So far here seems to be the order of selection criteria:
- Regular season MVP – so far every player who has won MVP either in NBA or ABA has been elected to the Hall of Fame. We’ll see if Derrick Rose becomes the first player not to get in.
- Scoring leader – Yes this is actually a pretty important criteria! Because every scoring leader so far has been elected to the HoF!
- Finals MVP – almost every Finals MVP except Cedric Maxwell (and perhaps Andre Iguodala in the future) has been elected to the HoF.
- All-NBA 1st team selection 3 times or more – with the election of Paul Westphal last year, every player with 3x All-NBA 1st team or more have been selected to the HoF. There are some players with 3x All-ABA 1st team that haven’t been selected however, like Mack Calvin, but this is because the NBA does not value ABA awards at the same level.
- A Championship as the 1st or 2nd best player on the team – Since Jack Sikma’s induction last year (2nd best player on 1979 Sonics), almost every player who has won a ring as the best or second best player on their team has been elected to the Hall of Fame. The only notable exceptions are the 2004 Pistons, which still have not had any members (!) inducted in the HoF. Chauncey Billups and Ben Wallace will get in sometime I presume.
- Scoring 20,000 career pts – The only 2 players not in the HoF and have this criteria are Tom Chambers and Antawn Jamison.
- All-NBA 2nd team selection 3 times or more – this is not as guaranteed but *most* players with 3x All-NBA 2nd team or more have been selected to the HoF. notable exceptions are Shawn Kemp, Chris Webber, Kevin Johnson and Tim Hardaway, but I have a feeling they might get in sometime in the future.
- All-Star selection of 6 times or more – Again just like the above, *most* players with 6x All Star have been selected to the HoF. Notable exceptions are Walter Davis, Shawn Kemp, and Lou Hudson, but these are all very borderline HoFers.
Honestly, I think it’s part ignorance and part denial.
First of all, since Wilt played in the 1960s and he’s no longer around to defend himself, and most of the people who watched him play are getting too old themselves, it’s very easy for the typical Gen Z / Millenial fan to point out that:
- Wilt played in an 8 team league
- Wilt’s numbers are inflated
- Wilt played against short white plumbers
- Bill Russell dominated him
- Shaq or whoever else would have owned that era
And all of these have a counterargument:
- An 8 team league would actually be more competitive, not less since more talent is concentrated in fewer teams
- Wilt’s numbers are not duplicated by anyone else of his era
- You can do some research and see that Wilt played against a guy 6′9 or taller at his position on every team, and that the average height back then was only 1″ shorter
- Bill Russell had a better team than Wilt did most of the time
- Time travel shenanigans don’t make any sense; today’s athletes benefit from the athletes that came before them. Barry Bonds would probably dominate in Babe Ruth’s era. Mike Tyson would have dominated in Muhammed Ali’s era. Wayne Gretzky would have dominated in Gordie Howe’s era. Any person with a college education today would have dominated Isaac Newton’s era. It doesn’t make any sense, and only for basketball do we discredit the older greats.
So I think it’s just ignorance for that part.
For the second part, I think it’s also denial. People see Wilt’s numbers and roll their eyes. They ignore it because Wilt’s numbers are too insane. They are video game numbers. How could someone have actually put up those numbers? That can’t be. That means that Wilt would be numbers-wise better than any other player in NBA history by a wide margin including Michael Jordan and Lebron James. The greatest of all time can’t be a guy that played 50 years ago. That’s impossible and not fun to think about. No, the greatest of all time has to be someone who played relatively recently so we can see all his footage and debate with other people who have seen him play. Wilt probably just got his numbers because everyone else sucked back then.
And thus, that’s why Wilt Chamberlain will always be IMO underrated because he was TOO dominant for his era to the point of it being too unbelievable. ESPN even left him out of their top 5 list. It’s really sad.