Top 10 NBA Players Of All-Time

lebron finals

Upon Lebron James’ arrival to his 7th consecutive NBA Finals, I began brainstorming. If Lebron won the Finals (which no one in their right mind thought he would), where would he rank on the all-time list?? Lebron lost, however, his career accomplishments still rank amongst the greatest to ever play the game. Naturally, this leaves us with only 1 thing to do. Make a list of the top 10 NBA Players of All-Time. This list will consider everything these players have accomplished until present day. Since Lebron is still active, you must read this list as if the NBA were to cease to exist tomorrow. Do not take into account the potential for the rest of Lebron’s career, as that would create a bias. He’s not done climbing the list Lebron fans..relax.

Since the association became the NBA (National Basketball Association) in 1949, there have been a host of amazing players to grace the hardwood. However, a small group of living legends stand out from the rest. Why do they stand out?? What makes them the best?? It is a combination of their physical skills, ability to win, and intangibles (heart/leadership/will to win). I will take all of these factors into account. I will be looking at the complete makeup of each player and what made/makes them great.

Any list must start with honorable mentions. We must pay homage to the men just outside the top 10, for their contributions also brought the game to new levels.

Honorable Mentions

  • Oscar Robertson
  • Hakeem Olajuwon
  • Karl Malone
  • Elgin Baylor
  • Julius Erving
  • Jerry West

Oscar Robertson not making the list was the toughest decision I made today. The “Big O”‘s numbers speak for themselves, as he is the all-time leader in triple-doubles (181). Hakeem is next on my tough decision list. There are only 10 spots!! It’s not my fault!! Hakeem “The Dream” had the smoothest skillset we’ve ever seen from the center position. Combine that with amazing shot-blocking ability, and you’re looking at a top 5 center of all-time. Elgin Baylor and Karl Malone fall into the same category, no championship..no list. Sorry. The “Mailman” is 2nd on the all-time scoring list thanks to his scoring ability and longevity (19 seasons), however he had the unfortunate pleasure of playing at the same time as Michael Jordan. Baylor was one of the most talented players you never saw play, however was also unfortunate to play against the likes of Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain. Baylor made 8 NBA Finals appearances and came away empty handed. Julius Erving (“Dr. J”) could have made the list had he not played 5 seasons in the ABA. He was an innovator and should not be overlooked when discussing the history of the NBA. Jerry West IS the NBA logo. Enough said.

Now, without further a due, I present the top 10 NBA Players of All-Time:

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10.) Shaquille O’Neal (Shaq, The Diesel, Shaq Fu, Shaq Daddy, Superman)
19 NBA Seasons – 23.7 points, 10.9 rebounds, 2.3 blocks, 58.2 FG%, 52.7 FT%

The Diesel. Enough said?? This nickname speaks for itself. Shaq was the most physically dominant force the NBA has ever seen. He was an unstoppable wrecking ball that could only be slowed (or fouled) but couldn’t be stopped. Watching Shaq, in his prime, was something special. For a man of his stature, he showed an amazing amount of offensive skills. He won a few games along the way too. He won 4 Championships, 1 MVP, and 3 Finals’ MVPs. It is no surprise he won Rookie of the Year in 1993. And who doesn’t want a strategy named after them (?)….’Hack A Shaq’.

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9.) Bill Russell (Russ)

13 NBA Seasons – 15.1 points, 22.5 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 44 FG%, 56.1 FT%

Bill Russell will always be the ultimate winner. He led the Boston Celtics teams of the 1950’s and 60’s to 11 Championships in 13 years. While he played with some great teammates over the years, he is regarded as the best defensive center of all-time (Wilt may have something to say about that). He is also one of the best rebounders ever. It was Russell’s intangibles though, such as leadership, that put him head and shoulders above the rest. During Russell’s era, they didn’t keep track of Finals’ MVPs, however, I can safely say he would have won 4 of them (I did my research..don’t worry). In a time where Wilt Chamberlain dominated the NBA statistically, it shows how impressive Bill Russell’s Championship tenure was.

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8.) Tim Duncan (Timmy, The Big Fundamental)

19 NBA Seasons – 19.0 points, 10.8 rebounds, 2.2 blocks, 50.6 FG%, 69.6 FT%

Tim Duncan had (shhhh..very quietly) one of the most impressive careers in NBA history. He is without question the best power forward ever (sorry Karl). By they way, his nickname should be “The Bank”. Have you ever seen anyone shoot a better, more effective jump-shot off the backboard than Tim Duncan?? Without dominating the game physically, or landing on highlight reels, Tim Duncan did 1 thing better than most; win. He won 5 Championships, 2 MVPs, and 3 Finals’ MVPs. He also won the Rookie of the Year in 1998. Oh yeah, I almost forgot, “Timmy” was also one of the best defensive power forwards ever.

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7.) Kobe Bryant (Black Mamba)

20 NBA Seasons – 25.0 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 44.7 FG%, 83.7 FT%

While there will only be one Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant came pretty close. Kobe emulated Jordan in as many ways as possible. That’s not a knock on Kobe, that’s just plain smart. Kobe was as talented a scorer as you’ll ever see, and was also one of the best on-ball defenders ever. Don’t forget, he jumped straight from high school to the NBA. The only other person on this list to do that is Lebron. Kobe was an assassin. His desire to win and cutthroat attitude was seemingly unparalleled. He liked to win, and did plenty of it. The “Black Mamba” won 5 Championships, 1 MVP (he deserved more), and 2 Finals’ MVPs.

larry-bird

6.) Larry Bird (Larry Legend, The Hick From French Lick)

