• US States

Explore sports news

56 min read

Basketball Golden Hall Bench Revealed

Fan votes have been collected and combined with those of Overtime Heroics writers to reveal the first edition of the Basketball Golden Hall. As previously covered, fans and writers will convene once a decade to take stock of the greatest athletes to have graced the court. We will reveal the First Edition in eleven parts followed by a wrap-up article.

The next ten articles will feature the top ten possible starting fives of all time, with each team constituted by a point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward, and center. The Bench, however, is made up of the top 51 through 100 basketball players, regardless of position, in history not on a top ten starting five.

Without further ado and in order of votes received, the Basketball Golden Hall Bench (be sure to comment with whom you think we missed):

Artis Gilmore

WS: 189.7;  PER: 21.4;  PPG: 18.8;  RPG: 12.3;  APG: 2.3

Artis Gilmore represents success at just about every league and level of play possible. The Floridian starred in high school (named an All-American), college (reaching the national championship game), the American Basketball Association (winning an ABA Finals), the National Basketball Association (NBA playoff appearances in six seasons), and even a European sojourn (earning all-star honors with Bologna). In addition to solid career numbers, the A-Train led his league in regular-season field goal percentage six times, rebounds per game four times, and blocks thrice. Gilmore enjoyed postseason success as well, leading in rebounds per game and blocks per game three times.

Bob Cousy

WS: 91.1;  PER: 19.8;  PPG: 18.4;  RPG: 5.2;  APG: 7.5

The Houdini of the Hardwood served as point guard during six seasons of Boston’s megalithic championship run of the 1950s and 1960s. Along the way, Cousy was named to 12 All-NBA Teams, led the league in triple-doubles five times, and in assists eight times. The New Yorker also excelled in the playoffs, posting a praiseworthy line of 18.5 points per game, 8.6 assists per game, and 5.0 rebounds per game.

Candace Parker

WS: 58.7;  PER: 25.0;  PPG: 16.7;  RPG: 8.6;  APG: 3.9

Candace Parker is an international phenom. After twice winning the National Girls Basketball Player of the Year Award in high school and twice winning the NCAA championship with Tennessee, Parker went pro. And when Candace Parker went pro, she really went pro. Like many female basketball stars, Parker competes nearly year-round in club and national competitions. In her 13 years, the Illinoisan has won two gold medals, the WNBA Finals, the EuroLeague, and five Russian Premier League titles.

Chris Webber

WS: 84.7;  PER: 20.9;  PPG: 20.7;  RPG: 9.8;  APG: 4.2

The Truth shall set you free. Chris Webber is now both a Hall of Famer and Golden Haller. The former high school National Boys Basketball Player of the Year transitioned his amateur career dominance into professional success. For the majority of his 14-year NBA career, Webber put forward consistently solid numbers in both the regular season and playoffs. The Michigander even got to live the dream, starring for his Detroit high school, the University of Michigan, and helping lead his hometown Pistons to the playoffs in 2007.

Dikembe Mutombo

WS: 117.0;  PER: 17.2;  PPG: 9.8;  RPG: 10.3;  APG: 1.0

Mutombo is in a class of players who transcend the court and enter the broader popular culture. His deep voice, charisma, and blocking prowess continue to resonate, most recently in one of the funnier insurance commercials. The Congolese center won the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award four times, collecting a ludicrous 3,289 career blocks and 8,551 career rebounds in regular-season play. Mutombo supplemented these stats with 251 postseason blocks and a devilishly-enjoyable 666 defensive rebounds.

Glen Rice

WS: 88.7;  PER: 16.2;  PPG: 18.3;  RPG: 4.4;  APG: 2.1

Pardon the homer indulgence, but Glen Rice might just appreciate it. G Money is often listed as Michigander, and this is only partially true. Rice was born in Jacksonville, Arkansas, and he spent his early years in one of the state’s most important and Saline County’s oldest African-American communities. With a proud Arkansan background, Rice should be included in any self-respecting list of all-time greats from the Natural State. Rice was a prodigious scorer in the NBA and ranks 76th in career regular-season baskets. His postseason performance was more than adequate, averaging 24 points per game in Charlotte’s 1997 and 1998 playoff runs and a solid 12.4 in an average 33 minutes per game in the Lakers’ 2000 championship drive.

Grant Hill

WS: 99.9;  PER: 19.0;  PPG: 16.7;  RPG: 6.0;  APG: 4.1

In a nod to the power of pre-digital marketing, Grant Hill remains large in this author’s memory. Hill joined the NBA in 1994, and his image was seemingly everywhere in the early years. From McDonald’s to Sprite to sneakers, Hill appeared to be on the verge of becoming the next face of the league after Jordan’s inevitable retirement. Though he earned Rookie of the Year honors and was selected for the All-NBA Team five times, he never quite made that leap. Nevertheless, the Virginian put forward solid numbers across a lengthy career. He even brought home the gold as part of the second Dream Team.

Hal Greer

WS: 102.7;  PER: 15.7;  PPG: 19.2;  RPG: 5.0;  APG: 4.0

The Philadelphia 76ers have a storied history with so many notable stars, including many Golden Hallers.  Allen Iverson, Dolph Schayes, Julius Erving, and Charles Barkeley have all laced up in the City of Brotherly Love. Yet, Hal Greer is the all-time points leader for the franchise, and he accumulated his 21,856 in the pre-three-point era. The West Virginian took it up a notch in the playoffs, besting his regular-season performance with 20.4 PPG, 5.5 RPG, and 4.3 APG. His efforts proved successful when Philly brought home the 1967 championship.

