NBA Legends vs. Current All-Stars: Mock 64 Player One-on-One Tournament
In honor of the NBA lockout ending and the start of the 2011-12 season approaching, I put together an early Christmas gift for NBA fans—a legends vs. current all-stars mock one-on-one tournament.
What we have here is a 64-player, one-on-one tournament that pits 32 NBA legends against 32 NBA current all-stars.
This incredible tournament provides match-ups we've all dreamed of seeing, like Jordan vs. Kobe/LeBron, Olajuwon vs. Howard, Dr. J vs. Blake Griffin, Bird vs. Nowitzki, Magic vs. Wade and Magic vs. Rose.
The players are split up in a 64-player march madness-like bracket based on the following positions: center/power forward (C/PF), power forward/small forward (PF/SF), small forward/shooting guard (SF/SG) and shooting guard/point guard (SG/PG).
If you're not excited about this epic one-on-one showdown, you aren't a true NBA fan.
Now onto the tournament rules.
Official Tournament Game Rules
Here are the official game rules for the NBA legends vs. NBA current stars one-on-one tournament:
1. Game is to 25 points. A player must win by two points.
2. All shots are worth one point (like any true one-on-one game).
3. Fouls are called by the defender and result in a change of possession.
4. Shot clock is set at 24 seconds.
5. All defensive rebounds that aren't air balls must be taken back past the three-point line.
6. Game is make-it take-it rules.
Now that the official rules have been set, let's move on to the position based player/seeding reveals.
Center/Power Forward Division
(1) Bill Russell, C
(2) Wilt Chamberlain, C
(3) Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, C
(4) Shaquille O'Neal, C
(5) Hakeem Olajuwon, C
(6) David Robinson, C
(7) Moses Malone, PF
(8) Patrick Ewing, C
NBA Current All-Stars:
Power Forward/Small Forward Division
(1) Larry Bird, PF/SF
(2) Karl Malone, PF
(3) Charles Barkley, PF/SF
(4) James Worthy, SF
(5) Julius Irving, PF
(6) Kevin McHale, PF
(7) Willis Reed, PF
(8) Elvin Hayes, PF
NBA Current All-Stars:
Small Forward/Shooting Guard Division
(1) Michael Jordan, SF/SG
(2) Oscar Robertson, SG
(3) George Gervin, SG
(4) Elgin Baylor, SF
(5) Dominique Wilkins, SF
(6) Rick Barry, SF
(7) John Havlicek, SF
(8) Scottie Pippen, SF
NBA Current All-Stars:
Shooting Guard/Point Guard Division
(1) Magic Johnson, SF/SG/PG
(2) Jerry West, SG/PG
(3) Pete Maravich, SG/PG
(4) Isiah Thomas, PG
(5) Walt Frazier, PG
(6) Allen Iverson, PG
(7) John Stockton, PG
(8) Gary Payton, PG
NBA Current All-Stars
Now onto the 1st round match-ups.
C/PF 1st Round Matchups
(1) Bill Russell vs. (16) Lamarcus Aldridge
(2) Wilt Chamberlin vs. (15) Kevin Love
(3) Kareem Abdul Jabar vs. (14) Zach Randolph
(4) Shaquille O'Neal vs. (13) Pau Gasol
(5) Hakeem Olajuwon vs. (12) Kevin Garnett
(6) David Robinson vs. (11) Tim Duncan
(7) Moses Malone vs. (10) Amare Stoudemire
(8) Patrick Ewing vs. (9) Dwight Howard
PF/SF 1st Round Matchups
(1) Larry Bird vs. (16) Rudy Gay
(2) Karl Malone vs. (15) Al Horford
(3) Charles Barkley vs. (14) Andre Iguodala
(4) James Worthy vs. (13) Chris Bosh
(5) Julius Irving vs. (12) Blake Griffin
(6) Kevin McHale vs. (11) Paul Pierce
(7) Willis Reed vs. (10) Carmelo Anthony
(8) Elvin Hayes vs. (9) Dirk Nowitzki
SF/SG 1st Round Matchups
(1) Michael Jordan vs. (16) Eric Gordon
(2) Oscar Robertson vs. (15) Joe Johnson
(3) George Gervin vs. (14) Danny Granger
(4) Elgin Baylor vs. (13) Ray Allen
(5) Dominique Wilkins vs. (12) Manu Ginobli
(6) Rick Barry vs. (11) Kevin Durant
(7) John Havlicek vs. (10) LeBron James
(8) Scottie Pippen vs. (9) Kobe Bryant
SG/PG 1st Round Matchup
(1) Magic Johnson vs. (16) Tony Parker
(2) Jerry West vs. (15) Monta Ellis
(3) Pete Maravich vs. (14) Russell Westbrook
(4) Isiah Thomas vs. (13) Deron Williams
(5) Walt Frazier vs. (12) Chris Paul
(6) Allen Iverson vs. (11) Steve Nash
(7) John Stockton vs. (10) Derrick Rose
(8) Gary Payton vs. (9) Dwyane Wade
How Things Will Work from Here on ...
I am going to predict the results of each division going in this order: center/power forward, power forward/small forward, small forward/point guard and shooting guard/point guard.
Once each division is fully predicted the divisional winners will enter the "final four".
The winner of the C/PF division will play the winner of the PF/SF division, and the winner of the SF/SG division will play the winner of the SG/PG division.
