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SoupIsGood
07-11-2005, 09:05 PM
Here's the initial installment of a continuing series where I try to select the best all-time players at each position, best sixth men and best coaches.
Numbers are just a marginal guide. More important in my reckonings are a candidate's off-the-ball play, dominance of his peers and the overall success of his team(s).

Of course, comparing players from radically different eras is always a risky business. George Mikan, for example, would be severely drubbed in one-on-one battles versus the likes of Shaq, Wilt and Kareem. Despite that fact, Mikan can arguably be seen as the most influential player of his time, and his Minneapolis Lakers were the NBA's first dynasty. So the intent here is more mindful of the total NBA historical continuum than dependant on today's existential realities.

It's likewise important to note the variances in styles of play over the last 60 seasons pre-shot-clock and post-shot-clock, the twin-towers concept and small-ball strategies, as well as the different demands made on players by their respective teams. Despite these inexact specifications, the players in each category will be competitively ranked.

POINT GUARDS



1. OSCAR ROBERTSON

The Big O was equally as versatile as Magic and nearly as strong. Indeed, Robertson's talents covered the entire scope and possibilities of the game. He could do everything at the highest level rebound, pass, set picks, dribble, box out, run and shut anyone down on defense. In 1961-62, Robertson averaged a triple-double 30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds and 11.4 assists. He wasn't boasting when he said, years later, "If I had known it was such a big deal, I would've averaged a triple-double for my entire career." He understood every nuance of the game and demanded the same perfection from his teammates. Robertson was also a fierce and ruthless competitor.

What did he lack?

Three-point range, only because the 3-ball hadn't been instituted. And according to Nate Thurmond, "Oscar couldn't fly, but he did everything else better than Michael Jordan."

Whatever the position, whatever the standards of the era, Oscar Robertson was the most perfect basketball player ever.

http://msn.foxsports.com/id/3749834_36_3.jpg Jerry West's number was always called whenever a game was on the line. (Wen Roberts / Getty Images)

2. MAGIC JOHNSON

Magic was a rarity. At 6-foot-9, 235 pounds, he was a legitimate triple-threat inside, outside and on the run. His sheer size advantage allowed him to have an unobstructed view of the entire court and effectively prohibited opponents from contesting any pass he chose to throw. In addition to his remarkable size and strength, Magic had an incomparable handle (his high rate of turnovers was a function of the inordinate time the ball was in his hands), made excellent decisions with the ball, was an incredible finisher and was absolutely the best fast-break trigger man ever.

What else could he do?

Post-up and fill the net with hook shots. Eat up space in rapid fashion with his long strides. Blast his way through traffic. Rebound. Shoot free throws. Maximize the abilities of his teammates. Rise to virtually every clutch situation. And win.

What couldn't he do?

His drive-and-dish capabilities were severely restricted by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's being ensconced in the pivot. Not until his latter years did Magic develop an effective outside shot an old-timey shot-put-one-hander. And throughout his career his defense was shamefully poor.

Johnson also had a magic touch with the media. The bright smile, the up-beat comments, the total availability. But when the red light was switched off, Magic often had another agenda.

Like the first time Magic met with the Lakers' new coach, Mike Dunleavy, at a players association meeting back in 1990. Dunleavy sought out Magic for a pre-season confab, and as they strolled along the beach, he handed Johnson the playbook he planned to implement for the upcoming season. Magic proceeded to toss the playbook into the ocean, point to his head and say, "The playbook is in here."

3. JERRY WEST

West was one of the most deadly pull-up jump shooters of all time. He rarely went left, simply because he never had to (the official NBA logo with West dribbling left-handed must be a negative image). But he'd move to his right at full speed, execute one hard-and-last dribble that would propel him skyward and the ball was shot and gone in a jiffy. He was a good, if not exceptional passer, and his long arms and quick-hops made him a surprisingly effective finisher.

Those same long arms (fastened to high-shoulders) likewise made West an outstanding defender. Indeed, opposing players were warned not to attempt a pass whenever West was the lone defender in a 2-on-1 fast-breaking situation simply because his reach and hand-speed would get a piece of all but the most precise passes.

