Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Who Are the Ten Greatest NBA Players of All Time?
I was chatting with a buddy/co-worker of mine, Antoine, and we were discussing who the greatest NBA players were. From there, we started slotting our picks and having quite a debate about this guy being better than that guy. The debate lit a fire in me that I came home and just had to blog about my top ten list.
Then I got to thinking that I should get other people's lists. I know people around this great land who are bright and intelligent and very opinionated on this subject. So I invited them to contribute their lists and I would compile them into one mega-list ... which is what this post is all about.
My contributors (which are named at the bottom) range in ages from 20 to 50+. From places like Florence, KY, Corpus Christi, New York City, Utah, Cincinnati, Charlotte and Los Angeles. I used the same points system that a college poll would use and grant the top player 10 points, second player 9 points and so on. Below is the list that the 20 people came up with.
I invite you to give me your top ten in the comments section below.
No. 10-LeBron James (27 pts): The fact that he's here is obviously because people expect greatness from him for years to come. I don't see it that way, myself. Yes, LeBron could become one of the ten best players to lace them up but he isn't right now. Some of the younger voters had him ranked high while many of the other voters left him off their ballots. If we did this list ten years from now, this may be correct. Right now, I think Hakeem, Tim Duncan, Jerry West or Elgin Baylor deserved this slot more.
No. 9 -Shaquille O'Neal (29 pts): Shaq could have been one of the most dominant players ever. When he put his mind to it, he was. The problem is that there is the perception that he didn't put forth maximum effort preparing for a game or even a season. I also think the fact that he's fallen off a bit affected some of these rankings. Still, Shaq was among the greatest to ever have played this game.
No. 8-Oscar Robertson (61 pts): The Big O was the original triple threat. He could score (averaged 30+ points in six seasons), assist (he was the first player to average 10 assists for a season) and could rebound (the only guard in history to average at least 10 boards a game in a season ... and he did it three times). If not for the fact that he played in Cincinnati and Milwaukee, people would realize just how great he was.
No. 7-Bill Russell (68 pts): One of the most interesting votes I had. Russell is really hard to gauge. Some ranked him high because of those 11 championships he won. Some ranked him low because they felt he wouldn't be that special in today's game. Others ranked him high due to the fact that he stood up to Wilt Chamberlain and beat him time and time again. Others ranked him lower because those Celtics teams were packed with Hall of Famers. It really is hard to figure out where to exactly place Russell.
No. 6-Kareem Abdul Jabbar (103 pts ... 1 first place vote): I feel that Kareem, as usual, was forgotten about. People who remember basketball in the 1970s and 80s know how great Jabbar really was. He was a dominant force when he came into the league and was insanely consistent up until his retirement in 1989. Six titles and six MVP awards! The sky hook alone should have him in everybody's top five.
No. 5-Larry Bird (107 pts): Here was an interesting case. I found that many people ranked Bird alongside Magic Johnson on their lists. Unlike most on this list, Bird wasn't the most gifted athlete but this man had a killer instinct and the will to win. He also turned the three point shot into a deadly weapon and made the All-Star shootout contest the must-see event.
No. 4-Kobe Bryant (113 pts ... 4 first place votes): Kobe is the most interesting and debated man on this list. The fact that he's this high while still in his prime years in amazing. What was also amazing is that people who hated the Lakers and/or really hated Kobe ended up voting him very high. I got a lot of "I hate him, but he's one of the greatest ever" comments. Think about how powerful that is. Nobody on this list is as disliked as Kobe is, but only a few guys rank higher among the greats.
No. 3-Magic Johnson (123 pts): Full disclosure: Magic is my favorite player of all-time. I've made my arguments in the past that Magic was better than Jordan, but that's for another time. What I remember most about Magic is that nobody in the history of the league could control a game like he did. Yeah, Jordan and Wilt could do what they wanted, but Magic knew exactly who should get the shot up and make it as easy for them as he could. He was a wizard with the basketball and a genius of the game.
No. 2-Wilt Chamberlain (141 pts ... 5 first place votes): This is who I picked No. 1. The man was dominant. The man was a freak. Sorry, but an 100-point game!?!?! Averaging over 50 points for an entire season?? Unreal! He's the only player in NBA history to average at least 40 pts a game for a season and he did it twice. He owns the top three season scoring averages of all time ... and five of the top seven! In 1968, he decided to show up his critics who said he was selfish by leading the NBA in assists that year! The list goes on and on and on ...
No. 1-Michael Jordan (185 pts ... 10 first place votes): This was kind of expected. Most of the people that were in their 30s or younger had Jordan at the top of their lists. He was the icon of that generation of fans. Magic and Bird took the league by storm and out of the darkness, but Jordan elevated it to the top of the mountain.
Others receiving votes: Hakeem Olajuwon (26), Tim Duncan (23 pts), Jerry West (18), Karl Malone (17), John Stockton (10), Kevin Garnett (10), Scottie Pippen (7), Charles Barkley (6), George Mikan (5), Elgin Baylor (4), Julius Erving (4), Isiah Thomas (4), Clyde Drexler (4), Pete Maravich (2), Kevin McHale (2), Penny Hardaway (1) and Steve Nash (1).
Pretty intense list, eh? When looking at it as a whole, it looks pretty fair. Sure, guys like West and Baylor didn't get the love they would have had I extended my search for "older" fans but that's to be expected.
Here are the people who voted: The Sportz Assassin, Tony Curd, Derrick Highsmith, William Morgan, Eddie Bowling, Charles Martin, Joe Foster, Wolf, Laker Mike, Deron Denton, Bax Deal, Laurie Edwards, John Cutler, Luther Fisher, Emanuel Smith, Yannis Koutroupis, Capricorn, Ktmdog, Bonnie Valente and Yossef Shamir.
Again, please share your lists, gripes and debates in the comments section below.
Brought to you by the Sportz Assassin at 1:39 AM