The winner of each of those games will then meet in the finals of this epic 64 man tournament.
For those of you who want a complete analysis of every legends vs. current all-star match-up an in-depth analysis can be found here.
If you want the quick version, which I'm sure a majority of you will, the results of every match-up lie ahead.
C/PF 1st Round: (1) Bill Russell vs. (16) LaMarcus Aldridge
Russell is one of the most intelligent players to ever play the game. He understands the art of timing both on offense and defense, and he is extremely opportunistic.
Russell's ability to elevate and hit floaters will lead him to victory over the upstart Aldridge.
I can't see Aldridge scoring more than 15 against the staunch defense of this all-time great.
Bill Russell (25) LaMarcus Aldridge (15)
C/PF 1st Round: (2) Wilt Chamberlain vs. (15) Kevin Love
Love will jump out to an early lead using his ability to stretch the court and hit jump shots.
Ultimately, however, Chamberlain will step out and force Love to beat him inside, which he simply cannot do.
Chamberlain will bruise Love in the paint and school him in what it means to play physical basketball.
Wilt Chamberlain (25) Kevin Love (17)
C/PF 1st Round: (3) Kareem Abdul-Jabbar vs. (14) Zach Randolph
Z-Bo, say hello to the sky hook.
Randolph's inability to elevate on defense will be his downfall, as Kareem's hook shot will be unstoppable.
Z-bo doesn't have enough defense to come close to stopping Kareem's offensive skill set. Maybe in a few years Randolph will be able to hang with Kareem, but not right now.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (25) Zach Randolph (14)
C/PF 1st Round: (4) Shaquille O'Neal vs. (13) Pau Gasol
I have a hard time believing that Gasol (250 pounds) could out-play Shaq (325 pounds) in the paint.
Gasol will keep the game interesting until he misses his first shot and Shaq gets the ball.
Once Shaq has the ball he will go to the post and use his drop step to show Gasol who's boss. Shaq will prove he is the better Lakers center from the Kobe era.
Shaquille O'Neal (25) Pau Gasol (19)
C/PF 1st Round: (5) Hakeem Olajuwon vs. (12) Kevin Garnett
This is about as close as you can get to having someone play against himself in a one-on-one game.
Hakeem Olajuwon and Kevin Garnett are almost identically sized and they play similar basketball.
The difference maker in this mirror-image match-up will be the extra polish that Hakeem has on his post game.
Olajuwon will go shot for shot with Garnett when it comes to perimeter play, but he will pull away with his mini-hook in the paint.
Hakeem Olajuwon (25) Kevin Garnett (22)
C/PF 1st Round: (6) David Robinson vs. (11) Tim Duncan
Duncan has the indisputable advantage of shooting ability against Robinson. He has set himself apart from all centers with his ability to step back and hit jumpers.
Duncan is also a surprisingly strong finisher. He's not necessarily more physical than Robinson in finishing, but he has a finish that Robinson never had.
Duncan hits some later 18-foot bank shots to show the admiral who's boss in San Antonio.
Tim Duncan (32) David Robinson (30)
C/PF 1st Round: (7) Moses Malone vs. (10) Amare Stoudemire
This is a tough match-up to call.
Both players have the ability to bang down low all night long. That's why the game will go to the player who is able to stretch the court, even if it's only a 15-foot stretch.
Amare Stoudemire gets the advantage here because of his ability to hit turn-around jumpers like it's his job. Well, it actually is his job.
Amare can force Moses out of the paint all the way to the perimeter. Once he does that, the game will be in his hands.
Stoudemire wins the upset and makes a statement as the better high school to NBA player.
Amare Stoudemire (25) Moses Malone (19)
C/PF 1st Round: (8) Patrick Ewing vs. (9) Dwight Howard
The finesse that Howard lacks in his shooting ability is compensated by his freakish strength and post moves.
Ewing will undoubtedly hit some jumpers and hook shots against Howard, showing off his fine tuned skills.
Defense, however, will be the difference in this game.
Howard will power past Ewing in the post and show more athleticism and tenacity than Ewing, giving him a slight edge in this close match-up.
Dwight Howard (25) Patrick Ewing (22)
C/PF 2nd Round: (1) Bill Russell vs. (9) Dwight Howard
Dwight Howard won't be able to believe it himself, but he will beat Bill Russell in an epic match-up that pits fundamentals against athleticism and strength.
Howard will use his huge 50 pound size advantage over Russell every time he touches the ball.
Russell will stay in the game by grabbing offensive rebounds and finding ways to finish, but he won't be able to stop Howard consistently enough to get the win.
Dwight Howard (25) Bill Russell (23)
C/PF 2nd Round: (5) Hakeem Olajuwon vs. (4) Shaquille O'Neal
"The Dream" vs. "The Diesel."
This one is not easy to pick.
Olajuwon and O'Neal play entirely different types of basketball.
O'Neal's claim to fame was his ability to push absolutely everyone around whenever he wanted to. He was physical and could finish strong around the rim.
When Olajuwon gets the ball he will take advantage of his ability to hit jumpers and exploit O'Neal's defensive skill outside of the perimeter.
Hakeem "The Dream" will beat "Big Daddy Diesel" in this all-time great match-up.