While acknowledging his authentic greatness, several of his peers still insist that West was also cast by the media as a white hope who was therefore given much more credit than he truly deserved. And because he was never satisfied with his own or his teammates' play in any given game, West was never a popular figure in the locker room. But his coaches all loved him for playing all out all the time, and they made sure that "Mr. Clutch's" number was called whenever a game was on the line.

4. JOHN STOCKTON

Stockton was a point-guard in the classic mold. Primarily a passer, Stockton shot the ball only when necessary. He was a master at changing speeds off his dribble, at jumping into his defender while releasing a shot and thusly drawing fouls, at moving without the ball, at hitting open shots (especially in the clutch) and a sneakily effective offensive rebounder. His decision-making in screen/roll situations was impeccable, and he also relished setting screens himself usually with elbows flashing, a characteristic that moved opponents to call him a border-line dirty player. (Stockton was a nasty character, both on and off the court.) Although he'd gamble on steals, chase the ball too much and overreact to ball-penetration, Stockton's defense was surprisingly effective.

Stockton rarely got to orchestrate fast breaks in Jerry Sloan's grind-it-out offenses. But when the Jazz did get out and run, Stockton's exceptional judgment was likewise in evidence.

Too bad the prime of Stockton's career coincided with the Bulls' Jordanian dynasty. He did, however, propel the Jazz into back-to-back finals appearances. Some could say that Stockton made Karl Malone appear to be a much better player than he may have actually been.

5. WALT FRAZIER

Clyde's cooler-than-thou demeanor masked his fiercely competitive nature. He could muscle and/or slick his way to the basket, and was a high-percentage jump shooter who rarely forced a shot. Frazier could also rebound like a big guy, hit the open man and, above all, he could defend. Indeed, overlooked in Willis Reed's courageous performance in Game 7 of the 1970 Knicks-Lakers championship go-round, were Frazier's 36 points, 19 assists and smothering defense on Jerry West. Steals were his specialty, as were big-time jumpers.

http://msn.foxsports.com/id/3749836_36_2.jpg Walt Frazier was the ultimate "team player" for the Knicks. ( / Getty Images)

Under the tutelage of coach Red Holzman, Frazier learned the value of the team game and was willing to sacrifice numbers for rings. He also learned that freedom unchecked by structure led to chaos, and that only within a system could freedom become a bountiful creativity. And despite his casual game-face, Frazier played with a precision that was based on an intricate understanding of Xs and Os.

Frazier was never a jet and was most comfortable with the ball in his hands, but he was a winner.

6. DENNIS JOHNSON

Forget about his scoring prowess (14.1 ppg over his 14-year career, with a high of 19.5 for Phoenix in 1981-82), forget about his three championship rings (one with Seattle in 1979, two with Boston in 1984 and 1986), Dennis Johnson was simply the best big-time defensive guard in league history. In fact, DJ was the only defender who could force Magic to turn his back on the Lakers' offense in order to protect, and maintain possession of, the ball.

Johnson also proved that nice guys can finish first.


7. LENNY WILKENS

Mister Smooth glided through a ball game in total control of every situation. Did his team need a pop shot, a slick pass, or even an occasional rebound? Wilkens could deliver. How about a steal, or the rescue of a loose ball? Wilkens would get it done.

He wasn't strong or flashy, and his defense was merely adequate. But like John Wesley Harding, Wilkens was never known to make a foolish move, with the notable exception of agreeing to coach the Knicks!

8. RALPH BEARD

Never heard of him? That's because Beard played only two seasons in the league 1949-51 with the Indianapolis Olympians. In his rookie season, Beard was named to the All-NBA Second Team, and for an encore, he was voted to the First Team. Unfortunately, he was subsequently banned from the NBA when it was discovered that during his All-American career at the University of Kentucky, Beard (along with several other teammates) had taken money from gamblers to alter the score of ball games. Beard did indeed take the money, but only because doing so was a time-honored tradition at UK. Still, he was such a ferocious competitor that he never even tried to rig a score.

His game featured error-free passes, headlong drives to the rim and shut-down defense. According to Adolph Rupp, the only flaws in Beard's game were an erratic left hand, and inconsistency at the foul line. (During Beard's brief tenure in the NBA, his free throw accuracy was 77 percent.) Otherwise, the notoriously hard-to-please Rupp believed that Beard was "an almost perfect basketball player."

