I believe that most likely Tyreke is the closest thing to Big O. First of all, let's compare them, shall we?
Both are 6'6'' 220 lbs guards who are capable of playing multiple positions on the court. They're considered big at their respective positions. Oscar also played for Cincinnati Royals which is Sacramento Kings these days, what a coincidence or is it fate?
Oscar was one of the only three rookies in the NBA history who averaged at least 20-5-5 in the rookie year (the others are Jordan and LeBron), and most likely Tyreke will join that group.
For those of you who said that Oscar played in a weak era in the '60s, think again.
To clear somethings first, the 24-sec. shotclock was already in place in 1954. The three second rule was introduced in 1936. Illegal defense was already in place since 1947. Defensive goaltending was instituted way back during Mikan's college days (pre-1950s). Offensive goaltending was instituted during Russell's senior year in college (1956).
Oscar debuted in the NBA in 1960. He played with all rules in effect.
The level of competition in Oscars era in the '60s is exceptionally tougher. Why? Because the level of competition is dependent on the quality of players on the League, NOT on the quantity. And during that time, the talent is concentrated into just eight or nine teams.
The top talent in the '90s are diluted into 30 teams, which makes for weak competition.
The NCAA and NIT (when it still mattered) was concentrated in only eight or nine teams. The 24th pick of the first round today would be the final pick of the third round in the '60s. Only the cream of the crop get to play in the NBA in the '60s.
And saying that he played in a "raw" era in the '60s and Jordan played in an era when basketball skills are "perfected" is just plain era/time bias. Thirty years from now, people would look down at the '90s, the Jordan era, and simply label the players of the '90s as having "raw" basketball skills.
Second, the '60s era in which he played was a more physical era. There were no sissy flagrant or handcheck fouls during that time. Refs allow those physical tactics to go unpunished because the owners and NBA management believe that blood and violence was what brought people to basketball games back then. Superstar players like Wilt/Oscar/Russell receive no favorable treatment from refs and in fact.
Do you think that Oscar Robertson's stats are misleading?
No, The players in the '60s and '70s didn't have all the luxuries that they do today, i.e private planes, personal trainers/dieticians, huge contracts, extra days off between games, preferential treatment by officials, modern technology, etc...
Back when Roberston averaged a "triple-double", it was no big deal like it is today, when people TRY to do that.
Plus, what qualifies as an assist today would not be an assist when Oscar played. Back then, if you took one dribble, you were not awarded an assist, unlike today, when assists are given more liberally.
Oscar was 6'6", which was big for a guard back then, as well as now. So he'd have no trouble grabbing rebounds.
And, he was a great shooter, unlike players of today, who are limited fundementally. Keep in mind, there was no three-point shot back then as well.
Check the top 50 list and you'll see that most of the players on that list played at the same time as Wilt/Oscar.
The question you should be asking is whether the players of today be as great if they played back then after taking away all the luxuries and perks that they receive.
So if he was that good, why don't we talking about him in the GOAT debate instead of Jordan, Magic, etc?
1) No Sportscenter in the 1960s
2) The NBA does not, as a rule, promote its stars of the past. The networks who cover the NBA today and telecast NBA games are in the business of promoting today's stars. ABC doesn't have any incentive to tell anyone about how great Oscar Robertson was.
3) Most players today do not TRULY respect the guys who came before them. To 90 percent of them, playing in the NBA is an entitlement. There are a few guys (Lebron James, Kobe Bryant, Shaq, Tim Duncan, among others) who have somewhat of an understanding about the great players who came before them. Everyone in the NBA knows Magic, Bird, Jordan, all the Dream Team guys... but guys like Lebron, Kobe, Shaq, and Duncan know who Willis Reed, Nate Thurmond, Wes Unseld, Dave Cowens, Elvin Hayes, Earl Monroe, Dave Debusschere, Gus Johnson, and guys like that were.
Professional sports leagues today don't have any financial incentive to tell fans how great some player was 30 or 40 years ago. If they thought that they could sell jerseys with old-time players names and numbers on them, it would be a different story. But ABC doesn't make any money talking about Oscar Robertson.
Even ESPN Sportscenter anchors and reporters are just reading stats that other people compile for them. None of them really knows the history of the NBA.
But how good would Oscar Robertson be if he played today?
If the '60s players were stuck with '60s training and nutrition and if their skills and understanding of the rules of the game were not UPDATED to its modern counterparts, then yes, they would certainly underperform.
Otherwise, they would still have the same impact, stats, and legacy, and in some cases like Jerry West and Elgin Baylor, would probably exceed it.
West is a 6'3" guard with the same shirt sleeve length as the 7'1" Wilt Chamberlain. He is also one of the best outside shooter and lockdown defender at guard. Playing with a three-point line, his scoring record would greatly increase.
Baylor's impact was sorely diminished by a knee injury in '64(?). With modern surgery and medicine, these would have been alleviated if not prevented (Modern medicine also would've done wonders to Bill Walton's career).
The style of officiating would also benefit plenty of players. Oscar Robertson's assists record (and everyone of the old timers, in general) would've increased considerably in today's era when assists are loosely awarded. Back then, assists were only counted in catch and shoot situations. The loose officiating on travelling would certainly benefit Earl Monroe and his spin moves. The strict rules on physical play today would decrease the amount rebounds and increase the FG% of the old timers.
Wilt Chamberlain would love the fact that physical dominance is applauded in todays' game and would proceed to showoff just how much of a physical phenom he is. No more holding back for Wilt. In the '60s, people stigmatize him for dunking and bullying his way to the basket. Bill Russell, however, would be irritated with the play ground mentality of today's players with its emphasis on show boating. He would exploit this mentality to his advantage.
Anyway, back to the topic. Do you think that Tyreke is the closest thing to Oscar? That's an honor for EVERYONE who is dubbed as the next Oscar Robertson, imho.
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