Hakeem Olajuwon (25) Shaquille O'Neal (18)
C/PF 2nd Round: (6) Tim Duncan vs. (3) Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
This is a match-up for the ages.
Both players are the epitome of fundamental and they play with an extremely high basketball I.Q.
Kareem perfected the hook shot—and when I say perfected, I mean absolutely perfected. He could hit the jump shot from 20 feet out.
Kareem has three inches on Duncan plus a higher vertical leap, giving him a slight advantage in being able to block Duncan's shot as fatigue sets in late.
Kareem hits two long hook shots to move on to the next round.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (31) Tim Duncan (29)
C/PF 2nd Round: (2) Wilt Chamberlain vs. (10) Amare Stoudemire
While a large part of Chamberlain's productivity is because of the era in which he played, it doesn't change the fact that he absolutely dominated everyone.
He averaged over 30.0 points per game for his career.
Chamberlain will ultimately run away with the game using his height and physicality to overpower Stoudemire down low and get easy scoring opportunities.
Kudos to Stoudemire for staying in the game, but Chamberlain moves on to the next round in somewhat simple fashion.
Wilt Chamberlain (25) Amare Stoudemire (16)
C/PF 3rd Round: (5) Hakeem Olajuwon vs. (9) Dwight Howard
What Howard lacks in an outside game he makes up for with his ability to clear space with his body.
What Olajuwon lacks in physicality he makes up for with his ability to step back and hit jump shots.
This game will be close.
Olajuwon won't have the strength to keep fighting Howard's physicality down low, and Howard will get the ball last and pound it down Olajuwon's throat.
Superman lasts to fight another day.
Dwight Howard (27) Hakeem Olajuwon (25)
C/PF 3rd Round: (2) Wilt Chamberlain vs. (3) Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Kareem and Chamberlain's battles during their careers were always physical and evenly matched. Chamberlain blocked a hook shot or two, but Kareem never abandoned his signature move.
Chamberlain's signature mini-fadeaway helped make him famous, but Kareem has a more solidified offensive skill set than Chamberlain. That will be the difference in this match-up.
Kareem will figure out how to defend Chamberlain's little jumper and he will shut it down.
Kareem's adherence to the hook shot will be the difference maker against Chamberlain.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (30) Wilt Chamberlain (28)
C/PF Championship: (3) Kareem Abdul-Jabbar vs. (9) Dwight Howard
Sorry, Superman. Your kryptonite is a 7'1'' hook shot assassin named Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Dwight Howard has a lot to learn from Kareem, like what an offensive skill set looks like and how it can benefit one's overall game.
Howard will push his way around down low until Kareem is able to time his jump to block Howard's floaters in the paint.
Maybe in a few years when Howard has developed a jumper this game will turn out differently, but until then Kareem takes home the C/PF trophy.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (25) Dwight Howard (21)
The champion of the C/PF division is Kareem Abdul Jabbar.
PF/SF 1st Round: (1) Larry Bird vs. (16) Rudy Gay
The one enormous advantage that Bird has in this match-up, aside from his mustache, is the efficiency that defines his game.
Bird's efficiency rating for his career is 23.5 percent, as compared to Gay's 16 percent average.
Gay's athleticism will keep him in this game early. He'll get to the rim and score.
Ultimately, though, Bird will pull away by hitting the mid- and long-range jumpers that defined his career.
Larry Bird (25) Rudy Gay (17)
PF/SF 1st Round: (2) Karl Malone vs. (15) Al Horford
The difference in this match-up will be Malone's ability to finds ways to score.
He averaged an absurd 25 points per game in his career, as compared to Horford's 12.8.
Malone gives the young Horford a lesson in the fundamentals of basketball and shows him the damage that can be done when you mix a powerful post game with a potent outside jumper.
Karl Malone (25) Al Horford (21)
PF/SF 1st Round: (3) Charles Barkley vs. (14) Andre Iguodala
Throughout his career Barkley shot 54 percent from the field, superior to Iguodala's 46 percent shooting average.
Barkley was efficient thanks to his ability to get to the rim for easy and high-percentage scoring opportunities.
As expected, Iguodala will jack up questionable shots, giving Barkley the ball and allowing him to take over the game.
Barkley shows the young Iguodala what finesse looks like in this first-round beat down.
Charles Barkley (25) Andre Iguodala (14)
PF/SF 1st Round: (4) James Worthy vs. (13) Chris Bosh
What sets these players apart is something you will notice in any James Worthy highlight. Worthy seemed to always have an extra gear that other players just didn't have.
If Bosh doesn't have his jumper, he doesn't have rhythm on offense.
That will happen in this match-up. Bosh's rhythm on offense is going to be stymied by Worthy's speed and tenacity on defense.
Worthy escapes with the upset here.
James Worthy (25) Chris Bosh (21)
PF/SF 1st Round: (5) Julius Erving vs. (12) Blake Griffin
If you want a match-up between two of the highest flyers in NBA history, here it is.
Watch any highlight of Julius Erving and you will be amazed at the way he seems to float around the court.
His speed, mixed with his athleticism, sets him apart from most players. What makes him different than Griffin is that he doesn't rely on that to be great.
Where Griffin relies on his athletic ability to carry him, Dr. J developed a jump shot to compliment his incredible athleticism.
Griffin dominates this game early with his size and strength, but ultimately Dr. J's solid perimeter game takes him to the next round.