In the long history of the NBA, no one ever played with more intensity than Ralph Beard.

Other candidates Slater Martin, Dick McGuire, Bob Cousy, Guy Rodgers, Bob Davies, Jason Kidd and Isiah Thomas.

Charley Rosen, former CBA coach, author of 12 books about hoops, the current one being A pivotal season How the 1971-72 L.A. Lakers changed the NBA, is a frequent contributor to FOXSports.com.

http://msn.foxsports.com/nba/story/3734262 (http://msn.foxsports.com/nba/story/3734262)


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I have a feeling Foretaz will love this one. :whistle:

Kstat
07-11-2005, 09:07 PM
The man made a top-8 (apparently he was too lazy to do 10) PG list, and didn't include Isiah Thomas. I will never read anything this guy writes ever again. Isiah made Dennis Johnson his ***** more times than I can count.

Also, congrats on ranking a 2-guard with a career average of 6 assists ahead of JOHN STOCKTON. You **** ****.

shags
07-11-2005, 09:09 PM
You got to be f***ing kidding me. Isiah Thomas only honorable mention. Ridiculous. The list loses all validity with that omission.

SoupIsGood
07-11-2005, 09:10 PM
I will never read anything this guy writes ever again.


Good decision. I usually don't bother with Rosen articles, but I thought Taz might get a kick out of this.

Yeah no Zeke doesn't make much sense. :hmm:

Kstat
07-11-2005, 09:15 PM
this guy doesn't even make a case of why West should be listed as a PG. All he talks about is how good of a SHOOTER he is. Not playmaking or passing or leadership, SHOOTING.

Retarded piece of ****.

Sollozzo
07-11-2005, 09:20 PM
Is there a more overrated player in the history of the NBA than John Stockton?

To put John Stockton ahead of Isiah, BS. Some fans I've talked to say Stockton is the BEST PG EVER.

Stockton found a niche, and rode it for his entire career. He wasn't the amazing player that Zeke was.

Kstat
07-11-2005, 09:26 PM
I don't know, when a guy becomes the all-time leader in assists AND steals, it's hard to be overrated.

Sollozzo
07-11-2005, 09:34 PM
I don't know, when a guy becomes the all-time leader in assists AND steals, it's hard to be overrated.


He's overrated when he's put ahead of players like Zeke.....as is the case with this.

Kstat
07-11-2005, 09:35 PM
There are so many much worse slights than that on this list I've lost track of them all.

I think Zeke is a better PG too, but I at least can understand that selection. I can't understand the others.

Slick Pinkham
07-11-2005, 09:40 PM
Isiah and Cousy deserve to be immediately behind Big O and Magic.

I had a Jerry West poster in my room as a kid, along with the ABA stuff. I wanted to shoot like him. I never once considered him a PG, frankly, and I'm old enough to know.

Kstat
07-11-2005, 09:41 PM
Cousy is arguably a bigger slight than Zeke on this list. The man INVENTED the no-look pass.

Unclebuck
07-11-2005, 11:02 PM
Is there a more overrated player in the history of the NBA than John Stockton?

To put John Stockton ahead of Isiah, BS. Some fans I've talked to say Stockton is the BEST PG EVER.

Stockton found a niche, and rode it for his entire career. He wasn't the amazing player that Zeke was.



Wow. you have to be kidding. Stockton was one of the best of all time and clearly belongs on the list. He was a great, great player. I don't know about best point guard ever. I can only go by what I have seen in my lifetime, and I would say Magic was a better player. But I hate putting players in little boxes, like he is a point guard. I look at overall impact on the game, Magic had more of an impact than Stockton

Cactus Jax
07-11-2005, 11:16 PM
Here's the list:

1) Oscar Robertson
2) Magic Johnson
3) John Stockton
4) Isiah Thomas
5) Walt Frazier
6) Bob Cousy
7) Dennis Johnson
8) Jason Kidd (he led an average team to 2 straight finals appearances)

Lenny became such a classic PG because of the fact he became a coach, and I'm tired of people calling Jerry West a PG, hell of a player, probably #2 SG of all time but not a PG.

