Windy City's Finest: The Top 10 Greatest NBA Players From Chicago
I decided to put together a list of the top 10 greatest players born and raised in the area.
So, that means Kevin Garnett won't be making an appearance since he grew up in South Carolina and played only one year of high school ball in Chicago.
In addition, the list doesn't just include players from the mean inner city streets; I also gave some love to the suburbs as well.
Let's get started.
10. Jeff Hornacek
Hornacek attended Lyons Township High School in La Grange, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. He then played at Iowa State University before becoming the 46th overall pick of the 1986 NBA draft. Hornacek developed into one of the game's most feared shooters, especially from the free throw line. He once hit an amazing 67 free throws in a row and currently ranks 13th all-time in free throw percentage. In addition, Hornacek won the All-Star Three-Point Shootout twice and helped the Utah Jazz reach the NBA Finals in both 1997 and 1998.
9. Antoine Walker
Interesting fact: Walker played with Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb at Chicago's Mount Carmel High School. Walker chose to play for Rick Pitino at the University of Kentucky where he helped the Wildcats win the 1996 National Championship. The three-time All-Star forward played 12 seasons in the NBA with the Boston Celtics, Dallas Mavericks, Atlanta Hawks, Miami Heat, and Minnesota Timberwolves. His best days were in Boston where he teamed with Paul Pierce to lead the Celtics to the 2002 Eastern Conference Finals. Walker was a valuable role player off the bench during the Miami Heat's 2006 championship run.
8. Michael Finley
Finley played his high school ball at Proviso East located in Maywood, Illinois which is a suburb of Chicago. He went on to play at the University of Wisconsin where he set the school's all-time career scoring record. And he owned that record for eleven years until it was broken by Alando Tucker in 2007. Surprising, Finley slipped all the way to the 21st pick in the 1995 NBA Draft and was picked up by the Phoenix Suns. And just like college, Finley emerged as a potent scorer as a pro averaging at least 18 points per game for six consecutive seasons. Finley was named to the All-Star team twice and was member of the Dallas Mavericks' "Big Three" which also included Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash.
7. Maurice Cheeks
Cheeks grew up in Chicago's tough Robert Taylor Homes and went to DuSable High School. After his college career at West Texas State University, he was the 36th overall pick of the 1978 NBA Draft. Cheeks proved to be one of the biggest draft steals in league history since he currently ranks in the top-10 all-time in both steals and assists. The four-time All-Star point guard teamed up with Julius Erving and Moses Malone to lead the Philadelphia 76ers to the 1983 NBA championship. Cheeks played 15 seasons in the league and was a member of the All-Defensive First Team four times.
6. Dan Issel
Issel was born and raised in the Chicago suburb, Batavia, Illinois, where he attended Batavia High School. Issel played for the great Adolph Rupp at the University of Kentucky where he averaged a whopping 25.7 points per game. Following a magnificent six-year career in the ABA, he enjoyed another nine solid seasons in the NBA as a Denver Nugget. "The Horse" was a NBA All-Star in 1977 and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1993. As a head coach, Issel guided his eighth-seeded Nuggets to an upset over the top-seeded Seattle Supersonics in the first round of the 1994 playoffs.
5. Mark Aguirre
Aguirre was born and raised in Chicago and attended George Westinghouse High School. Following a standout collegiate career at DePaul, he was taken first overall in the 1981 NBA Draft by the Mavericks. He averaged at least 24.4 points per game six consecutive seasons and made the All-Star team on three different occasions. Aguirre played seven and half seasons with the Mavs before being traded to the Detroit Pistons in exchange for Adrian Dantley. Aguirre tuned out to be the missing piece in the Pistons' championship puzzle as he helped the team win back-to-back titles.
4. Tim Hardaway
It's a shame that Hardaway doesn't receive much consideration for the Hall of Fame. His career averages of 17.7 points and 8.2 assists per game look like Hall of Fame worthy numbers to me. And you can't forget that he was named an All-Star five times during his 13-year NBA career. Hardaway attended Chicago's Carver High School before heading to the University of Texas El Paso, also known as simply UTEP. Hardaway owned one of basketball's most lethal crossovers and helped make the Miami Heat a perennial title contender.
3. George Mikan
Mikan is widely considered the NBA's first dominant big man. He led the then-Minneapolis Lakers to a dynasty back in the 1950s and was named one of the NBA's 50 Greatest Players of All Time. Mikan was born and raised in the southwest suburb of Joliet and attended Chicago Archbishop Quigley Preparatory Seminary. He later played his college ball at local DePaul University and was named the college player of the year twice. Mikan averaged 22.3 points and 13.4 during his NBA career with the Lakers.
2. Dwyane Wade
Ever since he arrived in the NBA in 2003, Wade has been nothing less than spectacular. Over his stellar seven-year year career, he has averaged an astounding 25.4 points per game. Not bad. Wade teamed with Shaquille O'Neal to lead the Heat the the 2006 NBA Championship over the favored Dallas Mavericks. The six-time All-Star guard has both a scoring title and an Olympic gold medal on his resume. He was born on the South Side of Chicago and played at Harold L. Richards High School in Oak Lawn, Illinois, a southwestern suburb of Chicago.
1. Isiah Thomas
Who else would top this list other than the legendary Isiah Thomas?
He is undoubtedly one of the NBA's greatest point guards of all time, up there with the likes of Earvin "Magic" Johnson, Oscar Robertson, and John Stockton.
Thomas grew up on the West Side of Chicago and played basketball in suburban Westchester, Illinois at St. Joseph High School.
After leading Indiana University to the national championship his sophomore season, he was selected second overall in the 1981NBA Draft by the Detroit Pistons.
Thomas led the Pistons from a struggling franchise into a back-to back championship winner.
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