Cream of the Crop: Magic Johnson and the NBA's All-Time Starting Five

Joe IannelloAnalyst IIIFebruary 22, 2011

Cream of the Crop: Magic Johnson and the NBA's All-Time Starting Five

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    DALLAS - FEBRUARY 12:  NBA player Magic Johnson during the NBA All-Star celebrity game presented by Final Fantasy XIII held at the Dallas Convention Center on February 12, 2010 in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
    Jason Merritt/Getty Images

    I have had enough of the NBA trade rumors and all of the drama that goes along with it.

    Let's start the debate! Who would be in your All-Time Fab Five?

    Old-timers and fresh blood are all fair game in this list. If you could pick any five players who have ever played to start for you, who would they be and why?

    The player must have played the position in this ranking (Isiah Thomas at SF won't cut it here).

    There obviously were some really difficult choices and some others that seemed pretty obvious. 

    What are the most important factors to consider?

    Are statistics more important than championships? Do you want a team that is well-rounded (can shoot, pass, handle, rebound, block shots?) or are the five best overall players at their position the way to go?

    Take a look at my all-time starting five and see if yours matches up.

Point Guard- Earvin "Magic" Johnson

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    ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 14:  Former NBA player Earvin 'Magic' Johnson Jr. attends the NBA All-Star Game, part of 2010 NBA All-Star Weekend at Cowboys Stadium on February 14, 2010 in Arlington, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees t
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Team: Los Angeles Lakers (1979-91, 1996) Titles: five (1980, 1982, 1985, 1987, 1988)

    Honors: 12-time All-Star, three-time MVP (1987, 1989, 1990), three-time Finals MVP (1980, 1982, 1987), Hall of Fame

    Any argument that Magic should start at point guard? What other PG in NBA history could match up with this guy? At 6'9 and 255 lbs. (not now, sheesh), Magic revolutionized the point guard position in the NBA.

    Magic was the ultimate team player who could play all five positions.

    In his rookie season at the age of 20, Magic had to play center in Game 6 of the NBA Finals to replace an injured fella' named Kareem. He had to face a loaded 76ers team who was led by Dr. J.

    How did he respond? With one of the greatest individual performances in sports history when he filled up the stats sheet with 42 points, 15 rebounds,  seven assists and three steals to clinch the title for LA. 

    Magic averaged 19.5 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 11.2 Assists, 1.9 Steals and shot 52 percent from the field.

    Quite simply, Magic did whatever was asked of him. His legendary battles brought in and brought back thousands of fans to the NBA.

    Magic was the Show in "Showtime".

Shooting Guard- Michael Jordan

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    26 Oct 1996:  Michael Jordan #23 of the Chicago Bulls dunks the ball during the game against the Sacramento Kings at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Kings 97-91.   Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Daniel  /Allsport
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Team: Chicago Bulls (1984-1998), Washington Wizards (2001-2003)  Titles: six (1991-93, 1996-98);

    Honors: Five-Time NBA MVP (1988, '91, '92, '96, '98); 10-time All-NBA First Team (1987-93, 1996-98); All-NBA Second Team (1985); Defensive Player of the Year (1988); Nine-time All-Defensive First Team (1988-93, 1996-98); Rookie of the Year (1985); 14-time All-Star; Three-time All-Star MVP (1988, '96, '98); Two-time Olympic gold medalist (1984, '92)

    This was another easy one for me because I personally think MJ was the greatest PLAYER of all-time, regardless of position. At 6'6" and 215 lbs, he was the perfect size.

    Watching Michael play was simply an honor. Just look at some of his accolades listed above and you will see that he was the total package.

    For over a decade, Jordan was the best offensive player in the game and the best defensive player in the game (at least at his position.) He led the Bulls to three-peats on two separate occasions, and would Scottie Pippen have been as great as he was without Michael?

    There could be an argument there.

    There is no argument, however, that "His Airness" deserves to be the starting SG on the all-time list. From one writer's opinion anyways.

    There is a reason that people still say, "I wanna be like Mike."

    And come on, he was in Space Jam.

    Take a look at his career stats.

    PPG- 30.1, RPG- 6.2, Steals- 5.3, Assists- 5.25, 50 percent FG.

Small Forward- Larry Bird

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    1985:  Boston Celtis forward Larry Bird shoots during game. Mandatory Credit: Allsport  /Allsport
    Getty Images/Getty Images

    Team: Boston Celtics- (1979-1992)  Titles: three (1981, '84, '86)

    Honors: NBA Finals MVP (1984, '86); NBA MVP (1984, '85, '86); Nine-time All-NBA First Team (1980-88); All-NBA Second Team (1990); All-Defensive Second Team (1982, '83, '84); NBA Rookie of the Year (1980);  Olympic gold medalist (1992), Hall of Fame

    This is one position I went back and forth with, but there is no doubt that "Larry Legend" could make it rain.

    Like all of the other players on this list, Larry Bird could do it all. He always hustled, could shoot the lights out, rebound, pass, dribble and defend.

    He averaged a double-double with 24 and 10 per night.

    He was so confident in his abilities that he was known to walk up to opponent's benches and tell them he was going to score 40 on them.

