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Thread: Question for ABA guys

  1. #1
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    Default Question for ABA guys

    This article about Artis Gilmore was just posted on our school's homepage ( and I was wondering if Artis getting snubbed really is as big a deal as people are making it out to be? I honestly do not know much about the ABA, but this is something that a lot of people are talking about. What is keeping Artis from getting into the Hall of Fame? Any chance he gets in while he is alive?

    The last time the NBA staged its All-Star Game in Dallas, Artis Gilmore was front and center -- a backup center for the West squad, in fact, playing behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, alongside Hakeem Olajuwon and Ralph Sampson and against Moses Malone, Robert Parish and Patrick Ewing. Gilmore won't be in Dallas for All-Star Weekend this year, though -- partly because he wasn't asked and partly because he'll be back at his alma mater and current employer, Jacksonville University, helping to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the school's inception. In March, he and other former Dophins will be honored in a 40-year celebration of Jacksonville's trip to the Final Four and brush with the NCAA men's championship, when they lost to the mighty UCLA Bruins in the title game.

    More conspicuously, Gilmore won't be in Springfield, Mass., today, tomorrow, the day after that or possibly anytime soon. For some inexplicable reason, he has yet to be enshrined in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.

    Frankly, the 7-foot-2 gentle giant from Chipley, Fla., might be the Hall's most glaring omission, given his statistical achievements and a diverse career in which he starred at the college level, in the old American Basketball Association, in the ABA and even for a season in Italy at the end, before the international game became a viable option for U.S. players.

    Scan the list of the pro game's greatest scorers, combined NBA/ABA, and Gilmore's standing -- and neglected status -- becomes evident. Twenty-three seasons after his final NBA game, he still ranks 20th in all-time scoring (24,941). All 19 players ahead of him on the list either are Hall of Famers or soon will be (Karl Malone, Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant). The same can be said for the next 14 behind him, including Ewing, Charles Barkley, Elgin Baylor, Larry Bird, David Robinson and Kevin Garnett.

    Gilmore holds the NCAA career mark for rebounds (22.7 a game). He was the ABA's Rookie of the Year and MVP in 1971-72, a five-time All-Star selection and the pivot man on the Kentucky Colonels 1975 championship squad. When the ABA got absorbed into the NBA, Gilmore was the coveted No. 1 pick in the dispersal draft. Over his 12 NBA seasons -- six with Chicago, five in San Antonio and one split as a teammate of Michael Jordan with the Bulls and Larry Bird with the Celtics -- he set the league record for highest lifetime shooting percentage (59.9). He made six playoff appearances and six All-Star teams, then wrapped up in 1988-89 with Bologna Arimo in the Euroleague, averaging 12.4 points and 11.1 rebounds at age 39.

