Like hoops Hall itself, star-filled Class of 2009 falls just a bit short
That's quite the class the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced Monday. Takes you back to the 1990s:
With Robinson and Stockton going in alongside MJ, that's a quarter of the 1992 Dream Team. Impressive as that is, if the Honors Committee had gone a little deeper into its nominees, this would have been, hands down, the best class ever.
By my lights, at least one other finalist, and perhaps three others, should have made it, too. The definite would be frontcourt scoring marvel
As chosen, though, this year's class is only "in the argument," along with the Class of 1980, which also included three gold medalists:
There have been several other fine classes welcomed to the banks of the Connecticut River over the years:
• The 1990 class of
• ... the 2008 class of
• And the deepest class might have been inducted in 1993, when
Call Robinson and Stockton the Jordannaires, call 'em "my supporting cast," call 'em whatever -- but call 'em, even when joined with MJ, something just short of the finest group of players ever accepted into Springfield in one fell swoosh.
And if the not-entirely-inadvertent product placement in the previous sentence does anything, I hope it will inspire the Hall, which is laboring under $4 million to $5 million in debt, to use the serendipity of Jordan's induction this year to raise the revenue it so desperately needs.
How desperate is the Hall?
In a Feb. 18 memo to its Board, president and CEO
Doleva floated four ways of facing down the crisis: selling the Hall to an outside entity; embarking on a fundraising campaign (at a wholly inauspicious time, it should be noted, in the midst of a financial meltdown and on the heels of a capital campaign the Hall had just concluded); declaring bankruptcy; or selling off its $10 million worth of memorabilia and artifacts. All this after layoffs and paycuts, instituted last year, to realize annual savings of a half-million dollars.
The Hall has the right idea with plans to launch a 4,000-square-foot Jordan exhibit in the run-up to September's enshrinement. Here are a few more ways Doleva & Co. could play the Michael card:
• Sell the TV rights to Enshrinement Weekend, with a special focus on international sales given how beloved Jordan is around the world. China's CCTV alone ought to pony up handsomely.
• Station Jordan in the lobby for three-hour stretches each day of Enshrinement Weekend, Sharpie at the ready, available and willing to sign. Anything. For a price. The entirety of which would go to People's Bank, the Hall's primary creditor.
• In honor of two of Jordan's favorite avocations, set up in the parking lot, just for the weekend, a pitch-and-putt course for a high-stakes skins game. Invite any duffer to play (for a price), and sell the broadcast rights to Golf Channel. (This might require the temporary indulgence of the State of Massachusetts, but hey, the state didn't balk at pouring millions of taxpayer dollars into the current facility.)
• Hit up Cooperstown for a contribution. After all, MJ was a Birmingham Baron, if only briefly.
• Have the Hall of Fame gift shop stock a limited edition third Jordan jersey. You'll recall that, after every fan on earth had a Bulls No. 23 hanging in his closet, Jordan retired, only to unretire and don No. 45 -- thereby touching off a new round of jersey sales. I'd like to see No. 13, after
• Create a Hall of MJ Shame, with piñata likenesses of all those whom His Airness believes have crossed him over the years -- Chicago front-office nebbish
• And, yes, goad Nike into backing a tractor-trailer-towed exhibit of all the footwear and other gear the Hall's latest enshrinee has inspired and Nike has in turn flogged. The Beast of Beaverton should pay for the privilege.
If the aforementioned sounds crass, it beats pawning the collection. And if all else fails, the Hall could implement a long-ago suggestion of my former
I don't know about you, but I'd be much more willing to plunk down $16.99 if I were then handed a button reading, "I got into the Basketball Hall of Fame."