Manu Ginobili

WS: 106.4;  PER: 20.2;  PPG: 13.3;  RPG: 3.5;  APG: 3.8

In 2004, the United States had long been the dominant team in international play, having won 12 of 15 gold medals at the Olympics. Since the NBA opened its players to the Summer Games, the Dream Team manhandled opponents in three consecutive tournaments. Argentina, on the other hand, had never medaled, and its best performance had been a fourth-place finish in 1952.

Enter Manu Ginobili. Fresh off his first of four NBA titles and a EuroLeague championship, the shooting guard aimed to reverse his country’s misfortunes and take down Goliath. Logging the second-most minutes in Athens, Ginobili averaged 19.3 points and 3.3 assists, including 29 in Argentina’s semifinal triumph over America. The South American nation would go on to win the gold against Italy. For his efforts, Ginobili was graced not only with the gold but also the tournament’s MVP.

Robert Parish

WS: 147.0;  PER: 19.2;  PPG: 14.5;  RPG: 9.1;  APG: 1.4

When the NBA unveiled its top 50 players of all-time at its 50th anniversary, the Chicago Bulls technically had three active players on the esteemed list. Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, of course, but also Robert Parish. The latter spent his final season with the Bulls, winning his fourth ring and the third-oldest player in association history (43 years old).

Impressive as these late-stage accomplishments are, it is Parish’s long stint with the Boston Celtics that led voters to place him in the Golden Hall. In some ways a foreshadowing of things to come, the center could hit mid-range jump shots, drawing defenders away from the paint for Larry Bird and Kevin McHale to take advantage. Like others in the Golden Hall, the Louisianan performed even better under a postseason spotlight, averaging 15.3 points, 9.6 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks in 184 games.

Tony Parker

WS: 111.3;  PER: 18.2;  PPG: 15.5;  RPG: 2.7;  APG: 5.6

Tony Parker is a case study in showing that size almost always matters in basketball. Though taller than most people at 6 feet, two inches, Parker is shorter than most NBA players. His size speaks to a (near) minimum threshold for professional play that can only be compensated for with extreme dexterity, speed, and hand-eye coordination.

Named the fastest player in the NBA by his peers, the Frenchman played a key role in four San Antonio Spurs championships. He earned Finals MVP honors in 2007 with 24.5 points per game, 5.0 RPG, and 3.3 APG in a triumph over the Cleveland Cavaliers and LeBron James. Parker followed up a few years later with a 2013 EuroBasket MVP after leading France to the continental championship.

Vince Carter

WS: 125.3;  PER: 18.6;  PPG: 16.7;  RPG: 4.3;  APG: 3.1

In some ways, Vince Carter seemed poised to inherit the mantle from Michael Jordan.  Air Canada’s NBA career began the season immediately following Air Jordan’s second retirement. Carter wowed crowds with stupefying dunks and reckless but rewarded three-point attempts. A fellow shooting guard, Carter attended the University of North Carolina before joining the expansion and to-date hapless Toronto Raptors, much like UNC alumnus Jordan’s professional debut with the moribund Chicago Bulls. Carter even joined the Dream Team in its third iteration after Jordan’s 1992 kickoff.

Of course, the Floridian did not rise to the heights of the North Carolinian. Carter did not win an NBA title, averaged almost half of Jordan’s points per game, and led a somewhat transient professional life with eight clubs compared to Jordan’s two.

Carter instead blazed his own path over a 22-year NBA career. Vinsanity outdid what was thought possible in dunks during professional play, while representing his country at the Olympics, and in dedicated showboating time at all-star games. He supplemented his regular-season stats with solid playoff numbers, including 18.1 PPG, 5.4 RPG, and 3.4 APG.

Alex English

WS: 100.7;  PER: 19.9;  PPG: 21.5;  RPG: 5.5;  APG: 3.6

Some great players have the misfortune of being overshadowed by their peers. Alex English excelled throughout his career, most notably with the Denver Nuggets. He led the Rocky Mountain squad to nine consecutive playoff berths only to come face to face with the Los Angeles Lakers of the 1980s. Nevertheless, the South Carolinian posted more than respectable numbers in his unfulfilled quest for a championship. The small forward was the 1982-1983 and 1985-1986 scoring leader, and his playoff career line of 24.4 PPG, 5.5 RPG, and 4.3 APG is nothing to laugh at.

Arvydas Sabonis

WS: 47.3;  PER: 21.2;  PPG: 12.0;  RPG: 7.3;  APG: 2.1

By design, a player’s entire career should be considered by Golden Hall voters. EuroLeague, domestic leagues, and national team play can be difficult to determine how best to incorporate when compared to NBA play. But difficulty is not prohibitive; an attempt should be made.

Sabonis offers a glimpse into this complex world of analyzing global basketball and an opportunity to examine these multiple levels. The Lithuanian phenom began his career behind the Iron Curtain with his hometown team, Zalgiris. Though stats are hard to come by, we know that Sabonis propelled the Kaunas club to three-peat status in the Soviet Premier League before venturing to Spain.

In the Spanish League, Sabonis averaged 20.2 PPG, 12.1 RPG, 2.4 BPG, 2.0 APG, and 1.2 SPG. As expected given the higher quality of play, his EuroLeague averages diminished in most categories to 16.7, 10.7, 1.6, 2.4, and 1.0.  Sabonis’s stats diminished further still in the NBA to 12.0, 7.3, 1.1, 2.1, and 0.8.  His stats look a bit better in international play with the Soviet and Lithuanian Olympic teams to the tune of 17.5, 10.8, 1.4, 2.2, and 1.5.

