Updated: Apr 8
With Kobe Bryant headlining the class of 2020, members of the NBA circle, such as Magic Johnson and Chris Broussard, have declared this class to be the greatest of all time.
With Michael Jordan headlining the class of 2009 alongside David Robinson and John Stockton, deciding which class deserves to be called the "greatest" is no easy task.
So how does one make their pick?
Some might look at championships. Amongst the three NBA players inducted in 2009, the collective number of rings won sums up to eight (six from Jordan, two from Robinson), compared to eleven in this year's class (five from Bryant, five from Duncan, one from Garnett).
Others might compare the accolades. We all know about Michael Jordan and his endless list of individual accomplishments, but his class includes a former MVP, 10-time NBA All-Star, and 4-time All-Defensive First Team winner in David Robinson, along with another 10-time NBA All-Star and the all-time leader of assists in John Stockton.
Jerry Sloan is a legendary coach who took the Utah Jazz to their only finals appearances in franchise history back in 1997 and 1998. He ranks #4 in all-time coaching victories in NBA history.
Charlaine Vivian Stringer is also a coaching legend in her own right, leading the women's USA team to a gold medal in the 2004 Athens Olympics as well as having one of the highest win percentages in women's basketball history and ranking #6 in all-time coaching victories in NCAAW history.
That's an impressive resume for 2009. But this year's group has a legitimate case to be the better class. We all know about Kobe Bryant and his accolades, but his class includes a 15-time NBA All-Star, 5-time NBA champion, and 3-time Finals MVP in Tim Duncan, as well as another 15-time NBA All-Star, 10-time member of the All-NBA First Team, and NBA champion Kevin Garnett.
That's already a class with a realistic case to be the greatest of all time, and we haven't even mentioned Rudy Tomjonavich, who led his Houston Rockets to their sole franchise titles in 1994 and 1995. We also can't forget 10-time WNBA All-Star Tamika Catchings, as well as one of the winningest NCAAM coaches of all time in Eddie Sutton, the first woman to win a national championship as a player, assistant coach, and head coach in Kim Mulkey, a women's basketball coach with over 1,000 wins in Barbara Stevens, and former FIBA Secretary General Patrick Baumann.
It's tough to even begin the comparisons between these loaded groups.
In fact, it's most likely impossible and even unfair to confidently declare the greater of these two classes, considering how they consist of players and coaches from different eras, and therefore, different forms of the game.
Comparing the two classes may be a fun topic of debate. But at the end of the day, the point of having a Hall of Fame in the first place is to appreciate greatness. The Hall of Fame ceremony serves as an opportunity to once again look back at a coach or player's career and judge it through the lens of nostalgia.
When Jordan gave his speech at the ceremony in 2009, fans didn't bring up all his flaws and shortcomings that plagued him early in his career. No, we looked back and appreciated all the things Jordan has done for the game of basketball and popularizing it globally.
So why not do that with the present? Why does a player have to be gone to be fully appreciated? The tragic death of Kobe Bryant reminded fans of all their fond memories of him over two decades. Why not appreciate who we have right now rather than waiting until their game becomes a memory?
If fans have learned anything over the past few months, it's this: let's stop obsessively bickering over who's greater, but instead appreciate the privilege of watching today's greats.
Preview photo credit: NBA.com
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