With the kick off of the 2010-2011 NBA season last night my basketball jones have been flowing this week as I think it is time to pay homage to the players from the current and past as I rate their place in NBA history. The NBA is an interesting animal, it is fair to say that you could rework this list several times and still have an accurate and sufficient list. My list is a compilation of the combination of standards that I feel a player needs to meet in order to secure his spot in our hearts.
I know some of you aren’t going to like the list but I would have you know that I took all biases out in the making list. I am a huge Laker hater and the list is infested with Lakers, unfortunately. I am a Knick fan, unfortunately and there are no Knicks on the list. So, as you read please understand that this list is emotionless and is based on my working knowledge of the players.
10. Oscar Robertson: “The Big O” is my ode to the old school. Oscar was a player in a slow era that revolved around big men and was a standout guard being the first player to average triple-double. Which at 6’5 amongst the trees is quite an accomplishment. I would love to be able to see him play today as he did back in the day. He was a point guard who did enough for both back-court positions and rebounded as well as a center and it is his versatility that was his trademark.
9. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: What hasn’t Lou Alcindor done? He is the all time leader in points scored, he has 6 rings, and 6 MVP’s. He is the only dude who trademarked a shot in the skyhook because of his perfection of the difficult craft. He is still involved in the game today as a consultant for the Lakers, when he isn’t too busy shooting Skechers commercials. It all goes back to his on the court education taught by John Wooden at UCLA. Coach Wooden laid the basis for a great player and what seems like a great guy.
8. Wilt Chamberlain: Wilt “The Stilt” is on this list for a number of reasons. One year he averaged 50 points, dropped a hundo in one game, he had 4 MVP’s, 13 All-Star selections, 11 rebounding titles, 7 scoring titles, and even 1 assist title. He was such a dominant force in the league and no one had an answer for him which allowed him to play in a league above everyone else. After he retired he played professional volleyball just for shits and giggles.
7. Jerry West: The logo. I always wonder if they will ever change the logo from Jerry West to Jordan or another general logo but it doesn’t seem like it because West gives them no reason to. He made an all NBA team in 12 of his 14 Laker seasons. He won a finals MVP and the thing that sets him apart was his ability to hit big shots in the clutch. It’s amazing that as good as he was on the court he may even better off. He was the GM that put the 80s Laker teams together and represented the league perfectly.
6. Shaquille O’Neal: Where do I start with Shaq? He has countless nicknames, “The Shaqrock,” “Shaq Diesel,” and “The Big Aristotle.” When he isn’t relaxing in the offseason at his estate, “Shaqapulco,” he is shooting his show “Shaq Vs.” He has been in several movies, had several horrible albums, and is a Deputy sheriff in the state of Louisiana. He never succumbed the big shoe companies outside of the Reebook Pump because he wanted to provide affordable footwear for fans. Oh yeah, he plays basketball too. He has a Rookie of the Year, 15 All-Star selections, and 3 Finals MVPs to go with his 4 rings.
5. LeBron James: Insert controversy here. Like most, I used to love “The King” until the “The Decision” but what’s done is done and it is time to move on. I’ll say this once, the second he wins a ring he automatically becomes the best player of all time. The instant “The Lord of No Rings” loses his nickname he is the greatest of all time. He simply does things that normal human beings and NBA players cannot even fathom. His athletic ability, his speed, his strength, his versatility, at 6’8 245 is absolutely unheard of. I don’t want to get into his personal accolades because they are irrelevant. Whether he wins a ring with lesser role players or All-Stars it won’t taint his spot in history because when he is done Jordan won’t even be worthy of holding his arm sock.
4. Kobe Bryant: He’s aight. He’s got 5 rings.
3. Larry Bird: Possibly the greatest competitor on the list. For everything he lacked physically he made up for mentally and with hard work. He was slow and couldn’t jump and for someone with his skill set to even be talked about as being one of the best is unbelievable. He had all the things that were not God-given and obtained with his work ethic in the fields of Indiana. #33 had 3 rings and 3 MVPs but is best recognized for his battles against this man…
2. Magic Johnson: He is a 6’9 Point Forward who played Center when they needed him to. He has a great smile, 5 rings, 3 MVPs, and an NCAA Championship. And just think how many he would have had if he and Larry weren’t going head to head for everything. I think if the logo were ever to change it should be his shadow on jerseys more so than Jordan or James. He battled the HIV, cam back and still balled. He is a great commentator, savvy businessman, and a role model.
1. Michael Jordan: I mean it’s MJ. The best basketball player of all time. His 6 rings and 5 MVPs don’t even compare to the intangibles he brought to the game. He had the ability to single-handedly take over a game. He could pass, rebound, and shoot from the outside. He was clutch, he was an on-court coach, and carried da Bulls. He did have plenty of help which I feel is irrelevant when talking about players’ legacies. He took the shoe industry to heights it never would have gone without him, he had great commercials, and most of all is a fan of the game. Which is why he should leave the front office just like he left baseball because it is something that he simply isn’t the best at. If he would have stuck to being the best at basketball and nothing else, I bet there wouldn’t even be talks of future players taking his title.