So what to make of this? On the one hand, Sabonis’s stats mostly follow what one would expect for any player with experience in European domestic leagues and the NBA. The superior competition in the latter makes for greater difficulty in achieving statistical feats more easily accomplished in the former. However, Sabonis joined the NBA at the relatively late age of 31, arguably already past his prime. There is much more to discover in a deeper analysis, but suffice it to say that Sabonis’s European and national team accomplishments, when coupled with his middle and end of career NBA stats, are more than enough to earn the Lithuanian a spot in the Golden Hall.

Bill Walton

WS: 39.3;  PER: 20.0;  PPG: 13.3;  RPG: 10.5;  APG: 3.4

Personality and presence can outshine injury. Bill Walton has a certain California charisma that gave him an outsized stage on the collegiate, professional, and announcer stages, arguably translating to more votes and a place in the Golden Hall. Yet, even putting this aspect aside, the center’s career was extraordinary. Walton twice won the NBA Finals and NCAA championship, was named best collegiate player three times, NBA MVP once, and Finals MVP once. After injuries derailed much of his promise, Walton returned to win the Sixth Man of the Year Award in 1986.

Bob Lanier

WS: 117.1;  PER: 21.7;  PPG: 20.1;  RPG: 10.1;  APG: 3.1

Another big man with an injury-plagued professional career, Lanier played through the pain to earn MVP votes in seven different seasons. When healthy in the playoffs, the New Yorker could be dominant. In 1975, he led the league in blocks per game. Two years later, Lanier led in field goal percentage. The eight-time all-star even won an ASG MVP with 24 points, ten rebounds, two assists, and two blocks in 1974.

Bob McAdoo

WS: 89.1;  PER: 20.7;  PPG: 22.1;  RPG: 6.5;  APG: 2.3

When teams move, player legacies sometimes are nearly lost in history. Without an active team to celebrate past heroes’ accomplishments, their individual legacies are often forgotten. When the Buffalo Braves left New York for California, Bob McAdoo’s feats became increasingly ignored. During his four and a half seasons in Buffalo, the center averaged 28.2 points per game (thrice leading the NBA). McAdoo supplemented this with 12.7 RPG and 2.4 BPG. The North Carolinian led the NBA in playoff points per game in his MVP-winning season of 1975. His career would also include two NBA championships, two EuroLeague titles, and rookie of the year honors.

Carmelo Anthony

WS: 102.0;  PER: 19.9;  PPG: 23.6;  RPG: 9.4;  APG: 2.9

By design, active players are eligible for the Golden Hall. After all, every ten years voters will have the opportunity to take stock and vote out and in players of their choice. Anthony has struggled to seal the deal in the NBA after winning the NCAA championship with Syracuse. In his first seven seasons with the Denver Nuggets, the small forward led the somewhat hapless club to seven straight playoff appearances. With his birth-town Knicks, Anthony led the association in points per game in 2013 with 28.7, beating out the likes of LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Kobe Bryant. Yet, a championship remains elusive as he joins the Lakers in what could very well be the final campaign of his career.

However, the Marylander can hold his head high. After a bumpy start as a backup player on the bronze medal-winning 2004 squad, Anthony has led the United States to a gold medal three-peat. His best performance was surely as a member of the 2012 Dream Team, averaging 16.3 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 1.3 assists.

Chauncey Billups

WS: 120.8;  PER: 18.8;  PPG: 15.2;  RPG: 2.9;  APG: 5.4

Detroit has a praiseworthy history of upsetting Los Angeles. In two of their three finals meetings, the underdog Pistons defeated the favorite Lakers.  The first iteration featured the Bad Boys taking down Showtime.  The second had Billups on point against Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, Karl Malone, and Gary Payton.  Yet Mr. Big Shot proved victorious in a near sweep.  The Coloradan averaged 21.0 PPG, 5.2 APG, 3.2 RPG, and 1.2 SPG on his way to being named Finals MVP.

Cheryl Miller

WS: NA;  PER: NA;  PPG: 23.6;  RPG: 12.0;  APG: 3.2

Cheryl Miller exemplifies the height of college basketball. In her career with the Southern California Trojans, the small forward racked up two national titles and enough points to rank tenth all-time and rebounds third. Contemporary peers and observers judged her to be the best in the nation three times and an All-American all four years.  Continuing her tradition of excelling in her native California, Miller led the United States to gold in the 1984 Los Angeles Games with a 16.5 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 4.2 APG, 3.2 SPG, and 1.0 BPG.  Miller supplemented this Olympic success with a championship and runner-up finish in two different FIBA World Cups.

Chris Bosh

WS: 106.0;  PER: 20.6;  PPG: 19.2;  RPG: 8.5;  APG: 2.0

"You’ve been Boshed!" is a catchphrase that should have dominated 2010s culture. A little background is not needed for such an excellent would-be idiom, but I shall provide some anyhow. After a long day in October 2010, I came home to my apartment only to find that my roommate had ordered an untold number of clearance shelf flatheads of former Toronto Raptors star Chris Bosh and plastered them across my bedroom walls.  I had been Boshed, and Boshed well.

The Texan got his first taste of championship success (and opponents of championship-level Boshing) as part of the 2008 Redeem Team. After a humiliating third-place finish in the 2004 Olympics and 2006 World Cup, America returned with determination and vengeance. Playing in all eight games, Bosh provided support en route to the return to gold. A few years later as part of the Decision, Bosh reunited with his Olympic teammates of James and Dwyane Wade. The threesome put together a four-time conference championship run coupled with back-to-back Finals victories. Bosh’s average of 14.9 points and 7.5 rebounds per game was critical in the Miami Heat’s success.

