Milwaukee Bucks’ Marques Johnson Isn’t A HOF’er Because He Was ‘A Team Guy’

Marques Johnson. Getty

Milwaukee Bucks legend, Marques Johnson was recently named a Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame Finalist.

Currently a broadcaster on FOX Sports Wisconsin, Johnson is having quite a year, too.

It was recently announced that his number 8 jersey will be retired by the Milwaukee Bucks on March 24.

Johnson is excited to have his number 8 in the rafters in Milwaukee.“I think I’m the ninth player in team history to have that done,” Marques Johnson told me recently on the Scoop B Radio Podcast.

“And I’m sure there are other guys after me that’ll have it done at some point because there’s been some guys who are major contributors,” “It’s been a long time coming man and I’m just grateful to ownership and Peter Fegan, the team president and everybody involved in the decision.”

A five-time NBA All-Star, Johnson averaged 20.1 points and 7 rebounds per game in 11 seasons. Being named a Naismith Hall of Fame Finalist is also a dream come true. Johnson joins names other notable names on the ballot like Hugh Evans, Bill Fitch, Bobby Jones, Chris Webber, Ben Wallace, Sidney Moncrief, Jack Sikma and WNBA legend Teresa Weatherspoon.

An NCAA Champion, Johnson was the first ever collegiate player to win the John R. Wooden Award in 1977.

He has an impressive resume, you’d think he’d have been in the Hall of Fame already!

Heck, he’s contributed to the game and even to culture. Remember Hustling Raymond in the movie White Men Can’t Jump?

White Men Can't Jump (2/5) Movie CLIP – Hustling Raymond (1992) HDWhite Men Can't Jump movie clips: BUY THE MOVIE: FandangoNOW – iTunes – Google Play – Amazon – Fox Movies – Don't miss the HOTTEST NEW TRAILERS: CLIP DESCRIPTION: Sidney (Wesley Snipes) and Billy (Woody Harrelson) get a knife pulled on them when they try to hustle some…2015-10-15T18:59:03.000Z


All joking aside, here’s the million dollar question: Why isn’t Marques Johnson already in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame?

“Well, and here’s the thing, you look at some of the websites that are devoted to analytics, win shares and value over replacement player and all those kinds of advanced metrics and I always make the cut,” Johnson tells Scoop B Radio.

“It’s always, he belongs in the Hall of Fame.’ I think the fact that my career was cut short due to injury, I hurt my neck going into my 10th year, so that probably robbed me out of a good five to 7,000 points. So instead of 14,000 or just below I’d have wound up closer to 20, which had been a good Hall of Fame number.”

Johnson also believes being a team player earlier in his career may have actually hurt him statistically or in the eyes of voters.

“My second year in the league, I averaged 25.6 or something like that,” he said.

Marques Johnson, who played 524 games for Milwaukee, will have his number retired in March. Getty

“First team all-pro, shot 55% from the field. Now you look at my third year, that number drops to 20, 21 points a game. And the reason it dropped was because my coach Don Nelson brought me to his office for my third year and we had a conversation that went something like this. He’s like: ‘MJ, what do you think you can average this year?’ ‘Well, Nelly, I worked really hard on my jump shot. I worked on my conditioning. Uh, I kinda got this thing going with George Gervin about who’s gonna lead the league in scoring. I think I can average 30 and still shoot about 55% from the field.’ He’s like: ‘yeah, I believe that you can, but listen, this is what I want you to do. I want you to average about 20, 21 points a game, but seven rebounds a game, play good defense, and let’s have a more balanced team than a team with you shooting 18, 19, 20 times a game, you know, get up 14, 15 shots a game and let’s spread the wealth around a little bit, and let Brian Winters, let Sidney Moncrief, let Junior Bridgeman, uh, kind of have this balance scoring basketballs.’So I went with that.”

Johnson, the son of a basketball coach says that he listened to his coach. “I feel like I shouldn’t be penalized for being a team guy,” he said.

“You know, going along with a request that my coach made and that’s why you look at my numbers and there’s that major kind of drop off between the second and third year and then, so that’s the explanation that I have for that. And again, I just did what my coach asked me to do.”

Per The Class of 2019 will be announced at a press conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota at the NCAA Men’s Final Four.

The Hall of Fame induction will take place on September 6th.

Worth noting: a finalist needs 18 of 24 votes from the Honors Committee for election into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.