After not making it to the Hall of Fame for nearly 20 years, former San Antonio Spurs Artis Gilmore was finally enshrined. Mike Monroe of Spurs Nation wrote this great piece about the A-Train.
“While he enters as the first to be chosen by the new committee, Artis Gilmore’s entire body of work is Hall worthy, including his two seasons at Jacksonville University. There, he averaged 22.7 rebounds, an NCAA record that still stands, and led the Dolphins to the NCAA championship game in 1970.
Snubbed by the Hall for nearly two decades, Gilmore never expressed bitterness at his exclusion. At a pre-induction news conference Thursday, however, emotions nearly got the best of him. Acknowledging what an earlier enshrinement would have meant to his mother, who died six years ago, his eyes watered and he had to pause before continuing.
“I’m a very emotional guy,” he said. “I express my emotions. But for my grandkids I need to try and hold it together.”
Gilmore was 33 by the time he arrived in the Alamo City in 1982, the best days of his career behind him. Nevertheless, Gervin recalled the excitement that surrounded his arrival.
“The big fella coming to San Antonio really lifted our spirits,” Gervin said. “He was still a dominant force when we got him. With him, we always felt we had a chance to defeat the Lakers. We felt that matchup with him and Kareem (Abdul-Jabbar) gave us a competitive center in the middle.”
Bob Bass was the Spurs general manager who acquired Gilmore.
“After we made that deal, we were able to stay with Jabbar,” Bass said. “Defensively, he could do a job on Jabbar. I will tell you this: After he joined the team, I felt like when you walked out of the building after a game against the Lakers you didn’t feel like Jabbar had just dominated, like he had in past years.”
Gilmore believes he did what the team expected of him in that matchup.
“Yeah, Kareem and I matched up pretty well,” he said. “But Magic Johnson and James Worthy, well that was kind of overpowering in those particular areas.”
It was his domination of the ABA for five seasons that led the new committee to put his name forward for enshrinement.