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:

shaq

 

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’.

history_summary_russell

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.

tim duncan

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.

kobe

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!

Championship Weekend Is Upon Us

championship weekend

Something spectacular is about to happen.  After four grueling months, only four of the NFL’s best teams remain.  And with the Lombardi Trophy in their grasp, it is going to take an incredible feat, by a still unknown hero, to earn a trip to Glendale, Arizona and an appearance in Super Bowl XLIX.  We could see the ‘passing of the torch’ from a hall of fame quarterback to a future hall of famer.  Or we could see an opportunity for the first back-to-back championships in 10 years.  No matter what happens, history is about to be made.  I think we are going to witness two unbelievable football games, and I wouldn’t be surprised by any outcome, so sit back, relax, and enjoy the show!

NFC Championship

Green Bay Packers vs. *Seattle Seahawks – Sunday @ 3:05 P.M. (FOX)

* – Indicates Home Team

The Packers and Seahawks will meet for the second time this season in the NFC Championship.  The first meeting didn’t go so well for the Packers, as they were blown out 36-16 in Week 1.  Revenge should play a slight factor, but the outcome of this game rests primarily on the calf of Aaron Rodgers.  If he is healthy enough to keep the Seahawks’ tenacious defense in check, they have a shot, however, if he is only 70% of himself, the Packers are in for a long afternoon.  Another key to this game is Marshawn Lynch versus the Packers run defense.  The Packers were 23rd in the league in rushing yards allowed this season (119.9 ypg), while the Seahawks were the number one rushing team (172.6 ypg).  Despite all the evidence to support a Seahawks victory, I think Aaron Rodgers is going to give us one of the grittiest performances we’ve ever seen.  Also, expect Jordy Nelson to wake up after a lackluster performance in the Divisional Round, and show Richard Sherman a thing or two.  Home/Road splits be damned.  Give me the Packers, in the upset, squeezing out a 1 point victory.

Prediction: Packers 28 – Seahawks 27 

AFC Championship

Indianapolis Colts vs. *New England Patriots – Sunday @ 6:40 P.M. (CBS)

* – Indicates Home Team

Oh Bill Belichick, as much as I dislike your sweatshirt and your general attitude towards everyone, I have to give you credit.  You are the best coach in the NFL.  You and Tom Brady are Greg Popovich and Tim Duncan.  Thirteen years have gone by, you haven’t aged, your productivity is still top notch, and just when everyone counts you out, you remind them why you’re still the best.  I guess cranky, surly head coach plus humble superstar is a decent combination.  I digress.  Just like the NFC, the AFC Championship is a repeat matchup of a lopsided affair (NE 42 – Indy 20) from earlier in the year.  You will remember, however, that was the game where Jonas Gray ran for 201 yards and 4 touchdowns, so expect this Sunday’s game to be a lot closer.  Andrew Luck’s game also took another step forward this season, as he led the league in touchdowns, but Luck will need to come up with a performance for the ages if the Colts are going to take down Goliath.  The other key to this game will be limiting “The Gronk”.  He can’t be stopped completely, but if the Colts can keep him out of the end zone, that’ll give them a fighting chance.  Unfortunately for all of us bitter Jets fans out there, I expect Tom Brady and the Patriots to make their 6th Super Bowl appearance in 14 years.

Prediction: Patriots 31 – Colts 28

Who do you have in this year’s Super Bowl??  Let me know in the comment section below.

Since 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!

