Commentary: Steve Fisher not being in Hall is a snub; not being a candidate is wrong
San Diego — The skin on my tom-tom is torn. I should be tired of Buddy Riching it, banging my drums 100 mph. But, you see, there is injustice afoot when it comes to these halls of fame, and I can’t bring myself to stop.
Because I can’t find the rhythm to the music being played.
I’ve all but exhausted my record collection on the failure of the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s failure to recognize Don Coryell. I guess it’s unfortunate Don never coached in New York.
Anyway, now I choose to rattle my Grundigs for Steve Fisher, who, once again, has been snubbed by the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.
Despite his enormous contributions to football, a few of which will be used as long as the game is played, the knock on Coryell always seems to be that he’s never won a Super Bowl — or, for that matter, gone to one in a working capacity.
There are a few coaches in Canton who have been to Super Bowls and not won (Bud Grant, Marv Levy immediately come to mind).
But Fisher’s different.
Steve did win an NCAA championship — at Michigan, when he took over for ousted Bill Frieder just prior to the 1989 tournament and led the Wolverines to one of the more unlikely titles.
He brought in the Fab Five to Michigan, and although they didn’t win a title (he took five freshmen to the championship game), they changed basketball culture, its look. They were groundbreaking.
In 1999, he took over a San Diego State program that might have been the worst in America and coached it into one of the best in the West — and it remains so since his retirement under long time protégé Brian Dutcher.
He also won the NIT. He was national Coach of the Year. The Mountain West’s Coach of the Year trophy bears his name.
The Naismith Hall — which includes pros and amateurs — just announced its 2021 inductees, and Rick Adelman was inducted. Rick was a good coach on a lot of teams, winning over 1,000 games. He reached the NBA Finals twice. Lost both times.
George Raveling entered the Hall in 2015. He coached at Washington State, Iowa and USC (where he famously was introduced as Jim Raveling). Never won a conference title.
A good man, George. Very intelligent and a superb teacher with a fantastic attitude. Alas, so is Fisher, and yet George is in the Hall and Fisher not only isn’t – but he never even gets a sniff.
The thing about the Naismith Hall is that nobody outside of its Springfield, Massachusetts, doors (and probably many inside of them) has any idea how people are nominated or selected and by whom. A total mystery.
“He has the résumé,” Dutcher says. “I don’t know who makes these decisions. All he did — and he resurrected the program here. He should be in there.”
I know one thing. The “voters” aren’t paying attention. They are forgetful. And their bias doesn’t lean to the left coast. …
Oh, by the way, the late Kenny Sailors, who was national Player of the Year at Wyoming in 1943 and 1946, an MVP of the NCAA Tournament, perfector of the jump shot, still hasn’t been inducted into the Naismith Hall. I’d ask someone to explain, but there is no someone to ask.