The Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame inductees for 2008 were announced today in San Antonio, and were missing two names that are very close to Bay Area sports fans. General manager Chris Mullin and head coach Don Nelson were on the list of finalists for enshrinement, but did not make the final cut. Miami coach Pat Riley will be inducted, as well as other notables such as Hakeem Olajuwon and Patrick Ewing. But these two key members of the Warriors resurgence in the competitive Western Conference have once again been overlooked.
Mullin was Big East Player of the Year at St. John's three times, USBWA College Player of the Year AND Wooden Award winner in 1985, and won two Olympic Gold Medals. He is the all-time leader in scoring at St. John's. From 1988-1993, Mullin joined Wilt Chamberlain as the only Warriors to have five consecutive seasons averaging 25 points per game. He was an NBA First Team pick in 1992, and was an All-Star five times. His presence in the Warriors front office has been very prominent, and makes a point to be involved in the team itself. He is still undefeated at HORSE, and shoots around with the team frequently. However, his college record and NBA success should be enough to earn him a spot in the Hall of Fame.
On the other hand, I see no reason to why Don Nelson still isn't in the Hall. He's a basketball genius who has such a keen eye for talent. His system of exploiting mismatches is still highly successful and is something that can only be pulled off by him. He was named to the NBA's Ten Best Coaches of All-Time, and is second on the all-time wins list. He has the sad distinction of being the coach with the most wins and no NBA championship. He is a three-time Coach of the Year and also had a successful playing career as well. A two-time All-American at the University of Iowa, he also won five championships for the Boston Celtics. And who can forget that he invented "Hack-a-Shaq?" That's just classic basketball. Having him out of the Hall of Fame is like excluding any Cubs players because they never won a World Series. He should be a shoo-in for next year.
Both of these basketball greats worked together to form some of the most exciting teams in the NBA. Their work on and off the court speaks volumes to the kind of people they are, and players of this caliber are deserving of being honored in the Naismith Hall of Fame.