NBA Should Bring Back the Legends Game to Help League Image After Lockout

Matt JonesAnalyst IJuly 29, 2011

NBA Should Bring Back the Legends Game to Help League Image After Lockout

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    From 1984 until 1993, the NBA featured a Legends Game as part of All-Star Weekend.

    As part of this game, retired stars from teams in the league returned to the court for one more game to give the fans a chance to see them play.

    While the game was a much slower pace and a bit less competitive than when they were in their prime, it was good for fans to see their former heroes on the court again.

    Players such as Bill Russell, "Hot" Rod Hundley, Nate Thurmond, Oscar Robertson and "Pistol" Pete Maravich showcased the basketball skills they had left and turned the exhibition game into a fun night for all.

    With the NBA deep into a lockout and losing the support of some fans, they will need to do something to rebuild the image that they are tarnishing with the work stoppage.

    One thing the league should do to regain fan support and renew interest is to bring back the Old Timers Game.

    Just like fans during the time the game was held had the chance to see retired players, those of us from a slightly younger generation should have the chance to see our favorite All-Stars and Hall of Famers on the floor together again.

    Imagine how great it would be to see the guys on this list play just one more time.

    While there are many great players, some did not make the list. Rather than break it into five specific positions, I created an eight-player rotation for each conference with three guards and forwards, two centers and a coach.

    I also tried to stick to players who are still young enough that they could actually play in the game.

    I came up with the first eight for each conference, and I ask you to help me out by giving me the last four for each team. Which former players would you like to see in a game like this?

    Please let me know who you would add and why. 

    Chris Johstoneaux is a Featured Columnist on Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @JazzRSLExaminer.

Western Conference Guard: Earvin "Magic" Johnson, Los Angeles Lakers

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    Magic Johnson was one of the best players in league history, and his size and ability allowed him to play every position on the court.

    A great leader with a huge smile and personality was the key piece of the Laker championship teams of the '80s.

    At the point guard position and the orchestrator of the "Showtime" Lakers, Magic was a five-time NBA champion, a three time league MVP and a 12-time All-Star.

    Widely regarded as the best point guard in the history of the game, he became a member of the NBA Hall of Fame in 2002.

Western Conference Guard: John Stockton, Utah Jazz

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    Playing his entire career with the Utah Jazz, John Stockton is the all-time NBA leader in assists and steals.

    A fiery but quiet competitor who continually beat the odds to play in the league, Stockton ended his career with 15,806 assists and 3,265 steals. Along with averaging 14.5 assists per game for an entire season, none of these records will ever be broken.

    An unselfish player who made others around him better, Stockton paired with Karl Malone for most of his career. The two players formed one of the best duos the game has ever seen.

    Adding Stockton to the game would be very easy. Actually getting him to play may be another story. During and after his career, Stockton never sought the fame and popularity that came with his ability and success.

    There is a good chance that Stockton would not play in a game like this. Not because he is unfit but more because he would not want the attention.

Western Conference Guard: Mitch Richmond, Sacramento Kings

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    The 1989 Rookie of the Year is somewhat of a forgotten star in this league.

    Due to playing primarily in Sacramento and Golden State, many forget about Richmond or do not realize how good he was.

    Richmond was a six-time All-Star, the MVP of the All-Star game in 1995 and an NBA Champion in 2002 with the Lakers.

    After being drafted by the Warriors, Richmond quickly became a part of a fast paced style of play. Along with Tim Hardaway and Chris Mullin, the three formed "Run TMC."

    Richmond also played for Team USA twice earning a bronze and a gold medal in the Olympics.

Western Conference Forward: Karl "The Mailman" Malone, Utah Jazz

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    With 36,928 career points and 14,968 rebounds, there is no question that "The Mailman" was one of the leagues most dominant players.

    Those numbers left him second only to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on the all-time scoring list and seventh in rebounds.

    Playing all but one season in Utah and pairing with John Stockton for most of his career, Malone was a 14-time All-Star, two-time league MVP and was named to the NBA First Team on 11 occasions.

    Known for being a very physical player, Malone averaged a double-double for his career with 25 points and 10.1 rebounds per game. Perhaps one area he is most proud of is his defense.

    He was named to the NBA All-Defensive Team three times toward the end of his career.