Young
07-11-2005, 11:22 PM
Is there a more overrated player in the history of the NBA than John Stockton?

To put John Stockton ahead of Isiah, BS. Some fans I've talked to say Stockton is the BEST PG EVER.

Stockton found a niche, and rode it for his entire career. He wasn't the amazing player that Zeke was.

Stockton is the defenition of the ideal point guard. Should Zeke be ahead of John because John wasn't fast or quick? Or maybe it is because John wasn't flashy and ESPN top 10 material? Or because John wasn't a big time scorer?

Also, I think Bob Cousy should be on the list instead of Ralph Beard. JMO though.

Gamble
07-11-2005, 11:22 PM
Wow. you have to be kidding. Stockton was one of the best of all time and clearly belongs on the list. He was a great, great player. I don't know about best point guard ever. I can only go by what I have seen in my lifetime, and I would say Magic was a better player. But I hate putting players in little boxes, like he is a point guard. I look at overall impact on the game, Magic had more of an impact than Stockton
You have to look at what Stockton was working with too.

Cactus Jax
07-11-2005, 11:31 PM
I'll try the other positions:

SG

1) Michael Jordan
2) Jerry West
3) Elgin Baylor
4) Clyde Drexler
5) Reggie Miller
6) Kobe Bryant (he's only behing Reg and Drexler cause he hasn't proven to have playoff success alone)
7) Joe Dumars
8) Allen Iverson

Honorable Mention: Mitch Richmond, George Gervin, Rick Barry, Tracy McGrady, Byron Scott.

Don't kill me if I'm missing someone, my brain can miss things sometimes, and I came up with this real quick.

And I was surprised how few great SG's there were before the 80's.

Young
07-11-2005, 11:42 PM
I'll try the other positions:

SG

1) Michael Jordan
2) Jerry West
3) Elgin Baylor
4) Clyde Drexler
5) Reggie Miller
6) Kobe Bryant (he's only behing Reg and Drexler cause he hasn't proven to have playoff success alone)
7) Joe Dumars
8) Allen Iverson

Honorable Mention: Mitch Richmond, George Gervin, Rick Barry, Tracy McGrady, Byron Scott.

Don't kill me if I'm missing someone, my brain can miss things sometimes, and I came up with this real quick.

And I was surprised how few great SG's there were before the 80's.

What about John Havlichk[sp]? Or Julis Erving? I think you could put those guys up there, atleast before Tracy McGrady IMO.

Kstat
07-11-2005, 11:44 PM
Erving was a small forward.

Cactus Jax
07-12-2005, 01:47 AM
Yeah Julius Erving was a SF, and I think the same thing with Hondo. I'm almost thinking of switching Iverson and Dumars, Dumars is definently in the top 8, it's just he was with so many great players where Iverson was the unquestioned leader, and his talent was much less.

McGrady hasn't done what Iverson or Kobe have done.

Also I found it pretty bad that Pete Maravich wasn't even an HONORABLE MENTION on the best PG list.

Kstat
07-12-2005, 01:55 AM
Maravich was a 2-guard with passing skills. He was definately not a PG, though. He was a shoot-first player.

Peck
07-12-2005, 02:20 AM
Is there a more overrated player in the history of the NBA than John Stockton?

To put John Stockton ahead of Isiah, BS. Some fans I've talked to say Stockton is the BEST PG EVER.

Stockton found a niche, and rode it for his entire career. He wasn't the amazing player that Zeke was.


Gotta disagree with ya here sport. I know it's sacralige but I would rank Stockton as the best point guard of all-time.

Yes, better than Magic & yes better than the Big O (Gasp)

The man led the NBA in assist in the modern era when defenses were much tougher than some of those 60's & 70's shootout that produced 100+ point games every night. Yes the shooting was better back then but the defense was not.

Stockton was everything that I want in a point guard. He could pass just as well as anyone & contrary to popular belief he could give the no look pass better than most.

But his defense was as sound as any player I've ever seen. I'm not kidding when I rank all-time defenders & would say pound for pound & heightwise John Stockton is in my top 5 if not # 1. He was that good.