    Remember, the joint in Springfield is a basketball Hall of Fame, honoring participants and contributors from all levels. Few have checked as many boxes in their careers as Gilmore -- we haven't even mentioned his all-world Afros and set of sideburns, part of the game's fun "old school'' look -- and I spoke to the courtly Southern gentleman this week about most of them: Tell us about your recent return to the university.
    Artis Gilmore: My title now is special assistant to the president to the university. I've really enjoyed it. My responsibilities have more of a marketing spin and hopefully, being a private institution, at some point in the future I'll be able to find some funds to bring to the university. That is, if money ever becomes available again [laughs]. Your Web site,, is pretty cool and markets you as a speaker for civic groups and corporate events. Do you do a lot of that?
    AG: Not in this economy right now. I notice even the NBA -- normally they extend an invitation to a lot of us for the All-Star activities. They're having a huge gala this year, and most of us have not gotten invitations. I was speaking with David Thompson and he did not receive one either. That surprises me, because the league is pretty savvy about embracing its legendary players.
    AG: I think they're feeling pretty comfortable with Kobe Bryant and LeBron James and some of their other young stars [laughing]. I like to think that this is because of budgets. They've made that choice, and I certainly understand the business aspect of it. You started at Gardner-Webb junior college, then spent two years at Jacksonville when you were 20 and 21. Would you even have made it to the Dolphins nowadays? What do you make of players turning pro so much sooner?
    AG: There have been, no question, a number of kids who experienced growing pains. LeBron James is the only one I can think of who was able to transfer directly from high school [and play effectively from the start]. I think it really hurt the NBA and it hurt the college game. It kind of diluted the league for a while. These kids are extraordinary athletes, but the actual knowledge of the game was not there. So they've revised it a little and guys have grown up a little. I think the NBA game is really good now, and I love the energy and the ability of these young players.
    But that "one and done'' rule, well, you certainly understand the kids and their families and that opportunity to generate income. I know some coaches have not approved of it and some even retired ... People say the objective is for them to get an education. No, the objective is to find ways to generate income [for yourself and your family]. If you can generate more than a brain surgeon, it's not even an issue. What do you recall most from your NBA All-Star experiences?
    AG: I remember standing on the sideline and listening to Marvin Gaye sing the national anthem [in Los Angeles in 1983]. That was just incredible. An unbelievable emotional experience and certainly knowing what an incredible artist that he was. The performance that he gave was second to none. How about from your NBA career overall? What stands out?
    AG: During the time I was in Chicago, we never worked hard enough to get some great, great superstars. They'd had some good players -- Norm Van Lier, Chet Walker, Bob Love -- but when I arrived ... The No. 1 pick that year was Scott May from Indiana. People don't remember that Scott had mono his first year. His second year, he tore up his knee. The third year, he had problems with his other knee. And the year before I arrived, they'd only won 24 games under Dick Motta. So we had a pretty big hill to climb. We lost [13 games in a row in the first month] and people were ready to push me down the tube. Then every year we were changing coaches or changing players. Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy was a Spurs teammate during your first year [1982-83] in San Antonio and told me "The A-Train'' was the strongest man he ever played with or against. This was before sophisticated strength training and elaborate weight rooms.
    AG: I think that came from working in the fields. In high school, I worked in watermelon fields -- that was unbelievably hard work, some of those melons could weigh ... they were pretty good-sized, loading those trucks. Mike and I had a lot of fun together. He was my backgammon partner. We didn't put a lot of money behind it, but we spent a considerable amount of time in the airports and on the planes with that board. Was playing in the ABA as rough as it gets portrayed?
    AG: The ABA [players'] union wasn't nearly strong enough. In the NBA, the union was almost like a partner with the NBA. But ours had very little negotiating power, and things just got swept away because there was no one to speak up. It was a desperate situation, too, because of a lot of the financial decisions that were made.
    There were difficult times. Say we were going to Roanoke, playing the Virginia Squires. We would spend the major part of the day in the Louisville and Washington airports, having to catch a little Piedmont Airlines [flight] into that area. There were only three TV networks in those days. The NBA had one, so there was almost no exposure and that was one reason it was all but eliminated. Any memories of ABA All-Star games?
    AG: I was the first to go in the first dunk contest. Normally, you don't put a 7-foot guy in but I was one of the league's stars, so I was in [the famous Denver event in 1975-76, in which Julius Erving took off from the foul line]. Of course David Thompson was the home favorite ... and he came up with the '360,' but he missed the dunk and back then, if you missed a dunk, it was over for you.
    By having to go first, it was like we were making it up as we went along. The people behind me had a chance to observe and put a plan together. The first one, I dunked two balls. Then I had a couple where I ran behind the rim. But the one camera they had, they didn't have the technology we have now that shows you the best view. Our camera was so far up in the stands, it made us look like little flies on the floor. The ABA was crippled as a league back then, so they went with the format of having the league's best team, the Nuggets, face a collection of All-Stars. That almost happened in the NBA All-Star Game a few years back when four Detroit Pistons subbed in together for the East.
    AG: I remember thinking, 'How in the world could you not put Tayshaun Prince on there?' Of course, it's a popularity contest. You saw what happened this year. When Yao Ming is playing, there's no way he can lose. [Laughs]. But who am I to talk? Me being a Hall of Famer who's not in the Hall of Fame. I was going to get to that. During your time with the Bulls, you had to be exposed to the backroom deals and head-scratching decisions of Chicago politics. Does that help in understanding the Hall of Fame and your exclusion?
    AG: I don't know who the voters are, who makes those decisions. Once upon a time, it was pretty emotional for me. My mother [Mattie] was around -- she was a double amputee -- and I wanted her to be sitting there in whatever respect she could be, and seeing that incredible smile that she always had, observing me receive this incredible honor and me acknowledging her. But it didn't happen, because she's gone now [about four years ago]. Still, you come from a big family -- eight children -- and you have a big family of your own with five kids. [Gilmore and his wife have a daughter who is 37, a son who is 12 and they're due to become grandparents to twins this summer.] So you've still got plenty of loved ones with whom to share a Hall induction, if and when it happens.
    AG: Well, it's probably not going to happen in my lifetime ... If I had any question of the system, I thought when they chose to select some international people and put them in the Hall here, to me that is somewhat of an injustice. Perhaps those people do deserve very much to be acknowledged as Hall of Famers, but that you would select those people over some special people in this country? I don't know. I don't have enough information about how the process works. And I can't control it.
    One time, I remember they called me and they said, "We want you to do certain things if you are selected.'' And then -- boom! -- it just vanished. I wondered, why would they even call and get you emotionally interested, and then leave you there? How is your health at age 60?
    AG: I've truly been blessed. I just played two weeks ago -- I don't know if you're familiar with the Masters [Basketball Association], a league for people from their late 40s up into their 70s. They have a tournament here with players from all over -- there's a team from Puerto Rico that is incredible -- and I've played with a local team called "The Doctors.'' Most of these guys are doctors and lawyers, judges, and they just love the game. They're very competitive and they play at a pretty high level. I would think that just seeing you show up among the orthopedists and attorneys would be pretty intimidating.
    AG: [Laughing]. Not really. They enjoy it. They love the competition.