13 NBA Seasons – 24.3 points, 10.0 rebounds, 6.3 assists, 49.6 FG%, 88.6 FT%

Magic and Bird. The best rivalry in NBA history, and my personal favorite NBA era. Larry Bird is regarded as one the best shooters the NBA has ever seen (until Steph Curry that is, haha). Bird didn’t just shoot. He possessed a special all around skillset. He is the only player in NBA history to hold career averages of more than 20 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 assists. He was also an extremely underrated defender, as his anticipation on the court was unmatched. Just like Magic, his career was cut short. Bird dealt with chronic back problems late in his career (he still averaged over 20 points per game in the last season of his career). His heart and competitive spirit willed his team to victory time and time again. Bird won 3 Championships, 3 MVPs, and 2 Finals’ MVPs. He also won Rookie of the Year in 1980.

lebron dunk

5.) Lebron James (King James)

14 NBA Seasons (Active) –  27.1 points, 7.3 rebounds, 7.0 assists, 50.1 FG%, 74.0 FT%

Lebron James entered the NBA straight out of high school. The level of expectations put on his shoulders as a teenager was unparalleled. To say Lebron has simply exceeded expectations would be the understatement of the century. He is one of the most complete players..ever. He can do it all. If he wanted to lead the league in assists, he would. Rebounds, he would. Points, well I think you get the point. He just became the 1st player in NBA history to average a triple-double in the Finals. I don’t have enough paper real estate to list all of his accomplishments, so let’s understand his work in this league is far from done. Lebron has won 3 Championships, 4 MVPs, and 3 Finals’ MVPs. He also has the 2004 Rookie of the Year Award floating around somewhere. Stay tuned….

wilt-chamberlain

4.) Wilt Chamberlain (Wilt The Stilt)

14 NBA Seasons – 30.1 points, 22.9 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 54.0 FG%, 51.1 FT%

The best center of all-time?? Kareem or Wilt?? It is nearly impossible to definitively answer this question. Wilt Chamberlain was the most dominant force in NBA history. He famously holds the record for most points scored in one game (100), a record I doubt will EVER be broken. Another record that will NEVER be broken: Chamberlain averaged over 50 points in a season (and didn’t even win the NBA MVP – yeah the NBA knows what it’s doing). Oh yeah, Wilt didn’t like being told he couldn’t do something. When the buzz around the league was Wilt was a ball hog, he led the league in assists the following season. It’s a shame in Wilt’s era MVP’s were given to a player on the championship team, because no one knows how many MVP’s Wilt could have won. Even with that obstacle, he still managed to win 4 MVP awards, 2 NBA Championships, and 1 Finals MVP. Wilt was also one of those players who burst right on to the scene, winning the Rookie of the Year in 1960. Wilt was a transcendent talent. If you dropped him in the NBA right now, I’d bet good money he’d still be the best center in the league.

Abdul-Jabbar takes sky hook

3.) Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Cap)

20 NBA Seasons – 24.6 points, 11.2 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 2.6 blocks, 55.9 FG%, 72.1 FT%

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was the centerpiece of the Lakers Championships of the 1980’s.  He was part of their 5 Championships in the 80’s. He also won a Championship with the Milwaukee Bucks prior to playing with the Lakers. He was a true innovator. He perfected an unstoppable move, the sky hook, which helped him become the NBA’s all-time leading scorer. Kareem was a star from the second he entered the league and was named Rookie of the Year in 1970 (averaging 28.8 points and 14.4 rebounds). Of the long list of Kareem’s accolades, I find a center shooting over 72% from the free-throw line highly impressive. He was an outstanding all around player, showcasing offensive and defensive skills throughout his 20-year career. Kareem won 6 Championships, was MVP a record breaking 6 times, and won 2 Finals’ MVPs.

magic-johnson-lakers-fast-break

2.) Earvin Johnson (Magic)

12 NBA Seasons – 19.5 points, 7.2 rebounds, 11.2 assists, 52 FG%, 84.8 FT %

As the leader of the “Showtime” Lakers, Magic Johnson reinvented the fast break. He revolutionized the point guard position.  Standing 6’9” tall, Magic was a nightmare match-up for anyone who tried to guard him. Well, they didn’t guard him they only slowed him down, sometimes. Larry Bird was his most formidable opponent, but the Lakers got the better of that rivalry. He brought power forward size and strength to the point guard position (and even played center in the 1980 NBA Finals). He is second all-time (to Oscar Robertson) in career triple-doubles (138). It is a tragedy Magic’s career was cut short due to his battle with HIV. Magic won 5 championships, 3 MVPs, and 3 Finals’ MVPs. Just like Michael Jordan, one can only imagine the potential accomplishments if he played another 4 or 5 seasons.

Michael-jordan

1.) Michael Jordan (MJ, Air Jordan)

15 NBA Seasons – 30.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 49.7 FG %, and 83.5 FT%

What can be said about Michael Jordan that hasn’t been said already?? Michael Jordan is hands down the greatest basketball player to ever walk the face of the planet. He was a one-time Defensive Player of the Year and regarded as the best defender at his position in NBA history. One of his most impressive feats is his perfect 6 for 6 record in the Finals. In each of those finals, he NEVER allowed a series to reach a decisive 7th game. If that is not the epitome of greatness, I don’t know what is. What you also have to remember is Jordan retired TWICE, in his prime, which caused him to miss nearly five full seasons. Imagine if he never retired and played straight through the age of 40 (where he averaged over 20 points)?! I think it’s fair to say he would have won at least 2 more MVPs and 2 more Championships. He won 6 NBA Championships, 5 MVP’s, and 6 Finals’ MVPs. Jordan won Rookie of the Year in 1985. All others can strive to Be Like Mike, but there will always be 1 Michael Jordan.

 

What do you think of my list?? Like it, love it, or hate it?? Either way, get your feelings off your chest in the comment section below. I’ll also be looking for your list, so make sure to post it in the comments as well.

Since you enjoy my writing, follow me over to intheneutralzone.com where I am a contributing author there as well. You can also follow me on twitter @DaveEttinger2 or like me on Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/DaveTalksSports. Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed it!

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One Liner Friday’s

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Hello and welcome to another edition of One Liner Friday’s. Here you will find the past week in sports wrapped up in one line and one line only. Enjoy!!