Julius Erving (27) Blake Griffin (25)
PF/SF 1st Round: (6) Kevin McHale vs. (11) Paul Pierce
Pierce averages just over 22 points per game. McHale averaged 17.6.
Pierce is known for his fadeaway turnaround jumper that at times seems unstoppable.
McHale won't be able to contain Pierce's jumper. When he thinks he can stop it, Pierce will transition into his post game and advance himself to the next round.
With the victory, Pierce proves he might just be above McHale on the Boston Celtics' all-time greats list.
Paul Pierce (25) Kevin McHale (19)
PF/SF 1st Round: (7) Willis Reed vs. (10) Carmelo Anthony
Now that Carmelo Anthony is on the New York Knicks he has a lot to live up to.
He will be compared to past greats that have graced Madison Square Garden before him, including Willis Reed.
The decisive factor in this game is whether or not Carmelo will decide to play defense.
With his reputation as a Knick on the line, Carmelo will play the kind of physical defense we all know he's capable of. This will get him the win.
Carmelo proves to New York that he is here to stay.
Carmelo Anthony (29) Willis Reed (27)
PF/SF 1st Round: (8) Elvin Hayes vs. (9) Dirk Nowitzki
Nowitzki is able to hit his signature turnaround one-leg fadeaway from basically anywhere on the court.
Hayes' shot was most effective within 18 feet.
While Hayes' shot was obviously limited because the lack of a three-point line never forced him out further, Nowitzki brings the ability to stretch the floor. He has to be guarded everywhere.
Nowitzki will use his height to shut down Hayes' offensive attack just long enough to close him out and move on to the second round.
Dirk Nowitzki (28) Elvin Hayes (26)
PF/SF 2nd Round: (1) Larry Bird vs. (8) Dirk Nowitzki
This match-up defines epic.
Two players who can flat out score, doing so almost at will.
This is without a doubt one of the top four match-ups of this tournament. It will be one of the closest as well.
Dirk's size is what makes the difference here.
Late in the game Dirk will resort to his post up game to get the win. He'll hold Larry Legend to his jersey number, and that will be just enough to get Nowitzki this huge upset.
Dirk Nowitzki (35) Larry Bird (33)
PF/SF 2nd Round: (2) Karl Malone vs. (10) Carmelo Anthony
Carmelo Anthony vs. Karl Malone is an odd match-up.
Both players average roughly 25 points per game—Carmelo at 24.8 and Malone at 25.0.
On one side, I think Karl Malone would dominate with his physicality and his ability to bang in the paint.
However, I see Anthony ultimately winning this game not with his post moves but with his range and ability to get Malone in uncomfortable defensive situations.
The Mailman is sent home early in the tournament courtesy of Carmelo's silky smooth jumper.
Carmelo Anthony (27) Karl Malone (25)
PF/SF 2nd Round: (3) Charles Barkley vs. (11) Paul Pierce
Barkley vs. Pierce is quite a match-up.
In his prime, Barkley was an unstoppable force, especially after he added a long range jumper to his arsenal of offensive moves.
Pierce, however, has the intangibles required to get him past Sir Charles and into the next round.
Maybe it's Pierce's ability to stretch the court longer than Barkley with his long range ability, or maybe it's because Pierce is a proven winner.
Either way, Pierce will bang this one out.
Paul Pierce (27) Charles Barkley (25)
PF/SF 2nd Round: (4) James Worthy vs. (5) Julius Erving
Lucky for us James Worthy and Julius Erving played several times during their careers. As "Dr. J" was nearing the end of his NBA tenure "Big Game James" was just beginning his.
Not only is Dr. J more athletic than Worthy, but he plays the game in a more efficient way. Dr. J's efficiency rating throughout his career is 23.6 percent, as compared to Worthy's career average of only 17.7.
While you could argue that difference exists because of the talent that was surrounding each respective player, I believe Dr. J has the advantage.
Julius Erving (25) James Worthy (19)
PF/SF 3rd Round: (5) Julius Erving vs. (9) Dirk Nowitzki
I would make sure to have a front row ticket to this legendary match-up.
Dirk Nowitzki is one of the NBA's purest shooters and scorers of all time.
Julius Erving is one of the most electrifying and athletic ABA/NBA players to grace the court.
Both are equally but differently explosive on offense.
Averaging around 23.0 points per game for their careers, Erving made his living posterizing defenders while Nowitzki's done it with his jump shot.
Nowitzki will pull away late in this upset special.
Dr. J might want to give Nowitzki an honorary doctorate degree after this one.
Dirk Nowitzki (25) Julius Erving (19)
PF/SF 3rd Round: (10) Carmelo Anthony vs. (11) Paul Pierce
Here's a match-up that is nearly impossible to call.
In their 14 career games against one another Pierce has averaged 25.4 points per game on 52 percent shooting, while Carmelo has averaged 23.9 points per game on 44 percent shooting.
Carmelo rises to the top here with his ability to elevate over Pierce.
He hits two 20 foot jumpers over Pierce to break a 30-30 tie and advance to the PF/SF division finals.
Carmelo Anthony (32) Paul Pierce (30)
PF/SF Championship: (9) Dirk Nowitzki vs. (10) Carmelo Anthony
I think Carmelo can hang with Nowitzki, but I don't think he can come close to beating him.
