Top 10 Retired NBA Players Who Belong in Hall of Fame Features Allen Iverson, Dikembe Mutombo, Chris Webber
10. Maurice Cheeks. Attaining Hall of Fame immortality typically depends on reaching a statistical benchmark and passing the eye test. Cheeks scored big in both criteria. He was the anchor of some great Philadelphia 76ers teams in the 1980s, earning respect as a leader from teammates like Julius Erving and Moses Malone. A superior defender, Cheeks was named to five straight NBA All-Defensive teams and at the time of his retirement was the all-time leader in steals.
Yet Cheeks’ style of play works against him when the discussion turns to hall of fame enshrinement. He averaged only 11.1 points per game in an era when high-scoring guards and 120-point games were common, and because he shared the backcourt with noted clutch shooter Andrew Toney, Cheeks seldom took the big shot. He has since been passed on the career steals list by four other players, with John Stockton recording nearly 1,000 more thefts in his career. Cheeks’ greatness had to be witnessed to be appreciated, and as memories fade his chance at induction lessens.
By the way: Cheeks’ humble regular-season numbers took a jump in the playoffs. His postseason averages in points, assists, rebounds and steals were all higher than his regular-season marks. And the moment when he helped a nervous girl sing the national anthem was heartwarming, to say the least. (YouTube/mangwansi)