Mark my words: Everyone at the Open Championship needs to watch out for Tiger Woods.

I know I know, that’s a really hard prediction to make, but I’m making it because he has found a nice rhythm and he’s got the putter working (he doesn’t lose when he putts well).

That’s a scientific fact!

Anchorman anyone?

The MLB All-Star Game is the only one of the major sports that I look forward to not watching.

It can’t be an exhibition and mean something at the SAME TIME!!

The HomeRun Derby is still cool though.

Watching human beings (albeit human beings on massive amounts of growth hormones) hit baseballs 500 feet never gets old.

Yoenis Cespedes is a beast!!

For those of who didn’t watch the ESPY’S (like me), you need to check out Lebron James’ outfit:

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Umm excuse me Mr. usher, can you help me find my seat?

Whatever happened to the regular old black tux?

So little Johnny Manziel is getting drunk, getting arrested, and is in the process of ruining his future, it sounds like he’ll fit right in in the NFL.

But, whatever you do John, just remember that NOBODY CARES!!

A-Rod says he’ll be back on the Yankees on Monday, I want to believe him, I just don’t.

Oh you want a $25 million dollar contract?

But you don’t have any major injuries?

Oh no I’m sorry I can’t give you a contract unless at least one of your body parts is falling apart.

What’s that, you do have knees that are deteriorating, by all means then J.R. Smith, please sign right here.

Jaws must have been smoking that good stuff when he made is QB list because there is no way in hell that Matt Ryan is better than Drew Brees.

Lebron, Kobe, and Melo are not going to wind up on the same team.

That’s crazy, that would be like Iron Man, Thor, and The Hulk all teaming up to……..ahhh or maybe it could happen.

Does Kevin Garnett know that he’s going to have to coach the Nets while Jason Kidd is in jail??

I’d like to end on a serious note.

This year is the 20th anniversary of Jimmy V’s famous “Don’t give up, don’t ever give up” speech.

I’d just like to say that we should never take anything, anyone, or any day we have for granted because you never know when it’ll all be gone.

Cherish your lives every day, and appreciate the life that you have.

Thanks for reading and enjoy your weekend everybody!!

If you enjoy my writing, follow me over to intheneutralzone.com where I am a contributing author there as well. Also you can follow me on twitter @DaveEttinger2 or like me on Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/DaveTalksSports. Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed it!

Sports Highlights in One Liners

Who said the Yankees couldn’t score runs, or were too old, or Vernon Wells was a bum?

I think Tiger Woods looks good in green, don’t you?

Listen, Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, Mario Chalmers, and Ray Allen are all really really hurt, so just leave them alone; okay?

Sorry everyone my Knicks bandwagon is already full so please tuck and roll as I kick you all off one by one.

Man I’m really glad that Women’s College Basketball Championship game was close.

Kobe Bryant is good at basketball.

Bryce Harper is good at baseball.

The Miami Marlins should officially be moved to the Minor Leagues.

Anyone who says they’re not rooting for Tiger Woods (the golfer) is lying.

14 year old golf phenom Tianling Guan gets to play in the Masters, but hitting puberty would be a greater accomplishment.

Can someone text me Mike Rice’s telephone number, I want to have him over for dinner?

“So much for having a case of the Monday’s”
– Rick Pitino

Good for you if you know what movie that last line is from.

Cody Zeller is not ready for the NBA.

Neither is his buddy Victor Oladipo, but when the money’s there you gotta take it right?

NEWSFLASH: The NCAA is corrupt.

Why in the world does the Masters TV coverage start at 3 o’ clock in the afternoon?

I went to a fight and a baseball game broke out.

HEY KNICKS, when you get a lead you need to put the pedal to the metal, the game doesn’t end in the 3rd quarter!!

A +1 (73) by Tianling Guan in the opening round of the Masters is more impressive than you could possibly imagine.

If you enjoy my writing, follow me over to intheneutralzone.com where I am a contributing author there as well. Also you can follow me on twitter @DaveEttinger2 or like me on Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/DaveTalksSports. Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed it!

Sloppy Joes Anyone?

The New York Knicks can be described by a simple formula.  As long as the good outweighs the bad, it’s okay.  Wednesday night at the Detroit Pistons, there was plenty of bad but just enough good to win a basketball game.  On a night where Carmelo Anthony wasn’t able to suit up, the Knicks played a sloppy brand of basketball.  They had 20 TURNOVERS!!  For a team who only averages about 12 turnovers per game, that’s some pretty ugly stuff.  The majority of the turnovers were committed by Raymond Felton (he had 7).  Felton however, scored 26 points and was one of main reasons the Knicks beat the Pistons.  The final score was 87-77 as the Knicks were carried offensively by Felton, J.R. Smith, and Amar’e Stoudemire.  Collectively they scored 68 of the Knicks 87 points.  As you can tell by the turnover totals and the final score, this was a hard game to watch.  I think I actually fell asleep for 5 minutes or so in the middle of the game.  Hopefully tonight’s game will be a little more interesting and technically sound.  Tonight the New York Knickerbockers host Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder.  You can find this game on TNT at 8:00 P.M.  There are questions going around today about Carmelo’s health and whether or not he’ll play tonight.  I personally don’t think the Knicks have a chance to win this game either way, but Carmelo really needs to man up and get out there.  Everyone else can buy into his little “injury”, but I guarantee you he is not hurt.  He needs to grow up and start putting his team first.  Right now, the Knicks need to play every game like it’s their last, because seeding in the Eastern Conference is going to be crucial in the playoffs.  So Melo, even though I know you will never read this page, STOP BEING A BABY, RUB SOME DIRT ON YOUR KNEE AND GET OUT THERE!!  For those of you who are scratching your head as to why someone would rub some dirt on their knee, allow me to elaborate.  As a baseball player, when you get hit by a pitch, your teammates (whom are often road scholars) will tell you to rub some dirt on it and run to first base.  Anyway, Melo really needs to man up and take a page out of Kobe Bryant’s how to manual.  Kobe should clearly be Carmelo’s biggest role model.  Melo like Kobe is a shoot first All-Star.  The only difference (and by only I mean the 8 differences between Kobe and Melo) between Kobe and Melo is that Kobe has that life or death mentality ingrained inside of him.  Kobe is going to do anything and everything his team needs in order to win, including playing hurt, playing defense, and hustling from the opening tip until the final buzzer every night.  Carmelo needs to infuse those characteristics into his personality.  Then maybe other players, media, and fans won’t question his dedication when he misses a game with a questionable injury.

