ESPN Errs Again on List of Best College Players

Matt NorlanderAnalyst IMarch 5, 2008

Listen, none of us are true college basketball savants—anyone who can recall Bob Kurland’s game is not reading blogs—but ESPN, again, misses the mark on their top 25 college basketball players list for the sake of bringing up flashy, familiar names in order to bring attention to something they’ve done.

Apparently, it's worked again.

They’ve got Bird at No. 9, Jordan at No. 13, and Magic at No. 15.

I’m sorry, but these guys are not among the Top 25 players in the history of college basketball.

How easily the common sports fan will be fooled by this, but you must know: Bird was a solid two-year player, but not an all-time immortal on the college level (as far as his play, exclude the allure of the ‘79 title game).

Magic was 1/10 of the player that he was in the pros while playing at Michigan State, and Jordan showed flashes, but was not nearly the defensive badger nor the true shooter he developed into while wearing baby blue.

College career, ESPN, college.

Here’s the list that we have now:

25. George Mikan: I’ll buy it.

24. David Robinson: Too low.

23. Calvin Murphy: Too low.

22. Austin Carr: About right.

21. Tim Duncan: ESPN rewarding his four years at school. Not a Top 25 guy.

20. Bob Kurland: Supposedly changed the game before Wilt, so this is fine.

19. Elgin Baylor: Probably too low.

18. Ralph Sampson: TOO. LOW. Sampson has to be Top 10.

17. Tom Gola: I bet you can’t name where he played off the top of your head. Four-time All American though, so he had that going for him, which is nice.

16. Patrick Ewing: The biggest player in arguably college basketball’s most prominent/revolutionary decade is only 16th?

15. Magic Johnson: If a title meant Top 25, why not pick Mateen Cleaves!

14. Elvin Hayes: Unquestionably a Top 10 pick. Why? My dad talks of him and David Thomson more than anyone. Yes, my dad knows all.

13. Michael Jordan: Sam Perkins was more valuable to their ‘82 title team.

12. Christian Laettner: You’ve got to be freaking kidding me.

11. Jerry Lucas: Fine here.

10. Wilt Chamberlain: I’d probably have him at 8, but I’ll take it.

9. Larry Bird: If he was 23 or 24, I’d have no gripe.

8. David Thompson: Unstoppable, yet elegant. I wish he played today.

7. Bill Bradley: Wasn’t it cute when the Ivy League had talent?

6. Jerry West: Definitely.

5. Pete Maravich: Before his time, you have to have him here.

4. Bill Russell: You can’t argue it, of course.

And that’s it, because they’re unveiling them up until, of course, the North Carolina-Duke orgy on Saturday.

I’ll almost bet my house on the final three being, in order: Bill Walton, Oscar Robertson, and Lew Alcindor being the greatest ever.

A cute list to do, but ESPN can’t be respected for their true devotion to actual game-changers in the history of the college game with this list.

No Isiah Thomas? No Bob Cousy? Even Larry Johnson deserves some thought.

Also think about Durant and now Beasley’s single-year accomplishments. Their domination could put them in the lower 20’s in my book.