The Naismith Hall of Fame announced on Monday its next batch of folks to be enshrined in basketball immortality. To the surprise of very few but to the dismay of many, or maybe just those in Seattle, Spencer Haywood was not one of them.
For me, Haywood belongs in the Hall of Fame. SonicsRising, back in February, discussed pretty thoroughly and convincingly why. It’s a shame he’s not in it, as it was last year, and it probably will be next year as well. But drowned in the disappointment of Haywood’s absence (Or should we call it the Hall’s loss?) is the travesty of another Sonics legend who won’t be able to give his acceptance speech in Springfield.
Unlike Haywood, whose name gets mentioned every year, our forgotten man probably won’t ever get brought up in more than a couple of national newspapers each year. If he did get enshrined, he would give his speech at a place only about a two-and-a-half-hour drive from where he was born. So who is this man?
You know who I’m talking about. It’s Jack Sikma.
The man could do it all, and had a unique skillset for a guy his size. Along with being able to score and rebound, Sikma was a talented passer, free-throw shooter, and by the end of his career, was even capable of knocking down the long ball.
While he’s no Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, during his prime, he was all you could ask for out of a pivot. Sikma was a seven-time All Star, and during those years, averaged 17.7 PPG, 11.4 RPG, 3.5 APG, to go along with a steal and a block.
During that span, between 1978 and 1985, only eight players averaged at least 17 points and 11 rebounds. They were Moses Malone, Larry Bird, Ralph Sampson, Hakeem Olajuwon, Artis Gilmore, Jeff Ruland, Robert Parish, and finally, Jack Sikma. With the exception of Ruland, who had only three seasons where he played half the games, all of the rest have been inducted into Springfield.
When you include a three assists criteria into the mix, only Bird, Ruland, and Sikma remain. Throw in one assist and one rebound, and Sikma stands alone.
For those who are not content with a mere look at his prime and place a premium on career totals, Sikma scored 17,287 points (79th in NBA history), gathered 10,816 rebounds (30th) and blocked 1,048 shots (78th). Only twelve hardwood legends ever put up 17,000-10,000-1,000. Eight of them are already in the Hall of Fame. Three of them (Shaquille O’Neal, Tim Duncan, and Kevin Garnett) will surely be. And then there’s Sikma.
So, to the Honors Committee, why not bestow Sikma with your distinguished honor? Is it because he’s not a winner? He did win a championship with the Sonics in 1979. Was there a problem with his defense? Considering he made the 1982 All-Defense team and is Top 20 all-time in defensive board, probably not.
So what is it?
Even Basketball-Reference, which uses an objective methodology to determine one’s merits, pegs Sikma’s Hall of Fame Probability at 65.9%.
I’m not saying Sikma should be on the Mt. Rushmore of NBA centers, but wouldn’t you say he belongs in the Hall? Of course, as a Sonics fan, I have my biases. But his excellence is recognized by the great Shaquille O’Neal himself. When asked by Branson Wright of Cleveland.com to name the five greatest centers in NBA history, he listed Olajuwon, Abdul-Jabbar, Chamberlain, Russell, and Malone. He followed that by saying, "But you can’t forget about Mr. David Robinson. You can’t forget about Chief Robert Parish. You can’t forget about Jack Sikma."
What do all the players listed by O’Neal have in common? They’re all in the Hall of Fame. Except for Sikma.
So how about it, Honors Committee? How about in 2015, you guys induct both Haywood and Sikma into Springfield? I’m sure the towhead is already familiar with the area.
But if not, I want to let Jack and Spencer know this: for whatever it’s worth, you guys are Hall of Famers in our book.