Heat Steal Overtime Thriller

If you fell asleep before the end of this game last night, I feel bad for you. It was one of the best basketball games that has ever been played. The San Antonio Spurs came into Miami with the momentum from a solid victory in game 5 and they looked like they were well on their way to another championship. They outplayed the Heat for the first 3 quarters and all they had to do was play 12 more solid minutes of basketball and the championship was theirs. And then, seemingly in a blink of an eye, someone knocked off Lebron James’ headband and knocked some sense into his head. He flipped that switch that everyone in the world (other than himself apparently) knows he can. He physically took over the game at both ends of the floor and singlehandedly brought his team back from the brink of elimination. I don’t care what Lebron’s final stat line turned out to be though, he did not play well until the 4th quarter. Now, despite his dominating play in the 4th quarter, the Heat still found themselves down 5 points with under 30 seconds to play. While the 2nd to last minute of the game was filled with Heat mistakes, the last minute (and overtime) was filled with Spurs mistakes. And Gregg Popovich deserves the majority of the blame for these blunders. Yes, Manu Ginobili and Kawhi Leonard both missed free throws down the stretch, but it was the benching of Tim Duncan and Tony Parker at the most inopportune times that will stick in my mind. For those of you who missed the end of the game let me give you a quick rundown of what I’m talking about. The Spurs were up 4 points with 28 seconds left in regulation and Manu Ginobili was heading to the free throw line. He had the opportunity to put the game nearly out of reach. Instead, he misses the first free throw and makes the second. Then after a Heat timeout, Tim Duncan was left on the bench for Boris Diaw. On the ensuing possession Lebron misses a 3-pointer but Mike Miller grabs the offensive rebound, swings it back out to James, and bang he nails the shot. Would Duncan have gotten that defensive rebound if he was in the game? There is no guarantee, but I would have bet money on it. Now, down 2, the Heat send Kawhi Leonard to the free throw line on a phantom foul by Mike Miller. He follows in Ginobili’s footsteps and proceeds to miss the first and make the second free throw. Inexplicably, Popovich decides to take Duncan out of the game AGAIN. This obviously leads to yet another offensive rebound by the Heat, which in turn leads to the game tying 3-pointer by Ray Allen. Popovich may be one of the greatest coaches of all time, but how do you explain these tactical errors?

Now what occurred immediately following Allen’s monumental 3-pointer is the fact that the game was stopped to review whether the shot was in fact a 3-pointer. No one is talking about this today, and this angers me to a level that I don’t have a word for, and Popovich was pretty livid with the referees as well. As seen in overtime, Popovich likes to take the ball and push it (off makes or misses) in hopes to catch the defense off guard for an easy basket. He will do this no matter the situation, and if the Spurs were able to inbound the ball and push it right away no one knows what could have happened. The game was stopped and while the Spurs did get time to set up a play, so did the Heat’s defense. In turn, the final possession in regulation failed miserably and it was off to overtime we went. I’ll fast forward to the last 31 seconds because that’s where it gets interesting. The Spurs were down by one and Gregg Popovich, for no sane reason, decides to take Tony Parker out of the game. Common sense would dictate, and even the commentators mentioned that Popovich would most likely be bringing Parker back into the game on the next timeout. So, the Heat miss their shot attempt and the Spurs grab the rebound with just under 10 seconds to play. Instead of calling a timeout to bring Parker back in and set up a play, the Spurs decide to push the ball up the floor. Manu Ginobili (who played one of the worst games you’ll ever see) tries to drive the lane against 3 Heat players and gets stripped/fouled and the ball lands in Ray Allen’s hands. Allen is fouled with 1.9 seconds left on the clock and knocks down both free throws (of course). The Spurs then call a timeout to push the ball past half court. With one final effort, Tim Duncan inbounds the ball across the court to Danny Green who is blocked/fouled by Chris Bosh as time expires. The Heat force a game 7 in dramatic fashion, and if it is anything like game 6 it will not disappoint.

The big question at this moment is: how can the Spurs possibly bounce back from a crushing defeat to win game 7 on the road? It is a tough question to answer, but I believe if any team can do it, it would be this years Spurs. They have shown their resiliency in this series, always bouncing right back immediately following a defeat. Tim Duncan will need to use his two greatest inventions to do it though; his time machine and his cloning machine. In order for the Spurs to win game 7, Tim Duncan needs to play like he did back in 2003, and he needs to clone himself from the first half of game 6. Duncan was masterful in the first half, scoring at will and putting on a rebounding clinic. Duncan took Chris Bosh to school last night, dominating him in every aspect of the game. It is so impressive to watch Duncan play at such a high level after so many years, and Chris Bosh is no match for Duncan’s greatness in the low post. The Spurs could also use a slightly better effort from Manu Ginobili if they plan on celebrating on Miami’s home court Thursday night. But the most important task for the Spurs in game 7, is to contain Lebron James. Lebron continues to move from the most important game of his career to the most important game of his career. He should look to take control early as he did in last night’s 4th quarter. However, I’m sure the Spurs would love to see him come out flat again with 9 points in the first half. Think about that, Lebron scored 9 points on 3-12 shooting in the first half. That’s horrible! And while Boris Diaw and Kawhi Leonard deserve all the credit in the world for their defensive job on Lebron, no one should hold him to those kind of numbers, ever.

Game 7 should be another epic chapter in the history of the NBA. Take a nap Thursday afternoon, throw water on your face at halftime, or drink 3 coffees and red bull because you won’t want to miss this game. Tune into game 7 on ABC at 9:00 p.m. to catch all the action. Oh, you want a prediction? How could I forget? I would love for the Spurs to win, but I see the Heat winning a tight one; 99-96. I have my fingers crossed right now (yes I’m typing) and I’ll be on the edge of my seat rooting for the Spurs Thursday night, but that’s how I see it going down. Enjoy! Leave your predictions below in the comment section.