As for the game tonight against the Thunder, the Knicks need to go on one of their 3-point shooting rampages to have a chance to win.  I personally want to see the Knicks shoot less 3-pointers, but in a game without Carmelo Anthony, they need to get a huge game out of Amar’e and Chandler down low to open up the court for the outside shooters.  This is the only chance the Knicks have to beat the Thunder tonight.  And for the love of god, can Coach Woodson please stop fighting common sense and put Amar’e Stoudemire in the starting lineup.  I understand that he wants to keep Jason Kidd out of the starting lineup (and I agree with him there) and with Carmelo Anthony hurt he needs to find another starter, but James White AND Kurt Thomas are the answers to those questions?!?!  Coach Woodson is obviously confused.  At the beginning of the season, I liked what Woodson was doing.  The Knicks were playing defense and he had Melo giving it his all, but now Woodson just looks like an average coach that doesn’t know how to handle his roster.  The Knicks should hang tough in this game tonight because it’s at home, but I see the Thunder pulling ahead in the middle of the 4th quarter and winning by 10 points, 108-98.

If you enjoy my writing, follow me over to intheneutralzone.com where I am a contributing author there as well.  Also you can follow me on twitter @DaveEttinger2 or like me on Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/DaveTalksSports.  Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed it!

Top 10 NBA Basketball Players of All Time

With all of the talk surrounding Michael Jordan’s 50th birthday, it has inspired me to construct a list of the top 10 NBA players of all time.  This list will consider everything these players have accomplished up until the present day.  Since some players on this list are still currently playing, you must read this list as if the NBA were to cease to exist tomorrow.  Do not take into account the potential for what current players may still accomplish, as that would create a bias.  Since the association officially became the NBA (National Basketball Association) in 1949, there have been a host of amazing players to grace the hardwood.  However, there are always a small group of living legends that stand out from the rest.  Why do they stand out?  What makes them the best?  It is a combination of their physical skills, their ability to win, and their intangibles (such as heart, leadership, and will to win).  I will take all of these factors in to account.  Essentially I will be looking at the complete makeup of each player and what made/makes them an all time great.  So, without further a due, here are the top 10 NBA players of all time in order.  Let the debate continue.

I must start this list with the honorable mentions.  These men showed signs of greatness throughout their entire career, however they simply were outplayed by the 10 legends who made this coveted list.  We must pay homage to the men just outside of the top 10, for the game is where it is thanks to their contributions as well.  Here they are:  Hakeem Olajuwon, Lebron James, Elgin Baylor, Jerry West, Julius Erving, Karl Malone, and John Stockton.  Hakeem is #11 on my list by the slightest of margins.  Hakeem “The Dream” had the smoothest game for a center the game has ever seen.  Combine that with tenacious defense and you have one of the greatest players of all time.  Lebron James is #12 on my list.  Lebron when it’s all said and done will be undoubtedly be in the top 5 of all time.  He is a unique talent and if he can continue to pile on Championships and MVP’s could find himself in the top 3 players to ever play in the NBA.  Elgin Baylor, Karl Malone, and John Stockton fall into the same category in my mind.  If you never won a Championship you can’t be on the list.  Sorry.  The Mailman is the 2nd leading scorer in NBA history and his longevity was unmatched, however he had the unfortunate pleasure of playing during the MJ era.  Elgin Baylor was one of the most talented players to ever play the game, however was also very unlucky to play in the time of Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain.  Baylor made 8 NBA Finals appearances and came away empty handed every time.  Stockton is the NBA’s all time assists leader (and 2nd place is not even close), however the combination of Stockton and Malone that was so much fun to watch never could get past that Michael Jordan guy.  Dr. J would have been on this list if he hadn’t played 5 seasons in the ABA.  He did win 3 Championships in the ABA, but this is an NBA only list.  He was another innovator to the game and should not be overlooked when discussing the greatest players to ever play.    Lastly, Jerry West played along side Elgin Baylor for quite some time, but was fortunate enough to finally win a Championship in 1972.  He certainly will never be forgotten, I mean he is the NBA’s logo.  Now, here are the top 10 NBA players of all time:

 

10.)Tim Duncan (Timmy)

Currently in his 16th NBA Season – 20.2 points, 11.2 rebounds, 2.2 blocks, 50.7 FG%, 69.1 FT%

This was by far the most difficult decision I had in putting together this list.  I found myself trying to decide between the careers of Tim Duncan, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Lebron James for the 10th and final spot on this list.  At the end of the day, the hardware speaks loudest.  Tim Duncan has very quietly had one of the most impressive careers in NBA history.  He is without question the best power forward to ever play the game (sorry Karl), and his nickname should probably be “The Bank”.  Have you ever seen anyone shoot a better more effective jump shot off the backboard than Tim Duncan?  Even if he didn’t dominate physically or find himself on highlight reels with flashy moves or dunks, Tim Duncan found a way to win consistently.  He won 4 NBA Championships, 2 MVP’s, and 3 NBA Final’s MVP, s.  He also won the Rookie of the Year, of course.  Oh yeah, I almost forgot yet another facet of his game that attributes to his greatness.  Timmy is one of the best defenders at his position in the history of the NBA.  He is the most soft spoken champion the game has ever seen.

