Throughout all time and history, Bill Russell would be the No. 1 player on my list of players to see.
By Rich Winter
If I had a time machine and could go back and watch the all-time greats in the NBA, here is my list...You can call it Mount Rushmore, you can call it silly, you can say I'm biased but at the end of the day, these are the guys I'd pay money to see play.
1. Bill Russell - Take a look at the man's resume - Honors: Elected to Naismith Basketball Basketball Hall of Fame (1975); NBA champion (1957, '59, '60, '61, '62, '63, '64, '65, '66, '68, '69); NBA MVP (1958, '61, '62, '63, '65);
All-NBA First Team (1959, '63, '65); All-NBA Second Team (1958, '60, '61, '62, '64, '66, '67, '68); NBA All-Defensive Team (1969); 12-time NBA All-Star (1958-69); All-Star Game MVP (1963); One of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History (1996); Olympic gold medalist (1956).
The man averaged 22.5 rebounds per game...FOR HIS CAREER! He also averaged 4.3 assists per game over that career. Not only did he win 11 titles but he did it in a time where times were tough for African American players. In addition to his basketball prowess, I think Russell brought us forward as people on our thoughts about race. Player-coach for an African American player in those days...GET OUTA here!
Jordan elevated the game to new heights.
2. Michael Jordan - Never saw Jordan play in person but on television a bunch of times. Watched (hungover like a mother) the day he dropped 63 on the Celtics in the playoffs, in Boston Garden. Jordan took the game to new heights and made people interested in the dunk. Just his ferocity on the court and his desire to win was something very rare in the game.
3. Magic Johnson -
Magic Johnson changed the game and he might be a better businessman than he was a player.
Yes Laker fans I have Magic rated above Bird. Isn't that how all lists go through time and history anyway? It took me a long time to appreciate Magic Johnson, mostly because I spent the entire 80's hating this guy's guts. Still, Johnson took the game to new levels, below the rim levels, but the up-tempo Showtime of the Lakers changed the way the game is played.
Magic has done so many good off-the-court things since his retirement. I think him stepping forward and putting a face to HIV and Aids really prompted this country to stop thinking about AIDS as a gay-disease. Magic Johnson, truly one of the all-time greats.
4 - Oscar Robertson -
Honors: Elected to Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (1980); NBA champion (1971); NBA MVP (1964); Nine-time All-NBA First Team (1961-69); All-NBA Second Team (1970, '71); Rookie of Year (1961); 12-time All-Star (1961-72); All-Star MVP (1961, '64, '69); One of 50 Greatest Players in NBA History (1996); Olympic gold medalist ('60).
Oh to see that 1961-1962 season, that I would pay money for. People label LeBron James as the best all-around player in the game today but isn't he little-O compared to the Big 0?
1951-1962 - Oscar Robertson, the "Big O," is the player against whom all others labeled "all-around" are judged, and he may remain the standard forever. Statistically, one need look no further than the numbers Robertson put up in 1961-62, just his second year in the league: 30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 11.4 assists per game-an average of a triple-double for an entire season.
12.5 rebounds and 11.4 assists per game - Are you kidding me...with 30.8 points per game. Probably the best all-around season in NBA history.
5. Mr. Clutch - Jerry West
Honors: Elected to Basketball Hall of Fame (1980); NBA Finals MVP (1969); NBA Champion (1972); All-NBA First Team (1962-'67, '70-'73); All-NBA Second Team (1968, '69); NBA All-Defensive Team (1970-73); NBA Champion (1972); 14-time NBA All-Star (1961-'74); NBA All-Star MVP (1972); Olympic gold medalist (1960); NBA 35th Anniversay Team (1980); One of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History (1996).
I know me and I know that had I been alive to watch Jerry West in college at West Virginia, I would have been rooting for him. Don't know if I'd be rooting for him as a Laker, (perish the thought), but I certainly would have wanted to see this man ball-out.
During his 14-year playing career with the Los Angeles Lakers, West became synonymous with brilliant basketball. He was the third player in league history to reach 25,000 points (after Wilt Chamberlain and Oscar Robertson). He was an All-Star every year of his career and led Los Angeles to the NBA Finals nine times. He left the game holding records for career postseason scoring and the highest average in a playoff series.
West's statistical record only begins to tell his story. When the chips were down, West, with his lightning-quick release, was the guy the Lakers turned to for the big basket. Many players have been tagged with the nickname "Mr. Clutch," but none of them lived up to it as well as West did. He was responsible for perhaps the most famous buzzer-beater of all time: a 60-foot swish that tied Game 3 of the 1970 NBA Finals against the New York Knicks.
No. 6 - Larry Bird -
Yes, I know this is No. 6 but Bird was my all-time favorite player so of course he makes the list.
Honorable mention - Which all come from contributors on my Facebook Page -
Steve Max Plank Wilt, Jordan, mail man, Vince Carter, shaq
Dana Cook Jordan, earl manifault, Julius Erving,wilt chamberlain, Larry bird
Michael D. Hammer - Jordan, Lebron, Koby, Bill Russel, Larry Bird, Magic (That's six Hammer)
Roger Smith Wilt, Jordan, Oscar Robertson, Lebron, Kobe
Jonny Soxx Kevin Nixon (Ummmm, who?)
Joseph Budd Jordan, Bill Russell, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Wilt Chamberlain.
Curtis Smith Wilt Chamberlain, Dr. J, Michael Jordan, Oscar Robertson, Larry Bird, Pete Maravich
Jay Waln Jordan, Kobe, Magic, The Dr, and Bird.
Tanner Colombe Dr. J, Nate Archibald, Larry Bird, Dominique, and Shawn Kemp. Best list ever Richard
Shawn Kemp: Really Clay and Tanner Colombe?