Blogtable: Role Players In The Hall

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.

Role Player Hall of Fame | I Wish I Would’ve Seen … | How to Avoid a Decision

Robert Horry’s name is being bandied about for Springfield. So, what are some of the names that make your Role Player Hall of Fame?

Steve Aschburner, NBA.comDowntown Freddie Brown. And here’s why: Most specialty players earn their keep as starters, their egos sufficiently stroked. But a great sixth man is best left as a substitute forever. So guys like J.R. Smith and Monta Ellis (he’d be terrific in the role but refuses to consider it) need to see it honored, even revered. Yes, the Celtics built a tradition of great sixth men but it took Brown and the Seattle SuperSonics to update the role in the late 1970s and early ’80s. They went to two straight Finals and won in ’79 with Brown in reserve of Gus Williams and Dennis Johnson. Then over his five final seasons, from age 31 to 35, the laconic gunslinger averaged just 20.5 minutes but scored at a 36-minute pace of 20.2 ppg. Brown lived up to his nickname, leading the league in 3-point percentage the first year the shot was instituted. And he spawned not only the instant-offense future of Vinnie Johnson, a young Sonics teammate, but the Sixth Man Award idea itself.

Maurice Lucas (NBA Photos)

Maurice Lucas (NBA Photos)

Fran Blinebury, NBA.comMaurice Lucas. The 1976-77 Trail Blazers were a championship puzzle where all of the different pieces fit together perfectly — Bill Walton, Johnny Davis, Bob Gross, Lionel Hollins, Dave Twardzik, Larry Steele, Herm Gilliam, Lloyd Neal, Robin Jones, Wally Walker, Corky Calhoun. But in addition to being their leading scorer, Lucas was the Enforcer, who gave the Blazers their sneer, swagger and hard-edged toughness and carried that role on through his entire career.

Jeff Caplan, To narrow the field, I’ll stick with players I grew up watching to the present: On my big-shot, big-game performer list is Steve Kerr, Michael Cooper, Cedric Maxwell, Vinnie Johnson, Ray Allen, Jason Terry and Robert Horry. Kurt Rambis, A.C. Green, Charles Oakley and Joakim Noah are on the all-blue-collar team. Bruce Bowen and Bill Laimbeer (he’s not in the Hall of Fame, so he qualifies here, right?) co-captain the all-agitator team, and Rick Mahorn and Maurice Lucas lead the all-enforcer squad with Ben Wallace taking the lead as an all-time intimidator.

Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.comI have to start with Robert Horry for big-shot specialist. Too many fans in opposing cities are nodding their head in agreement right now to have to ask why Horry is the ultimate role player at making shots. Mark Eaton is the shot blocker. What a difference-maker for someone who was considered a complementary player. Enforcer? Larry Smith. “Mr. Mean” was a description of Smith on the court, not just a nickname. Kenneth Faried is the hustle guy. His second and third efforts make a difference on both ends of the court -– offensive rebounds, screens -– and his first effort isn’t so bad either.

John Schuhmann, I’ll give one retired player and one current player. Retired: Bruce Bowen, who basically created the “3 and D” role as the defensive stopper and corner 3-point shooter for a perennial contender. Current: Shane Battier, for basically taking that role to another level with several different playoff teams. Neither guy would have been as good without their star teammates, but nobody played their roles better. And those roles were critical parts of five championships.

Stefanos Triantafyllos, Greece: An easy one. Robert Horry! One of the greatest clutch players of all time and one of the few that needs two hands to wear his championship rings. It is no coincidence that he had played in championship-caliber teams in all of his career in Houston, Los Angeles and San Antonio. A great player, an even better teammate and a notorious winner. Is If you could pick five players to finish a Game 7, would you dare not have Horry on the floor?

Adriano Albuquerque, Brasil: If there was such a Hall of Fame, there would be plenty of inductees: Vinnie Johnson, Bobby Jackson, Manu Ginóbili, Bill Laimbeer, Dan Majerle, Dikembe Mutombo — heck, even Brian Scalabrine! If I had to nominate a current player, out of all the possible answers, I’d go with Manu Ginóbili, because he transcends the sixth man role and is also a hustle guy. Maybe he shouldn’t qualify because he’s a star and his sixth man status is merely a decoy. If not, I’d go with Ben Wallace, who was a leader via shot-blocking, hustling and defense, but wasn’t a true star, even though his appearance was imposing and unique and made him famous.


  1. Sebas says:

    Besides the above mentioned, we saw many Euro and International Players fulfill only supporting roles as the way of playing was always not a full fit to the coaching plan, but disruptive to the opponents game plan … some great examples are the likes of

    – Detlef Schrempf
    – Vlade Divac
    – Toni Kukoc
    – …

  2. LeBronsBabyToe says:

    Tim Donaughy for helping the Lakers to 3 titles (00-02)

  3. LeBronsBabyToe says:

    LeBron’s baby toe played a pivotal role in his first NBA finals performance (* FLIP * FLOP * FLOP *)

  4. Kamote says:

    I just hope this HOF isn’t too NBA-centric. I think they should start focusing more on giving awards to international or even college teams and players who provided a great impact of promoting the game throughout the world. I mean, are we now considering “role-players”??? Did we run out of great NBA players already???

    I know there are role-players that are critical to their team’s success, but this just shows the HOF is focusing too much on the NBA and overlooking other contributors of the game throughout the world (and in amateur and collegiate levels also).

    This is still called the Basketball HOF right? not the NBA HOF?

  5. Rob Poe says:

    Ive followed Horry since he started playing & by far the best interview is right here He shows how good of person he is and what it took & how much he puts into the game. He loves the sport & has always tried to be important.