 

9.)Shaquille O’Neal (Shaq, The Diesel, Shaq Fu, Shaq Daddy, Superman)


19 NBA Seasons – 23.7 points, 10.9 rebounds, 2.3 blocks, 58.2 FG%, 52.7 FT%

The Diesel.  Enough said?  I think his nicknames speak for themselves.  Shaq was the most dominant basketball player the world had seen since Wilt Chamberlain.  Only Shaq was easily the most physically dominating force the NBA ever produced.  He was like an unstoppable wrecking ball that could only be slowed (or fouled), but couldn’t be stopped.  Watching Shaq play in his prime was something special.  He showed an amazing amount of offensive skills with a basketball for a man of his size.  He also won a few games along the way too.  He won 4 NBA Championships,  1 MVP, and 3 NBA Finals MVP’s.  It is also no surprise that he won Rookie of the Year as well.  I personally like Shaq more than Kobe, but Kobe gets the edge because he accomplished slightly more in his career than Shaq.

 

8.)Kobe Bryant (Black Mamba)

Currently in his 17th NBA Season – 25.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 45.3 FG%, 83.8 FT%

While there will only be one Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant has been the closest thing the NBA has seen since MJ retired.  Kobe Bryant is as talented a scorer as the NBA has ever seen, and he has been one of the best on ball defenders in the NBA since he stormed his way into the league.  And his desire to win and cutthroat attitude is unmatched.  He has always cared about one thing and one thing only; winning.  He has done plenty of that, winning 5 NBA Championships, 1 MVP, and 2 NBA Finals MVP’s.  Another one of the more difficult decisions on this list was deciding who had a more accomplished career, Shaq or Kobe.  They may hate each other and not want to sit next to each other in real life ever again, but they are forced to sit next to each other today, on this list.

 

7.)Oscar Robertson (The Big O)

14 NBA Seasons – 25.7 points, 7.5 rebounds, 9.5 assists, 48.5 FG%, 83.8 FT%

When it comes to the legacy of Oscar Robertson, his numbers speak for themselves.  Oscar is the only player in NBA history to average a triple double for an entire season.  He is also the all time leader in triple doubles with 181.  That is a record that will probably never be broken.  Oscar Robertson, at only 6’5″ had the most well rounded offensive game the NBA has ever seen.  He is the most unfortunate soul in the history of the NBA though (him and Elgin Baylor), having played at the same time as Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell.  If it wasn’t for them, Robertson surely would have added some more hardware to his trophy case.  He still managed to win 1 NBA Championship, 1 MVP, and the Rookie of the Year.

 

6.)Bill Russell (Bill)

13 NBA Seasons – 15.1 points, 22.5 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 44 FG%, 56.1 FT%

Bill Russell will always be known as the ultimate winner.  He was part of the Boston Celtics teams of the 1950’s and 60’s that won 11 championships in a span of 13 seasons.  While he played with some great teammates over the years, he is regarded as the best defensive center of all time.  He is also one of the best rebounders in the history of the game.  It was mainly Russell’s intangibles, such as his leadership that made him stand out.  During Russell’s era they didn’t keep track of NBA Final’s MVP’s, however after the proper research I can safely say he would have won 4 NBA Final’s MVP’s.  In a time where Wilt Chamberlain dominated the NBA physically, it goes to show just how impressive Bill Russell’s Celtics reign as NBA Champions was.

 

5.)Larry Bird (The Hick From French Lick)

13 NBA Seasons – 24.3 points, 10 rebounds, 6.3 assists, 49.6 FG%, 88.6 FT%

Larry Bird led the Boston Celtics to 3 NBA Championships in the 1980’s.  One of the most exciting times in the history of the NBA was the rivalry between Magic and Bird.  Larry Bird is regarded as one the best shooters and players in NBA history.  His heart and competitive spirit willed his team to victory over and over again.  Bird won 3 MVP’s, 2 Finals MVP’s, and Rookie of the Year during his career.  Bird had one of the most impressive all around games the NBA has ever seen.  He is the only player in NBA history to have career averages of at least 20 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 assists.  He is also probably the most underrated defender the NBA has ever seen.  He possessed the unbelievable ability to shut down the opponents best offensive player, and his anticipation on the court was unmatched.  Just like Magic and MJ, it is a shame Bird dealt with chronic back problems late in his career (he averaged over 20 points a game in the last season of his career), for if he hadn’t he could have added to his already stellar accomplishments.

 

4.)Wilt Chamberlain (Wilt The Stilt)

14 NBA Seasons – 30.1 points, 22.9 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 54 FG%, 51.1 FT%

One of the most difficult decisions I had to make on this list was Kareem vs. Wilt.  It is nearly impossible to definitively state who the best center in the history of the NBA was.  Wilt Chamberlain was one of the most dominant forces in NBA history.  He famously holds the record for most points scored in one game (100), a record I doubt will EVER be broken.  Chamberlain even averaged over 50 points for an entire season, another feat that will most likely never be accomplished (a season where he didn’t even win the NBA MVP).  It’s a shame that MVP’s were usually given to a player on the best team or a member of the championship team, because no one knows how many MVP’s Wilt could have won if the award was given appropriately.  Even with that obstacle, Wilt still managed 4 MVP awards, 2 NBA Championships, and 1 NBA Finals MVP.  Wilt was also one of those players who burst right on to the scene, winning the Rookie of the Year award.  It is difficult to place Wilt correctly on this list due to the difference of playing era and level of competition, however I guarantee if you put Wilt in the NBA today, he would still be the best center in the league (sorry Dwight).  Oh yeah, and as if all those statistics aren’t impressive enough, Wilt led the NBA in total assists for an entire season!!

