Now before you start yelling at your computer and leaving ridiculous comments because I’m mentioning these players in the same sentence as Jordan, please do a little research on the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. You might want to start with a little research on players like Bill Bradley, K.C. Jones, Bob Houbregs, and Tom Gola.
It might also help to look up players like Artis Gilmore, Jo Jo White, Bernard King, Dennis Rodman, and Mark Aguirre. That will give you a great understanding on how flawed the NBA Hall of Fame really is. Unfortunately, we can’t fix it but we can make a case as to who should be in it.
Well, to begin, is there certain criterion that one has to possess to make them a first ballot Hall of Famer? What makes someone a Hall of Famer in the first place?
Your casual NBA fan will argue that a player must have won a championship in order to be considered for the Hall of Fame. Of course, that argument has to be thrown under a bus when you sit down and realize that Darko Milicic, Luke Walton, and Matt Bonner all have won championships.
We could also look at players in the Hall of Fame like Bob Lanier, Dominique Wilkins, Adrian Dantley, Alex English, Charles Barkley, Karl Marlone, and John Stockton, to name a few. All of those players have one thing in common: none of them have a little gold ring that declares them an NBA World Champion.
So now that we know that you don’t need a championship to make it to the Hall of Fame, what exactly do you need?
It’s difficult to say what makes someone a Hall of Famer based on the players who have been enshrined into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the players who have been left out. But if you look at the mission of the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame, it says that its mission is to, “Honor and celebrate basketball’s greatest moments and people.”
My argument is that both of these candidates are some of basketball’s greatest people and have produced some of basketball’s greatest moments. The question is which one deserves to be in the Hall of Fame more?
Both Tracy McGrady and Grant Hill came into the league with a lot of expectations. Both were McDonald’s high school All-Americans and both were drafted in the top ten in their respective draft classes. Both were said to be the next "Michael Jordan" (I don't know how many times we have heard that before).
They may not have been able to live up to all the hype, but you can't deny what these two accomplished in their primes. Let's take a look at their resumes for the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame created by me.
One of the most electrifying athletes ever to step onto a basketball court, Tracy Lamar McGrady was one of the greatest offensive scorers of his generation.
McGrady’s athleticism and physical abilities made him one of the most prolific scorers the game has ever seen. His athleticism and raw talent were complemented by his passing ability and high basketball IQ, making McGrady one of the most difficult players of his generation to guard.
Throughout his career, McGrady accomplished some pretty remarkable feats. He led the Houston Rockets to second longest regular season winning streak of all time (22 in a row). The only team to have a longer win streak in the history of the NBA was the Los Angeles Lakers with 33 in a row, led by Wilt Chamberlin and Jerry West.
Tracy McGrady was known for being able to single handedly take over a game in the closing minutes. He will always be remembered for one of the greatest individual comebacks of all time when he scored 13 points in 35 seconds, taking the Houston Rockets from an eight point deficit to win the game against the San Antonio Spurs.
• Seven-time All-Star (2001-2007)
• Two Scoring Titles (2002-2003, 2003-2004)
• Became the third-youngest player in NBA history to claim multiple scoring titles, trailing only Wilt Chamberlain and Bob McAdoo
• Became the ninth player in NBA history to win consecutive scoring titles
• Seven-time All-NBA Team member (2000-2005, 2006-2008)
• Career Regular Season Average: 21.6 ppg, 6 rpg, 4.7 apg
• 22 game win-streak (second longest in NBA history)
• Most Improved Player (2000-2001)
• Stands as the all-time leader in regular season scoring average for Orlando (28.1ppg)
• Stands as the all-time leader in postseason scoring average for both Orlando (32.0 ppg) and Houston (28.0 ppg)
At 6’8", Hill continued Larry Bird’s transformation of the small forward position by acting as a point guard in a small forward's body.
His offensive repertoire was a blend of powerful drives to the basket and mid-range jump shots. His fundamentally sound game accompanied by his passing ability made Hill a tough match for opposing teams.
Hill dominated the small forward position from the start of his rookie year. He became the first rookie in NBA history to lead the league in All-Star votes. In his second year in the league, Grant Hill beat out Michael Jordan in All-Star voting by 17,000 votes.
Most importantly, in an era where professional basketball players seemed arrogant, obsessed with fame, and diva-like, Grant Hill was precisely the opposite. He was known for being a great man not just on the court but off the court.
As a collegian at Duke University, Hill led the Duke Blue Devils to back-to-back national titles and three national title appearances all together. Hill will forever be remembered for his game-winning, 75-foot pass to teammate Christian Laettner in the overtime win against Kentucky in the 1992 East Regional Final.
