NBA Faces of the Franchise: The All-Time List
After reading Josh Danhi's article, "NBA Faces of the Franchise" I have decided to take it one step further and make a list using players from all time.
I realize this list will be very controversial, and I would love to debate any of my picks with you. Some of these picks were much harder than others, but I based my picks off of what that player brought to the team and city, stats, awards, team success, and overall fan favoritism.
I hope you enjoy!
Atlanta Hawks—Dominique Wilkins
Who can argue that the "Human Highlight Reel" is not the face of the Atlanta Hawks?
Wilkins will always be remembered for his high flying dunks and tremendous play making ability.
His Game Seven battle with Larry Bird in the 1988 conference semi finals is still one of the best performances I have ever witnessed.
Boston Celtics—Larry Bird
"The Hick from French Lick" will always be the face of the Boston Celtics. His legendary rivalry with Magic Johnson was a true gift to the sport of basketball.
Bird led the Celtics to three championships during what I would call the most competitive era in the history of the NBA.
Bird rose to the challenge and shined against matchups with Magic, Dominique, Jordan, and Drexler.
Larry Legend might also be the best three point shooter in the history of the league.
Charlotte Bobcats—Emeka Okafor
Although Okafor isn't necessarily the best player in the Bobcats short reign in the NBA, he is definitely the face of it.
Highly sought after for his great career at UConn, Okafor was the face of the Bobcats since day one.
Okafor hasn't yet lived up to his hype, but he is a respectable player.
Chicago Bulls—Ben Gordon
HA, just kidding!
Michael Jordan is easily the face of the Chicago Bulls.
Air Jordan was the best basketball player of his time and led the Bulls to six championships.
Plus, he was always wearing neat sneakers!
Cleveland Cavaliers—Lebron James
It's hard not to be the face of your franchise when you are the best player in the league.
At the ripe old age of 24, The King has already proven his greatness.
Dallas Mavericks—Dirk Nowitzki
I have always thought that Dirk Nowitzki has been an under appreciated player. He always had to deal with the label of playing soft and heartless, but I don't see it.
Dirk was the first 7'0" player in the NBA who could move outside and knock down three pointers. At times, he is physically unguardable.
I hope Mr. Cuban can find a better answer than the ancient Jason Kidd to help the Mavs make a legitimate title run.
The Dallas Mavs all time scoring leader is definitely the face of the franchise all across the globe.
Denver Nuggets—Alex English
This was a tough decision to make, simply because I have never seen English play, and not being a fan of the Denver Nuggets, I did not know much about this player.
However, after doing some homework, and looking through the Nuggets record books, English's numbers made it impossible for me to choose anyone else.
During his 10-year span with the Nuggets (1980-1990), English was a prominent scorer who led his team to nine straight playoff appearances.
English was the first player in NBA history to record eight straight 2,000 point seasons. When English retired he was ranked No. 6 all time in scoring.
Detroit Pistons—Isiah Thomas
Isiah Thomas is the face of the Detroit Pistons because he was the team leader during their back to back championship runs in the early 1990's.
Thomas is touted as one of the best true point guards in the history of the league. He was a tough player who could do it all.
Thomas is the Pistons leader in points, assists, steals, minutes, field goals, and free throws.
Golden State Warriors—Rick Barry
Rick Barry will always be remembered by his under hand free throw technique.
Barry was a unique player who played with heart and natural talent.
His best season as a Warrior was in 1975. He averaged 30 points, six assists, five rebounds, and 2.9 steals per game.
He led the Warriors to an NBA championship, where he was awarded the NBA finals MVP.
Barry led the Warriors to five playoff appearances.
If he would have not spent three seasons in the ABA at the start of his career, his career stats would look a lot better.
During Barry's career with Golden State, he was elected to the all star game every year.
Houston Rockets—Hakeem Olajuwon
The Dream is one of the best centers in the history of the league. He was a force down low on both ends of the court.
He is remembered for his footwork on offense and his ability to block any shot he wanted to on defense.
Olajuwon is the Rockets' leader in games played, minutes played, points scored, rebounds, steals, blocks, field goals made, and free throws made.
He led the Rockets to back to back championships in 94' and 95,' won the MVP award in 94', is a 12x NBA All Star, five time NBA All Defense team, and two time Finals MVP.
