You have to understand the process by which the Basketball Hall of Fame elects its enshrinees to appreciate it. Problem is, nobody understands it.
Oh, we know there are screening committees. The committee members have votes. Through these votes, finalists emerge each year, and from those finalists, Hall of Famers are culled.
As for the identities of the committee members, their vote tallies or the methodology involved, well, let's just say the whole thing has been about as transparent as an iron curtain. Undaunted, we offer the following bold and daring prediction:
When the Class of 2011 is announced Monday, Chris Mullin will be among its members.
Of course, at this rate the official announcement will be an anticlimax. Over the weekend, ESPN reported that Tex Winter, coach and architect of the triangle offense, had made the grade. The Salt Lake City Tribune reported that coach Dick Motta failed to receive enough votes.
Meanwhile, Dennis Rodman, while in Detroit to have his No. 10 retired by the Pistons, reported that he was golden. Leave it to the bad boy among Bad Boys to scoop the club that just admitted him as a member.
So where does Mullin fit in? There are indications the Hall is weary of being criticized, not only for some of its curious decisions (don't get us started on Dick Vitale), but also for its lack of accountability. Hall chairman Jerry Colangelo is pushing to release vote totals this year. That would be a first.
But it would be a hollow gesture if the Hall of Fame, ostensibly serious about shoring up its credibility, admitted Rodman on his first try while leaving Mullin on the outside looking in for the fifth consecutive year. You just don't do that to a player with a more complete game and more comprehensive body of work.
Look, it's the Basketball Hall of Fame, all-inclusive. It's not just the NBA Hall of Fame. Or, for that matter, the College Basketball Hall of Fame, or the Olympic Basketball Hall of Fame or the Attention-Getting Hair Statement Hall of Fame.
With his distinctive crew cut, though, Mullin would qualify on all counts. He won the Wooden Award as college basketball's best player. He won two Olympic gold medals, one as a member of the original Dream Team. He was a five-time NBA All-Star. He was a first-team All-NBA pick in 1991-92.
He also served as the Warriors' general manager and was largely responsible for the only playoff roster the franchise has known in the past 17 years. Oddly, this carries no Hall cred. In yet another of its confounding quirks, the Basketball Hall of Fame pigeonholes candidates as players, coaches, referees or contributors. Which is why it does Don Nelson no good to be both a five-time NBA champion as a player and the league's all-time winningest coach. In fact, after being a finalist last year, presumably so he and Mullin could be snubbed together, Nellie was dropped this year.
But we digress.
The Crayola-haired Rodman was a singular talent who had but one Hall of Fame-worthy attribute. He could rebound like mad, leading the league seven times. Not incidentally, he was on the NBA's all-defensive first team seven times. Like Nelson, he was a five-time NBA champion, having had the good fortune to land on some wondrously talented teams and the skills to make those teams better.
But he played college ball at unheralded Southeastern Oklahoma State. He never appeared in the Olympics. He never served in an executive capacity. If you're into the whole sportsmanship thing, Mullin wins in a rout.
For the record, there are four other finalists with Bay Area ties this year. One, Stanford women's coach Tara VanDerveer, is a slam dunk. Or should be.
You can make cases for the others: Former Warriors coach Al Attles (557 wins, one NBA title as a coach but oddly listed as a contributor); Jamaal Wilkes (three NCAA titles at UCLA, three NBA titles, Rookie of the Year with the Warriors); and Ralph Sampson (better known for his time at Virginia and with the Houston Rockets than his 90 games with Golden State).
Mullin's case is rock solid. It need only be confirmed. If the anonymous committee members with their secret votes can't see that, they should consider a different avocation.
We hear the Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame is accepting résumés.
Contact Gary Peterson at firstname.lastname@example.org.