Most Deserving of HOF EmblemThe Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame yesterday announced the nominations for its Class of 2016 and it includes, for the first time publicly, its list of nominees for the special direct-elect Early African American Pioneers Committee.

We feel that this committee is a wonderful initiative, and we continue to applaud the HOF for taking such a thoughtful, caring, and principled approach.

However, since the HOF published the list in alphabetical order, we feel obliged to rank these nominees based on our determination of who are the most deserving for enshrinement, as reinforced in our ongoing list of Most Deserving For Hall of Fame Enshrinement, From Black Fives Era. For example, we place a premium on the lasting value of an individual’s specific or overall contribution.

Which three (3) nominees do you feel most deserve to be enshrined in the HOF?

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2016 HOF Early African American Pioneer Nominations (OUR RANKING):

  1. Clarence “Fats” Jenkins
  2. Cumberland Posey, Jr.
  3. Hudson “Huddy” Oliver
  4. William “Wee Willie” Smith
  5. Al “Runt” Pullins
  6. Zachariah “Zack” Clayton
  7. Clarence “Puggy” Bell
  8. Inman Jackson
  9. Wyatt “Sonny” Boswell
  10. James “Pappy” Ricks
  11. Eyre “Bruiser” Saitch
  12. Harry “Bucky” Lew
  13. Paul Robeson
  14. Chuck Cooper
  15. Dave Minor
  16. Bill Garrett

Our Comments:

Dave Minor and Bill Garrett played in the NBA, so we do not consider them to be “early pioneers” compared to the other nominees on the list, for whom the NBA did not exist. The exception is Chuck Cooper, who we feel, by virtue of the fact that he was one of the first three African American players in the NBA, should be on the list. The biggest omission, in our opinion, is female superstar Ora Mae Washington, so we have added her into our unofficial poll. Cumberland Posey, Jr. could go in both as a player and as a contributor, so we feel that the committee should announce for which one of those categories he is being considered. Finally, we have added the proper names and/or nicknames for Hudson Oliver (“Huddy”), Sonny Boswell (Wyatt), Zack Clayton (Zachariah), Eyre Saitch (“Bruiser”), and Bucky Lew (Harry).

NOTE: The poll above is strictly unofficial and for fun. In reality, popularity does not influence Hall of Fame Committee voting. Or does it?

ABOVE: Our simplistic totally unofficial emblem to designate who we feel are the Black Fives Era pioneers most deserving of enshrinement in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, perhaps through direct election by the Early African American Pioneers Committee.