Dave DeBuscchere

WS: 60.8;  PER: 15.5;  PPG: 16.1;  RPG: 11.0;  APG: 2.9

Playing in the NBA used to be a part-time job, as the league was frequently cash-strapped and owners were notoriously greedy. Players would take on additional work in the off-season to help pay the bills. Anyone who is familiar with the cesspool that is #NBATwitter has surely seen tweets along the lines of "1950s and 1960s stars were plumbers playing against plumbers." An absurd argument and the career of Dave DeBuscchere is a point in favor of recognizing the high-caliber athletic status of the pre-merger NBA. 

One of DeBuscchere’s off-season gigs was not plumbing, construction, or menial labor. Instead, the Michigander threw strikes for the Chicago White Sox. The righty pitched briefly but solidly, posting a 2.90 earned run average over two major league seasons.

Yet DeBuscchere truly excelled not at the national pastime but instead in basketball. The six-time all-defensive team power forward contributed to two championships with the Knicks. In 96 playoff games, he averaged 16.0 points and 12.0 rebounds and collected 5.6 win shares.

Dwight Howard

WS: 133.9;  PER: 21.5;  PPG: 16.8;  RPG: 12.3;  APG: 1.4

Superman’s negative clubhouse chemistry gives the new generation of analytic player analysis pause. While his physical presence and hardwood stats are nothing short of impressive, Howard’s impact on his team’s ability to gel toward becoming a sum greater than its parts arguably makes him an unwanted addition. Yet Howard has been part of three championship teams: the 2007 United States AmeriCup squad, the 2008 Redeem Team, and the 2020 Los Angeles Lakers.

The pinnacle of the Georgian’s career occurred just south of his native state in Orlando. With the Magic, Howard led the league in rebounds per game four times, blocks twice, and field goal percentage once. He received MVP votes in five of his eight Orlando seasons and three consecutive Defensive Player of the Year awards. In his first nine playoff seasons, Howard averaged a ridiculous 19.1 PPG, 14.1 RPG, and 2.6 BPG. These latter contributions are surely what led to voters selecting Dwight Howard for the inaugural Golden Hall.

Gary Payton

WS: 145.5;  PER: 18.9;  PPG: 16.3;  RPG: 3.9;  APG: 6.7

The Glove had the misfortune of his prime year overlapping those of Michael Jordan. So despite teaming with Shawn Kemp to lead the Seattle SuperSonics to the Finals, Jordan’s resurgent Bulls made relatively quick work of Payton’s squad. However, Payton’s usefulness outlasted Jordan’s, and the point guard won an NBA championship with Miami in 2006 in addition to two Olympic golds and an AmeriCup title.

The Californian put forward more than respectable offensive numbers, but it is defense where he truly shined. He led the association in steals in 1996 and was consistently near the top of defensive leaderboards. Along the way to the Golden Hall, Payton collected 48.9 regular-season defensive win shares, 4.1 playoff defensive win shares, one defensive player of the year award, and nine all-defensive team honors.

James Worthy

WS: 81.2;  PER: 17.7;  PPG: 17.6;  RPG: 5.1;  APG: 3.0

It is increasingly rare for a star, especially a first-round pick, to spend his entire career with one franchise. James Worthy did, however, and he made the most of his 14-year career with Los Angeles. The small forward joined the Showtime Lakers just in time to join forces with Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to win three NBA titles (and the 1988 MVP for himself). The North Carolinian improved on his regular-season performance in the playoffs, averaging 21.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 1.2 steals per game.

LaMarcus Aldridge

WS: 111.4;  PER: 20.8;  PPG: 19.5;  RPG: 8.3;  APG: 2.0

Basketball players often suffer disproportionately from certain physical ailments, likely owing to their abnormally large size. LaMarcus Aldridge has missed many games to treat his Wolff–Parkinson–White syndrome. Yet he has powered through to excel as a true star first with the Portland Trail Blazers and then the San Antonio Spurs.

Another active player who turns on an extra gear for the postseason, the Texan averages 20.8 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks per game. Aldridge has been named to five All-NBA teams and received Most Valuable Player award votes in three seasons.

Lenny Wilkens

WS: 95.5;  PER: 16.8;  PPG: 16.5;  RPG: 4.7;  APG: 6.7

Lenny Wilkens’s outstanding playing career is sometimes overshadowed by his superb coaching run. Wilkens should, of course, be praised and honored for his skipper success. The Golden Hall, however, highlights the playing careers of its members, and Wilkens more than earns a spot.

Wilkens’s coaching skills likely developed during his tenure as one of the NBA’s leading point guards. The New Yorker twice led the association in assists and in the top ten another ten times. Added all together, Wilkens retired in second place on the career assist leaderboard and currently ranks sixteenth. Under his tenure, the Saint Louis Hawks advanced to the playoffs seven times. Doubling down on his ability to find teammates at critical junctures, Wilkens led the NBA in playoff assists per game in 1968.

Pau Gasol

WS: 144.1;  PER: 21.4;  PPG: 17.0;  RPG: 9.2;  APG: 3.2

Basketball continues its relentless march toward becoming (if not already) the second-most popular team sport in the world. The game is played on every continent, watched by billions, is one of the seminal Olympic events, and is growing its club presence in Africa, Asia, and Oceania. The European game is increasingly solid, and Pau Gasol was a leading force in the continent’s new millennium success at both the national team and NBA levels.