 

3.)Kareem Abdul Jabbar (Cap)

20 NBA Seasons – 24.6 points, 11.2 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 2.6 blocks, 55.9 FG%, 72.1 FT%

Kareem Abdul Jabbar was the centerpiece that the Lakers championships of the 1980’s were built around.  He was part of their 5 championship titles in the 80’s.  He also won a title with the Milwaukee Bucks prior to playing with the Lakers.  Kareem was the league’s MVP a record breaking 6 times, he won 6 NBA Championships while being named Finals MVP twice.  He was a true innovator to the game of basketball.  During his career, he perfected an unstoppable move called the sky hook and it helped him become the NBA’s all time leading scorer.  Kareem was a star from the second he entered the league and was named the Rookie of the Year (averaging 28.8 points and 14.4 rebounds).  Out of the long list of Kareem’s accolades, I find a center shooting over 72% from the free throw line most impressive.  He was an outstanding all around player, showcasing his offensive and defensive skills throughout his entire 20 year career.

 

2.) Earvin Johnson (Magic)

12 NBA Seasons – 19.5 points, 7.2 rebounds, 11.2 assists, 52 FG%, 84.8 FT %

As the leader of the “Showtime” Lakers, Magic Johnson reinvented the fast break.  He was an innovative player who revolutionized the point guard position.  At 6’9” tall, Magic was a nightmare match-up for anyone who tried to guard him.  Well, they didn’t guard him they only slowed him down, sometimes.  Larry Bird was his most formidable opponent , but as we all know the Lakers got the better of that rivalry.  He brought power forward size and strength to the point guard position (and he even played center in an NBA Finals when necessary), and he is second all time (to Oscar Robertson) in career games with a triple double (138).  It is a tragedy that Magic’s career was cut short due to his battle with HIV.  Magic won 5 championships, 3 MVP, s, and 3 Final’s MVP’s in just 12 short seasons.  Just like Jordan, one can only imagine what he would have accomplished if he played another 4 or 5 seasons.

 

1.) Michael Jordan (MJ, Air Jordan)

15 NBA Seasons – 30.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 49.7 FG %, and 83.5 FT%

What can be said about Michael Jordan that hasn’t been said already?  Michael Jordan is hands down the greatest basketball player to ever walk the face of the planet.  He won 6 NBA Championships, 5 MVP’s, and 6 NBA Finals MVP’s.  Jordan won the rookie of the year award, he was a one-time defensive player of the year, and regarded as the best defender at his position in the history of the NBA.  One of the most impressive feats Michael ever pulled off was he was a perfect 6 for 6 in Finals appearances, and he NEVER allowed an NBA Finals series to reach a decisive 7th game.  If that is not the epitome of greatness; I don’t know what is.  What you also have to remember is that Jordan retired TWICE in his prime, which caused him to miss nearly five full seasons.  Just imagine if he never retired and played straight through the age of 40 (where he averaged over 20 points).  I think it’s fair to say he would have won at least 2 more MVP’s and 2 more titles.  All others can strive to Be Like Mike, but there will always be only one Michael Jordan.

Lakers Owner Jerry Buss Passes Away, at 80

I wanted to take time out of my day to pay respects to the late Jerry Buss.  Jerry passed away yesterday, February 18th.  He was 80 years old.  Buss hadn’t been able to attend any Lakers games this season due to health complications.  It turns out that he had been battling an undisclosed type of cancer since early 2012.  My condolences goes out to the entire Buss family, as I know how difficult losing a loved one can be.  Jerry Buss had been the Owner of the Los Angeles Lakers since 1979.  During his tenure with The Lakers, they made 16 trips to the NBA Finals winning 10 Championships.  His winning ways spanned across five decades, and his teams included some of basketball’s all-time greats.  Most notably: Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Kobe Bryant, and Shaquille O’ Neal.  Jerry Buss was a great owner and was an innovator in the sports world.  Rest In Peace Jerry Buss.  The Lakers will play in your honor for years to come.  

NBA All-Star Weekend(best by default)

The entire All-Star weekend can be summed up in one word, Blah.  It is the best All-Star festivities of all the major sports, but it’s the best by default.  The game itself is what it is, and I don’t expect that to change much in the future.  It is a fun way for the NBA’s best to showcase their skills.  The rest of the world had the pleasure of learning what some of us have known for about a year now, that Kyrie Irving is an exceptional talent.  In two or three years, we will all be talking about Chris Paul and Kyrie Irving as the top point guards in the NBA.  On a side note, everyone can stop talking about Lebron returning to Cleveland to team up with Kyrie, it’s not going to happen.  I watched most of the events this weekend, but I watched simply because it was the only thing on television.  I understand that All-Star weekend is meant for fun, but it needs to be revamped.  It needs to regain it’s oomph.  Yeah, I used the word oomph.  The event with the most room for improvement is definitely the Slam Dunk Contest.  I hope someone from the NBA catches wind of this article and takes the advice I’m about to give (for free).  I spoke to this issue in my preview of the All-Star weekend, but the Slam Dunk Contest needs to be changed drastically.  Literally the only part they’ve gotten right is that the players compete for a charity.  Other than that, the event is a disaster.  I think we can all agree we want to see the premier leapers and dunkers in the game in the contest.  Everyone knows who I’m talking about (cough, Lebron, cough).  The question is how do we get these Superstars to enter the dunk contest?  We all know that money isn’t the answer(lord knows Lebron makes enough of that).  Apparently it isn’t enough of an honor for them to do it willingly.  So, how do we get the best players in the NBA to compete in the lowly dunk contest?  The answer is to call them out; plain and simple.  All the commentators and former players who have transformed into media personnel can joke about how scared Lebron is to fail, but what eats away at a self conscience Superstar like “King” James more than anything else?  You need to tell him he can’t do it.  What inspires athletes to succeed more than adversity?  The answer to that would be nothing.  You must also convince him that it really matters.  You must convince him that it’s another notch that must be added to his belt of career achievements.  And who must implore him and the other great leapers of the world to compete?  None other than the man they all idolized as a kid, Michael “Air” Jordan.  You all saw how quickly Lebron reacted when MJ told everyone he’d take Kobe over him any day of the week.  I think it’s that simple.  All the fans want is a better show.  They want the guys they know can come up with new and innovative dunks to show off on the big stage.  With a new and improved approach to All-Star Weekend, the NBA’s superstars are the only ones who can revive this special event.  By the way, they really need to put a limit on the number of dunk attempts each contestant gets.  A minute and a half is way too long to watch some no name try the same dunk over and over and over again (and they don’t get penalized for missing 1, 789 attempts before finally throwing it down).  As the panel of Shaq, Charles, Kenny the Jet, and C Webb said, “We’ll call it the Birdman Rule.”  All we want to see is the dunk contest come back to it’s original form.  Will there be a savior or will it head toward extinction like the Pro Bowl?