• Seven-time All-Star (1995-1998, 2000-2001, 2005)
• Led his team in points, rebounds and assists per game three times (Elgin Baylor and Wilt Chamberlin are the only other two players in league history to lead their team in those categories for three seasons)
• Five-time All-NBA Team member (1995-2000)
• Career Regular Season Average: 17.9 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 4.5 apg
• Averaged 20 points, 9 rebounds, and 7 assists in a season (became the first player since Larry Bird to average those numbers)
• Olympic Gold Medal (1996 Olympics)
• Co-rookie of the year in 1995
• Back-to-back NCAA Championships in 1991 and 1992
• First team All-American in 1994
They both put up similar stats to Walt Frazier and Clyde Drexler but neither of them have the titles or even a playoff series victory for that matter.
I don’t know that there is a clear cut winner here. On the one hand, Grant Hill achieved some things that hadn't been done in a long time but his prime was cut short by a broken ankle. He only had six seasons where he dominated the game.
On the other hand, McGrady had eight successful seasons where he was considered one of the best players in the game.
I think you could argue for either one. You could say that Hill contributed more to basketball with his Gold Medal in the 1996 Olympic games, and his back-to-back titles at Duke and you would have a good point. Actually, a lot of Hall of Famers made it to the Hall of Fame because of their collegiate performances (i.e. Bill Bradley, K.C. Jones, Bob Houbregs, and Tom Gola).
I would argue that McGrady has the better resume based on longevity of his dominance in the NBA (ironic because they will probably not make the Hall of Fame because they weren’t able to stay healthy).
Hall of Fame Resume goes to…McGrady.
With a quick examination of the numbers, it is easy to see that Grant Hill was a better shooter than Tracy McGrady. Grant Hill has a career field goal percentage of 48.6 and Tracy McGrady has a career field goal percentage of 43.5. Case closed right?
Let’s examine these numbers a little closer. During Grant Hill’s best years in the league (1994-2000), Grant shot a total of 219 three-pointers. Grant Hill shot a whopping 25.5 percent from behind the arc.
In comparison, during Tracy McGrady’s best years in the league (2000-2008), Tracy shot more than 2,700 three pointers making just 34 percent of them.
That means that Tracy McGrady shot 2,500 more threes than Grant Hill (take into account that McGrady’s prime included two more seasons...but still). Everyone knows that you should have a higher field goal percentage than three point field goal percentage, which means, the more three-pointers you shoot the lower your overall field goal percentage will be.
Even given those facts, I still think Grant Hill was a better shooter. However, big fans of Tracy McGrady could make that argument and say that he was a streaky shooter and when he was hot and in the zone there was no stopping the man.
They may be right, but shot selection counts when you are seeing who the better shooter is.
Even if McGrady had a better jump shot, he definitely made his life a lot more difficult than it had to be with his shot selection. A lot of the really talented players like Kobe and LBbron don’t have the best shot selection either because they feel like they can make anything. Maybe that was McGrady’s problem.
Whatever the case may be, I still have to give it to my man Grant Hill. He took better shots and capitalized on his strengths of driving and getting points in the paint.
Shooting goes to Grant Hill.
During their reign in the NBA you could say that at one time or another Grant Hill and Tracy McGrady were the best at what they did. Whether we are talking about scoring or dominating the game in all statistical categories, these players were at the very top of the totem pole.
• Top 40 All-time in ppg
• Six top-10 finishes in MVP voting
• Two top-five finishes in MVP voting
• Led the league in scoring two years in a row
• Made the All-Star team from 2001-2007
• Led the league in playoff scoring two years in a row
• Considered one of the top 20 shooting guards of All Time by ESPN
• Has career highs of 62 points (in three quarters of play), 17 rebounds, and 13 assists
• Eighth all time in career triple doubles
• Led the NBA in triple-doubles for two years
• Five top-10 finishes in MVP voting
• One top-five finish in MVP voting
• Made the All-Star team from 1995-1998, 2000-2001, and in 2005
• Considered one of the top 20 small forwards of All Time by Basketball-Reference.com
• Has career highs of 46 points, 18 rebounds, and 14 assists
This is a tough decision for me. It would be easy for me to give it to Tracy McGrady because of the scoring titles but Grant Hill wasn’t known for dominating the game scoring the ball. He could take over the game in more than one way.
This one is very close. I would hate to give this one to McGrady because of longevity again but I'm going to have to. McGrady dominated the game over a longer period of time.
Dominance goes to Tracy McGrady.
I don’t think there is much argument here so I won’t waste much time.
Although McGrady showed some versatility in his ability to guard anybody on the court from the point to the power forward (on rare occasions because of his size), I think he definitely could have given more effort on the defensive side of the court.
I don’t blame the guy for trying to conserve himself for the offensive end because that is where he was really gifted but you have to expect more from true superstars.
Grant Hill might have given up a lot of points to Jordan but no other player was able to abuse Grant and he displayed some pretty solid defense. I’m sure going to Duke probably had something to do with his ability to play defense. I think I’ve also seen Grant Hill take a lot more charges than Tracy.
