into a dead end for the NFL players. The same fate would likely await the NBPA in federal court under antitrust law. The best strategy for the players is to see the NLRB strategy through to a conclusion and proceed from there depending on whether they win or lose. Don't forget that regardless of which legal strategy the players pursue, this will only be resolved one way: at the bargaining table. A fractured union will suffer a slow, horrible death there.