Nowitzki's size and finesse is too much for Anthony to contend with. There is no way Carmelo will be able to stop Nowitzki's signature one-leg fade away off the dribble.
Carmelo will put up a valiant effort, but he'll ultimately fall short.
2011 is a great year for Dirk—winning his first NBA championship, his first finals MVP trophy, and winning the PF/SF division championship in this tournament.
Dirk Nowitzki (25) Carmelo Anthony (20)
The champion of the PF/SF division is Dirk Nowitzki.
SF/SG 1st Round: (1) Michael Jordan vs. (16) Eric Gordon
Enter "His Airness."
Michael Jordan will look like he's toying with Gordon. He'll hit jumpers with ease and get to the rim to finish at will.
Gordon will hit some shots, but the only person able to stop Jordan in this match-up is himself, which won't happen.
His Airness starts off the tournament with a statement win.
Michael Jordan (25) Eric Gordon (9)
SF/SG 1st Round: (2) Oscar Robertson vs. (15) Joe Johnson
At 6'7", 240 pounds Joe Johnson is a little bigger than the 6'5", 220 pound Oscar Robertson.
But that doesn't mean Johnson is a better player.
Johnson's ability to hit long-range shots will help him stay in the game early, but Robertson will overwhelm Johnson with his athleticism and ability to create opportunities for himself.
Robertson was one of the NBA's first "big guards," and while he is undersized compared to Johnson he's still able to play more physically than one would expect. This will help him grab the first round win.
Oscar Robertson (25) Joe Johnson (18)
SF/SG 1st Round: (3) George Gervin vs. (14) Danny Granger
In what will be the first truly close game of the SF/SG division, these two players will show us what fundamental basketball looks like.
Gervin will control the game for the first few minutes by overwhelming Granger with his ability to elevate and consistently hit mid-range shots.
Once Granger gets the ball, he will use his size advantage to get back into the game and hold Gervin in check offensively.
The difference maker in this game is going to be Gervin's experience and his ability to seemingly score at will.
Ultimately, Gervin takes down Granger in a close game.
George Gervin (25) Danny Granger (21)
SF/SG 1st Round: (4) Elgin Baylor vs. (13) Ray Allen
This game is incredibly tough to pick because both players are pure scorers.
Ray Allen averages 20.2 points per game on 45 percent shooting, whereas Elgin Baylor averaged 27.4 points per game on 43 percent shooting.
The difference maker in this game will be Baylor's ability to force Allen into situations in which he can't rely on his jump shot.
On offense, Baylor will use his athleticism to wear Allen out to the point where Baylor can create space and hit jump shots to pull away late.
Elgin Baylor (25) Ray Allen (21)
SF/SG 1st Round: (5) Dominique Wilkins vs. (13) Manu Ginobli
One of the little known facts of high flyer Dominique Wilkins is that he was a decent mid-range threat in the middle of his career, as evidenced by his 81 percent career free-throw percentage.
Wilkins is a bigger, stronger, more physical player than Ginobli. That will be a difference maker in this match-up.
Ginobli will stay right with Wilkins because of his grit. He will get to the rim early, but he'll be shut down late by Wilkins' defense and athleticism.
Wilkins will get one or two highlight reel dunks, but his jump shot will earn him the win.
Dominique Wilkins (25) Manu Ginobli (22)
SF/SG 1st Round: (6) Rick Barry vs. (11) Kevin Durant
I never thought I would hear myself say this, but Kevin Durant's physicality will be the difference in this classic match-up of two prolific scorers.
Durant and Barry will go back and forth all game and past the 25-point threshold. Ultimately, Durant will decide to take over with strong, physical play.
Durant pulls the upset here and moves on to the second round.
Kevin Durant (31) Rick Barry (29)
SF/SG 1st Round: (7) John Havlicek vs. (10) LeBron James
Many people would see this match-up as a James upset over Havlicek, and they would be right.
This upset will happen, but it won't be the blowout a lot of people would expect.
When he wants to, LeBron will take over the game with his ability to drive to the rim and finish, even with Havlicek hanging all over him.
Havlicek will stay in the game with his quick release jumper, but LeBron's defense will prove too strong.
LeBron moves one step closer to a potential match-up with Michael Jordan with this first-round win over Havlicek.
LeBron James (25) John Havlicek (16)
SF/SG 1st Round: (8) Scottie Pippen vs. (9) Kobe Bryant
This is a match-up the media would eat up.
The assistant to Michael Jordan's dynasty against the player that some think could be better than Jordan.
Scottie Pippen vs. Kobe Bryant is an instant classic, but it is blatantly obvious who wins here—Kobe.
Pippen will make it semi-competitive with his physicality, but Kobe will pull away late with some beautiful fadeaway jumpers.
Kobe wins and moves on to face greatness itself—Michael Jordan.
Kobe Bryant (25) Scottie Pippen (17)
SF/SG 2nd Round: (1) Michael Jordan vs. (9) Kobe Bryant
Well, here it is. The match-up that millions of NBA fans have been wanting to see to answer the question "who is the greatest of all time?"
There is no way this game ends at 25 points.
It will be an offensive struggle going to the player who comes up with one enormous defensive stop.
This game will go in streaks early. Kobe up 5-0, followed by Jordan going up 8-5. Kobe will answer with five straight points to go up 10-8, and so on.
