“People come, people go,” said author Nicholas Sparks. “They’ll drift in and out of your life, almost like characters in a favorite book.”
What applies to life and chick flicks—believe it or not—applies to basketball as well.
Some players take the NBA world—and our own—by storm, but then fade away—sometimes slowly, sometimes almost as quickly as they arrived. How and why these characters have “drifted” can vary, be it injury (Grant Hill), personal issues (Shawn Kemp) or simply being overhyped (Derrick Coleman).
Hill remains a valuable role player who could have been so much more if his body held up. Coleman was a serviceable player who, as a former No. 1 overall pick, was compared favorably to Karl “The Mailman” Malone, but instead just seemed to mail it in. And, with all the baby mama drama, it’s a gross injustice that Kemp doesn’t have his own reality show yet.
(And that, folks, is my quick homage to the 1990s.)
But then there are those who are transcendent enough to leave a legacy that will last a lifetime. A handful of them were displayed on center stage—er, court, during Sunday’s All-Star Game. Eventually, those men, among other active ballers, will most assuredly find themselves on an even grander stage, albeit in a much less grand location: The Basketball Hall of Fame in tropical Springfield, Massachusetts!
The following legacy-leavers, if they were to retire today, would leave no doubt of their inevitable inductions. FYI: “If they were to retire today” are the key words, which is why the Kevin Durants and Dwight Howards and Chris Pauls of the world are not included.
The criteria for inclusion are simple and fair: duration (at least 10 seasons in the league), transcendence (what mark they will leave on the game, including individual stats and accolades) and team success (championship rings help, but impact on an organization is key).
Agree or disagree with the rankings or omissions? There’s a comment box below. Indulge the webosphere with your words of wisdom.