What Do LeBron, Wade, Jordan, D-Rose, Blake Griffin,and Dr. J Have In Common?
You sometimes hear a player described as a "once in a lifetime" type of athlete. The fans that get to watch him on a regular basis are truly blessed. What if your team is fortunate enough to have had two of those players?
That thought popped into my mind recently while watching Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls between "ooh's" and "ahhhh's." I couldn't believe I am lucky enough to watch all of his games, but then I remembered another guy who once played for the Bulls named Michael Jordan.
While Chicago is not known as a haven for elite sport franchises, we have had more than our share of good fortune with the Bulls.
Jordan was so electrifying that there were road cities his rookie year that showed highlights of him everyday, and mentioned how many days before he came to town.
That's when you know a player is worth the price of admission, when fans come just to see him play. Or when people who aren't even fans, like your Aunt Mildred, knows who he is.
If Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals is batting, you don't go to the bathroom. Who knows what you might miss if you did?
It got me to thinking about other NBA franchises that had two of those players that were SportsCenter stars, or would have been if it was around when they played.
I'm not necessarily talking about the best players ever, because while many players are great, they're not all "must-see-TV."
The Miami Heat currently have two of those players, and are the only team where they play together. I'm obviously talking about LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. The Heat fired their staff of ticket agents this summer because they figured the tickets would sell themselves.
They have become the hottest game in town, and sell out every road arena they play in. The fans may not love them, but they certainly love to watch them.
As in this case, they are not only exciting, but really good too. They'll have you shaking your head at least a couple of times a game with the things they can do on the court.
When talking about highlights, who can forget the "Showtime" Los Angeles Lakers with Magic Johnson at the helm? He could do things with the ball that made it look like he had it on a string. Add Kobe Bryant to the mix, and you have a really exciting stew, and a smorgasbord of fun for Lakers fans.
The "City of Brotherly Love" also had a couple of players more addicting than their cheesesteaks.
When you're talking exciting, Dr. J has to be right at the top of your list. He became a national phenomenon when he did his free-throw line dunk during the 1976 ABA All-Star game dunk contest. Many other players tried to copy the doctor, but none could fill his prescription.
He had hands like claws, and could fly from one side of the basket to the other, seemingly suspended in air until he put the ball in the hole.
Iverson was undersized and over-energized. He was like a pinball, bouncing off of players in his relentless attacks at the basket. Smaller than almost everyone he played against, he found a way to get to the hole, whether it was over, under, around, or through his opponents.
Philly may have won only one title between them, but they had a helluva lot of fun trying.
Speaking of fun, when was the last time a player made an impact on the league as quickly as Blake Griffin of the L.A. Clippers?
His dunks are already legendary, just a little more than halfway through his rookie season. As he matures, he's only going to get better, though it's going to be hard to become more exciting than he already is.
For a franchise that's as maligned as the Clippers, they had another must-see player in Lloyd Free. Never heard of him? Perhaps you know him better as World B. Free.
A friend tagged him with the nickname in Brooklyn, where he went to high school. He had a 44-inch vertical and was known for 360-degree dunks. Quoting Wikipedia, "He was known for taking high-risk shots and playing flamboyantly."
His best year was with the Clippers when they played in San Diego, averaging 30.2 PPG. He only played with them for two years, but they were the best years of his career.
Just as his career with the Clippers was fleeting, Griffin's may be too if the team doesn't improve during his time there, but having the opportunity to watch players like that is breath-taking.
Speaking of that, there used to be a player with the Atlanta Hawks that was nicknamed the "Human Highlight Film," Dominique Wilkins.
If you google him, the top entry is "Top Ten All-Time Dominque Wilkins Dunks." He won a couple of dunk contests, and notably lost a controversial one to Michael Jordan during the 1988 All-Star Game played in Chicago.
If you had a chance to watch it, there really wasn't a loser. The real winners were the fans lucky enough to see it.
That brings me to another player who spent some time in Atlanta nicknamed "Pistol Pete." I'm talking about Pete Maravich. He averaged 44.2 PPG while playing for LSU. That was before the advent of the three-point shot. It was estimated he would have put up over 57 points a game if it had been in vogue when he played.
The Basketball Hall of Fame called Maravich "perhaps the greatest creative offensive talent in history." Hall of Famer John Havlicek of the Boston Celtics said "he was the best ball-handler of all time."
From his mop-top hair-do to his trademark floppy socks, you couldn't look away when he had the ball in his hands.
He also spent some of his best years with the New Orleans Jazz, but he burst on the scene with Atlanta, and they're the ones who first had the chance to watch his magical ball skills.
Watching Derrick Rose on a nightly basis, you can't help but marvel. He's easily the most athletic point guard in the league, and maybe ever. He can use his speed to beat you, or posterize you with a thunderous rim-rattling slam dunk
He can break an opponents' ankles with a lethal crossover, or leave them in his vapor when he turns on an extra gear driving to the basket.
He's the reason the Bulls are currently one of the best teams in the league, and one of the most entertaining. In the beginning of this century, you couldn't give Bulls tickets away. Not anymore.
It's back to the Jordan years in the 90's, when the Chicago Bulls were like rock stars. Everyone wanted to go to a Bulls concert, I mean game. The Chicago Stadium, and later the United Center, were the place to be when Michael and the Jordanaires were performing.
Who could forget his 63 point game against the 1986 Boston Celtics in the playoffs? That was before he had an outside shot. He went over and through one of the greatest teams in history.
How about his switching hands in the 1991 playoffs against the Los Angeles Lakers from a dunk to a layup?
I could go on and on, but I'm not trying to write "War and Peace" here.
I remember thinking during the Jordan years that Chicago fans better appreciate this, because they'll never see anything like it again.
Who would have thought that just a decade later a player like Rose would drop into Chicago's lap? I'm not saying D-Rose is MJ, but like the story says, he sure is exciting to watch.
I may be prejudiced, because you couldn't go wrong with any one of the duo's that I mentioned, but I'm partial to Chicago for the top of the fun quotient.
Is there a pair that I missed, because I don't want to be thought of as a boob?
I'm as excited to hear your thoughts as I was to watch these players, so give me your picks.
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