After playing a critical role in FC Barcelona’s 2001 Liga ACB title and a very respectable EuroLeague run, the Spaniard decided to try his luck in the NBA. He found immediate success with the Memphis Grizzlies, becoming the first non-American to earn Rookie of the Year honors behind 17.6 points per game, 8.9 rebounds per game, and 2.1 blocks per game. Gasol has continued to enjoy an immensely successful NBA career, racking up 20,894 points, 11,305 rebounds, 3,925 assists, and 1,941 blocks. These stats place Gasol on the Mount Rushmore of NBA players with more than 20,000 points, 10,000 rebounds, 3,500 assists, and 1,500 blocks.

Gasol remained committed throughout his professional career to representing Spain in the national team competition. Gasol led Spain to three titles in the EuroBasket, as well as two second-place and two third-place finishes. In four Olympics and one World Cup, Gasol averaged 20.2 points per game, 7.0 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks en route to a gold, two silvers, and a bronze.

Paul Pierce

WS: 150.0;  PER: 19.7;  PPG: 19.7;  RPG: 5.6;  APG: 3.5

The truth is that the Boston Celtics of 2008 were likely as good as, or even better than, the Boston Celtics of 1973, 1986, or 1960. The 2008 squad had a better winning percentage than the latter, won the Finals whereas the 1973 club did not, and arguably competed against stronger competition than the 1986 team. Moreover, the 2008 version set the record for the most complete turnaround from the previous season. However one ranks the great Celtics teams, and there have been many great Celtics teams, the 2008 iteration owes its success in large part thanks to the Truth himself, Paul Pierce.

In that 2008 season, Pierce averaged 19.6 points, 5.1 rebounds, 4.5 assists, and 1.3 steals per game. In the six-game victorious Finals, the Californian was named MVP behind 21.8 points, 6.3 assists, and 4.5 rebounds per game.

Across his 15 Boston seasons, Pierce set numerous franchise records. Some of the highlights include most points scored in overtime, most three-pointers, most free throws (career and season), most steals in a single game, and ranks second in both career points and points per game. If there is a progression of Mr. Celtic, it runs from Bob Cousy to Bill Russell to John Havlicek to Larry Bird to Paul Pierce.

Sam Jones

WS: 92.3;  PER: 18.7;  PPG: 17.7;  RPG: 4.9;  APG: 2.5

The act of shooting a basketball and consistently having it go in, especially when playing against top-notch competition, can be quite difficult. In recognition of this reality, my elementary school basketball team’s official name was the Miss Selma’s Shooters. This moniker was in reference to the goal attempts that take place on the hardwood (though it likely would not have been chosen for a school in the post-Columbine era). The best players make an art form of it, and few have done so as brilliantly as The Shooter himself, Sam Jones.

Jones relied heavily on the now somewhat out-of-fashion bank shot. His approach certainly worked, however. Jones averaged 18.9 points per game in the playoffs, including an outstanding 27.8 in the pre-three 1965 Finals. The Celtics legend won ten NBA titles, including an eight-peat from 1959 to 1966.

Shawn Kemp

WS: 89.5;  PER: 19.1;  PPG: 14.6;  RPG: 8.4;  APG: 1.6

One of my more embarrassing basketball moments was watching the 1996 NBA Finals in my own home.

My brother and I were watching our favorite team, the Chicago Bulls, take on the Seattle SuperSonics. We viewed with fixed attention as Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and the rest returned to the Finals after a two-year absence. We were concerned that this return to greatness could be stymied by the Sonics. Behind the aforementioned Glove and big man Shawn Kemp, Seattle had a formidable roster of its own.

Kemp averaged 20.9 points, 10.4 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks in that season’s playoffs. The Indianan enjoyed similar success against the Bulls with 23.3 points, 10.0 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks per game. Yet his efforts were insufficient as the Bulls proved victorious.

Much as we rejoiced in our team’s championship, the embarrassing moment lingers. As young boys, we thought ourselves safe in the comfort of our own home. Sitting on the floor in t-shirts and briefs, we heard a strange cough behind us. Turning, we were confronted with the fact that our dad had let the pizza guy in to catch a few moments of the game while he searched for his wallet.

Sidney Moncrief

WS: 90.3;  PER: 18.7;  PPG: 15.6;  RPG: 4.7;  APG: 3.6

Despite accounting for less than one percent of the U.S. population, Arkansas contributes three percent of the Golden Hall. Sidney Moncrief’s career began before those of fellow Natural Staters Scottie Pippen and Glen Rice, paving the way for additional Golden Hallers from the 25th state.

Moncrief was nearly drafted by the Lakers but had the misfortune of being neither a Laker nor a Celtic during the 1980s. So despite leading his Bucks to the third-best winning percentage of the decade, Milwaukee never sealed the deal with a championship or even a Finals appearance.

However, Sir Sid was a defensive master, twice winning the Defensive Player of the Year Award. He is arguably the greatest offensive player in Bucks history with a career offensive rating of 119.7. His basketball prowess has been praised by Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, and now basketball fans and OTH writers by being named to the Golden Hall.

Tamika Catchings

WS: 93.6;  PER: 26.1;  PPG: 16.1;  RPG: 7.3;  APG: 3.3

Perhaps no other player in history has as many titles from as many leagues as Tamika Catchings. The small forward has won four Olympic golds, two World Championships, a WNBA title, a EuroCup, two Women’s Korean Basketball League titles, one Polish League championship, two Turkish Cups, an NCAA title, and high school championships in two different states.

