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Originally published April 3, 2005 at 12:00 AM | Page modified April 3, 2005 at 4:56 PM

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Percy Allen

Hall of Fame passes over Wilkins

I had planned to use this space to unabashedly campaign for Jack Sikma and urge those who select the finalists for the Basketball Hall of...

Seattle Times NBA reporter

I had planned to use this space to unabashedly campaign for Jack Sikma and urge those who select the finalists for the Basketball Hall of Fame to give him consideration next year.

It was going to be a column filled with compelling statistics, amusing anecdotes, favorable comparisons to others who've been inducted and a long, wistful look back at a 14-year career with the Seattle Sonics and Milwaukee Bucks.

A few of his former teammates and colleagues gave testimony on his behalf and believe, like I do, that Sikma may never end up in the Hall. But at the very least, he deserves to be considered.

"It would be fantastic, but my approach is if I'm deserving, I'll be there, but understand that many great players have come down the line and also feel they are deserving," Sikma said. "I've got a great cake, and this would be a little extra.

"I don't mean to downplay it, but my glass is more than half full. ... Is it important to me? Absolutely. Does it change how I feel about my career if it happened or didn't happen? Absolutely not."

The rest of this column was going to go on and on about Sikma, who entered the league with the Sonics as the eighth pick in the 1977 draft out of Illinois Wesleyan University and retired in 1991.

Before leaving the game, the 6-foot-11 center helped the Sonics win an NBA championship in 1979, appeared in seven All-Star games, amassed 17,287 points, which ranks 61st on the all-time list, and had 10,816 rebounds, which is 25th best.

Worthy of consideration, right?

Maybe he gets in and maybe he doesn't, but at least we should debate his chances.

Then I was told a few days ago that Dominique Wilkins, who many believed would be a no-brainer first-ballot inductee, was not among those chosen to enter the Hall, and I realized that the selection committee is a bunch of idiots.


SCOTT CUNNINGHAM / GETTY IMAGES, 1993

Dominique Wilkins, known as "The Human Highlight Film" in his playing days, led the league in scoring in 1986 and went to nine consecutive All-Star Games.

What sense does it make to lobby for Sikma if these knuckleheads don't recognize what Wilkins did for the NBA?

Wilkins was named one of this year's 16 finalists, which includes not only former NBA players, but stars of women's and international basketball as well as owners, professional and college coaches and other contributors.

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Among the final 16 are Joe Dumars, Dennis Johnson, Adrian Dantley, Bernard King, Chet Walker, Maurice Cheeks, Jim Calhoun, Jim Boeheim and Hubie Brown.

Finalists are chosen by anonymous screening committees and must get 18 of 24 votes — 75 percent — from an equally anonymous "honors committee" for induction.

In the past, I've railed against the clandestine nature of the proceedings. Talk to a dozen or so basketball people, and no one seems to know how one gets elected or chosen for consideration.

"It's the most asinine system in the world, and I'll never again step foot inside that place after some of injustices that have been made in the past," said Jerry Krause, former Chicago Bulls president. "I decided that years ago. I'll never go back. Basketball's Hall of Fame doesn't hold the same prestige as baseball's and the NFL's, and that's because the people running it have no credibility."

Krause told me that two years ago when we were discussing the merits of his good friend, Jerry Colangelo, the Phoenix Suns' owner.

Initially, I thought Krause, who has a reputation of being a rabble-rouser, was being a bit too harsh.

Now I'm not so sure.

The NBA had a chance to right a wrong committed in 1997 years ago when the league decided to celebrate its 50th anniversary with a list of the all-time top 50 players.

Inexplicably, Wilkins, the ninth all-time leading scorer, was left off of that list.

"I know it hurt him pretty bad when he wasn't on that list," said Damien Wilkins, his nephew and the Sonics' reserve small forward. "We didn't talk about it a lot, but when we did, you could just see the hurt in his eyes."

Back in the 1980s, Wilkins, a high-flying 6-foot-8 forward, blended Julius Erving's aerial artistry with George Gervin's graceful poetry above the rim.

He was, as his nephew Damien described, "cool."

If you weren't a Michael Jordan fan decades ago, then chances are you loved Wilkins, the "Human Highlight Film" or simply 'Nique, who led the league in scoring in 1986 and won the slam-dunk contest in '85 and '90.

"He was just a tremendous offensive machine," said Sonics assistant Bob Weiss, who coached Wilkins in Atlanta for three seasons. "He was just impossible to stop."

And if there were flaws in his game, it was an inability to make those around him better and his failure to lift Atlanta to the NBA Finals — but Lord knows he tried.

In Game 7 of the 1987-88 Eastern Conference semifinals, Wilkins engaged in an epic battle against Larry Bird. Wilkins scored 47 points, but Bird had 34 and Boston won 118-116.

Wilkins was All-NBA seven times and went to nine consecutive All-Star games.

His career ended unceremoniously.

Atlanta, which acquired him on draft day from Utah in 1982, dealt him to the Los Angeles Clippers in 1994. He spent his final three NBA seasons with three different teams (Boston, San Antonio and Orlando) and played in Greece and Italy during the offseasons.

The twilight years haven't been kind to Wilkins, who holds a vice-president position with Atlanta that is primarily an advisory spot without any real decision-making powers.

He has been unable to parlay his fame into a prominent position in the basketball world after his playing days, in the manner of Jordan and Bird.

And now this, a slap in the face by the Hall of Fame.

Still, I don't blame Wilkins, who wasn't around for comment this weekend and canceled plans to attend college basketball's Final Four in St. Louis. The Hall of Fame will announce this year's inductees there tomorrow.

I blame the idiots on the selection committee, who failed to realize that Wilkins is ninth on the all-time scoring list.

Ninth!

All!

Time!

Regardless of anything else, that much is worthy of induction.

Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or pallen@seattletimes.com

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