NBA International Stars, Springfield Worthy?

Al SileshiContributor IJuly 8, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 21:  Manu Ginobili #20 of the San Antonio Spurs and Pau Gasol #16 of the Los Angeles Lakers go after a rebound in Game One of the Western Conference Finals during the 2008 NBA Playoffs on May 21, 2008 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.  The Lakers defeated the Spurs 89-85. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

A friend and I were watching Sportsnation and got into a debate about who was the better international player, Gasol or Ginobili. As a Spurs fan I clearly picked Ginobili but he argued that Gasol would get into the Hall of Fame before Ginobili would. Originally I thought he was right because while Manu might have three titles, Gasol is statistically a "better" player.

Then I realized it's the Basketball Hall of Fame. The committee must take into consideration a player’s achievements outside of the NBA as well, and that knocks Ginobili blocks ahead of Gasol.

Ginobili is severely under-appreciated due to his lack of minutes and superstar teammate Tim Duncan. Gasol is one my favorite players despite my deep hatred for the Lakers, and I feel he often gets lost in the mix of NBA’s top big men. Gasol’s skill set at his size is phenomenal and his consistency makes him, in my opinion, the most polished big man in the NBA alongside Tim Duncan.

Opinions aside, Ginobili's overall resume makes him a much more solid lock to get in. Another solid argument is that Ginobli would be into the Hall of Fame because there is an International Committee and they would look very favorably at Ginobili based on his international career with Argentina, leading them to a Olympic gold medal in 2004, which included a victory against the United States.

Some could even argue that if Ginobili never played in the NBA he would have had legitimate shots as Euroleague MVP and champion. I think he’ll be a first ballot inductee.

As for Gasol, he has almost averaged a double-double with18.1 pts and 9.3 rebounds, and still has a lot of play left in him. He is a multiple all time star and has a ring with the possibility of winning more in the years to come. Thus, I think his NBA career gets him a nomination.

However, his international career is not quite as stellar as Ginobili's, but it is certainly noteworthy. He has won a FIBA gold medal, which isn't quite the Olympics, but still a great achievement nonetheless. He also has a couple awards and titles from his FC Barcelona days so his chances look decent.

This sparked another debate. Should players of international accolades be used in the HOF process. My pal argued that outside the Olympics he doesn't think they should be used because that is unfair to NBA players who face tougher professional competition, but then shouldn't collegiate careers be ruled out as well taking Bill Walton and Bill Bradley basically out of the Hall of Fame? I don't really have a solid opinion on this yet, but I think it is too late to make a guideline change of that magnitude.

Not too many current NBA players would benefit from their international achievements outside of Gasol and Ginobili, besides maybe Yao Ming who has a lot of work to do, and possibly Nowitzki to name two.

So I think I win the argument that Ginobili's NBA and international career, plus being the only player to win a Euroleague and NBA championship, as well as a gold medal (Bill Bradley did however win the Euroleague Cup along with a gold medal and two NBA championships), makes him a lock. Gasol also has a great chance assuming his career stays on the same path and I would have no problem if either makes it because of what they have done for the NBA on a global scale.