The Illinoisan played her entire WNBA career with the neighboring Indiana Fever. She led the Fever to playoff appearances nearly every season. Like many Golden Hallers, Catchings rose to the occasion of postseason competition. Among other stats where she performed even better in the playoffs than the regular season, Catchings averaged 16.8 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 0.9 blocks. In Indiana’s successful 2012 campaign, Catchings performed so well that she was named the Finals MVP.

Walt Bellamy

WS: 130.0;  PER: 19.8;  PPG: 20.1;  RPG: 13.7;  APG: 2.4

What’s in a name? In American sports, the official nicknames for teams establish identities and create or cement city or state self-identification. Deciding on a name is usually a considered exercise, and changing a moniker is fraught with peril.

Walt Bellamy began his NBA career with the Chicago Packers. The club was named in honor of the Windy City’s meatpacking industry, but the nickname, of course, did not exactly cultivate a new fanbase given the existence of the 40-year Chicago Bears-Green Bay rivalry. The team adopted the unique but inspired Zephyrs in its sophomore season but moved to Baltimore after failing to cement a place in the Chicago sports landscape. Going with alliteration, the franchise became the Bullets until going with newfound alliteration many years after the move to Washington.

Walt Bellamy joined the NBA with the Chicago Packers after winning the gold in Rome. Making his presence immediately known, he averaged 37.6 points per game, 19 rebounds, and a league-leading .519 field goal percentage on his way to Rookie of the Year honors. Bellamy continued his success, earning MVP votes in 1963, 1970, and 1972 and his true shooting percentage led the playoffs in 1971. 

Walt Frazier

WS: 113.5;  PER: 19.1;  PPG: 18.9;  RPG: 5.9;  APG: 6.1

The Georgian starred in high school football but his career was stalled by systemic racism that refused to start a Black man at quarterback in college or the pros. So the point guard chose basketball and excelled with the Southern Illinois Salukis. After winning the NIT and being named MVP, Frazier continued his basketball career with the New York Knicks.

Bringing an immediate sense of almost effortless cool, Frazier led the Knicks to their only two championships. In his three finals appearances, Frazier put up more than respectable numbers to the tune of 18.9 points per game, 7.5 rebounds, and 8.2 assists.

Willis Reed

WS: 74.9;  PER: 18.6;  PPG: 18.7;  RPG: 12.9;  APG: 1.8

In 1588, the Spanish Armada set sail to invade England. The English navy featured relatively small vessels that were seemingly doomed to be sunk by the massive galleons utilized by Spain. England braced for a protracted land campaign with long odds in maintaining its independence.  Yet, the nimbleness of the smaller English crafts proved successful in repelling the invaders.

The average NBA center clocks in at approximately 7 feet tall. These galleons of men typically dominate the post, outstretching their opponents to score, rebound, and block. At "only" six feet nine inches, Reed mirrored the 16th century English navy. The Louisianan deployed nimbleness to routinely out-rebound and out-block his taller opponents. Reed employed these talents to lead the Knicks to two titles, earning two Finals MVP awards.

Dan Issel

WS: 157.8;  PER: 21.4;  PPG: 22.6;  RPG: 9.1;  APG: 2.4

Like his teammate Alex English, Dan Issel had the apparent misfortune of playing for the Denver Nuggets. The team’s stars are frequently overlooked and too often forgotten. Fortunately, basketball fans and writers who participated in selecting the inaugural Golden Hall members did not make this mistake.

Long gone are the days of territorial picks and rights, but there is something special about a college star transitioning to the pros in the same state. Issel transitioned from the NCAA’s Kentucky Wildcats to the ABA’s Kentucky Colonels.

He led the upstart association in scoring in his first campaign, garnering Rookie of the Year honors. He also earned a coveted ring when his Colonels won the 1975 ABA Finals.

Just before the Colonels folded with the merger, Issel was dealt to the Denver Nuggets. This franchise would make the jump to the NBA, and Issel spent the remainder of his playing career as well as coaching with the Mile High City.

His scoring proficiency remains easily recognized when viewing the record books. The Illinoisan ranks eleventh in all-time points.

Diana Taurasi

WS: 65.3;  PER: 23.1;  PPG: 19.6;  RPG: 3.9;  APG: 4.3

The women’s game is grueling. With love of the sport strong and paychecks low, many players never enjoy a true offseason. Instead, even stars play their summers in the WNBA and falls, winters, and springs in European and Asian leagues.

Diana Taurasi, perhaps the greatest to ever take to the court, is no exception. Combine this professional experience along with national team service and collegiate play, and one can begin to understand her excellence.

With the United States squad, Taurasi earned five consecutive Olympic golds and three consecutive World Championships. STATS AND SUCH

The Californian has played her entire WNBA career with the Phoenix Mercury. From the start, Taurasi commanded attention. She earned Rookie of the Year and First Team honors in 2004 and just never stopped. She is the all-time points leader in the league and holds the single-season points per game mark. With an MVP season and two Finals MVPs, Taurasi’s Mercury have claimed three titles.

In Europe, Taurasi has suited up for Dynamo Moscow, Spartak Moscow, Fenerbahce Istanbul, Galatasaray, and Ekaterinburg. With Spartak, Taurasi was an instant contributor. The Russian club won the ultra-competitive EuroLeague four consecutive times behind Taurasi’s two Final Four MVPs. Taking her talents to Turkey, she helped her squads earn Turkish League championships and a EuroLeague title before returning to Russia. With Ekaterinburg, she obtained yet another EuroLeague championship.

Add in Taurasi’s three consecutive collegiate titles with the Connecticut Huskies, and it is easy to see why across her XXX number of games, Taurasi might just be the Greatest of All Time.

