Hall of Fame Worth the Wait for George McGinnis
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SPRINGFIELD -- It's been a long time coming for George McGinnis.
The 67-year-old forward established himself as one of the premier players in the ABA with the Pacers -- winning league MVP honors in 1975 and clinching two championships -- but never received the call he'd waited for for almost 40 years. A call to the Naismith Memorial Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
That is, until now.
"I wouldn't say it's a relief, but it's better now than never," McGinnis said Thursday. "I thought I could have gotten in earlier, but I'm not going to cry about that at this point. I'm just glad I got there."
Indeed, McGinnis' omission from the Hall of Fame up to this point was peculiar -- given both his hefty resume and the amount of other ABA greats that have been recognized by the Hall over the years.
Prior to his addition to the HoopHall Class of 2017, McGinnis was the only former NBA or ABA MVP eligible for the Hall of Fame that was not in it. While McGinnis was passed over in two prior election committees, he was tabbed as the player that received the most votes for the All-ABA team, which was announced in 1997.
Entering this year, McGinnis thought that his odds of joining other ABA legends in Springfield seemed like a longshot, especially after the Hall of Fame disbanded its ABA committee in 2015.
"I did talk to a couple of guys on that committee," McGinnis said. "And I can't say who they were, but they were very reflective in their support and how their total board supported my going in this year. They thought it was a joke that I wasn't in and they just wanted to make sure that I got the recognition this year, which I'm so happy and honored to have."
When he's finally officially inducted into the Hall of Fame Friday night, McGinnis will join fellow Pacers and ABA mainstays such as Mel Daniels, Roger Brown and former Pacers coach Bobby "Slick" Leonard.
While McGinnis has relied on Leonard to give him the scoop about the the media tour that each inductee must go through over the weekend, some of his former teammates will not be able to see him take to the stage Friday night at Springfield's Symphony Hall.
It will be a bittersweet moment for McGinnis, who misses the company of both Daniels and Brown -- who passed away in 2015 and 1997, respectively.
"I can't tell you how much I miss Mel Daniels and Roger Brown," McGinnis said. "They both meant so much to me. They both meant so much to our team and Slick is here, God bless him. Not having Mel and Roger here puts a little bit of a damper on things, but you know what -- Mel, was saying, 'Hey man, we're going to get you in this Hall of Fame, we've got to.' And Slick has always been, 'Hey come on, this is a joke. You need to be in this thing.' And here we are, so I'm just so happy."
McGinnis' journey to the Hall of Fame might not have gone as planned, but upon reflecting on his situation, the Pacers legend opted to focus on what got him to where he is -- rather than how long he needed to wait.
"If we didn't have a great team that had great teammates, I wouldn't be here," McGinnis said. "I mean, you don't get here just on your own. You've got to have great people around you that help you along the way, and I was no different."