  6. dj says:

    Horry and bobby jackson. I mention jackson because the kings should have gone to the finals. Not horry…

  7. pbballn... says:

    Anthony Mason has to be considered. He came in and ran point-forward. Horry definitely was clutch tho. Vinnie the microwave, Madd Maxx, Jamal Crawford,…

  8. Colin Bruce Abtges says:

    How about Steve Kerr? Pure shooter, perhaps the best from 3 ever, with a fistful of rings, including the title shot for the Bulls. And then he rescued the Spurs in his last year, knocking down 4 threes in the forth quarter against the Mavs when all seemed lost.

  9. Garry Foulkes says:

    For me a role player is someone that comes off the bench and is not a regular starter.
    1) Robert Horry
    2) Manu Ginobili
    3) Toni Kukuc
    4) Jamal Crawford
    5) Jason Terry

  10. - says:

    No one mentioned Toni Kukoc?
    Hope Shane Battier will be there too.

  11. someguyonline says:

    No mention of Rodman??

  12. gametime says:

    no question it’s Robert Horry! 7 rings and he was instrumental in everyone… period!

  13. DT says:

    Ray Allen?! Jeff Caplan are you crazy?! Ray Ray is a first ballot hall of famer, Hes only become a role player in his latter years in Miami. The standard of writing on this website is shocking. Espn and by extension Grantland is the way to go!

  14. NBA fan says:

    So if Jeff Caplan were to put Ray Allen in a hall of fame, it would be the hall of ROLE PLAYERS!!!! That’s just silly

  15. Bird33 says:

    Well said Stefanos…you know your basketball history. Big Shot Bob is an automatic and hands down HOFer. The guy was a key piece in multiple championships and championship teams. Robert was clutch. I rest my case. Long live the youtube videos of Big Shot Bob!! I might drive to Springfield for that induction year!

  16. VR47 says:

    Talking about 6th man, you have to mention Rickie Pierce and Eddie Johnson.

  17. TL says:

    lol ray allen would be so pissed if he enters the hall of fame as a hypothetical “role player”

  18. Kahwhi says:

    where is tim and tony

  19. Mr. Peman says:

    Great points, but it can be dicey. What would the requirements be and would championships be mandatory. It’s intriguing but would this set a precedence for letting more “iffy” players grace the Hall by default?

  20. PC3 @SwHTown20 says:

    ADRIANO FROM BRAZIL.COM MADE ME LAUGH W/His Picks …But The Best Role Player Ever is Shane Battier W/Robert Horry RT On His Tail…Battier Does Everything To Help His Team Win &Feels Comfortable W/Himself Not 2 Mention Clutch Like Horry we saw that in Game 6 & Game 7 Finals &Throughout His Career In Houston…Does Anybody Remember Battier Whiping Sweat Of Lebron James In Playoffs While Fanning Him If That Doesnt Scream Out Best Role Player What Does? REBS,Hitz Big Shots,Clutch,1 Of The Greatest Defenders, Will Bleed On The Court For His Team (Literaly),Role Model for team/Kids, Sacrficed For The Better Of The Team/Coach,Inspires teammates,Never Complains& Has A Winner Mentailty..Check Mark Greatest Role Player Ever RT

  21. I am happy to see that Robert Horry is seriously being considered to be in the Hall of

    Fame. I mean he won 7 NBA Titles, always making clutch shots. His stats may not have

    been amazing, but it is how he stepped up in big games to cement his stats as a big

    time player. Shaq and Duncan would have had a couple titles less, if not for Big Shot


    Again, not superb stats, but big time player deserving to mentioned amongst the

    top clutch performers.

  22. mark says:

    Robert horry hands down was mr. clutch for the lakers of the early 2000.s and spurs for the mid 2000.s not mention his rocket days

  23. vernon says:

    Jason Terry??

  24. viktor says:

    Manu Ginobili shouldn’t be in the role players hall, he is a first ballot hall a famer, with his playin career in Europe and the clutch play in the nba, that should be enough, add to it that he doesn’t have an ego and he accepted a six man role. Another player would have been screamin that he is losing an all star birth.

    Besides Manu, Bill Laimbeer was the heart and soul of the Bad Boys, Bruce Bowen Mr, Defense, Mutombo and Ben Wallace.

    Sorry Big Shot Rob was a great clutch player but he doesn’t deserve the hall of fame.

  25. Oakley34BLAM says:

    Glad to see someone give Oakley some love! While I can’t say whether or not his rock-hard nosed approach to the game is worthy of enshrinement I CAN say that he is my favorite player ever. As a kid who loved to ball but couldn’t jump dribble or shoot as well as almost anyone on the court I needed a way to stay on the floor. Oak showed guys like me how to use your body to grab rebounds and how to abuse your body to grab loose balls. I can watch whole games these days and barely see one proper box-out. Oakley was a living, breathing box out machine.

  26. TTKIN says:

    Gotta agree with your take on Ben Wallace Mr. Famer.

    I definitely think Horry deserves to be in as well. Ive been commenting on all the articles about how he should be haha. how many role players do you know with 7 rings? It aint a coincidence.

  27. steppx says:

    nice to see bobby jackson mentioned. And let me second mark eaton. If ever there was an underappreciated guy it is eaton. He totally changed the offense of the opposing team. Totally. Nobody has ever done it to the degree he did. Other guys deserving of some mention are world b free, and yes Mo Lucas, and Tiny Archibald……..who was a starter, but is always percieved as a role player somehow .

  28. Mr. Famer says:

    Ben Wallace should be considered. Best defensive player of the 2000’s. The heart and soul of the Detroit Pistons comeback to glory. What should you ask for. Ben to Hall Of Fame.