Dino Radja

WS: 14.3;  PER: 17.4;  PPG: 16.7;  RPG: 8.4;  APG: 1.6

A fair amount of Golden Hall type has been spent discussing the difficulty of hanging on to player legacies when their clubs fold or move to another city. The Bench particularly also features frequent mentions of international and national team careers. Dino Radja is a case-in-point of both phenomena: his original country no longer exists.

Yugoslavia was formed out of the chaos that was World War I. As the victorious Allies redrew the borders of Europe, the disparate nationalities of the Balkans were grouped together into a new state. Basketball gradually took hold as the second-most popular sport after soccer. Top athletes like Radja chose the hardwood over the pitch. Yugoslavia enjoyed the fruits of these decisions, and Radja led his nation to a silver medal in the Olympics and two EuroBasket golds.

Yet Yugoslavia succumbed to nationalist forces that had been somewhat suppressed or marginalized during its long communist period. The so-called Southern Slavic state broke up into multiple new or reborn countries dominated respectively by ethnic Serbians, Slovenians, Bosniaks, Kosovars, Macedonians, Montenegrins, and Croatians. Radja hails from this latter group, and his national team career would continue with Croatia. He earned back-to-back Olympic silvers on two different teams (Yugoslavia in 1988 and Croatia in 1992) as well as a bronze at the World Cup and two more in EuroBasket competition.

As dramatic as these turns of events were for Radja’s national team career, the twists and turns of his club allegiances offer even more intrigue. Radja began his professional career in the old Yugoslav League, starting with Split. He performed well and led his club to the 1989 EuroLeague title. The front office in Boston took notice and drafted the still young Radja. In a series of high-stakes moves (literally moves when Radja transported himself to America) culminating in court action, a United States District Court sided with Split and voided Radja’s Boston contract.

Split’s obsession with keeping Radja paid off as he led his club to a second-consecutive EuroLeague title. As part of his return deal, Split agreed to let him out of his contract early with the expectation that he would leave Europe and join the Celtics. Radja surprised all yet again by signing with newly wealthy Virtus Roma.

Radja eventually did join Boston and performed admirably during some of the worst years in club history. Somewhat coincidentally logical, Radja left Both for that other historic shamrocked club, Panathinaikos. His frequent club jumping continued in his twilight years before finally retiring back where it all started, Split.

Through this domestic turbulence, Radja won two EuroLeague titles, a EuroLeague Final Four MVP, three Yugoslav League titles, two Greek League championships, and two Croatian League titles.

Oscar Schmidt

WS: NA;  PER: 31.6;  PPG: 34.6;  RPG: 7.3;  APG: 1.1

The way to win a basketball game is to score. If a player and his teammates put the ball through the hoop more than their opponents, the game is won. While there are many aspects that increase the likelihood of scoring (rebounding, movement, passing, etc.), ultimately someone has to take the shot. In the history of basketball, no one took that shot successfully more than Oscar Schmidt.

The Brazilian is considered by many to be the greatest basketball player never to have played in the NBA. Instead, across a 29-year career on the Brazilian national team and in South American and European leagues, Schmidt scored at least 49,737 points (a full 5,588 more than Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s combined NBA regular and postseason score). Schmidt continues to hold multiple records, including most Olympic career points, most points in a single Olympics, most points in a single Olympic game, and most points in World Cup history. 

Dolph Schayes

WS: 142.4;  PER: 22.0;  PPG: 18.5;  RPG: 12.1;  APG: 3.1

In its formative years, basketball was a sport with a large Jewish player presence. Teams like the Philadelphia SPHAs were created by Jews and largely featured Members of the Tribe on the court. The SPHAs won seven national titles (ranking third all-time after the Lakers and Celtics) from 1932 through 1945, and Jewish players starred on clubs throughout professional basketball.

Out of this Jewish milieu emerged Dolph Schayes. The Bronx-born and raised Schayes fell in love with basketball, putting his 10,000 hours in at Clinton High School, New York University, and every spare moment in between practicing. The Syracuse Nationals of the National Basketball League outbid his hometown Knickerbockers, and Schayes made his debut upstate.

Catapulting immediately to stardom, Schayes earned rookie of the year honors. When the NBL merged with the Basketball Association of America to form the NBA, Schayes continued his success. Combining a potent outside shot that was dubbed Sputnik with an ability to drive hard to the basket and decent height, he averaged a double-double in at least 11 seasons (rebounds were not recorded his first two years).

Schayes was a true iron man. After breaking his shooting arm, he continued playing in a cast and developed an ambidextrous shooting style that he used for the rest of his career. He went on to play 706 games in a row, still a record.

Leading his Nationals to multiple playoff appearances, Schayes and the team enjoyed the ultimate success in 1955. Behind 19 points per game, 12.8 rebounds, and 3.6 assists, the Nationals defeated Boston in four games and then the Fort Wayne Pistons in seven to win the Finals.

Adrian Dantley

WS: 134.2;  PER: 21.5;  PPG: 24.3;  RPG: 5.7;  APG: 3.0

Before Karl Malone and John Stockton, the first great Utah Jazz star was Adrian Dantley. After ending UCLA’s winning streak, earning Olympic gold, receiving Rookie of the Year honors in Buffalo, and a sojourn through Indiana and Los Angeles, the Marylander joined the Jazz as they set up shop in Salt Lake.

With the Jazz, Dantley was named to the All-NBA Second Team twice (the two seasons he led the association in scoring), Comeback Player of the Year, and averaged 28.9 points across 21 playoff games with the Jazz.

