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GREATEST NBA SQUAD EVER

sanford palmerContributor IJuly 28, 2016

GREATEST NBA SQUAD EVER

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    What if you could build your personal All-Time NBA Dream Time?  Who would you pick?  What if you could pick guys from any team, any era, and any position for your squad?  Who would you go with and why?  I have assembled what I consider the greatest starting 5, 6th man and coach of all time.  Not even the great Dream Time of ‘92 could stop these guys.  Check out the greatest squad ever and let me know what you think.

HONORABLE MENTION

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    The Human Highlight Reel.  The names says it all.  One of the greatest scorers and most electrifying players in the history of the game.  Very few could bring a crowd to their feet like Dominique Wilkins.  Beyond his unbelievable aerial gymnastics, Dominique was one of the most dominating offensive players ever.  He averaged over 25.8 ppg 10 years in a row and finished with a career scoring average of 24.8.  As a native of Atlanta it was extremely hard to keep ‘Nique off my list but that should let you know how great the rest of the list is.

HONORABLE MENTION

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    I know you are probably thinking what kind of all time list does not include Wilt Chamberlin at center.  We all know about his exploits 100 point game, 50.4ppg for an entire season, career 30 ppg player and 10,000…..well you know.  Outside of that guy in Chicago Wilt may be the greatest scorer if not the greatest player ever.  Very few scored like Wilt on the court and NOBODY scored like Wilt off the court.  Even with his Goliath like stats, not even the great Wilt Chamberlin could start on this team.

HONORABLE MENTION

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    Harold Miner, Penny Hardaway, Vince Carter, and Jerry Stackhouse.  What two things do all of these guys have in common?  They were all called the ”Next Jordan” and they all failed!  Of all of the guys labeled as the “Next Jordan” only one has lived up to the hype.  Of course Kobe isn’t the second coming of MJ but being the first coming of Kobe ain’t half bad.  Kobe “Bean” Bryant is one of the best to ever lace ‘em up.  He came into the league as a wide eyed 18 year old kid and unleashed 14 years of pure domination the likes of which we haven’t seen since you know who.  Once he matured and learned how to play team ball, he developed into one of the most feared, versatile, and clutch players of all time. 

Coach

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    I had to put a little thought into this one.  Some may think its an easy pick to go with Phil but not so much.  You cant forget about guys like Lenny Wilkins, Pat Riley, and of course Red Auberbach.  All of those guys are hall of fame coaches with championship rings but only Phil has 11.  Not only does Phil have 11 rings but he has 13 Final’s appearances. 

     

    Jackson along with Tex Winters revolutionized the game with their triangle offense.  He was able to get the games best players to buy into his philosophy.  Who else but Phil could transform Kobe Bryant from a whining, ball hogging, young punk into a team player who plays team ball instead of me ball? 

     

    Phil Jackson is the greatest coach ever and he just edges out stiff competition to lead my squad 

     

6th Man

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    For all you youngsters whose NBA knowledge goes no further than NBA Live you may not know this name.  Oscar Robertson is perhaps one of the greatest and most underrated players of all time.  Some, including myself, list the Big O as the most versatile player ever. The NBA has never seen a more complete package than Oscar Robertson.  He averaged at least 24.7 ppg 10 years in a row while averaging over 30 ppg for 6 of his first 7 seasons.  In addition to his scoring he served up at least 9.5 assist for his first 9 years and added at least  6 rpg for his first 10. 

     

    Robertson turned in the greatest NBA season ever in ‘61-’62 when he averaged 30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 11.4 assists.  He is the only player in league history to average a triple double for an entire season.  That season was not a fluke.  Robertson is the all time triple doubles leader with 181. 

     

    The key to being a great 6th man is versatility.  You must be able to come off the bench hot and be able to play multiple positions.  Robertson could man the point, shooting guard, and small forward positions with ease.  Players like Lebron James, Chris Weber, and Scottie Pippen are following a trail that was blazed by the Big O. 

Center

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    No franchise has been blessed with more dominate big men than the Lakers.  From Mikan, to Chamberlin, to O'Neal they have had an unbelievable plethora of great centers.  This fact alone may explain why they have 16 championship banners hanging from the Staples Center.  But of all the greats that manned the middle for the purple and gold no one in the history of the franchise or league did it better than Kareem.

     

    Some may question my choice of Kareem over Wilt.  If you look at Wilt’s stats he towers above Kareem and everyone else.  Wilt put up ungodly numbers and he is the only center that can challenge Kareem for this spot.  But for all of the numbers that Wilt put up Kareem crushes him in one category.  Wilt won two titles while Kareem won six.  For all of Wilt’s greatness he was never able to seal the deal like The Captain. 

     

    A smarter player may have never existed.  Kareem’s basketball IQ combined with his agility, fluidity, size, and touch makes him the best ever.  His hook shot was basketball’s ultimate weapon.  He was the key to the Lakers “Showtime” era due to his defense and rebounding on one end and his ability to start and finish the break on the other.  If anyone doubts Kareem’s greatness just look at the 38,387 points that he scored in his career.  For all that don’t know that is an NBA record.  And besides what other 7’2” man do you know that can take on Robert Parish and Bruce Lee. 

Power Forward

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    I know everyone was expecting Duncan, Barkley, Malone, or Garnett but I chose the ultimate champion.  For my money Bill Russell is the greatest basketball player ever and one of America’s greatest athletes of all time.  If the purpose of playing the game is to win, nobody did it better than Bill Russell .

