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Inner-Circle Hall of Famers: 1970s

Posted by Neil Paine on December 21, 2009

Required reading material:

Who Are the “Inner-Circle” Hall of Famers? (Part I – Intro to Method)
Inner-Circle Hall of Famers: 1950s/1960s

1970s

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar ("The Captain")

Position: Center
Height: 7-2 Weight: 225 lbs.
Born: April 16, 1947 in New York, New York
High School: Power Memorial in New York, New York
College: University of California, Los Angeles

Year Age Team MediaPts Rank StatsPts Rank Composite %Possible Rank
1970 22 MIL 319.0 6 323.0 2 321.0 99.1% 3
1971 23 MIL 354.0 1 354.0 1 354.0 100.0% 1
1972 24 MIL 360.0 1 360.0 1 360.0 100.0% 1
1973 25 MIL 344.0 1 344.0 1 344.0 100.0% 1
1974 26 MIL 344.0 1 344.0 1 344.0 100.0% 1
1975 27 MIL 349.0 11 357.0 3 353.0 98.3% 5
1976 28 LAL 344.0 1 344.0 1 344.0 100.0% 1
1977 29 LAL 295.0 1 295.0 1 295.0 100.0% 1
1978 30 LAL 276.0 10 285.0 1 280.5 98.4% 3
1979 31 LAL 277.0 4 280.0 1 278.5 99.5% 2
1980 32 LAL 287.0 1 287.0 1 287.0 100.0% 1
1981 33 LAL 302.0 3 302.0 3 302.0 99.3% 2
1982 34 LAL 305.0 12 308.5 8.5 306.7 97.1% 10
1983 35 LAL 308.0 9 309.0 8 308.5 97.6% 7
1984 36 LAL 307.0 4 292.5 18.5 299.7 96.7% 9
1985 37 LAL 315.5 5.5 315.0 6 315.2 98.5% 6
1986 38 LAL 322.0 4 319.0 7 320.5 98.6% 4
1987 39 LAL 315.0 21 294.5 41.5 304.6 90.9% 23
1988 40 LAL 312.5 20.5 267.0 66 288.9 87.0% 28
1989 41 LAL 330.0 24 212.5 141.5 264.8 75.0% 28

Already the greatest college basketball player of all time, Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor Jr. made the transition from NCAA fame to NBA superstardom with as little difficulty as any player ever, landing with the Bucks in the '69 Draft and instantly establishing himself as a Top-5 player in his first season (by comparison, LeBron James -- granted, 3 years younger than KAJ when he came out -- was merely the 20th-best player in the NBA by these metrics as a rookie, waiting until his 2nd year before joining the Top-5). Changing his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar ("Generous Servant of Allah") the day after the Bucks won the 1971 championship, his game remained the same, and he was a fixture among the 10 best players in basketball every season from 1970 to 1986. The stats in particular love Kareem, as he ranked 1st overall by the metrics a downright UCLA-like 9 times in 10 seasons between 1971 and 1980 (years in which he was unfairly denied a number of MVP awards). Oh, and I forgot to mention that Jabbar also won 6 NBA titles as a player and is the league's all-time leader in points scored. If that's not a full basketball resume, I have no idea what is.

Julius Erving ("The Doctor")

Position: Forward-Guard
Height: 6-6 Weight: 200 lbs.
Born: February 22, 1950 in Roosevelt, New York
High School: Roosevelt in Roosevelt, New York
College: University of Massachusetts Amherst

Year Age Team MediaPts Rank StatsPts Rank Composite %Possible Rank
1972 21 VIR 330.0 31 342.5 18.5 336.2 93.4% 15
1973 22 VIR 309.5 35.5 339.0 6 323.9 94.2% 19
1974 23 NYA 313.5 31.5 340.5 4.5 326.7 95.0% 13
1975 24 NYA 328.5 31.5 358.0 2 342.9 95.5% 14
1976 25 NYA 310.5 34.5 343.0 2 326.3 94.9% 13
1977 26 PHI 290.0 6 291.5 4.5 290.7 98.6% 3
1978 27 PHI 280.5 5.5 269.5 16.5 274.9 96.5% 10
1979 28 PHI 262.0 19 267.5 13.5 264.7 94.5% 13.5
1980 29 PHI 286.0 2 286.0 2 286.0 99.7% 2
1981 30 PHI 304.0 1 303.5 1.5 303.7 99.9% 1
1982 31 PHI 314.0 3 315.0 2 314.5 99.5% 2
1983 32 PHI 312.0 5 310.0 7 311.0 98.4% 6
1984 33 PHI 305.0 6 307.5 3.5 306.2 98.8% 4
1985 34 PHI 305.0 16 296.0 25 300.5 93.9% 17
1986 35 PHI 305.0 21 284.0 42 294.3 90.6% 25
1987 36 PHI 315.0 21 251.0 85 281.2 83.9% 27