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!

Complete And Utter Domination

Have you ever seen a game where the score didn’t fully reflect how the game went? Well, that was what happened last night. The crazy thing about that is the 36-point whooping (113-77) the Spurs laid on the Heat didn’t do the Spurs performance justice. The only reason the Spurs didn’t win by 50 was because of Mike Miller and his 5 3-pointers. Miller is now 8-8 in the last 2 games and hasn’t missed a 3-point attempt since Game 1. There wasn’t one aspect of this game that the Spurs didn’t dominate. Their swarming defense created 16 turnovers while holding the almighty Lebron James to a measly 16 points on 7-21 shooting. The most amazing statistic from this game was that Lebron did not make 1 trip to the free throw line the entire game. The Spurs dared James as well as his buddies Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade to shoot the ball. They backed off the ball and crowded the paint. This forced James to shoot outside shots all night. So much for an improved jump shot, huh?

While the Spurs obviously benefited from Danny Green and Gary Neal’s performances, Gregg Popovich should receive most of the credit for this victory. He implemented a game plan that he knew would work. He figured the Heat can not beat them if they keep their entire roster at least 15 feet from the basket at all times. It was almost like their was an invisible barricade keeping the Heat from getting to the basket. This is a recipe for success against the Heat. Kawhi Leonard also deserves a lot of credit for the job he has done defensively against James. James has been bad in this series, and a lot of it has to do with Leonard’s defense. Side note: don’t sleep on Kawhi Leonard. He is going to be one of the best two way players in the NBA in 2 years if he continues to improve his offensive repertoire. Anyway, everyone else can feel bad for the over analyzation of Lebron James, but not me. When you are supposed to be the second coming of Michael Jordan and you are now being mentioned in the same breath as MJ, you deserve all the scrutiny that is thrown your way. Fans, analysts, and people alike can talk about James’ supporting cast and their struggles, but at the end of the day it comes down to Lebron James and what he needs to do to win. If you want to be the best ever, you better show up and get it done when the lights are at their brightest. Everyone else can also stay on that Lebron James is clutch bandwagon, but not me. What, because he hit a layup in the regular season against the Orlando Magic to extend their winning streak and a wide open layup against the Pacers in the playoffs he’s all of a sudden clutch? Nope. What Lebron needs to do is physically impose his will and takeover these games. I just don’t think the combination of Duncan, Parker, Ginobli, and Popovich are going to allow that to happen.

What most people are forgetting is that Tony Parker only contributed 6 points in this contest. Parker got banged up during the game and actually had to go back to the locker room for treatment on his hamstring at one point. He would return to the game but was a
non-factor for the rest of the contest. With Parker virtually non existent, Danny Green and Gary Neal more than picked up the slack. Green finished with 27 points on 9-15 shooting from the field including 7-9 from 3-point range!! Neal also added 24 points on 9-17 shooting from the field including 6-10 from 3-point range!! If 2 players from any team are going to combine for 13-19 from downtown, I don’t care who you are playing, you are going to win that game. And that’s what happened. The Spurs won in more than convincing fashion, and they will without a doubt try to carry this momentum into Game 4 on Thursday night. I believe the Spurs will play an efficient Game 4, but the 3’s wont drop at the rate they did in Game 3. The Heat will bounce back and Lebron will play much better as well, which should lead to an epic Game 4. This game becomes incredibly important for the Miami Heat, for if they lose they will find themselves on the brink of elimination and still on the road. At the same time, if Parker can’t play to at least 75% of his potential than the Spurs will lose Game 4. You can catch all the action in Game 4 on ABC @ 9:00 p.m. Enjoy!

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!

Revenge Is A Dish Best Served, uhhh, Hot?

The marathon that is the NBA Playoffs has finally reached its apex; the NBA Finals. There are many gripping story lines attached to these Finals, all of which will contribute to an epic showdown. Lebron James, as a 22 year old, led his Cleveland Cavaliers to the NBA Finals only to get swept by the San Antonio Spurs. This was Lebron’s first taste of the Finals, but it was the taste of defeat that has stayed with him. See, it is Lebron’s desire to win that separates him from the rest of the league (that and his freak of nature physique), and he would love to beat the team that sent him packing (broom in hand), back in 2007. Lebron James is obviously a million times the player he was in ’07, and I think this series will go a little bit differently than the last time they met. On the other hand, you have the most soft spoken all-time great in the history of the league playing for his 5th Championship. At the ripe young age of 37, Tim Duncan is playing like the Tim Duncan of old. He has transformed his body and his mind in order to continue to succeed at the highest level. It also doesn’t hurt that he has some guy by the name of Tony Parker on his team. As with any series there are many questions that need to be answered: Will Lebron James exact his revenge on the Spurs? Will Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade show up for the entire series? Will Tim Duncan continue his stellar play? Will the 187 days of rest help or hurt the Spurs? And last but not least, who will hoist the trophy over their head at the end of this series?

