The A-Train Arrives

by Brian C. Anderson

I was happy to see Artis Gilmore, who finished his long professional career with a short stint on the Boston Celtics during the late-Bird era, recognized at last by the basketball gods.

Gilmore utterly dominated the ABA for several seasons — only Julius Erving could compare — and after the ABA folded, led the NBA in field-goal percentage for four straight seasons (1980–81 through 1983–84), playing for the Chicago Bulls and San Antonio Spurs. He was an excellent rebounder (still the per-game-average NCAA Division I leader) and consistently logged big minutes, while rarely getting injured. His lifetime averages in many categories are right up there with the all-time greats.

I’ve never understood why he kept getting snubbed by the Hall of Fame. Plus, he looked awesome on the court, with his giant afro (which must have made him seven-foot four or five) and menacing goatee:  

His major drawback was lousy hands — he led the NBA in turnovers for the 1977–78 season — and he never won a championship in the ABA or NBA. But lesser players have made it into the Hall of Fame, including a couple this year. Long overdue congratulations to the A-Train.

Brian C. Anderson is the editor of City Journal and a fan of the Boston Celtics.