Chet Walker

WS: 117.4;  PER: 17.6;  PPG: 18.2;  RPG: 7.1;  APG: 2.1

Before a certain 6’6" individual took Chicago by storm and to six titles, Chet Walker was one of the few highlights at that height on the Bulls. Before taking his talents to the Windy City, the Mississippian played a key role on one of the all-time great teams, the 1967 Philadelphia 76ers. Playing in a league-leading 81 games, the small forward averaged 19.3 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 2.1 assists in the regular season and 21.7 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 2.1 assists in the playoffs. Impressively, he upped these averages further in the Finals to the tune of 23.3, 8.8, and 3.3.

Jack Sikma

WS: 112.5;  PER: 17.3;  PPG: 15.6;  RPG: 9.8;  APG: 3.2

It used to be said and taught that there were distinct positions and roles in basketball. Point guards set up plays, shooting guards took outside shots, and centers rebounded and scored down low. Strict adherence to these ideas is almost completely abandoned in today’s game. Initially a guard before a late growth spurt, Jack Sikma retained his outside shooting ability as he would pioneer the three-point capable center well before league-wide adoption.

The Illinoisan played most of his career with the Seattle SuperSonics. Averaging a double-double in both regular and postseason play, Sikma led the Sonics to their only title. As he aged, the center became more comfortable with the three-pointer. He made 550 attempts in his last three years, sinking 32.8 percent of them. His style would be reengineered and then remembered well more than a decade after his playing career ended, and voters wisely chose to include this pioneer in the Golden Hall.

Terry Porter

WS: 110.4;  PER: 17.2;  PPG: 12.2;  RPG: 3.0;  APG: 5.6

Terry Porter continues what is at least occasionally a theme among the Golden Hall Bench members. The Portland Trail Blazers of the early 1990s are seldom discussed among the great teams in basketball history. Yet this squad won two conference finals and featured Golden Hallers Clyde Drexler and Terry Porter. In those NBA Finals, Porter averaged 17.5 points, 6.4 assists, and 3.5 rebounds.

Detlef Schrempf

WS: 109.5;  PER: 17.2;  PPG: 13.9;  RPG: 6.2;  APG: 3.4

The Sixth Man Award is provided annually to the non-starter who is arguably the most impressive in the NBA season. In some ways, the Golden Hall Bench could be said to be a Sixth Man Award for the 50 best players in basketball history not named to a starting team. So it is altogether fitting that a two-time Sixth Man should be included.

Schrempf is a native of Germany, and he represented his country in international play at the Olympics and EuroBasket. The forward performed well, finishing fourth in points per game and second in field goals, free throws, and rebounds in the 1992 Games.

In the NBA, Schrempf played a key role in the 1996 Finals run by the Seattle SuperSonics. He averaged 16.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 2.4 assists in that six-game series.

Maurice Cheeks

WS: 103.5;  PER: 16.5;  PPG: 11.1;  RPG: 2.8;  APG: 6.7

Basketball encourages thievery. Stealing is a part of the game, and few did it better than Maurice Cheeks. The Illinoisan averaged 2.1 steals per game in the regular season (ranking tenth all-time) and 2.2 in the playoffs. His 2,310 swipes place him sixth on the career leaderboard.

Ed Macauley

WS: 100.4;  PER: 20.4;  PPG: 17.5;  RPG: 7.5;  APG: 3.2

There is just something charming about the hometown kid who makes it big and suits up in the pros for his local club. Ed Macaulay accomplished this adorable feat twice, bookending a Golden Hall career with two stops in his native Saint Louis.

The center got his NBA start with the Saint Louis Bombers. The team used a territorial pick to select the Billikens star, and he rewarded their confidence with 16.3 points per game. A career as Mr. Bomber was not meant to be, however, as the franchise folded after his rookie campaign. Picked up by the Boston Celtics, Macaulay performed excellently.  

Andre Iguodala

WS: 98.7;  PER: 15.4;  PPG: 11.6;  RPG: 5.0;  APG: 4.2

Some players are quietly but persistently good year after year. They play a pivotal role in making their teammates better and guiding them to guide the full team to victory. Every now and again, these players rise to the occasion themselves and earn recognition. Andre Iguodala is one such consistently good player, and he is a fitting choice for the Golden Hall.

Besides his regular-season stats listed above, the Illinoisan secured a Finals title for the Golden State Warriors in 2015. In a fierce contest with LeBron James’s Cavaliers, Iguodala put up 16.3 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.3 steals, and 4.0 assists per game while shooting .521 from the field and .400 from behind the arc. For his clutch performance, he was honored with the Finals MVP Award.

Vlade Divac

WS: 96.4;  PER: 17.7;  PPG: 11.8;  RPG: 8.2;  APG: 3.1

Vlade Divac has led quite the basketball life. From dominating in the Yugoslav and European leagues to a successful NBA career to being traded for a newly-drafted Kobe Bryant to winning golds and silvers for his national team to serving as a front office executive, Divac has touched almost every aspect of the game. Along the way, he has generated goodwill, racked up star-studded statistics, and has now been recognized as one of the 100 greatest to ever step foot on the court.

Follow me on Twitter at @goldenhallofame for more of my content. Don’t forget to check out our baseball podcast, Cheap Seat Chatter! We’ll see ya there!

Come join the discussion made by the fans at the Overtime Heroics forums! A place for all sports fans!

Main image credit Embed from Getty Images

Main image credit:

Subscribe to our newsletter

Receive the latest sports news, exclusive stories, and updates. Stay Up-to-Date!