The Los Angeles Lakers….Oh how the mighty have fallen

So I have this friend that is a “Big” Lakers fan.  You know the type, they talk all kinds of smack when they’re great, and they try to explain to you how they knew this was going to happen now that they’re spiraling out of control.  He’s the type of fan that probably hopped on the Lakers bandwagon around the turn of the century, you know when Shaq was still there and they started winning consecutive titles again.  So rewind to before the preseason even started, and let me recap what this “fan” had to say.  “Dude, there is no way the Lakers aren’t going to win the title this year”.  “Did you see that picture of our starting five?”  Yeah, well that “all-star” caliber starting lineup has only played 132 minutes together so far this season.  How’s that working out for you?  I’m here to tell you who’s to blame for this train wreck, and that their season, while it has been a disaster so far is not completely lost yet.  Any major problem you have in an organization, a business, or even your own family always starts at the top.  Let me see how I can say this without having a potty mouth, ummmm, okay got it: “poo doesn’t travel uphill.”  The problems in a family don’t start with the kids, they start with the parents.  The problems with a business don’t start with the $12/hour employee, they start with the owner(s).  So, why would the dysfunction that is the Lakers have started with the players?  It obviously started with ownership and upper management and trickled down to the coach and finally has effected the players negatively.  So when you watch the Lakers struggle on both ends of the floor, you can’t blame Kobe Bryant, and you can’t even blame Dwight Howard.  For the root of the Lakers struggles let’s look up, first at Jerry Buss.  Yes, I said Jerry Buss.  Who is that is ruining one of the greatest franchises in sports history?  That would be Jim Buss.  And, who is it that made Jim Buss Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations for the Lakers?  Yes! You are correct again, that would Jerry Buss.  I’m tired of these ultra wealthy business men whom mostly created their multi-million dollar businesses on nothing but hard work and a brilliant idea, just handing over their fortunes to their self-entitled kids.  Our kids don’t always turn out to be carbon copies of the best form of ourselves(as much as we want them to).  Just because daddy was a great entrepreneur and knew how to run one of the most successful sports franchises of all time, doesn’t mean little Jimmy Buss can follow suit.  With that being said, and now that Jim Buss is making decisions in Los Angeles, we can all point our fingers at him.  Jim Buss decided this past November to hire Mike D’Antoni, not Phil Jackson.  I know that all of you reading this already knew that but let me write that again.  HE HIRED MIKE D’ANTONI OVER PHIL JACKSON!  So as hard as it was to get past that, let’s get past that.  Now am I saying that the Lakers would be 25-17 instead of 17-25?  Most of you might say no, but I’d say uh, yeah maybe they would be.  We are talking about PHIL JACKSON HERE!  He’s one of if not THE greatest coach of all time.  Again, we can’t change the past so let’s analyze the present.  Let’s keep playing the blame game(I don’t know about you, but I’m having fun with this)and all point our fingers at Mike D’Antoni.  Mike D’Antoni is not the answer for the Lakers.  With that being said, I don’t know if Mike D’Antoni is the answer for anyone in the NBA.  His style of coaching, if you can call it that, just doesn’t win championships.  See, this is isn’t the Minnesota Timberwolves who were content just getting to the Conference Finals.  The Lakers are like the Yankees, it’s championship or bust.  Everyone is asking if the players should be adjusting to their coach or if the coach should adapt to the players on his roster?  This is a very dumb rhetorical question if you ask me.  Obviously, the answer is the coach must tweak his coaching “system” to fit the players on his roster.  Players in the NBA are who they are.  That mind sound vague or confusing, but it’s true.  You can’t ask Kobe Bryant to lock down the other teams best player and then score 30 points on 65% shooting every night.  As great as he still is, he’s not 24 anymore.  You also can’t expect Steve Nash and the rest of these three toed sloths to sprint down the floor and play at a pace that’s better fit for an Olympic track.  No disrespect to Steve Nash, Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard, and that guy who changed his name to the most outrageous thing I’ve ever heard, but they are just too old and too slow to play at this frenetic pace.  That’s like taking a 1988 Pontiac station wagon out to the race track and expecting to blow by people on your way to the checkered flag.  It just doesn’t work like that.  Now, like I said earlier, I don’t believe D’Antoni is the answer in L.A., but I don’t see the Lakers firing another coach mid-season and carrying anymore extra payroll.  So it looks like they’re stuck with D’Antoni, for now.  I read an exchange between Grantland’s Zach Lowe and Bill Simmons last night.  It was actually pretty interesting.  They were pretty much saying how D’Antoni is so stubborn, he’d rather go down with the ship then try to adjust his own style.  Here is an excerpt from Bill Simmons:”He’s basically saying, I’m here only because of my system.  I can’t actually coach.  If you give me the wrong players for my system, it doesn’t matter – I will keep using the system anyway, because Plan B would be coming up with a more inventive way to coach these guys.  And I can’t do that.  I’m not good enough.  So if it’s OK with you, I’d like to go down in flames with my system.”  Personally I think he is spot on with what should be going through D’Antoni’s head.  I’m sure he’s already gone through this kind of inner conflict, when he was the coach of the Knicks.  If only someone in the Lakers organization had sat down Jim Buss, taped his eyes open so he couldn’t look away, and forced him to watch the first half the Knicks 2011-2012 season, they might not be in this predicament.  This is like a horrible remake of an already horrible movie.  We all know how it’s going to end.  So now that we’ve established the chain of command that put this in motion, let’s talk about the players on the floor.  Everyone is also trying to blame Kobe Bryant for the Lakers troubles.  To those critics I say, are you out of your mind?  Kobe Bryant is 34 and is having another phenomenal season.  Also, to the critics who try to call Kobe a selfish player, he is in a system that asks him to shoot as many times as possible.  People are also trying to blame Dwight Howard for their struggles.  Yes, he’s having a down season compared to his own standards, but he’s still averaging 16.7 points, 12 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game.  Man, what horrible numbers, especially on a team that has Kobe Bryant shooting as many shots as humanly possible.  What also boggles my mind is why Dwight Howard has been playing through an injury that is obviously affecting his play.  They should have rested him until he was 100% or as close to 100% as he can get before playing him.  Dwight Howard can become a free agent at the end of this season, so the Lakers should be doing everything in their power to keep him healthy, happy, and in purple and gold next season and many more seasons to come.  Now on to Pau Gasol.  He is a special talent, and can be a key component to a championship caliber team.  Don’t believe me?  Just check Gasol’s numbers and minutes from their last two championships.  This, just like every other players struggles can be attributed to one person, Mike D’Antoni.  Which leads me to another great point that Bill Simmons made yesterday, he said: “I’m glad we finally got to Pau.  Here’s a good rule of thumb: If you’re a professional basketball coach and your system is telling you, “I should play Early Clark more than Pau Gasol,” you need a new system.”  I couldn’t really come up with a better way to say that, so I let him say it for me.  Thanks Bill.  In closing, if you ask me what the solution is, you have to do what no one in the world would do, fire D’Antoni, and hire a 3rd coach in a single season.  From a purely wins and losses perspective, this is the only move Jim Buss should be thinking about.  Unfortunately we all know that owning a sports team is strictly a business venture for 99.9% of owners, and he’s not going to come out of pocket to hire a 3rd(even if it would be the right one, cough, The Zen Master, cough)coach.  Little Jimmy is probably upset that Phil’s setting up shop with his little sis.  Resentment is an ugly character trait, Jim.  Especially when it aids in your own self-sabotage.  The other fix I would make is to play to Kobe, Pau, and Nash’s strengths.  And that is to let Nash orchestrate the offense like he knows how, while favoring the Kobe side of the floor slightly in each possession.  Let Dwight Howard get healthy, and I’m sure you’ll see the production we’ve all been expecting.  Now as for Pau, get him the damn ball inside the post!  He’s a great passer for a big man so even he can find Dwight Howard from there.  And most importantly he is a great low-post player, stop forcing him to shoot 18 footers.  If you take time to look at his numbers, you’ll see that they are far better when he is inside the paint opposed to outside roaming the earth, like Quentin Richardson in that old D’Antoni Pheonix system.  How dumb are the Knicks by the way(says the Knicks fan)?  Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me, and fool me 3 times, well I don’t know what you call that.  The D’Antoni “system” got us with Quentin Richardson, Amare Stoudamire, and then Mike D’Antoni!!  Really?!?!?  Come on Man(said in a Keyshawn Johnson voice)!  Finally, let Ron/Metta I’m not calling him that scare the other teams best player into submission.  Or play physical, whichever way you want to go with it.  The Metta guy isn’t what he used to be either, but if he stops expending energy on the offensive end and focuses all his efforts to the defensive end, they might have a recipe for success.  Back to reality we go, the Lakers need to win between 25 and 29 games to have a shot at the playoffs.  Is it likely? No.  But, I’m telling you there is a chance.

