Slam recently announced its updated list of The New NBA Top 50 players, which brings on some interesting names and drops off a few legends from the NBA at 50 “Greatest NBA Players of All-Time” list – which was unveiled some 13 years ago.
In honor of those fallen greats, WCBias brings you the “Greatest NBA Players You Shouldn’t Forget” Team.
(For the record, these guys were replaced by some pretty darn good players on Slam’s updated list, which includes Allen Iverson, Bob McAdoo, Dennis Rodman, Gary Payton, Jason Kidd, Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Steven Nash, Tim Duncan, Dominique Wilkins and Walt Bellamy.) I think you can question the addition of Dennis Rodman, and then whittle that list of guards (A.I., GP, JK and Nash) down to two to keep James Worthy, Pistol Pete, Robert Parish and Sam Jones or one of the other legends on the Slam list. I’m also not sure on the old editions of McAdoo, Wilkins and Bellamy (is that Bill’s brother?), but all in all, it’s a pretty solid list by the guys at Slam.
That said, here’s a closer look at those NBA legends who didn’t make this year’s Top 50 Greatest Players, but shouldn’t be forgotten:
1. James Worthy
Somewhere, Chick Hearn is rolling in his grave. One of the few West Coast players on this list, we should point out, the original “Big Game” James set the stage for guys open-court fliers like Dominique and now LeBron. And he did it the right way, playing for one team, the Los Angeles Lakers, from 1982-1994 – also known as the Showtime Era. The goggled one had 16,320 points, 4,708 boards, 2,791 assists and, more importantly, three titles in 1985, 1987 and 1988. Sure, he was on some good teams, but he’s got as many NBA Finals MVP’s as Kobe (1) and five more NBA All-Star appearances than Rodman (2).
2. Sam Jones
Speaking of titles and dedicating yourself to one team. How is Sam “The Shooter” Jones not on there? Guy won 10 NBA Titles in his 12 seasons with the Boston Celtics. Enough said. Oh wait, “he played with Bill Russell” (12 titles) you say. Well, Kobe also played with Shaq, and nobody has a problem with him being on the new list. Even with Russell on his team, Jones managed to score 15,411 points and was known as one of the most clutch … if not the best … guard of his generation.
3. “Pistol” Pete Maravich
Like Barkley, Malone, Stockton and Co., he never won and title, but defined the guard position in the 1970s after a record-breaking career in college that saw him set the D1 scoring record with 3,667 (despite not having a 3-point line). How good was he in the NBA? Well, good enough to be traded to New Orleans for EIGHT players. That’s an entire team yo. He finished with 15,948 points and 3,563 assists in his decade in the league.
4. Robert Parish
Hobbled by injuries over the years, The Chief still managed 23,334 points, 14,715 boards and 2,357 blocks – now that’s an NBA career (1976-1997, which means he was a rookie a year before I was born and played until I was two years out of high school. Crazy). On top of the numbers, he was an NBA All-Star nine times and won four titles with the Celtics.
5. Nate Archibald
As painful as it is to mention another Celtic, Archibald was as well-rounded a player as you’ll fine in his day – becoming the only player in NBA history to lead the league in both scoring and assists during the 1973 season (at least that was with the Kings that year). His lone title came in 1981 with … guess who? … the Celtics. He was also the NBA All-Star MVP that season and was named to the Hall of Fame exactly 10 years later after a career that netted 16,481 points, 2,046 rebounds and 6,476 assists.
6. Bill Walton
Like Pistol Pete and some of the others on this list, Walton is better known for what he did in college because of a laundry list of injuries suffered at the pro level. But he made the NBA’s Top 50 because he was an NBA MVP in 1978 and a two-time NBA champion (1977, 1986). But are 6,215 points and 1,034 career blocks enough to get you on today’s Top 50? Obviously not. Maybe it’s because of his announcing skills.
7. Bill Sharman
Sharman was another talented all-around athlete (and a Celtic), who actually spent five years in the Brooklyn Dodgers farm system. In fact, he was called up to the bigs in 1951 but never played – but he was part of the bench that was ejected for arguing with an umpire Sept. 27, 1951, becoming the only player in major league history to never play in a game but get ejected from one. That’s my kind of guy. And he’s a USC grad, so he’s got that going for him, on top of playing in eight All-Star games and becoming one of the first guards to shoot better than 40 percent. He is one of three players enshrined in the Hall of Fame as both a player and coach.
8. Dave Bing
Kevin Johnson isn’t the only one getting political after his playing days. Bing, a Democrat, was elected mayor of Detroit in May. On top of winning all kinds of citizen awards during and after his career (Pistons, Bullets, Celtics), Bing was the Rookie of the Year in 1967, All-Star Game MVP in 1976, and finished with 18,327 points, 3,420 rebounds and 5,397 assists in his career.
9. Dave DeBusschere
DeBusschere was the Dennis Rodman of the 1960s and 70s for the Pistons and Knicks. Known for his physical defensive play, the power forward averaged 16.1 points and 11 rebounds over his 12-year career, which included eight All-Star appearances and six trips to the All-Defensive First Team. He helped the Knicks past the Lakers (gulp) for NBA titles in 1970 and 1973.
10. Hal Greer
If anything, Greer should make the team for his sick free-throw attempts, which today would be known as a “jump shot.” Maybe Shaq and Dwight Howard should consider leaving their feet on their free-throw attempts. Couldn’t hurt. He also averaged 22 ppg in 1967 to lead the 76ers to the NBA title and played in 10 consecutive All-Star games, amassing 21,586 points, 5,665 rebounds and 4,540 assists in his career with the Syracuse Nationals/Philly Sixers.
11. Paul Arizin
“Pitchin’ Paul” spent his entire career with the Philly Warriors (1950-62) and left the game as the third-highest scorer of all time with 16,266 points. And while you’ve heard similar tales about MJ and Ted Williams, you probably did know Arizin was cut from his high school team as a senior (and never even played ball as a prepster), and he lost out on some of his best playing years because of military service. Arizin joined the Marines during the Korean War (1952-54). He had led the league in scoring in 1952 and returned to do so again during the 1956-57 season. When the Warriors decided to San Francisco in the early 1960s, Arizin opted to retire rather than head West – leaving the highest scoring average for a retired player on the table (21.9 ppg). It’s OK Paul, we won’t hold it against you.
12. Reggie Miller
Wasn’t on either list, but thought he should be recognized … shouldn’t he? The Indiana sharpshooter never won the big one (thanks to MJ), but dang did he kill Spike Lee and the Knicks in the playoffs. Guess we should also point out he’s the all-time NBA leader in 3-pointers (2,560), 12th in points (25,279), seventh in free throw percentage (88.8%) and seventh in games played (1,323). And you want to talk about clutch? Dude’s the all-time leader in playoff treys drained (320), not to mention those eight points in 8.9 seconds against the Knicks in ’95.
Not convinced these guys should be in the Top 50? Well, how about the Top 60 NBA Players. Combine the NBA list and the Slam List and you have the Top 60 Players in NBA History, which would be tough to argue with. The list is attached as a PDF.