Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Greatest players in NBA History

For the last few years years (since Duncan's last championship) I've been posting the following list various places. The top 10 players in NBA history are:

Magic
Russell
Jordan
Kareem
Wilt
Duncan
Kobe
Bird
West

This now changes to ...

Magic
Russell
Jordan
Kareem
Kobe
Wilt
Duncan
Bird
West

I admit, I suspect I'm being a homer at #1; it should probably be Bill Russell. But I can't bring myself to do it. If any Celtics fans out there want to rearrange the list to put Russell at the top, I'll close my eyes and look elsewhere.

The two items I get the most static for (aside from Kobe, which is going to elicit howls of outrage for the rest of time) are Jordan and Bird. Jordan's fans can't believe anyone could think he's not at the top; but I do. I was a basketball fan before he showed up, and unlike most of the younger crowd, I remember guys doing what he did before he did it. Doctor J is not just old tape to me (though I admit, Baylor is.)

Magic won 5 championships in 9 Finals trips during the most competitive era in the history of the NBA, in a career cut short by HIV. Jordan won 6 during a down era following expansion.

When Bird and Kobe both had 3 rings I had Kobe better than him; now he has four, and the only person ahead of Bird on that list with fewer championships (2, to Bird's 3) is Wilt Chamberlain, who gets in by dint of his astonishing production.

Mostly I don't bother with lists, because it's all just some schmuck's opinion. But genuinely important subjects like this one require occasional revisiting .... :-)

4 comments:

Jack at Fork and Bottle said...

Wait a minute...no Rick Barry?! hahaha.

- Jack, still waiting for Cambercamodian (yeah big sic) and Denise and Trent the Uncatchable to return for books 4 to 40. Get on it, dude!

Rob McDonagh said...

Switch Bird and Duncan and you've got this lifelong Celtics fan nodding in agreement. Personally, I think we could debate Russell/Magic/Jordan for years, but the real sticking point is Duncan.

I would put Bird above Duncan because, aside from being a Celtics nut (be fair - if I gave in to the fanboy in me, I'd be arguing Magic vs Bird, even though it's not a case I could make objectively, and insisting that Russell has to be first), is that Bird changed the game more than Duncan did. The other reason is that, if you were choosing an NBA team from every player in history, choosing Duncan ahead of Bird would be choosing the strong and steady over the dominant and spectacular. Duncan's great, don't get me wrong, but in my opinion he belongs in the 10 spot, below West.

AF1 said...

Magic is my all-time favorite NBA player, and I remember how good Bird was.

But Jordan was more unstoppable offensively than either and played better defense to boot.

"There's Michael Jordan and then there is the rest of us."

--Magic Johnson

ditmars1929 said...

I'm a baseball person and I really don't like basketball, but for what my idiot opinion is worth, Wilt should be #1 and you forgot Robertson.