‘Politics’ may have played role in keeping Benton Harbor’s Chet Walker out of Hall of Fame for so long
September 6, 2012 in Professional
Making the Naismith Hall of Fame is surely a remarkable accomplishment for anyone who is enshrined. But for deserving players who are overlooked for a number of years, the accomplishment of finally getting in can be bittersweet. That’s the situation one of this year’s inductees, Benton Harbor native Chet Walker, finds himself in — grateful to have his name where it belongs, but disappointed that some people won’t be there to share it with him. From Dave Reynolds of the Peoria Journal Star:
Eligible since 1980, Walker, now 72, is a selection from the Hall’s Veterans Committee.
“If you look at who’s in there and compare my statistics to some of them, certainly I should have been in a long time ago,” Walker said in a phone interview with the Journal Star. “I’m disappointed, not only for myself, but for a lot of close friends and my brothers who aren’t alive now.
“They were alive 25 years ago, and I think they would have enjoyed coming there and celebrating with me. That’s what’s disappointing.”
Reynolds also points out a long-held theory about why it has taken so long for Walker to be enshrined:
The short unofficial answer is Walker was an activist who likely made enemies in the game. Unlike the Baseball Hall of Fame, which is voted upon by baseball journalists (for the first 15 years of eligibility) and past Hall of Famers thereafter, the basketball election process is much more secretive and subject to politics.
A union representative during his six years with the Bulls, Walker’s playing career ended prematurely when he sued the NBA and the Bulls for violation of federal antitrust laws.
Reynolds also has a second great feature on Walker, discussing how he made his way to Bradley University.