Why Isn’t T-Hard In The Hall?

Recently, Tim Hardaway gave an interview to HoopsHype where he asserted that he hasn’t been voted into the Hall of Fame for non-basketball reasons: “the reason I’m not in is because of what I said in 2007 about gay people. That’s why I’m not in right now, and I understand it. I hurt a lot of people’s feelings and it came off the wrong way and it was really bad of me to say that.”  Hardaway was appropriately conciliatory about his past comments and seems to accept that basis for not getting into the Hall.

That got me wondering how strong a candidate Hardaway really is based upon the stats and if we can assess what part, if any, of Hardaway’s delay can be attributed to his 2007 comments.  At the outset, it’s clear that the comments weren’t helpful at the time and have aged even more poorly.  But let’s do a deep dive into the issue…

Before we can assess this issue fully, we have to set forth the basics of the Basketball HOF.  Unlike baseball’s HOF, the process in choosing basketball enshrinees is opaque.  There is no public vote or discussion among voters who may be choosing entrants.  We can, however, divine a few things that voters value.  Winning titles seems to matter.  HOF has historically chosen title winning supporting players even over star players who have not won a title.  The title-less superstars like Charles Barkley and Patrick Ewing still get in quickly but multi-year All-Stars who were never quite MVP-worthy can be left in purgatory (see Bernard King or Artis Gilmore).  In addition, if two All-Stars are on the ballot, the older player will likely get in first, even if he is not quite as good as the new nominee (which is somewhat fair because it is really off putting when a player is voted in posthumously).

Having said all that, the question is where in line is Hardaway among other guards who have HOF credentials?  As a prelim note, the HOF now requires a player be retired four years before consideration (it used to be six years).  T-Hard retired in 2002-03, so he’s been waiting since 2009 for entry and we’ll first compare him to other guards who got in since then, as well other contenders who are waiting based upon advanced stats:

Hardaway: 867 games, 35.3 mpg, 18.6 PER, 85.1 WS, 2.5 BPM, 34.6 VORP

2009, Michael Jordan: 1,072 games, 38.3 mpg, 27.0 PER, 214.1 WS, 8.1 BPM, 104.4 VORP

2009, John Stockton: 1,504 games, 31.8 mpg, 21.8 PER, 207.7 WS, 3.5 BPM, 65.9 VORP

2010, Dennis Johnson: 673 games, 32.7 mpg, 14.6 PER, 82.6 WS, 0.6 BPM, 23.6 VORP

2011: None

2012, Reggie Miller: 1,389 games, 34.3mpg, 18.4 PER, 174.4 WS, 3.3 BPM, 63.2 VORP

2013, Gary Payton: 1,335 games, 35.3 mpg, 18.9 PER, 3.3 BPM, 63.1 VORP

2014, Mitch Richmond: 976 games, 35.2 mpg, 17.6 PER, 79.3 WS, 0.9 BPM, 25.1 VORP

2014, Guy Rodgers: 892 games, 32.1 mpg, 13.5 PER, 33.3 WS (not enough states for BPM, VORP)

2015, Jo Jo White: 837 games, 35.8 mpg, 14.2 PER, 33.7 WS, -0.6 BPM, 6.9 VORP

2016, Allen Iverson: 914 games, 41.1 mpg, 20.9 PER, 99.1 WS, 2.7 BPM, 44.1 VORP

2017, Tracy McGrady: 703 games, 32.7 mpg, 22.1 PER, 97.3 WS, 4.6 BPM,50.6 VORP

2018, Ray Allen: 1,149 games, 35.6 mpg, 18.6 PER, 145.1 WS, 3.1 BPM, 58.1 VORP

2018, Maurice Cheeks: 1,101 games, 31.6 mpg, 16.5 PER, 103.5 WS, 1.9 BPM, 33.9 VORP

2018, Jason Kidd: 1,350 games, 36.1 mpg, 17.9 PER, 138.6 WS, 4.2 BPM, 78.2 VORP

2018, Steve Nash: 1,217 games, 31.3 mpg, 20.1 PER, 129.7 WS, 1.3 BPM, 31.2 VORP

2018, Charlie Scott: 560 games, 34.4 mpg, 14.5 PER, 26.9 WS, -0.9 BPM, 4.3 VORP

(We have excluded Roger Brown and Louie Dampier, who never or barely played in the NBA, and Sarunas Marciulionis, whose candidacy was not based primarily on his NBA career).

Putting aside some of the pre-1990s players, who fall into a different category, most of inductees were clearly better than Hardaway.  Only T-Hard’s former teammate Richmond was worse than Hardaway (by a little).  The rest of the players were MVP-level performers like MJ, Payton, or Kidd or very good players who played forever like Miller and Allen.

On top of that logjam of stars, there are quite few guards from the 1990 and 2000s on par with Hardaway:

Hardaway: 867 games, 35.3 mpg, 18.6 PER, 85.1 WS, 2.5 BPM, 34.6 VORP

Chauncey Billups: 1,043 games, 31.6, 18.8 PER, 120.8 WS, 2.5 BPM, 37.6 VORP

Kevin Johnson: 735 games, 34.1 mpg, 20.7 PER, 92.8 WS, 2.4 BPM, 28.0 VORP

Terry Porter: 1,274 games, 27.8 mpg, 17.2 PER, 110.4 WS, 2.0 BPM, 35.9 VORP

Also, Sidney Moncrief has been waiting a while too:

Moncrief:  767 games, 30.2 mpg, 18.7 PER, 90. WS, 3.8 BPM, 33.9 VORP

Of this group, Billups is clearly a better player statistically (and has a ring that bolsters his case even more).  Moncrief was also really good and has been waiting 12 years longer than Hardaway. KJ and Porter are in Hardaway’s league but T-Hard has a pretty good argument over both of them. The the other wild card is that there are guards who are clearly better that will jump this line like Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, Vince Carter, and Manu Ginobili.

At the end of the day, we have to conclude that Hardaway’s delay was much more a result of several better players being ahead of him on the list, including the best shooting guard ever and four clearly superior point guards.  Hardaway’s dumb statements ten years haven’t helped his case but he should eventually get in, assuming there is a down year where there aren’t superstar guards on the docket and/or he’s old enough that the committee decides he shouldn’t have to wait any longer.

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