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Does Dick Vitale belong in Hall?

We've had a day to absorb the news of Dick Vitale's selection to the Basketball Hall of Fame. The question hangs in the air like Michael Jordan taking off from the foul line: Does Vitale belong?

Vitale unquestionably has been a huge booster of college basketball. Now, do we credit Vitale for having a major role in the rise in popularity for the sport? Or was he merely the most familiar face -- and loudest voice -- associated with the burgeoning ESPN coverage that really grew the college game?

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Vitale was the right man in the right place for ESPN. For a while, it seemed you couldn't turn on one of the network's games without hearing him from courtside, heaping praise upon this coach or that, chattering nonstop about teams and players who weren't in the game, making "diaper dandy" and "PTPer" entries in the basketball glossary.

If Vitale hadn't been there to become Vitale, maybe someone else -- Bill Raftery? -- would have been ESPN's dominant hoops personality. But that someone, for better or worse, wouldn't have been Vitale. So maybe being over the top is what put him over the top when it came to the Hall selection.

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If he had been working Monday night's title game, do you believe he would have pointed out the flaws in the free-throw-shooting technique of Derrick Rose and Chris Douglas-Roberts on their key misses, as CBS' Billy Packer did? Packer, whose grumpy old man persona is a polar opposite to Vitale's, doesn't do catch phrases or get passed overhead in student sections of the stands. And though Packer was chosen for the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame this week -- as was Vitale -- the bald guy going into Springfield is not the sober analyst of X's and O's.

So what is the answer? Is Vitale, as he might put it, an HOFer? Recognizing that an answer in the affirmative is not the same thing as saying he's the guy you necessarily want to hear when you tune in a game, I would say yes, he is.

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