Defense goes to Grant Hill.
Tracy McGrady and Grant Hill have probably heard all of the little sly comments about their inability to make it out of the first round of the playoffs. I think that if the NBA analysts wouldn’t have told us that they couldn’t make it out of the first round of the playoffs I don’t think it would have crossed our minds.
I think more people think about championships rather than asking if a guy made it to the second or third round of the playoffs. I think people care more about what an individual contributed to the game over the number of conference semi-finals the individual made.
People want to know if you won a championship, how many championships you won, or why you didn’t win a championship. The media is very funny in the way they shape our perceptions. They don’t tell you about the seasons that their beloved All-Stars couldn’t get out of the first round.
If you do a little research and look up the careers of future Hall of Famers like Kevin Garnett, Pau Gasol, Jason Kidd, and Carmelo Anthony, you will see that they were not able to make it out of the first round of the playoffs until they were surrounded by a lot of help. Look at Dwyane Wade’s playoff resume after Shaquille O’Neal.
However, for some reason, we are blinded by the common sense that says one man can’t do it alone. Maybe that is why Tracy gets it the hardest because he played with Yao Ming and a lot was expected out of that combination.
Well you might think that it is ironic to compare the playoff performances of Grant Hill and Tracy McGrady because neither of them made it out of the first round.
I think it is actually good to look at the playoff performances of NBA players because you can see if they elevated their games when their teams needed them the most.
Playoffs with Orlando:
• FG%: 44
• PPG: 32.0
• RPG: 6.5
• APG: 5.9
• One seven-game series
• Led the NBA in playoff scoring two years in a row from 2001-2002
(Those are Michael Jordan-type numbers)
Playoffs with Houston:
• FG%: 42.6
• PPG: 27.7
• RPG: 7.1
• APG: 7.0
• Two seven-game series
Grant Hill playoff averages with the Pistons (excluding series he got injured):
• FG%: 46.6
• PPG: 20.9
• RPG: 7.1
• APG: 5.8
• Two five-game series
If you look at future stars like Brandon Roy, Kevin Durant, and Chris Bosh, if these players happen to not make it out of the first round would you think any less of their abilities as a player? I know there is one guy waiting to say, “Well they were never good LEADERS then.”
Come on brain-washed ESPN Sportscenter watcher at 3PM, 6PM, and 12AM. I know you never miss a Sportscenter but how much do you really know about leadership especially in the NBA that wasn’t told to you by some analyst on TV. Do you really think guys like Stephen Jackson, and Joe Johnson are better than Tracy Mcgrady and Grant Hill were?
Try to put this statement in perspective: In the playoffs, McGrady has put up better stats than Kobe Bryant, Clyde Drexler, and Walt Frazier (look up the stats if you don’t believe me).
I know you thought that McGrady was a horrible leader and that it was his fault his teams never got out of the first round. I don’t know what better way to lead a team than by leading by example. Don’t feel bad. You are probably a victim of the media.
I love how the media can construct images of players in our minds and I’m just glad I’m not brainwashed. This one has to go hands down to T-Mac. He stepped up when his teammates needed him the most in the postseason but wasn’t fortunate enough to make it out of the first round. I don’t think you can blame that fact on him.
Playoff performer goes to Tracy McGrady.
This might be unfair but you cannot tell me that the people that vote for Hall of Famers are not factoring this into the equation. Here is what people will think about (fair or unfair) when they think about Tracy McGrady and Grant Hill:
• Nice Guy
• Crippled by injuries
The voters won’t remember all the great things McGrady did off the court (Darfur) because it won’t receive enough hype from the media. They will remember a guy who was a handful in the locker room and unable to lead his team out of the first round of the playoffs.
The voters won’t remember how a lot of people felt Grant Hill lacked the killer instinct that great players had. They will remember a college star that became more liked than Jordan but unfortunately his career was cut short by injuries (that’s actually true though).
Whether you like it or not, image goes to Grant Hill.
There is no doubt in my mind that if either of these players were not hit with the injury bug, I think they would have been considered among the elites and would have easily been first ballot Hall of Famers.
Unfortunately, the basketball Gods had other plans for these two. They both had their talents taken away from them during the prime of their careers.
There is no doubt that these two players, at the height of their careers, were among the most dominant players in their position and in the game in general.
Maybe neither of them will make it into the Basketball Hall of Fame but the moments they created on the basketball court will never be forgotten in the minds of true basketball fans.
I would argue that if you were making a documentary about the NBA and the special moments in its history it would be tough to leave out either of these individuals.
Maybe history will read that these were two guys that had so much potential but were stricken by injuries and never achieved all that was expected of them. Or maybe history will read that these were two good basketball players who were great but not quite legendary.
However, if I had a vote, mine would go to Tracy McGrady because of the length of time he was able to dominate the NBA.