As has been customary since this post, I penalized Erving's ABA performance by 25%... And he still comes out as an Inner-Circle legend. Instead of waxing poetic about Dr. J, I've found the best way to appropriately pay tribute to his career is through the good, old-fashioned mixtape (BTW, he has to be the first great player you can say that about):

John Havlicek ("Hondo")

Position: Forward-Guard
Height: 6-5 Weight: 203 lbs.
Born: April 8, 1940 in Martins Ferry, Ohio
High School: Bridgeport in Bridgeport, Ohio
College: Ohio State University

Year Age Team MediaPts Rank StatsPts Rank Composite %Possible Rank
1963 22 BOS 93.0 25 95.0 23 94.0 80.3% 19
1964 23 BOS 91.0 21 97.0 15 94.0 84.6% 15
1965 24 BOS 47.0 68 85.0 30 63.2 55.4% 34
1966 25 BOS 103.5 8.5 84.0 28 93.2 84.0% 16
1967 26 BOS 108.5 15.5 115.5 8.5 111.9 91.0% 9
1968 27 BOS 298.0 9 285.0 22 291.4 95.2% 11
1969 28 BOS 304.0 8 285.0 27 294.3 94.6% 12
1970 29 BOS 316.5 8.5 316.5 8.5 316.5 97.7% 8
1971 30 BOS 348.5 6.5 350.5 4.5 349.5 98.7% 4
1972 31 BOS 358.0 3 353.5 7.5 355.7 98.8% 4
1973 32 BOS 342.0 3 334.5 10.5 338.2 98.3% 5
1974 33 BOS 340.0 5 328.5 16.5 334.2 97.2% 9
1975 34 BOS 354.0 6 337.0 23 345.4 96.2% 12
1976 35 BOS 336.5 8.5 290.0 55 312.4 90.8% 25
1977 36 BOS 276.0 20 239.0 57 256.8 87.1% 26
1978 37 BOS 267.0 19 215.0 71 239.6 84.1% 25

Havlicek's enduring trait (beyond 8 career championship rings and an indefatigable perpetual-motion style on the floor) is his durability and longevity. By these metrics, only Kareem, Karl Malone, Dr. J, and Shaquille O'Neal had more years among the game's Top 25 players than Hondo's 14; he was a Top-25 guy in all but two of his seasons. He peaked relatively low for an Inner-Circle legend -- in the early 1970s, when the media ranked him 3rd overall -- but he had a sneaky long, consistent career as one the best all-around (offense + defense) players ever, and was arguably the best Sixth Man in league history as well (if nothing else, he certainly defined the role during the sixties). Admittedly, he's probably one of the most doubtful of the "no-doubters", but I think there's something to be said for consistently very good (if not great) production over a long period of time, as opposed to players with high peaks that only last a few years at most.

Elvin Hayes ("The Big E")

Position: Forward-Center
Height: 6-9 Weight: 235 lbs.
Born: November 17, 1945 in Rayville, Louisiana
High School: Eula D. Britton in Rayville, Louisiana
College: University of Houston

Year Age Team MediaPts Rank StatsPts Rank Composite %Possible Rank
1969 23 SDR 282.5 29.5 295.0 17 288.7 92.8% 16
1970 24 SDR 295.0 30 311.0 14 302.9 93.5% 14
1971 25 SDR 323.5 31.5 341.0 14 332.1 93.8% 16
1972 26 HOU 330.0 31 349.5 11.5 339.6 94.3% 11.5
1973 27 BAL 337.0 8 312.0 33 324.3 94.3% 18
1974 28 CAP 339.0 6 337.0 8 338.0 98.3% 5
1975 29 WSB 358.0 2 353.5 6.5 355.7 99.1% 3
1976 30 WSB 338.0 7 326.5 18.5 332.2 96.6% 9
1977 31 WSB 292.0 4 293.0 3 292.5 99.2% 2
1978 32 WSB 267.0 19 265.0 21 266.0 93.3% 16
1979 33 WSB 278.0 3 271.0 10 274.5 98.0% 5
1980 34 WSB 270.5 17.5 258.5 29.5 264.4 92.1% 21
1981 35 WSB 135.5 169.5 241.5 63.5 180.9 59.5% 70.5
1982 36 HOU 142.5 174.5 250.0 67 188.7 59.7% 70
1983 37 HOU 143.0 174 212.5 104.5 174.3 55.2% 105
1984 38 HOU 142.0 169 43.5 267.5 78.6 25.4% 267.5

Hayes' career is an interesting study in contrasts: He was underrated for a great deal of his career, yet for some I'm sure it "feels" like he's being overrated here by being named to the Inner Circle. He has a rep for shrinking away in clutch situations, yet he was the most dominant player in the 1978 playoffs (despite the memory of Wes Unseld being named Finals MVP while Hayes fouled out of Game 7 vs. Seattle with just 12 points). In fact, for the majority of Hayes' tenure with the Bullets, he -- not Unseld -- was their best player, and on top of that he had just as many playoff Win Shares as Unseld over the same span. Pretty outlet passes or not, history has unfairly overrated Unseld at Hayes' expense over the years, which is bizarre because Hayes is the clear member of the Inner Circle, and Unseld has as much claim to the honor as do Tim Hardaway and Jack Sikma.

