The Hall Of Fame Needs Silk: Jamaal Wilkes, The Forgotten Laker
The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame has overlooked quite a few deserving players over the years but I am here to make the case for one Jamaal "Silk" Wilkes.
This hallowed hall honors the greats of the game and that includes college and professional players. This is a key point because Wilkes had a Hall of Fame worthy college career and pro career.
Let’s compare the stats of two basketball greats and you evaluate who is more Hall of Fame worthy.
Player (A) NBA Career Stats and Awards
16.1 PPG, 2.2 REB, 4.5 AST, 0.9 STL, 0.1 BLK, .460 FG%
6x All Star, 2x NBA Champion
Player (B) NBA Career Stats and Awards
17.7 PPG, 6.2 REB, 2.5 AST, 1.3 STL, 0.3 BLK, .499 FG%
3x All Star, 4x NBA Champion, NBA Rookie of the Year, 2x NCAA National Champion, 2x NCAA All American
The truth of the matter is I think both player (A) and (B) deserve to be inducted into the Hall but only one is. Player (A) is Hall of Famer Joe Dumars and Player (B) is Jamaal Wilkes. So, Wilkes has better career averages in points, rebounds, steals, blocks and FG percentage than Dumars and he played big-time college basketball winning two National Championships which is two more than Dumars ever won and finally Wilkes won more titles in the NBA, this doesn't make sense.
Wilkes was a winner at every level winning a High School Championship in Santa Barbara California, winning two National Championships at UCLA and setting the record for consecutive wins at 88, then winning an NBA title in Golden St and three more with the “Showtime” Los Angeles Lakers.
The reason Wilkes has been passed over is likely because he has had the fortune to play with some of the greatest players who ever played the game (Bill Walton, Rick Barry, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson) so his contributions are often overlooked.
For instance, in what may have been Wilkes finest moment and one of the greatest big game performances in NBA history, Jamaal Wilkes scored 37 points and pulled down 10 big rebounds in the decisive game of the NBA finals to help the Lakers win the title.
In fact, this game was tied at the half and Wilkes scored 16 of his 37 in the third quarter to help the Lakers get control of the game. This was Game Six of the 1980 NBA Finals, the Lakers were playing the loaded Philadelphia 76ers and playing without their leader Kareem Abdul-Jabbar who had been injured in the previous game.
This performance would probably still be talked about every postseason as one of the great playoff performances but it just so happens that Wilkes teammate Earvin “Magic” Johnson as a 20-year-old rookie decided to play maybe the single greatest game in the history of the sport, playing all five positions and scoring 42 points to go along with 15 rebounds, seven assists, three steals and a block, hitting all 14 of his free-throw attempts.
Wilkes signature unorthodox jump shot was deadly, so much so that Lakers announcer Chick Hearn referred to it as the 20 ft layup. “Silk” averaged around 20 points per game during his peak years with the Lakers, his best year scoring 22.6 ppg.
Hall of Fame coach John Wooden described Wilkes as the ideal player and many of his peers and former teammates have written letters on Wilkes behalf to get into the Hall. It seems clear to me that a player who won four NBA titles during a 12-year NBA career, two NCAA National Championships in three years, scored more points than 13 Hall of Famers and grabbed more rebounds than seven Hall of Famers is deserving of a spot in the hallowed halls of the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Make it happen people!
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