Indiana Pacers—Reggie Miller
Reggie Miller is the best three point shooter in league's history. He has one of the purest shots you will ever see.
Miller leads the Pacers in games played, minutes played, field goals made, three point field goals made, assists, steals, and points.
He spent all of his 18-year career in Indiana.
Miller also holds the NBA record for four-point plays, with 24.
Los Angeles Clippers—Elton Brand
The Clippers are currently the oldest team to never make an appearance in the NBA Finals, so I couldn't make this pick off of postseason success.
Elton Brand spent six quality seasons with the Clips, averaging close to 20/10 each season.
I don't feel good about this pick, but I don't feel good about anything involving the Los Angeles Clippers.
Los Angeles Lakers—Magic Johnson
This was the hardest pick I've had to make so far.
With players like Wilt, Kareem, West, Baylor, Worthy, Kobe, and Shaq I had to make quite the decision.
All of the above players are proven winners, with loads of talent. The reason I chose Magic was because of the attitude he brought to the city of L.A.
He gave the Lakers that successful, showtime swagger they carry. The stat that made my ultimate decision is his 138 career triple doubles. The next player on the Lakers' list is Kobe Bryant, with 14.
Magic could play any position on the floor, and he did.
We will probably never again see a career point guard start at the center position in an NBA Finals game. If we do, I'm sure he wont put up 42 points, 15 rebounds, seven assists, and three steals.
He also won the opening tip-off. Oh yea, it was also his rookie season.
Memphis Grizzlies—Bryant Reeves
Bryant Reeves was the first ever pick by the Grizzlies, in 1995. Big Country might not have the best overall numbers for this franchise, he was the face of it for a few years.
Some will argue that this pick should go to Pau Gasol. I agree, Gasol is a much better player, but Reeves brought an attitude and excitement to the Grizzlies.
He was fun to watch and a good guy to have on the team.
The only statistical category Big Country leads the Grizzlies in is personal fouls. This is a prime example that you don't necessarily have to have great stats to be the face of a franchise.
Miami Heat—Dwyane Wade
I really wanted this pick to be Alonzo Mourning. I like Zo' more and really miss watching him dominating teams back in the 90's.
However, Wade has taken over the title as the face of the franchise. He took Miami to their first and only NBA championship. Plus, he just passed Mourning as the Heat's all time leading scorer.
Milwaukee Bucks—Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
This was tough.
I thought about Oscar Robertson, but he was only a Buck for four seasons. I didn't think that qualified him to be the face of their franchise.
I was thinking about Glenn Robinson and Ray Allen, but the Bucks were never the best team in the NBA during that era.
I even thought about Michael Redd, but again, there isn't much excitement in Milwaukee about it's basketball team, right?
I decided to go with Kareem because when he played for the Bucks they were a very good basketball team.
He scored NBA MVP honors as a buck. He led the league in scoring and rebounding as a Buck. He also won the NBA Finals MVP award in the Bucks only championship.
Milwaukee was a basketball city in the early 70's. The face of that team was Kareem. Until the Milwaukee Bucks can be relevant again, Kareem will remain the face of their franchise.
Minnesota Timberwolves—Kevin Garnett
Although The Big Ticket never had much postseason success in Minnesota, he still gets the nod as the face of the franchise.
The Timberwolves never had any postseason success, so I needed to look past that. Garnett has more than double the career points as the second player on the all time scoring list, Sam Mitchell, has more than triple the amount of rebounds as any other player in franchise history, and also leads the franchise in steals and blocks.
New Jersey Nets—Jason Kidd
Jason Kidd's first year in New Jersey gave the Nets their best record in team history. New Jersey finally had a team leader who could manage games and bring excitement to the program.
Kidd took the Nets to the Finals a few times, but never won it all.
New Orleans Hornets—Muggsy Bogues
I'm sorry, I had to do it.
This pick could have went to Glen Rice, Alonzo Mourning, or even Chris Paul, but none of these guys wanted it bad enough.
The 5'3", 136 pound, Bogues was a fan favorite. Not only among Hornet fans, but among basketball fans.
His popularity skyrocketed after his appearance in the legendary movie, Space Jam. After watching that movie as a kid, Bogues landed a place in my heart as one of my favorite players.