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  3. #2
    _________________________ RamBo_Lamar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Question for ABA guys

    Quote Originally Posted by vapacersfan View Post
    This quote is hidden because you are ignoring this member. Show Quote
    This article about Artis Gilmore was just posted on our school's homepage ( and I was wondering if Artis getting snubbed really is as big a deal as people are making it out to be? I honestly do not know much about the ABA, but this is something that a lot of people are talking about. What is keeping Artis from getting into the Hall of Fame? Any chance he gets in while he is alive?

    Yes, I would have to agree Artis belongs in the HOF and it is quite a
    glaring ommision. That being said, I can also think of a couple ABA era
    Pacers that belong as well.

    I used to love watching the Pacers play against the Colonels when I was
    a kid, and sure enough before every game, the cameraman would have to
    pan in on Gilmore out there warming up. Seeing this "gargantuan" out there
    was enough to send a chill of dread up your spine. Other than possibly
    Mel Daniels, he had to have been the ABA's most dominant center.

    Am not sure what is keeping him out of the HOF other than whoever is
    doing the voting being either ignorant, or just being a--holes.

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  5. #3
    Administrator Peck's Avatar
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    Default Re: Question for ABA guys

    ABA guys hell, this guy was a pain in the @ss as an NBA player.

    Before you ever heard the name Michael Jordan you had to ride the A train in Chicago.

    This guy was a centers center and sadly in the NBA he never had a really good team around him until the very end of his career and even then the other players were to young and green to do anything and Artis was already to old to help.

    I remember vividly in the 2000 series when a reporter asked Sam Perkins if Shaq was the strongest player he ever had to play against and Sam shot back "I had to play against Artis Gilmore, so no". Artis was an old man when Sam played him so he was already a lot slower and a little less strong.

    Besides Next to Darnell Hillman this guy had the best fro in history.

    There really needs to be a pro basketball hall of fame.

    Basketball isn't played with computers, spreadsheets, and simulations. ChicagoJ 4/21/13

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  7. #4

    Default Re: Question for ABA guys

    Besides Next to Darnell Hillman this guy had the best fro in history.

    But remember this. LOTS of people deserve to be in halls of fame that aren't. Bobby Leonard belongs there, too.

    And I won't be here to see the day
    It all dries up and blows away
    I'd hang around just to see
    But they never had much use for me
    In Levelland. (James McMurtry)

  8. #5
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    Default Re: Question for ABA guys

    As one of the resident old dudes, I saw Artis in both leagues and though he had many solid years in the NBA, his best years were probably in the ABA. Surprised they don't mention that he's the all-time leader in career FG%. Being a Jacksonsville U. story, they should have also mentioned the historic all-7 foot front line that the Dolphins sported. Artis was 7'2" (Bill Simmons mentions that the Colonels measured him with afro and he was 7'8"), Pembrook Burrows III was 7'0", and the other guy I think was actually 6'11". The other two guys couldn't play worth a crap, but imagine being on the opposing team seeing THREE 7 footers line up against you!

    HOF? Methinks yes. I'd say if you play 16 or 17 years, almost never miss a game (he led the league in minutes played a few times), average 20 pts. and 12 or 13 rebounds every night, and be the friggin' all-time FG% shooter in league history, I'd have to start making some noise. And BTW, the FG% is legit. Sure, like any big man he had his share of dunks and 5 foot hooks, but he could really and truly shoot the ball.

  9. #6

    Default Re: Question for ABA guys

    I do remember an obvious flaw in his game. He liked to take a dribble before he went up for a shot, even when posting up (not good for the biggest player on the floor). This led to alot of turnovers. I was just a kid at the time and my dad pointed that out to me. I always remembered it.
    Last edited by dlewyus; 02-13-2010 at 09:17 PM.

  10. #7
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    Default Re: Question for ABA guys

    You know whats crazy is I ate lunch next to Artis yesterday in our caf.

    Really neat to hear all these stories, I am going to have to go find some game film of him

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