On the outside looking in: Rick Barry, Artis Gilmore, George Gervin

Inner Circle according to HoF Probability: Jabbar, Havlicek, Erving, Dave Cowens

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60 Responses to “Inner-Circle Hall of Famers: 1970s”

  1. Justin Kubatko Says:

    Don't blame Neil for any perceived shortcomings in the Win Shares system, as the system is mine and mine alone. And I'm sorry, but I don't have the time or the energy to rebut what Kevin wrote, so let me just say that I disagree with most of his comments.

    As for Bill Russell being similar to Dick Barnett, you never saw that on my site. You must be thinking of this site.

  2. kevin Says:

    My bad, Justin. It was about 3 years ago I saw that. All these sites look the same to me :). Still, the stats that site uses and the one this site uses are the same statistics. You can't get away from the fact the pre-73 stats are horrible, and even the ones available today are inadequate, certainly not as good as they could be. An enterprising person (perhaps you, Justin?) could vastly improve the stats available just by being creative with the game logs that are fee on NBA.com. You could duplicate Bill James by offering "12 NBA statistics you won't see anywhere else!".

    And I was wrong, Barnett was #3 on the list, not #2.

    So my memory isn't so bad after all. I may have been a little imprecise on the minutiae of the facts but got the overall impression correct.

  3. Justin Kubatko Says:

    Kevin, no worries. Sorry, as I re-read what I wrote it sounds like I'm blowing you off, but I honestly don't have the time to give you a good answer right now.

  4. Rock Says:

    Hayes, Unseld, Cowens, Gervin...you know what? Rick Barry was better than any of them and should be the inner circle pick here. And I'd agree with AYC--Barry was probably better than Havlicek as well. One of the most underappreciated great players ever.

  5. Josh Says:

    The other player who might deserve to be on that list is Walt Frazier, who (considering his defensive reputation) was probably the best guard of the 70s. Over 20 points a game (with very good efficiency), 6-8 assists, great defense, and he was (by Win Shares) the best player on two championship teams. At his best, I think he was better than Hayes and Havlicek, although he doesn't have their longevity.

  6. Mike Says:

    Why bother coming up with a "system" if you're going to tack on ridiculous benchmarks and requirements.

    The championship requirement is absurd.

    Gary Payton won a title with the Heat at age 37 (PER: 10.7). So he's in.
    Karl Malone, arguably the greatest power forward ever - nope.

    4 players per decade? Makes no sense whatsoever.

  7. mrparker Says:

    I want to comment on the ascertion that there is something wrong with picking 4 guys per era. Yes, there are more players now than ever. However, that just makes for a watered down league. We could go back to the 8-10 team league and watch much better basketball. I'm not going to let more players into my HOF because the league/s decided to let more inferior players in.

  8. Melvin Says:

    No way Walton belongs there. Great for 2 years, but that's all. And he was not the best player in the world during those 2 years, Kareem was still better. Suggesting that Bill was the best while still in college is just plain silly. That's like saying Kareem was better at UCLA than Wilt was during the same time in his prime with the 76ers. And I always love the myth that Walton dominated Jabbar in the '77 WCF. Walton owned the first half of game 1 and the fourth quarter of game 3 and that's it. Kareem won the other 13 quarters in the series and he killed Bill statistically despite receiving a lot more help defense on him. Portland with their speed and depth at gaurd and Lucas at the 4 was the best team the West easy when fully healthy - a lot of people don't give them enough credit - and while Walton did play well it was Lucas and the Portland guards that really killed LA. LA played above its head all season and with Allen hobbled and Washington out during the playoffs Kareem had almost no help at all - he practically had to beat Golden State by himself in 7 games for LA to even reach the WCF. I do agree that Cowens should be above Hayes, not sure about Unseld though.

  9. GURU Says:

    KAJ / MMalone
    E.Hayes /
    Dr J / R Barry
    J West / PMAravich

  10. dukan Says:

    Yo aun necesito buscar mas sobre este tema para poder seleccionar la opcion mas de acuerdo para mi. Actualmente busco informacion sobre lo que se denomina de la "dieta dominguera".