     

    How can you possibly begin to describe Bill Russell’s greatness?  I can prove all of the accolades I bestowed on him in just one sentence.  He is the greatest champion of the 20th century.  He has 11 rings and no player in any other major sport  comes close.  Russell is the greatest leader the game has ever known.  No player was ever more important to his team than Russell to the Celtics.  In 13 seasons he was a 12 time All-Star, 5 time MVP, and most importantly an 11 time champion.  In his last three seasons he served as player/head coach and led his team to back-to-back titles to end his career.  Not only was Russell able to handle the pressure of being a player/head coach but he also endured the pressure of being America’s first Black professional head coach. 

     

    Russell averaged less than 16 ppg in his career but he made his money defending and rebounding.  He averaged 22.5 rebounds for his career. Blocks were not an official stat when he played but he is undoubtedly the greatest defender the game has ever known.  He is the standard bearer by which all great defenders are measured to this day.

     

    By having Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the NBA’s all time leading scorer at center, Bill Russell can focus on playing defense and rebounding.  Not even David Robinson and Tim Duncan can compete with these twin towers. 

Small Forward

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    Larry Legend.  Need I say more?  Larry Bird was one of the most deadly players to ever step on the court.  Great passer, great rebounder, and of course he was a great shooter.  Great shooter doesn’t even begin to describe Bird.  He may have been the greatest shooter ever.  Bird shot just under 50% for his career but he had 6 seasons in which he shot over 40% from the three point line. 

     

    Few players have a championship pedigree that is stronger than Bird’s.  He helped to revitalize the NBA in the 80’s and won three titles in the process.  Bird averaged 24.3 points, 10 boards, and 6.3 assists for his career. 

     

    He always saved his best for the big games.  I still have memories of his duel with Dominique Wilkins in the ‘88 playoffs.  In a game 7 fourth quarter shootout Bird matched Wilkins point for point.  Wilkins scored 47 but Bird scored 34 with 20 coming in the fourth quarter to seal the win. 

     

    As great as that match up was nothing could surpass watching Bird and the Celtics battle Magic and the Lakers for the title. Outside of Wilt Chamberlin and Bill Russell the NBA has never seen a more competitive rivalry. Bird beat Magic and the Lakers in the ‘84 Finals. If you ever want to see basketball played at its highest levels pop in a tape of Bird and the Celtics vs. Magic and the Lakers for the championship.  It gets no better than that.

Point Guard

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    Speaking of Magic.  If I was starting a franchise and could pick one player to build around it would have to be Magic Johnson. No one ever played the game with more skill. Watching Magic run the fast break was like watching an Alvin Ailey production.  It was just beautiful. His ball skills were ridiculous. He ran the “Showtime” Lakers like Joe Montana ran the west coast offense. 

     

    Bill Russell gets my vote for the greatest player ever but Magic Johnson will always be my personal favorite. He is neck and neck with Oscar Robertson for the best all around player ever.  He was drafted as a 6’9” point guard in a year when there were only six starting 7 footers in the NBA and one was on his team.  Magic was a mismatch both in terms of size and skill.  He was the rebirth of the Big O with a lot more flare.  He could beat his man off the dribble, with a pull up j, or with the pass. 

     

    Magic was the most skilled player ever.  He averaged 19.5 points, 11.2 assist, and 7.5 rebounds for his career and he had 5 rings.  When he retired, he held the NBA’s all time assist record with 10,141.  If not for his early retirement he may still hold this record. 

     

    Magic proved his greatness and versatility his rookie year.  He led the Lakers to the 1980 championship.  Not only did he lead his team to a title as a rookie but in the clinching game he started at center. Magic scored 42 points, pulled 15 boards, had seven assists and three steals all while filling in for the greatest center ever. How many point guards do you know that can fill in for the best center of all time and lead his team to a title while doing it?  Magic Johnson.  The name says it all.

Shooting Guard

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    As if you didn’t know.  I don’t think I have to explain this pick.  30.1 ppg, 5.3 assist, 6.2 rpg, 6 titles, 5 time MVP, 6 time Finals MVP, 9 time All NBA Defensive 1st Team, 10 time scoring champ, 14 time All Star, etc., etc., etc. 

     

    What more can you say about Mike that hasn’t already been said.  Most people consider him the GOAT.  With this guy on the squad I just can’t lose.

     

    No one ever had more heart and determination.  I still remember what he did to Utah in the Final’s with the flu.  Nothing could stop this guy. The game just meant too much to him.

     

    My favorite Jordan memory was watching him drop 39 on Portland in Game 1 of the ‘92 Finals.  This guy went 6 of 10 from the three point line and gave Cliff Robinson the “I just can’t help that I’m this good” look.  Jordan was the ultimate weapon. Air Jordan.  ‘Nuff said.

Let The Debate Begin

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    Well there it is.  I can’t imagine a better team than that.  Of course I couldn’t make room for everybody.  Guys like Olajuwon, Dr. J., Jerry West, and KG just missed the cut.  But I feel more than comfortable with this being the best squad ever.  I have the perfect combination of defense, rebounding, passing, and scoring.  No one can possibly put a better team together than mine.  Looking forward to hearing everyone’s opinion.  Let me know what you think.

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