The NBA undid one of its long-standing injustices on Saturday, announcing Sidney Moncrief’s election to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, 28 years after The Squid, one of the great players of the 1980s, played his final game.
(Jack Sikma, Bobby Jones, Paul Westphal and Vlade Divac were also elected. Chris Webber was snubbed again.)
Moncrief’s game was neither sexy nor particularly remarkable -- his enduring image is of defense and a receding hairline -- but he was consistently the best player on some almost-great Milwaukee teams, thwarted only by the Boston Celtics, whose hoarding of star players slightly edged the Bucks’ roster year-after-year.
From 1982-86, the Bucks made the Eastern Conference Finals three times, losing once to Philadelphia and twice to Boston. By win shares, ‘Crief was the best player on all four of those teams.
His career was extinguished by chronic knee trouble; he was past his prime by 29 and out of the league by 33, playing a final forgettable season in Atlanta. But, in the end, he compiled five All-Star appearances, two Defensive Player of the Year Awards, an All-NBA first-team selection and four second-team selections.
In an era almost devoid of free agency, he never made the NBA Finals, but made the Final Four with Arkansas, in 1978, and lost what many consider to be one of the greatest college basketball games ever in 1979 to Larry Bird’s Indiana State team, in the Elite 8.
His greatness was overt to those who watched him, and he was finally rewarded for it this weekend. And, thankfully, he won’t have to receive his due credit posthumously like Dennis Johnson. The Squid is alive and kicking.
[READ: Sidney Moncrief helped save the NBA. He should be rewarded for it.]
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