He gets a lot of crap because of the Stockton to Malone stuff, but IMO Malone benefitted greatly over the years by being on the receiving end of some magical passes by Stockton.

He could shoot & he was clutch.

Look, honestly I couldn't argue against people who want to say Magic or the Big O, but I just think that if I were starting a team Stockton would be the p.g. I would choose.

canyoufeelit
07-12-2005, 02:52 AM
Isiah > Stockton.

Isiah stole Stockton's lunch money every time they played. Why do you think Karl Malone busted him up?

foretaz
07-12-2005, 03:35 AM
contrary to what u might believe, the article didnt make me jump up and down....

jerry played in a time when they didnt really categorize pg versus sg....but anybody that watched him play for any significant amount of time that knew anything about basketball at all, would know he was a point guard....he was the floor general....just because he scored alot of points didnt mean he was a sg and wasnt a pg....

this guy has followed the league for quite some time and is old enuff to have watched it all....hes a bigtime lakers follower and its quite apparent he is knowledgeable enuff to know the difference between a sg and a pg....as is the case anytime u do a list like this, there will be varying opinions....and some will get their feelings hurt, feeling a player here or a player there has been slighted.....

oh well....these lists are fun and make for passionate discussion....and having him validate what i already knew didnt make that much difference to me personally....as ive said....anyone that knows much, knows that if jerry played in times where they designated pg and sg, that he would be a pg.....hes much more of a pg than say a stephon marbury, though u could draw some comparisons....jerry had the ball in his hands a majority of the time...he was the consummate floor general....and those that didnt get much of a chance to watch him play, the real injustice is they missed out on a great player......the fact they dont know hes a pg pales to that comparison...

Will Galen
07-12-2005, 03:59 AM
oh well....these lists are fun and make for passionate discussion....and having him validate what i already knew didnt make that much difference to me personally....


Validate? Interesting word choice. That made your point of view official huh? (grin)

Kstat
07-12-2005, 04:00 AM
Validate? Interesting word choice. That made your point of view official huh? (grin)

No kidding. What an arrogant attitude.

If Rosen ever agrees with anything I say, after this POS article, I'm going to take that as proof that I was wrong. People like that shouldn't even be allowed to speak the english language.

SoupIsGood
07-12-2005, 04:06 AM
If Rosen ever agrees with anything I say, after this POS article, I'm going to take that as proof that I was wrong.



:lol2:

kidthecat
07-12-2005, 10:45 AM
Glad he mentioned Ralph Beard.

My father as a boy actually had the pleasure of meeting him and said that, even as an aged man, he had the quickest defensive posture he'd ever seen.

Unsure about DJ or JW, but everything else seems respectable. Where's IT?

And, yes, Karl Malone looked much better because of Stockton.

Kegboy
07-12-2005, 07:30 PM
Glad to see others are finally realizing that Rosen is a piece of ****. I just looked at the names, didn't read the analysis, so how many people did he passive-aggressively bad-mouth?

However, if he wants to call Jerry a point, that's fine by me. Just means Reggie moves one-rung up on the two-guard ladder. :-p

Sollozzo
07-12-2005, 07:38 PM
Stockton is grossly overrated in my book when he is ranked ahead of guys like Oscar, Magic, and Isiah. These guys were superior to Stockton. Oscar is one of the best all around players in the history of the game. These 3 could take over a game better than Stockton. If I'm building a franchise, I pick one of those guys any day over Stockton.

I really do believe that Stockton rode a niche during his 35 years in the NBA playing by the Mailman. Sorry, a bunch of assists to Karl Malone year after year don't impress me that much. He was the best PF in the game for a long, long time. You put Mark Jackson along side Karl Malone for a long time like that, and I guarantee you there isn't much difference.

Stockton gets ranked high because he played forever, IMO. Magic only played what, from 1979-1992? He won 5 championships. Sure he had great teammates, but Magic was the glue.

Give me Jason Kidd, Gary Payton, or Tim Hardaway in their primes anyday over Stockton. Gary Payton is one of the best defensive PG's ever, not to mention he could score and dish out dimes. Tim Hardaway was the last pg to ever average 20 pts and 10 dimes in a season. If you put one of those guys next to Malone for their entire career, you're looking at some of the best players in the history of the game.