The face of the franchise doesn't always go out to the best player on the team, but rather, the face you see when someone mentions the Hornets.
It's hard to see him, but I do see Bogues.
New York Knicks—Patrick Ewing
Patrick Chewing is the New York Knicks all time leader in points, rebounds, blocks, games, minutes, free throws, fouls, and steals.
Ewing played 15 seasons for the Knicks, earning 11 NBA all star selections. The Knicks were one of the best teams in the NBA during the 90's, and Ewing is the main reason.
He also had a starring role in the legendary movie, Space Jam. Giving him more popularity among the youth.
Oklahoma City Thunder—Kevin Durant
They are not called the Supersonics, and they are not located in Seattle. Therefore, Kevin Durant takes the cake as the Thunder's face of the franchise.
The Thunder became an official NBA team as of last season. Durant is easily the best player on the team and the future of the Thunder.
Orlando Magic—Anfernee Hardaway
Penny Hardaway is the face of the Orlando Magic's franchise due to the combination of skill and off court popularity.
Penny was a fan favorite for most NBA fans during his tenure with the Magic. In Penny's first year with the Magic (1993), he led them to their first playoff birth in team history.
In his second season in the league, Penny led the Magic to the NBA Finals. Despite his 25/5/8 average, the Magic were swept by the Houston Rockets.
Plus, almost every kid I knew owned a pair of the famous Penny sneakers. The blue and silver ones with his face on the bottom.
You know you had a pair too.
Philadelphia 76ers—Julius Erving
Dr. J is one of the best players in the history of the league. He is also one of the most popular.
The combination of his high flying dunks, tube socks, and that darn hair, Dr. J is the face of the 76ers.
Including his stint in the ABA, Erving currently ranks No. 5 all time in points scored.
Phoenix Suns—Charles Barkley
I gave Chuck the nod because of his "lovable" personality and on court skill set. Barkley only played four seasons in Phoenix, but those were his best four years in the NBA.
His second year on the team he was awarded the NBA's MVP. He also made the all star game every year he was with Phoenix.
Barkley has recently announced that although he was listed as 6'6" throughout his NBA career he was closer to 6'4".
As one of the best power forwards of all time, I found this amazing.
Portland Trail Blazers—Bill Walton
Walton was finals MVP of Portland's only NBA championship. He also won the regular season MVP award the year following.
During Walton's prime, the Trailblazers set a sports record by selling out 814 home games in a row.
Walton also scored NBA First All-Defense team twice as a Blazer.
This pick would probably go to Clyde Drexler for a lot of other people, and I would be okay with that, too.
Sacramento Kings—Mitch Richmond
Richmond spent seven seasons in Sacramento. He led the team in scoring each year, and was regarded as one of the best pure shooters in the league.
There are only six other players in league history to average at least 21 points per game throughout their first 10 seasons in the league.
He is also No. 13 in league history in three point field goals.
San Antonio Spurs—Tim Duncan
Timmy D is the best power forward in NBA history. He led the Spurs to four NBA championships. He is the only player ever to be named to both an All NBA team and an All Defense team in each of his first nine seasons.
Although it may be boring, Duncan is the face of the San Antonio Spurs.
Toronto Raptors—Vince Carter
Vince Carter was one of the most popular players in the past decade. Carter might be the best dunker in the history of the league, and also had enough talent to consistently score 20 plus points per game.
He has made the all star team five times, leads the team in most points scored, is third in rebounds, and fourth in assists.
When you think of the Raptors, you think of Vince.
Utah Jazz—Karl Malone/John Stockton
How can you pick one over the other?
Stockton and Malone are one of the best duo's in league history.
Malone is second all time in scoring, only behind Kareem, and is sixth all time in rebounds.
Stockton leads the NBA in assists, and steals.
Stockton and Malone are also ranked No. 3 and No. 4, respectively, in games played.
Washington Wizards—Gilbert Arenas
Gilbert Arenas is looked upon as a hero in Washington. He has been one of the best players in the NBA for years. His fan interaction is what gives Agent Zero the nod as the face of the franchise.
He loves chatting with fans through his blogs and making bold predictions for upcoming games.
His game is also very enjoyable to watch. You can tell he has fun with what he does.
He is famous for the range he has on his three ball. I hope he can come back healthy next year.