Sidney Moncrief Deserves to Represent the Bucks in the Hall of Fame

The Bucks formally announced the hiring of Sidney Moncrief as an assistant coach, filling the vacancy created by the departure of Kelvin Sampson. Sidney described his new position as “an all-purpose assistant’s job”.

Today’s stories that broke the news of Moncrief’s hire also chronicled his playing resume. Those credentials, following closely on the heels of last weekend’s Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, serve as a reminder that Sidney deserves enshrinement.  In addition to winning two NBA Defensive Player of the Year (DPOY) awards and earning five NBA All-Star nominations, Moncrief led the Bucks to the seven consecutive division titles upon arriving in Milwaukee. Had those division titles occurred in New York, LA, Boston, or Chicago, are we even having the discussion about whether Sir Sid belongs in Springfield?

After the recent induction of Rodman, Mullin, Artis, and Arvydas (plus six others), there are 295 members of the Basketball Hall of Fame. Sidney Moncrief is not one of them. His former coach, Don Nelson, who holds the NBA record for most regular-season head coaching wins, is also not in the Hall. Yet despite the small-market snubbing, Milwaukee can lay claim to 11 Hall of Famers. Here’s the group:

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Nate ‘Tiny’ Archibald

Hubie Brown

Dave Cowens

Adrian Dantley

Wayne Embry

Alex English

K.C. Jones

Bob Lanier

Moses Malone   

Oscar Robertson

Parsing that list is not a difficult challenge.  Moses, Dantley, and English were stars of the 80s who made it to Milwaukee in the 70s and 90s.  Hubie and K.C. Jones had assistants’ jobs in Milwaukee before winning titles as head coaches elsewhere. Boston greats Cowens and Archibald limped into Milwaukee after long careers and promptly retired.  Arguably, that leaves four men who made their bones as Bucks: Abdul-Jabbar (Lakers), Lanier (Pistons), Robertson (Royals), and Embry (Royals/Celtics/Cavs). Each star, however, left a considerable legacy in another city.  The city of Milwaukee has not yet had an NBA player that belonged solely to them inducted into the Hall. It’s time.

Here’s one way to look at it: Moncrief, Adrian Dantley, and Alex English played in the same era.  Moncrief made five all-NBA teams (including one on the first team).  By comparison, English got the nod three times and Dantley twice.  Whatever edge Dantley and English may have had in offensive numbers, Moncrief made up for it with winning and defense.  In addition to his two DPOY awards in 1982 and 1983, Moncrief finished second in the voting in 1984 and third in 1985. And despite his shining defensive reputation, Sidney shot better than 50% from the field and 80% from the line for his career.

Of the players in Bill Simmons’ Basketball Pyramid, where Moncrief sits in the #73 spot, only one HOF-eligible player above him, Bernard King, has not been voted in. Of course, Simmons’ list is a subjective and imperfect guideline, but King and Moncrief both deserve busts in Springfield. This old piece from nearly a decade ago (spelling error and all) suggests the same. Note how the other players at the top of the list have since made it in.

With any luck, the reunion of Moncrief and the Bucks will bring the Hall chatter back into vogue. It shouldn’t even be debate worthy. Former Arkansas coach and Hall of Fame member Eddie Sutton once called Sidney the best player he had ever coached. When Moncrief retired from the Bucks, Nelson expressed the same sentiment.  Sidney’s waited long enough. He belongs. Put him in the Hall of Fame… and please add Don Nelson, too.

K L Chouinard is co-editor of Behind the Buck Pass.  Follow him on Twitter here.

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Tags: Don Nelson Hall Of Fame Sidney Moncrief

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