The NBA has been around for 62 years now, and has had its share of superstars every step of the way.
Watching young guns like Chris Paul, LeBron James, Kevin Durant and company gear up to reign supreme in the coming years popped a question into my head:
Who ruled the hardwood back in the day?
Who were the players who struck fear into opposing coaches' hearts long before I was born?
Well, I'm going to answer those questions in my 6-part series: The NBA All-Decade Teams.
Starting with the 50's (the NBA's first full decade), and ending with the 2000's, I'll break down who were, and who are the most feared players to ever lace up the All-Stars or Nikes and step onto the floor.
I'll give my starting five from each decade, complete with teams, stats, and a brief analysis.
So, without further ado, the NBA All-50's Team:
Point Guard: Bob Cousy, Boston Celtics
Stats (50’s only): 19.4 PPG, 7.6 APG, 5.8 RPG, 10x NBA All-Star, 1956-57 NBA MVP, 3x NBA Champion
The “Houdini of Hardwood” was far and away the best point guard of his time.
Cousy led the NBA in assists for eight straight seasons from 1952-59.
Cousy may be most well-known for his game two playoff performance against the Syracuse Nationals in the 1953 playoffs. The game went into four overtimes and, despite an injured leg, Cousy played 66 minutes, scored 50 points, and made a still-standing NBA-record of 30 free throws.
Former Celtics owner Walter Brown once said:
"The Celtics wouldn't be here without him [Cousy]. He made basketball in this town. If he had played in New York, he would have been the biggest thing since Babe Ruth. I think he is anyway."
Cousy's famous number 14 jersey was hung from the rafters in Boston in 1971.
Shooting Guard: Bill Sharman, Boston Celtics
Stats (50’s only): 18.0 PPG, 8x NBA All-Star, 3x NBA Champion
Bill Sharman teamed with Bob Cousy to form one of the best backcourts the league has ever known.
Sharman was best known for his outstanding shooting touch, being one of the first guards to shoot better than 40% from the field in a season.
He also had a terrific stroke at the free throw line, leading the league in free throw percentage seven times.
He set the record for best free throw percentage in a season with 93.2% in the 1958-59 season. The record was later broken by Ernie DiGregorio in 1976-77.
Sharman still holds the record for consecutive free throws made in the playoffs with 56.
Small Forward: Paul Arizin, Philadelphia Warriors
Stats (50’s only): 22.9 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 8x All-Star, NBA Champion (1955-56)
Paul Arizin was a prolific scorer in every sense of the word.
After coming into the league in 1950, Arizin led the league in scoring in both 1951-52 and 1956-57.
He played with fellow scoring star Joe Fulks during the early parts of his career, but his title came after Fulks had retired.
Arizin also played with 60’s star Wilt Chamberlain at the end of his career, and could have played with him even longer, but instead chose to retire from the NBA when the Warriors moved to San Francisco in 1962.
Power Forward: Dolph Schayes, Syracuse Nationals/Philadelphia 76ers
Stats (50’s only): 19.7 PPG, 13.3 RPG, 10x NBA All-Star, NBA Champion (1954-55)
Dolph Schayes was not only one of the best rebounders the league has ever seen, but also one of the best all-around players.
There was never a season in the 50’s where Schayes did not average a double-double, and when rebounding first started being kept as a stat in 1950, the 22-year-old Schayes led the league with a mind-boggling 16.4 per contest.
Center: George Mikan, Minneapolis Lakers
Stats (50’s only): 21.2 PPG, 13.4 RPG, 4x All-NBA First Team, 3 NBA Championships
George Mikan, what else needs to be said?
If anyone questions Mikan’s dominance, think about this:
In the 1950 NBA season, Mikan’s Lakers took part in one of the worst games ever played.
When the visiting Fort Wayne Pistons took a 19-18 lead over the Lakers, they ran down the clock by passing the ball, never even trying to score a basket, because they were afraid Mikan would mount a comeback if he ever got the ball again.
Since there was no shot clock yet, the plan worked perfectly, and the game ended with a 19-18 score.
By the way, Mikan scored 15 of the Lakers’ 18 points that night.
There they are, my NBA All-50’s team. The first group to be recognized as the “best of the best” in the league.
Next up, my NBA All-60’s team.