Thursday, April 4

Haywood, the Hall, and Waiting

42 years ago this month, Spencer Haywood's name was at the top of every sports section in America.

The Man Who Beat the NBA, or words to that effect, were plastered across the nation when Haywood's now-famous, then-infamous lawsuit found its way the U.S. Supreme Court and, eventually, a sympathetic set of ears. In ruling that the league's 4-years-out-of-high-school rule to be illegal, the USSC made a champion out of Haywood, and - let's all say it together - paved the way for people such as Moses Malone, Kobe Bryant, etc, etc, etc.

And now, 42 years later, Spencer Haywood is hoping to, once again, be featured prominently in the sports sections of America. Today, tomorrow, this weekend ... some time before Monday night, Haywood will find out if this is the year the Basketball Hall of Fame lets him in the door.

I've written too many words about his case, and come down on both sides of the fence. On the one hand, an in-depth look at his statistics and accomplishments on the court leads me to believe that Spencer Haywood is not a Hall of Famer.

On the other, his off-court accomplishment (and there is truly only one accomplishment that merits mentioning) changes the equation. If you believe that Haywood's lawsuit was history-altering event, and that were it not for his lawsuit the NBA would not be as it is today, then I believe you have to induct him.

While his on-court contributions fall short, his off-court one - when combined, I suppose, with those on-court accomplishments - might just be enough.

For Haywood's sake, I hope so. It is clear that the man desperately wants recognition.

To his credit, he has reached a good place in his life where this recognition would merely be the icing, and not the cake itself, and for that reason, I hope he gets it.

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