NBA Legends Who Could Still Play in the League
So, remember when Tim Grover, MJ's long-time trainer, thought that Jordan could outplay anyone on the Charlotte Bobcats' current roster and that he'd be able to average 20 points per game right now? And remember, about a week before that, when fellow North Carolina alum Antawn Jamison suggested that His Airness still has what it takes to contribute at a high level?
Well, what if we expanded that conversation beyond just the greatest of all time? Which other retired NBA legends might still be useful in uniform today?
Note: For the sake of this discussion, we'll limit the list to former players who are eligible for enshrinement into the Basketball Hall of Fame, at the very least.
Who better with which to start than Michael Jordan's old partner in crime from the Chicago Bulls, Scottie Pippen?
The 2010 Hall of Fame inductee, who's two-and-a-half years Jordan's junior, was a jack of all trades during his heyday. Surely, some of those skills have yet to vacate his 6'8", 47-year-old frame.
Scottie may not be able to play lockdown defense like he did back in the 1990s, but as he demonstrated during a recent exhibition game in the Philippines, the dude can still run the fast break and get up for a dunk.
Among Jordan's many nemeses, Reggie Miller seems like the best bet to throw on his old jersey and contribute on the court right now.
A sharp shooting stroke is one of the few things in basketball that doesn't dissipate with age, and Miller's, however funky, was one of the most effective the NBA had ever seen. It wasn't all that long ago that Reggie's 2,560 made three-pointers were the most in basketball history, before Ray Allen shot right past him.
Nor was it so long ago that Ray Allen's Boston Celtics nearly coaxed a 42-year-old Miller out of retirement prior to their run to the title in 2008. Reggie was uneasy about playing for anyone other than his beloved Indiana Pacers, with whom he spent the entirety of his 18-year NBA career.
But what if the Pacers came calling today? They could certainly use a perimeter shooter of Reggie's caliber; they currently rank among the middle of the pack in attempts, makes and percentage from beyond the arc.
Of course, few (if any) have ever beat down Reggie Miller's door to learn his secrets of success, even with the three-point shot gaining traction in today's NBA.
On the other hand, Hakeem Olajuwon has had no such luck keeping current pros from trespassing on his expansive ranch just outside of Houston.
OK, so maybe they're not trespassing, but ever since Kobe Bryant showed up for some lessons in 2009, scores of NBA stars, most notably LeBron James and Amar'e Stoudemire, have enlisted the Dream's services to improve their own post games.
Hakeem's bad back might make it difficult for him to jump as high or shuffle his feet quite as quickly now that he, too, is 50. But he'll always be seven feet tall and, at the very least, he knows exactly what to expect from those players he's tutored.
And precisely how to fool those he hasn't.
If not for Hakeem Olajuwon and Michael Jordan, Karl Malone probably wouldn't have retired without a championship ring. As it stands, the Mailman might have the chops to chip in here and there for a team in need of some frontcourt depth. Malone was a master of the mid-range shot, running pick-and-pop with John Stockton till the cows came home during his twilight years with the Utah Jazz.
An elbow jumper here, a hard screen there, and who knows? Maybe Malone could earn himself a 10-day contract with a club in need of some promotional muscle.
If Karl could come back from a major knee injury during his 19th (and final) season, then, surely, he could mount a challenge to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's scoring record.
With some help from his Skechers, of course.
What good would a Karl Malone comeback be without a parallel move by John Stockton, his long-time running mate?
Stockton was the sort of iron man rarely seen at the point guard position. He missed all of 22 regular-season games during his 19-year career, 11 of which ended with All-NBA selections. At the age of 50, Stockton would likely lack the quickness and athleticism needed to stifle today's big, powerful floor generals.
Then again, Stockton was never known for his physical prowess. The guy was a smart basketball player who was tough as nails to some and flat-out dirty to others. Perhaps a bit part as a perimeter passer, a la Jason Kidd with the Dallas Mavericks and the New York Knicks, would work well for the NBA's all-time leader in assists.
In any case, Stockton's short-short sporting would be a welcomed addition in today's league, where retro always seems to be in style.