Kobe will play as hard as we've ever seen him play, and Jordan will play with a fire in his eyes reminiscent of his first NBA finals.
Ultimately, Jordan tops Bryant in dramatic fashion, and this match-up adds fuel to the debate of the greatest NBA player of all time.
Michael Jordan (39) Kobe Bryant (37)
SF/SG 2nd Round: (2) Oscar Robertson vs. (10) LeBron James
Here is another epic match-up between the man they call "King James" and the man they call "The Big O." If this was a battle of who has the cooler nickname, it would clearly go to James, because, well, The Big O leaves a lot of room for inappropriate jokes.
Fortunately for Robertson, this isn't about nicknames.
LeBron will figure out that the only way he will own this game is to power his way into the paint with his 40 pound advantage on Robertson. He will back Robertson down and hit jumpers, and he'll drive to the basket and finish strong over a weaker defender.
LeBron pulls off a big upset of Robertson and moves on to the third round for a match-up of the ages—James vs. Jordan.
LeBron James (28) Oscar Robertson (26)
SF/SG 2nd Round: (3) George Gervin vs. (11) Kevin Durant
The one thing that Gervin has going against him is his size. While he is 6’7’’, he only weighs 180 pounds, whereas his opponent, Durant, comes in at 6’9’’, 230 pounds.
Size is not always a deal breaker, but it will be here.
Gervin and Durant are prolific scorers, but Durant gets an advantage when he realizes how he can use his size and strength against the smaller Gervin.
Once Durant realizes that Gervin can’t defend his back down fade away, the game will be Durant’s to lose.
Durant takes this classic match-up in a close one.
Kevin Durant (33) George Gervin (31)
SF/SG 2nd Round: (4) Elgin Baylor vs. (5) Dominique Wilkins
If I solely based this match-up on statistics Elgin Baylor would take the win. Baylor averaged 27.4 points per game to Wilkins' 24.8. Although that's not what I'm doing, this game will have the same outcome.
I do not doubt Wilkins' ability to step out and hit some clutch shots, but Baylor is undoubtedly the better shooter in this match-up.
Wilkins is the more athletic of the two, but I think that will be a disadvantage. He will rely on his athleticism instead of his overall offensive ability.
Baylor will get Wilkins out of his groove, and Wilkins won’t be able find it until the game is all but over.
Did I hear someone ask for Jordan vs. Baylor?
Elgin Baylor (25) Dominique Wilkins (20)
SF/SG 3rd Round: (1) Michael Jordan vs. (4) Elgin Baylor
This might be an overlooked match-up in light of the potential next round play against the winner of LeBron vs. Durant, but that doesn’t mean this won’t be great.
Jordan against Baylor is a match-up I would pay top dollar to see.
Baylor is considered one of the most prolific scorers and rebounders of his time.
Jordan is considered one of the best all-around players of his generation.
With the game tied at 19-19, Jordan will step up his defensive intensity and force Baylor to turn the ball over. Baylor will never get it back.
Jordan scores six straight baskets and moves on to the SF/SG division finals against the winner of the LeBron vs. Durant matchup.
Michael Jordan (25) Elgin Baylor (19)
SF/SG 3rd Round: (10) LeBron James vs. (11) Kevin Durant
King James vs. Durantula is a match-up we don’t get to see often because their respective teams play in different conferences.
This dual will show two players who are both dominant, but who display their dominance in different ways.
With everyone thinking the game is over in Durant's favor, LeBron will turn into the all-time most dominant player we know he can be. He will start blocking Durant’s mid-range jumpers and drives to the hole.
LeBron will show people that when he plays the way we know he can, he cannot be stopped.
LeBron puts his mark on this tournament with a huge comeback and moves one step closer to the championship. First, he must get past Michael Jordan.
LeBron James (30) Kevin Durant (28)
SF/SG Championship: (1) Michael Jordan vs. (10) LeBron James
It’s finally here. The match-up we have all been waiting for—King James vs. His Airness.
James will be outdone by the key element of Jordan's game that LeBron doesn’t have yet: the ability to close out games with clutch shots.
James won’t be able to close out Jordan, and Jordan will capitalize on this.
He'll hit an 18-foot jumper from the corner to win the game, and as he turns around to face LeBron he'll casually shrug his shoulders.
King James is dethroned by the true king, Michael Jordan, and LeBron leaves this finals match-up like all others he has played in: without a championship.
Michael Jordan (38) LeBron James (36)
The champion of the SF/SG division is Michael Jordan.
SG/PG 1st Round: (1) Magic Johnson vs. (16) Tony Parker
Tony Parker, being the smart player that he is, will use Magic’s height against him.
Early on, Parker will pressure Magic and steal the ball a few times when he faces up on offense. But that won’t be the difference maker.
Size will be the difference.
Magic's 75 pound advantage on Parker will be an obstacle that Parker cannot overcome. Magic will adapt to Parker's aggressive play and start backing him down.
Magic doesn't need a lot of magic to get this win.
Magic Johnson (25) Tony Parker (15)
SG/PG 1st Round: (2) Jerry West vs. (15) Monta Ellis
Monta Ellis can’t handle Mr. Clutch in this first-round match-up.
Unlike West, Ellis does not have what it takes at this point in his career to be considered one of the best.
Jerry West has proven year in and year out that he is able to almost score at will.