I believe this will be a long hard fought series. On one side you have the best player in the world looking to establish his rightful place among the games all-time greats. On the other side you have the closest thing we’ve seen to a dynasty since the Lakers of the Shaq and Kobe era. The longevity of the Spurs and coach Gregg Popovich is impressive and Duncan is looking to win titles over a 14 year span (unprecedented span). The Heat are looking to win consecutive Championships and build a little dynasty of their own. However, with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh’s games both rapidly declining this postseason, many have wondered if this will be their last run at a title as presently constructed. The future for the Heat and Spurs is yet to be seen, but the present is upon us. Tony Parker will play a phenomenal series and people will continue to see why he is one of the best basketball players in the world. Tim Duncan will show case exactly why he has been so great for so long in this series. Many Ginobili will add some timely big shots and flops when necessary as well. However, Lebron James and the Miami Heat will prove to be too much for Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs. The Miami Heat will win their 2nd consecutive championship. The Heat certainly have their work cut out for them though. Popovich is too good of a coach to get run off the floor. This will be a grueling back and forth series that spans 14 weeks and 7 games. You can watch Game 1 tonight @ 9:00 p.m. on ABC. Enjoy the action!!

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.

Mid-Season NBA Awards

It’s that time of year again. We’ve played about 50 games so far, and it’s time to gear up for the All-Star Game. It is also time to dish out some mid-season awards. The awards to be given out are MVP, Sixth man of the Year, Defensive Player of the year, Most Improved Player, Coach of the Year, and Rookie of the Year. Some of these races have clear cut winners at this point in the season, and some are so difficult to differentiate a front-runner that we need to delve further into each category. I am here to clear up any confusion as to what you’ve seen thus far in the 2012-2013 NBA season.

Let’s start with the easiest debate, Rookie of the Year. If the season were to end today, the obvious winner for this award would be Damian Lillard of the Portland Trailblazers. There are some other nice rookies this year(Anthony Davis, Bradley Beal, and Dion Waiters come to mind), but Damian is head and shoulders above everyone else right now. He has started every game this season for the Trailblazers. In those games he is averaging 18.2 points on 42% from the field in 38.5 minutes per game(not to mention he’s shooting an impressive 85% from the charity stripe). That is the easiest award to give out, but the rest are a little tougher. Don’t be scared. Just close your eyes, count to three, and rip off that band-aid.

Let’s move on to Sixth Man of the Year. For me this is a two man race between Jamal Crawford and JR Smith. Both have been instant offense off their teams bench. They have both been an integral part of their teams success this season. As much as I love the Knicks, this award has to go to Jamal Crawford. Not only did he outplay JR this past Sunday in a head to head match up, but he has been the better player all season, barely.