Kobe and Lebron

Originally posted on : 1/18/13 @ 3:10 P.M.

So, I was listening to 98.7 FM this morning on my way to work, and they were talking about Kobe Bryant and Lebron James.  This inspired me to chime in on this debate.  Kobe Vs Lebron.  Who is better?   Now, they were asking two different questions.  Who is better now, and who was better at the time they reached the 20,000 point milestone.  Now the first question is a simple fact.  Lebron is clearly better now.  NO disrespect meant to Kobe, because he is a first ballot hall of famer and top 10 player of all time no questions asked.  However, Lebron James is clearly the best basketball player on the planet right now.  Kobe had his prime and his time, but Lebron is clearly #1.  This is coming from someone who personally doesn’t care all that much for Lebron by the way.  Now, on to question number 2.  Kobe in his prime was something special.  No matter what generation you are from, you can count on 1 hand how many guys could take over a game like Kobe while at the same time lock down the other teams best offensive player.  By now I would think that anyone who knows sports knows that Kobe’s heart, killer instinct, and closing abilities are unquestioned.  Especially in a conversation against Lebron James, a guy who runs away from the ball when the clock is running toward all 0’s.  Lebron, yes, as we all know is a “freak” of nature.  No one compares to him as a physical specimen because let’s face it you’re not supposed to be able to jump that high and run that fast at his size.  Most of us I would think would have a hard time walking and dribbling at the same time at 6’8″, 255 lbs.  But, I don’t live in the world of the knee-jerk reaction to everything.  Lebron’s greatness hasn’t been instantaneous.  Just because he hit 20,000 points it doesn’t mean he magically became better than Kobe overnight or should be put in the same sentence as MJ, yet.  He’s been a special talent since anyone who matters first heard his name, and he’ll be one of the best of all time when it’s all said and done.  But, let’s give Kobe credit where credit’s due.  Lebron can guard 4 positions at any time but isn’t the defender Kobe was, yet.  Lebron is a better passer and rebounder as well, but all of these things don’t change the most important part of the discussion.  WINS.  I’ll take Kobe’s heart and rings over Lebron’s five tools, for now.  Call me in 5 years and you want to compare them at the 30,000 points, and I’m sure my answer will be very different.