West pulls away early and does not let off the gas with his four-time NBA First-Team defensive skills.
Jerry West (25) Monta Ellis (14)
SG/PG 1st Round: (3) Pete Maravich vs. (14) Russell Westbrook
Russell Westbrook will be able to strong-arm Maravich with his physical play on defense, but that won’t faze a legend like Maravich.
Westbrook will also be able to use his ability to elevate to create open shots and high-percentage shots.
Westbrook, however, does not have the finish needed to hit all those mid-range jumpers.
"Pistol Pete" teaches Westbrook a lesson in the necessity of having a legitimate jump shot.
Pete Maravich (25) Russell Westbrook (21)
SG/PG 1st Round: (4) Isiah Thomas vs. (13) Deron Williams
This is going to be an extremely physical match-up.
Isiah Thomas had a reputation as a point-guard who never shied away from contact, much like his opponent Deron Williams.
This match-up ultimately comes down to the player who plays more physically than the other, and I believe that player is Deron Williams. I can’t believe I am saying that, but Deron Williams is one of the most physical point guards in the NBA today.
Williams bangs out the first upset of the SG/PG division.
Deron Williams (25) Isiah Thomas (22)
SG/PG 1st Round: (5) Walt Frazier vs. (12) Chris Paul
My gut is telling me that Chris Paul can pull out this upset, but I just don’t think it’s realistically possible.
Coming in at 6’0', 175 pounds Paul is undersized against Frazier's 6’4', 200 pound frame.
Frazier will frustrate Paul on defense and force him to rush his shots and over-commit on defense. Once Frazier gets into Paul’s head, the game is over.
Frazier proves that sometimes defense is all that matters.
Walt Frazier (25) Chris Paul (19)
SG/PG 1st Round: (6) Allen Iverson vs. (11) Steve Nash
This match-up will be difficult for Nash because he does not have any teammates to create opportunities for—it’s all on him.
A large part of Nash’s game is linked to the pick-and-roll, and that will not be available here.
Iverson’s sharpshooter mentality and the fact that his game always resembles that of a one-on-one player will be to his advantage.
Iverson, the four-time NBA scoring champion, will pour it on once he gets the ball and he will not let up. Nash will stay in the game, but Iverson’s unbelievably quick step-back jumper will prove fatal for Nash.
Allen Iverson (25) Steve Nash (20)
SG/PG 1st Round Matchup: (7) John Stockton vs. (10) Derrick Rose
This is the epitome of an old school vs. new school match-up.
Derrick Rose will dominate this match-up on both sides of the ball. He is much more physical than Stockton and has an unbelievable advantage when it comes to athletic ability.
The Utah Jazz legend will not be able to stop Rose when Rose goes to the rim. If he does somehow stop him, Rose will simply elevate over Stockton and hit mid-range jumpers.
Rose absolutely dominates. Enough said.
Derrick Rose (25) John Stockton (14)
SG/PG 1st Round: (8) Gary Payton vs. (9) Dwyane Wade
Gary Payton and Dwyane Wade are two different types of players.
Payton, better known as “The Glove,” is a defensive specialist.
Wade is an all-around player who is a great scorer and an above average defender.
Payton’s lack of a polished offensive game will come back to bite him here. Wade will run away with the game simply by outlasting The Glove.
Wade shows determination and persistence in this first-round match-up.
Dwyane Wade (25) Gary Payton (15)
SG/PG 2nd Round: (1) Magic Johnson vs. (9) Dwyane Wade
Magic vs. Wade is one of the most difficult matches to pick in this tournament.
Magic is a 6’9", 255 pound freak of nature who can play guard, forward, or even center. Wade, on the other hand, is an average-sized combo-guard at 6’4", 220 pounds.
Magic definitely has the size advantage, and that is absolutely pivotal in this match-up.
Johnson will use his size to keep Wade out of the paint and to contest Wade on the perimeter.
Magic’s proven ability to win even against better competition will be the difference in this classic. Magic, like his name, will be too magical for Wade.
Magic Johnson (31) Dwyane Wade (29)
SG/PG 2nd Round: (5) Walt Frazier vs. (13) Deron Williams
Frazier and Williams are equally-sized point guards with an ability to create offensive opportunity for themselves. Both players boast a career points-per-game average of around 18 points.
What makes them slightly different is their shooting percentage.
The fact that Frazier is a slightly more efficient scorer will give him the edge and in this close contest.
Frazier will use Williams' aggressive attack to his own advantage, creating steals off Williams' attempts to overpower him. And Frazier’s defense will slow Williams enough to earn him the second-round victory.
Walt Frazier (25) Deron Williams (22)
SG/PG 2nd Round: (3) Pete Maravich vs. (6) Allen Iverson
I would absolutely love to see this game happen. “The Answer” vs. “Pistol Pete” in a chance to add to each player's respective legend.
What this comes down to is who wants it more, and there is no doubt that player is Iverson.
Iverson would always leave his heart on the court and do whatever it took to win. Pistol Pete, meanwhile, gave up basketball after a leg injury and never seemed to miss the court.
Iverson gets the enormous upset here with a step-back jumper over Pete with the game well into the 30s.
Iverson hits the jumper then steps over Pete as he and stares him down—just like he did against Tyron Lue in the 2001 NBA Finals, making the loudest statement of the tournament thus far.
