It is a running joke among basketball circles that getting into the Basketball Hall of Fame is not much of an achievement anymore. The knock is that they are too considerate or too inclusive, that they actually find ways to get a player in, rather than let the achievements speak for themselves.

Nelson Asaytono Chris Webber - Chris Webber and Nelson Asaytono: Severely underrated
Chris Webber and Nelson Asaytono, PHOTO FROM WIKIPEDIA

Since the Hall is too lenient, it may come as a shock for many basketball fans that Chris Webber is not in the Hall of Fame. Considering players like Vlade Divac are already enshrined, Webber’s noninclusion is a travesty.

Webber and Divac’s careers came at the same time, with the Sacramento Kings in the early 2000s. You can say that Divac was in the NBA Finals in 1991 with the Lakers, but he did not play a major role, even though he replaced the huge shoes of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

In that same year, Webber was a cultural college icon as the main star of Michigan’s Fab Five — a group forever enshrined in basketball culture and history. It’s important to point this out since college and international success matters a lot. This is why big NBA “what-if” Grant Hill is enshrined despite his NBA career being marred by injury.

You may argue that Grant Hill won the titles while Webber lost out, but great as Hill was in college with Duke, the Fab Five brought more fear in the hearts of their opponents, and Webber was clearly the main reason.

No rings killed Webber?

In terms of talent, Webber is definitely more talented than the latest batch of nominees. Last December 22, the list of nominees for 2021 was announced and many of the “should be” Hall of Famers were announced: Paul Pierce, Chauncey Billups, Chris Bosh and Ben Wallace, but still, no Chris Webber.

Webber had better college success than all of those players, so we should only look at their NBA careers. All of these players were drafted later than Webber, with Bosh coming in late in 2003 — a decade after Chris did. One notable fact — all these players have won (at least) one NBA championship.

It seems unfortunate that Webber is known as the bridesmaid. In 2002, the Kings were supposedly the strongest team in the league, but they were beaten in controversial fashion by the LA Lakers in the Western Conference Finals. The Lakers proceeded to have a cakewalk in the ’02 Finals against the New Jersey Nets.

If the Kings won that WCF instead of the Lakers, they could also beat the Nets and win a title. Would that be enough to enshrine Webber? If they considered Ben Wallace, who only excelled on one side of the court, they should consider the multi-talented Webber — a first option on almost all the teams that he played for.

In a vacuum, if there was a draft with all the players mentioned available, I’d pick Webber before Pierce, Bosh, Billups or Wallace. If rings were the reason, then Divac should not be there either, not to mention Chris Mullin, Webber’s teammate in Golden State. No one questions Mullin or Charles Barkley or Karl Malone for being Hall of Famers without a ring.

Nelson Asaytono is our own Chris Webber

Webber is one of the biggest head-scratchers in making the Hall of Fame case since he was snubbed in the top 40 PBA players list in 2014. Asi Taulava famously said he’s willing to give up his own slot in the 40 greatest players to “The Bull.”

Championships in the PBA do not mean as much as an NBA title, since there are three conferences in a year, but Asaytono not winning a PBA MVP award is tragic. The biggest one was when he lost to Ato Agustin.

Asaytono’s window was narrow since he was in the era when Alvin Patrimonio was dominant. He led the league in statistical points and losing to Agustin — who was part of a loaded San Miguel team, was also a head-scratcher, and a testament to the flawed process of individual award selection.

Are Asaytono and Webber simply not popular players with the media?

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