Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Hall-of-fame honorees Michael Jordan and Metallica; different halls, of course

It must be hall-of-fame season.
On April 4, it was the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony, which honored – most notably – Metallica and Run-DMC.
Today, former Chicago Bulls guard Michael Jordan was elected to the 2009 Basketball Hall of Fame class along with David Robinson, John Stockton and Jerry Sloan.
The two halls of fame couldn’t be more different. One honors the arts and the other athletics. Another difference is that the basketball inductees seem logical and obvious, while the rock-and-roll inductees seem at times commercial and political.
Jordan, a five-time MVP who won six NBA titles, was, and still is, a sports superstar. He finished his 15-year playing career with 32,292 points, the third-highest total in league history behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Karl Malone. His career average of 30.12 points per game is the best in NBA history, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Stockton, who played his entire career with the Utah Jazz, holds NBA records for assists in a season with 1,164 in 1990-91 and the highest assist average in a season with 14.5 the previous season.
Robinson played 14 seasons with the San Antonio Spurs and won two NBA championships.
Sloan is the only NBA coach to win more than 1,000 games with a single team, the Jazz.
Also elected to the basketball hall was Rutgers women’s coach C. Vivian Stringer. She led three schools to the Final Four in her 38-year career and has an 825-280 record.
Induction is Sept. 10-12 in Springfield, Mass., home of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
I can’t argue with any of those picks.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is another matter. Heavy metal rockers Metallica were an iron-clad pick. Same with guitarist Jeff Beck.
But rappers Run-DMC? I don’t think so. Hip-hop hall of fame, sure. Pop music hall of fame, sure. But not rock and roll.
The online debate over the definition of rock and roll for the purposes of the hall of fame has been pretty heated this year.
Rock and roll is like pornography, people know it when they see it, or hear it. Otherwise, it can be hard to describe.
Run-DMC was influenced by rock and roll and influenced some rockers who followed them. But they themselves were not rock and roll.
It’s clear that the voting members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame want to broaden the hall’s scope to include practically all popular music forms. At the same time, they’re ignoring some legitimate rockers. (Rush, KISS, Boston, Genesis and Yes, to name a few.)
At this point, there’s really no sense in arguing about who gets into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The hall has already established the precedent, especially when it chose Madonna last year.
It’s only a matter of time before the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducts ABBA and Britney Spears. Now they’re rockers.

Michael Jordan photo from the Chicago Tribune.
Metallica photo from Flickr site of James Parker Photography.

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