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Why is Shawn Kemp not in the Hall of Fame?

Shawn Kemp was one of the most exciting NBA players in the history of the sport, producing some of the most electrifying dunks you will ever see. Despite all of his eye popping talent, Kemp is not in the Hall of Fame. 

Why is Shawn Kemp not in the Hall of Fame? Kemp’s career statistics show a player just below the level of the Hall of Fame. He also does not have any championships which usually go a big way to getting into the Hall of Fame. Kemp’s career was derailed by weight and drug addiction problems. 

If you have a bit of spare time and want to see the closest thing to murder on an NBA court, go back and watch some highlights from Shawn Kemp’s career. He produced some of the most disrespectful dunks you will ever see. It is why he is so well known amongst NBA fans despite not being in the Hall of Fame… on second thoughts – just enjoy the below embedded Youtube Video.

There are a few reasons why he is not in the Hall of Fame. If you look at Kemp’s career you can see why. 

Having been drafted 17th overall by the Seattle SuperSonics, Kemp was not really expected to be a star. But thanks to the guidance of teammate Xavier McDaniel, Kemp quickly became a star in Seattle alongside a star-studded squad including Gary Payton, Eddie Johnson, Ricky Pierce and Nate McMillan. 

Kemp also showed his dunking ability early on, slamming one down over Alton Lister which later became known as the “Lister Blister”. Kemp would continue this rise and peaked in 1995-96 when Seattle broke through to the NBA finals, losing to Michael Jordan and the Bulls. 

At the age of 27, it seemed like Kemp would continue becoming a star and have a Hall of Fame career, but this trip to the finals would be the highlight for Kemp. Despite All-Star appearances in 1997 and 1998, Kemp faced different problems after those finals that led to him not having a career good enough for the Hall of Fame. 

The first problem was that Kemp quickly fell out with his team after these finals. Having signed a contract extension in 1994, which meant he could not sign another until 1997. It meant that Kemp held out of training camp for 22 days and while he played that season, he was quickly traded away from Seattle. 

Kemp was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers and had a great first season where he posted career-high numbers. But it was the lockout-shortened season where his problems began. Since retiring, Kemp has admitted that he had an addiction to smoking weed. Kemp has since admitted to smoking before games

While this is something that quite a few retired NBA players have admitted to, it led to some much bigger issues for Kemp. In the lockout-shortened season of 1998-99, Kemp came into training camp very overweight. He was 80 pounds heavier than his weight in Seattle and 30 more than the team officially listed him in Cleveland that year. 

The additional weight did not bring any more dominance, in fact, it changed the way that Kemp played. He became a lot more of a shooter than ever before and it did not work to the same success. He still averaged 20.5 points and 9.2 rebounds, but never reached the superstar, MVP-winning level that it looked like he could have done. 

There was hope that a move to Portland in 2000 would reinvigorate Kemp’s career considering he was still only 31 years old when he signed with the Trail Blazers. Sadly, Kemp’s career continued to decline because he had issues with his weight as well as cocaine and alcohol abuse. 

His first season in Portland ended early as Kemp entered himself into rehab to deal with his addiction problems. After two seasons, Kemp played one season in Orlando but performed poorly. It was a sad end for Kemp as he retired at the age of 34. 

So sadly for Kemp, it was addictions that derailed his career. Having established himself as an NBA star, he was never able to really progress into superstardom, only averaging more than 20 points per game in one season. His numbers were consistently very good but never exceptional. 

Despite an excellent finals performance, Kemp never really got past all-star level and would not have made it to the finals if not for his teammate Gary Payton. Kemp had to reinvent himself after losing his high-flying dunking ability because of weight issues and it was never just good enough to be Hall of Fame level. 

Six All-Star trips and three All-NBA Second Team appearances are impressive and more than a good career for Kemp. But considering Kemp never got close to an MVP award and was not the best player on his team when the Sonics went to the finals, it seems unlikely that he will ever be in the Hall of Fame. 

How Much is Shawn Kemp Worth? 

It is estimated that Shawn Kemp’s current net worth is around $5 million. The majority of this comes from his time in the NBA. Kemp played 14 seasons in the NBA with four different teams, signing some big contracts in his time. While Kemp has not done a massive amount of endorsements, he has started a few different businesses since retiring. 

Having enjoyed his time in Seattle, Kemp has invested in several Seattle ventures including Amber’s Kitchen. In October 2020, Kemp opened a brand new business of his own, an interesting one considering his addiction issues.

Kemp opened a cannabis dispensary in Seattle called Shawn Kemp’s Cannabis. He did this alongside his business partners Matt Schoenlein and Rasmey Hamide. It is not the first time former NBA players have gone into cannabis dispensaries. At the opening of the store, Kemp was joined by former Seattle teammate Gary Payton who sells Cookies brand cannabis in the shop that Kemp has opened.