Next let’s talk about Coach of the Year. This is a tough one, so let’s throw all the potential candidates out there and then break them down until this makes sense. The candidates are Mike Woodson, Mark Jackson, Frank Vogel, and Tom Thibodeau. If you read my blog you know I am a die hard Knicks fan, and while Woodson has done a phenomenal job with the team so far, their most recent struggles against good teams might hurt him for now.  He did, however, do a great job right from the start of the season.  He was motivating Carmelo Anthony, JR Smith, Jason Kidd, and even Rasheed Wallace to maximize their potential out on the floor.  He had everyone buying into his concept of team defense and an uptempo offense.  It was working perfectly until Amar’e Stoudemire and Iman Shumpert came back from injuries.  I believe it will work out in the end for the Knicks, but there is definitely a growing period that the Knicks and Woodson are going through right now.  The final chapter for the Knicks will determine whether Woodson is the Coach of the year or not.  As of now, I say he is not.  As for Tom Thibodeau, he has impressed by continuing to succeed without his superstar.  For the second straight season Derrick Rose has missed a significant amount of time, yet the Bulls continue to put up winning records. His team plays a defense first, physical brand of basketball that creates nightmare match-ups for smaller teams and turnover prone teams.  It is also extremely impressive to win with Luol Deng as your best player(no offense to Luol he is a nice little player, but let’s be real, he is NOT a #1 guy). With all that being said Tom is still not the coach of the year. Who is? I’m getting there just calm down! The popular pick right now is Mark Jackson.  I like what Mark Jackson is doing with Stephen Curry and the rest of those boys, but his team is not good enough to push him to the top of this debate. While I always liked him as a player, and I personally always thought he would make a good coach some day(ahem, Jason Kidd, ahem), he is not the coach of the year at this point of the season.  My pick for coach of the year right now is Frank Vogel.  I bet most of you don’t even know what team he coaches. That is part of the reason why he is coach of the year right now.  He is a nobody to most people, and he is succeeding with nobodies.  Even his best player who is not playing right now due to injury is a nobody amongst the ranks of superstars. I like Danny Granger’s game, but he like Luol Deng is not a #1 guy. The only problem for the Indiana Pacers(ohhh that’s who Vogel coaches) is that Granger IS their #1 guy. Frank Vogel is my pick for Coach of the Year.
There could have been a nice segue into this next category, seeing as The Pacers have two candidates for Most Improved Player, George hill and Paul George. They have both vastly improved their games, but I think this award is a two man race. Greivis Vasquez and Jrue Holiday have both taken their game to the next level. They have both increased their points and assist totals tremendously from a year ago, and they both have bright futures ahead of them. No disrespect to Greivis, but Jrue Holiday has taken his game into another stratosphere. He has quickly become one of the premier point guards in the NBA, and the league recognized this by selecting him to his first all-star appearance. My award for most improved player goes to Jrue Holiday.
This next category is the toughest for me to choose. It is difficult to find a clear cut winner for Defensive Player of the Year. There are many worthy candidates so far this year that include: Tyson Chandler, Serge Ibaka, Larry Sanders, Lebron James, and Joakim Noah. Larry Sanders and Serge Ibaka will most likely be battling each other for this award for years to come. They are both physical presences underneath the hoop and both block approximately 3 shots a game. It is not due to their lack of defensive effort that they aren’t going to win this award, it’s because someone else on this list has managed to stand out above all the rest. This is me building suspense. Next, what else can you say about Lebron James? The guy is as physically gifted an athlete as anyone who has ever stepped foot on the hard wood. He can guard 4 positions at anytime while still managing to dominate on the offensive end. He is not going to win this award though(at least not this year), but don’t feel too bad for him I’m sure he’ll win another award real soon(hint hint). The reigning Defensive Player of the Year, Tyson Chandler, has yet again found his way into contention for this award, however when he played the Bulls earlier this season he learned why he isn’t going to repeat as DPOY(he would get my vote for the most intimidating man on the planet though if that was a real award). Joakim Noah has placed himself at the forefront of defensive forces in the NBA. Man is he ugly!! Anyway, as much as I dislike Noah, he does anchor the best defense in the NBA. When he’s on the bench they give up 10 more points then when he’s on the floor.  Joakim Noah gets my vote for Defensive Player of the Year.
Finally, last but not least, the MVP award. This is always a fun debate because people think it’s strictly about offense. It mostly is, but you really need to look at the overall skill-set of a player plus his impact on his team to measure the MVP. The candidates this year are: Lebron James, Kevin Durant, and Carmelo Anthony. There are two honorable mentions for this category, Chris Paul and Tony Parker. Parker is doing spectacular things that go mostly unnoticed, especially with a banged up Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobli on his team. Chris Paul will be in this conversation at the end of the year because he is clearly the best point guard in the NBA. For right now though he has missed too many games to be considered for this award. I love what Carmelo Anthony is doing this season, and I hope he can sustain his outstanding play throughout the whole season, but he doesn’t do enough of the little things to make his teammates better. Let me see if I can use an analogy that makes sense for this argument. Kevin Durant is like The Utah Jazz in the 90’s. If it wasn’t for that Jordan guy and the Chicago Bulls, they might have a couple of rings right now(sorry John, sorry Karl). Get it? Not yet? See, Kevin Durant has improved every facet of his game this year. The problem is that there is this guy named Lebron James in the NBA. As good as Durant is(28.9 points, 7.5 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 51% from the floor, 43% from three point range, and 90% from the free throw line), Lebron is better. Sorry Kevin, I know I’m pulling for you because I certainly don’t like Lebron “I can’t win a title without an all-star roster” James, but Lebron is on his way to another MVP.  As much as I don’t like Lebron, I must give credit where credit is due.  My vote for MVP and best player on the face of the earth is Lebron James.