Allen Iverson (34) Pete Maravich (32)
SG/PG 2nd Round: (2) Jerry West vs. (10) Derrick Rose
Here is another epic match-up from the point guard/shooting guard division. It pits the man on the NBA logo against the man bringing the Chicago Bulls back to their Jordan era glory days.
Derrick Rose will be able to use his physicality to get to the rim and finish with authority against West, the likes of which West cannot match or stop.
West will fluster Rose with his ability to hit contested shots with ease on the perimeter, but Rose’s defense will ultimately lock down West’s perimeter game.
Once West is forced to drive against Rose, the game will be over.
Derrick Rose (33) Jerry West (31)
SG/PG 3rd Round: (1) Magic Johnson vs. (5) Walt Frazier
Magic against Frazier is an upset waiting to happen, right? Not so fast.
Magic Johnson is too much to handle against the undersized Frazier, and his effective post game matched with his mini-jump hook will prove too much for Frazier to handle.
Walt Frazier’s reliance on defense in this tournament will fall short here. He won’t be able to force enough turnovers to make a difference.
Magic is just too much to handle yet again, as advances to the point guard/shooting guard division finals.
Magic Johnson (25) Walt Frazier (17)
SG/PG 3rd Round: (6) Allen Iverson vs. (10) Derrick Rose
Iverson will undoubtedly find ways to get into the paint and hit his patented step-back jumper against Rose.
On defense, however, Iverson will not be able to handle Rose’s pure athleticism mixed with his forward-like strength.
There is no doubt Iverson will be able to score, just like he always has even against bigger, stronger opponents. He just won’t be able to score enough.
Rose will run away with this third-round divisional upset.
Derrick Rose keeps The Answer questioning all night long, sending Rose to the SG/PG finals against Magic Johnson.
Derrick Rose (25) Allen Iverson (20)
SG/PG Championship: (1) Magic Johnson vs. (10) Derrick Rose
Here it is—the SG/PG finals match-up that will prove to be an instant classic.
Magic will shut down Rose’s ability to hit perimeter shots and force him into the paint where Magic will use his size to body Rose up.
Defensively, Rose will not be able to stop Magic’s mini-hook shot or his dribble-drive step-back jumper.
There is no doubt Rose will be in this game, but there is no way he will come out on top.
Rose will use his explosive vertical leaping ability to create opportunities at the rim for himself. But his streak of consecutive upsets ends here with a loss to one of the greatest players of all time—Magic Johnson.
Magic Johnson (25) Derrick Rose (21)
The champion of the SG/PG division is Magic Johnson.
C/PF Champion Kareem Abdul-Jabbar vs. PF/SF Champion Dirk Nowitzki
Both Kareem and Nowitzki have a similar player efficiency rating at around 24 percent, but the fact that Nowitzki carries that efficiency to the perimeter will set him apart from Kareem.
Abdul-Jabbar will not be able to steadily defend Nowitzki on the perimeter, and that will open up Nowitzki's dribble-drive and stop-and-pop game.
Nowitzki will win this match-up by keeping his opponent guessing and hitting consistent fade-away jumpers.
This match-up will be extremely close, but Nowitzki will ultimately be too much offensively for Abdul-Jabbar to handle. The Lakers legend hits a bunch of sky hooks, but he doesn't hit enough to win this semi-final.
Dirk Nowitzki (29) Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (27)
The champion of the C/PF & PF/SF divisions is Dirk Nowitzki.
SF/SG Champion Michael Jordan vs. SG/PG Champion Magic Johnson
Magic and Jordan met for one playoff series in the 1991 NBA Playoffs. Magic averaged 21.6 points per game and Jordan averaged a healthy 31.1. In all fairness, however, Magic was near the end of his career at that time, not in his prime.
In this one-on-one match-up for the ages Michael Jordan's physicality, strength, and beautiful jumper will be the difference.
The game will go well past the 25-point limit with back and forth scores and stops.
Both legends will leave everything on the court.
Although this result in no way proves who is the best team player of all time, I think it goes a long way in solidifying Michael Jordan as the best one-on-one player of all time.
Michael Jordan (34) Magic Johnson (32)
The champion of the SF/SG & SG/PG divisions is Michael Jordan.
NBA Legends vs. Current All-Stars Finals: Michael Jordan vs. Dirk Nowitzki
Michael Jordan against Dirk Nowitzki in the NBA Legends vs. NBA Current Stars Finals is an intriguing match-up of two players with different skill sets.
Once Jordan hits a few long-range jumpers and Dirk is forced to defend him on the perimeter, Jordan will take over the game. Quite simply, his quickness to the rim and his lethal shooting ability will be too much for Dirk to defend.
Jordan is too much for Dirk too handle.
MJ's athleticism and touch will carry him to another championship—a championship which proves Jordan is the NBA's all-time greatest one-on-one player.
Michael Jordan (25) Dirk Nowitzki (21)
NBA Legends vs. Current All-Stars Mock Tournament Champion: Michael Jordan
There you have it folks. Michael Jordan proves once and for all that he is the greatest basketball player of all time by winning the "NBA Legends vs. Current All-Stars Mock One-on-One Tournament".
Thanks for reading.
If you want a more complete and detailed analysis of all the match-ups please check out my other bleacher report article here.
Please comment with your opinions. I look forward to hearing your thoughts.
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