Of the 13-members inducted into the 2018 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, players, coaches, and executives fill-up the stat sheet of this double-digit number. And there are a few ladies representing the orange as well. Thank goodness. Here’s your class:
- Ray Allen
- Maurice Cheeks
- Charles “Lefty” Driesell
- Grant Hill
- Jason Kidd
- Steve Nash
- Dino Radja
- Charlie Scott
- Rod Thorn
- Rick Welts
And, the ladies:
- Katie Smith
- Tina Thompson
- Ora Mae Washington
Now that you’ve seen all of the names, let me feature my Big Four of the HOF class — Ray “Jesus Shuttlesworth” Allen, Steve Nash, Jason Kidd and Grant Hill. Just in case you missed the commercials back in the day, Mr. Hill drinks Sprite. Ah, it’s that refreshing.
The enshrinement ceremony will take place on Friday, September 7th in Springfield, MA. Congratulations to all of the inductees. However, the four names that I’ve highlighted start with Mr. Allen. In my opinion, his career outshines the other 12-members of this exclusive group. It’s all about you, Ray.
Allen is the all-time Orange Roundball League leader in three-point field goals made (2,973). Sensational. Personally, he’s the best pure shooter the NBA has ever seen. Perfect form, perfect balance, perfect release. Every single time. Listen, folks, he’s a nylon destroyer. Swish.
What about Allen’s additional accolades? Let’s see. He’s a 10-time NBA All-Star (2000-2002, 2004-2009, 2011) and a two-time NBA champion (2008, 2013). Mr. Allen helped the 2008 Boston Celtics collect the franchises’ 17th title. Wow. The Celtics were founded in 1946 as one of the original eight NBA teams. This also happens to be the year that both of my parents were born. Here’s a shout out to my Mom and Dad, Gloria and Rudy. I love you both very much.
In 2013, Ray dropped the hammer from the land of plenty in Game 6 of The Finals. But not before the San Antonio Spurs took a 75-65 lead into the final quarter against the Miami Heat in South Beach. A 20-7 surge to start the fourth quarter, led by LeBron “King” James’ 11 points, helped the Heat push ahead late. With 2:09 remaining for the title, Miami gave themselves an 89-86 cushion. Did you really think the Spurs would back down? Not a chance.
A San Antonio run propelled Head Coach Gregg Popovich’s Spurs to a 94-89 advantage with just 28.2 ticks left on the game clock. After some back and forth basketball consisting of the steal or foul strategy, Miami closed the gap to 95-92 with less than 20-seconds to a Spurs’ championship. The last offensive possession for the Heat had King James launching a 26-foot jumper from three-point land — he missed. Within a split second following the bricked field goal attempt, Chris Bosh saved the day with an offensive rebound and gorgeous pass to Mr. Allen in the right corner. Ray engulfed the orange, stepped-back behind the arc, and let it fly with that perfect stroke I’ve already alluded to. Bang. Squish. Wet nylon. Whatever you’d like to call it, Allen drilled the shot with 5.2-seconds left in Game 6 to tie the game at 95 apiece. The Heat escaped in overtime, forcing a deciding Game 7 in Miami.
James’ 37 points carried the Heat to a 95-88 Game 7 victory and back-to-back NBA championships. None of which would be possible without Allen’s heroics in Game 6. A signature moment for a signature career, Mr. Allen. It’s fitting that it was a three-point dagger that did the damage.
On Friday, it’s also fitting that Reggie Miller (Class of 2012) will represent Allen for enshrinement. Who’s second on the all-time three-point field goal list? Yes, indeed. It’s Miller with 2,560 made triples. Simply lethal for the Indiana Pacers back in the day.
Although 12 others will join Ray Allen on Friday, I believe he shines the brightest. In 1,300 Orange Roundball League games during his extraordinary career, Allen averaged 18.9 points per game and 4.1 rebounds per game. Remarkable. And, he shot a gaudy 40-percent from the land of plenty. Starring as Jesus Shuttlesworth alongside the brilliant Denzel Washington in the movie, “He Got Game”, Allen has exactly that. Game.