    I wanted a player in my top five who was willing to dive for loose balls, whether they'd be on the court or in the stands, and Bird is that guy.

    A whole other debate could be started for who on your team would take the lost shot, but it would definitely be between MJ and Bird. Maybe pick and roll?

    Bird was known for his clutch plays at the most crucial of moments.

    I could not keep him off of this list.

    Take a look at his stats and see if you agree.

    PPG- 24.3, RPG- 10.0, Assists- 6.3, Steals- 1.73, Blocks- 1.2 FG percentage- 50 percent.

Power Forward- Tim Duncan

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    CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 08:  Tim Duncan #21 of the San Antonio Spurs against the Charlotte Bobcats during their game at Time Warner Cable Arena on November 8, 2010 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that,
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Team: San Antonio Spurs (1997- Present)  Titles: four (1999, 2003, 2005, 2007)

    Honors: three-time NBA Finals MVP (1999, 2003, 2005) two-time NBA Most Valuable Player (2002–2003) NBA Rookie of the Year (1998) 12-Time NBA All-Star (1998, 2000–2010) nine-time All-NBA First Team (1998–2005, 2007) three-time All-NBA Second Team (2006, 2008–2009) All-NBA Third Team (2010), eight-time All-Defensive First Team (1999–2003, 2005, 2007–2008) five-time All-Defensive Second Team (1998, 2004, 2006, 2009–2010) NBA All-Rookie First Team (1998), NBA All-Star Game MVP (2000)

    As hard as I tried, I could not keep "Big Fundamentals" off of the list. No disrespect for the guy, but doesn't he seem a little boring for the all-time team?

    No! At 6'11 and 255 lbs, he has the size and strength to play any big man. A perennial double-double guy, his numbers and career thus far made it impossible for me to leave him off this list. The guy is an unbelievable player who has won four rings with a supporting cast (besides The Admiral) that leaves much to be desired.

    Take a look at his resume, and you will see just how an incredible of a career that Duncan has put together.

    Another guy that can do it all, he shoots a high percentage, scores, blocks shots, rebounds, runs the floor and passes great for a big man.

    An incredible accomplishment by Duncan (among other things) is that Duncan is the only player in NBA history to have garnered All-NBA Team and All-Defensive Team honors in each of his seasons in the NBA (13 and counting!)

    Look at his statistics, and you can argue that he is the greatest player of all-time.

    PPG- 20.7, RPG- 11.5, Steals- .8, BPG- 2.3, Assists- 3.2, FG percentage- 51 percent.

Center- Wilt Chamberlain

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    7 Feb 1997:  Former Los Angeles Laker Wilt Chamberlain addresses the media at a press conference before the NBA All-Star Game at the Renaissance Hotel in Cleveland, Ohio. Mandatory Credit: Brian Bahr  /Allsport
    Brian Bahr/Getty Images

    Team: Philadelphia Warriors (1959-1962), San Francisco Warriors (1962-1965), Philadelphia 76ers (1965-1968), Los Angeles Lakers (1968-1973)   Titles: two (1967, 1972)

    Honors: 13-time All-Star, four-time MVP (1960, 1966, 1967, 1968); Finals MVP (1972), Rookie of the Year (1960), seven-time All NBA First Team, three-time All NBA Second Team, Hall of Fame.

    It came down to "The Stilt" and Kareem Abdul-Jabaar. Kareem obviously had the longevity and scoring, but it was hard for me to argue that Wilt was and still is the most dominating player of all-time.

    He was known as unstoppable during his playing days. That seems to be about right when a guy scores 100 points in a game.

    Wilt was the most iconic player of his entire era.

    It seemed like whatever Wilt wanted to do he could do. If he wanted to score at will, he could. If he wanted to grab every rebound there was to be had, he could do that too.

    His numbers are out of this world, and I would want that kind of production on my team.

    He led the league in scoring his first seven years and rebounds 11 times. I was amazed to learn that he even led the league in assists once!

    Some may argue that he only won two championships, but all of the other players that can be argued against him had at least one superstar alongside them.

    Was there more impressive a statistic than Wilt's 100 point game? How about Chamberlain AVERAGING 50 PPG and 25.7 RPG for an entire season! Absolutely incredible, and numbers that will never be seen again.

    There were other players who could have appeared on this list at center, but if I had to go to battle with just one, "The Stilt" would be my choice, hands down.

    Just look at his career stats:

    PPG- 30.1, RPG- 22.9, Assists- 4.4, 54 percent FG percentage

You Be the Judge!

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    BARCELONA, ESP - JULY 26: (L-R) Larry Bird, Earvin (Magic) Johnson, Michael Jordan and Karl Malone of the USA Olympic Basketball Team (The Dream Team) walk on the court during a game against The Republic of Angola Olympic Team on July 26,1992 in Barcelona
    Mike Powell/Getty Images

    So there is my starting five:

    PG- Magic

    SG- Jordan

    SF- Bird

    PF- Duncan

    C- Chamberlain

    I LOVE my starting five, and I would like to match them up against anyone! Let's start the debate and have some fun with this. Who would be in your all-time starting five and how would they match up against mine?