    Malone was inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame last year.

Western Conference Forward: Charles "Sir Charles" Barkley, 76ers, Suns, Rockets

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    Known during his playing days as "The Round Mound of Rebound," Charles Barkley was one of the toughest competitors that players would face during that time.

    Although Barkley played half of his career for the 76ers until he was traded to the Suns in 1992, it was with Phoenix and Houston where he had most of his success.

    As an undersized power forward, "Sir Charles" averaged just more than 22 points and 11.7 rebounds for his career. He was a two-time gold medalist, 11-time All-Star and the league MVP in 1993.

    Known for being outspoken during and after his career, it is not known if he could actually play in this game. Even if he does not play, his personality and sense of humor would be entertaining and make everything more fun.

Western Conference Forward: Clyde "The Glide" Drexler

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    Playing most of his career with the Portland Trailblazers, Drexler was another player who quietly put together a Hall of Fame career.

    The very athletic Drexler was a ten time All-Star who was a great leader and team player. Known for his jumping ability, "Clyde the Glide" averaged just more than 20 points per game for his career.

    After playing for the Trailblazers where he fell short in the NBA Finals, Drexler finally got his championship in 1995 with the Rockets.

    Drexler was also a member of the original Dream Team that won the Olympic gold medal.

    He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2004.

Western Conference Center: Hakeem "The Dream" Olajuwan, Houston Rockets

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    Known as one of the most dominant centers ever to play the game, Hakeem Olajuwon led his Rockets teams during the team's best years and ended up winning the NBA championship on two occasions.

    The Nigerian born Olajuwon was a 12-time All-Star, two-time Defensive Player of the Year and the league MVP in 1994.

    Although he played with Ralph Sampson to form the "Twin Towers" early in his career, it was not until later that he would win the NBA title.

    For his career, he averaged just better that 21 points, 11 rebounds and three blocked shots per game.

Western Conference Center: Shaquille O'Neal, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat

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    Despite playing for six different NBA teams in his 19 seasons in the league, O'Neal enjoyed most of his success with the Los Angeles Lakers.

    As a Laker he led his team to a championship three-peat and added one more title with Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat.

    As one of the biggest and strongest players in the league, Shaq used his size and strength to overpower opponents, get to the basket to score and rebound and draw fouls.

    For his career, he averaged nearly 24 points and 11 rebounds per game. He was a 15-time All-Star, two-time league scoring champion and the MVP of the 2000 season.

    Having recently retired, O'Neal has not yet been named to the Hall of Fame, but there is no doubt that he will be the first year that he is eligible.

Western Conference Coach: Jerry Sloan, Utah Jazz

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    After serving as the head coach of the Chicago Bulls for nearly three season in the early '80s, Jerry Sloan found a coaching home with the Utah Jazz.

    After retiring midseason last year, Sloan ended his career with a record of 1,224 wins and 803 losses.

    What is more impressive is that all but 94 of those wins came with Utah.

    Sloan, who coached John Stockton and Karl Malone for most of their time in Utah, was known for his hard working, no-nonsense style of play. While others in the league tested out new formations or methods of play, Sloan stuck to the basics.

    He was able to lead his team to the Western Conference finals twice and was inducted into the Hall of Fame while still an active coach in 2009.

Eastern Conference Guard: Isiah Thomas, Detroit Pistons

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    After winning a national championship at Indiana and being named to, but not able to play on the 1980 Olympic team, Isiah Thomas was taken by the Detroit Pistons with the second overall pick in the 1980 NBA draft.

    Thomas went on to a career that saw him become one of the best point guards in NBA history.

    Over his career, he averaged 19.2 points and 9.3 assists per game. He led the "Bad Boy" Pistons to two NBA Championship titles. He was a 12-time All-Star and the Finals MVP in 1990.

    Following his career he has stayed involved with basketball by coaching the Indiana Pacers and working as the President of Basketball Operations for the New York Knicks.

    He entered the Hall of Fame in 2000, the first year he was eligible.

Eastern Conference Guard: Reggie Miller, Indiana Pacers

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    Reggie Miller was one of the best shooters the game has ever seen.

    Until this past season when he was surpassed by Ray Allen, Miller held the record for most three-point baskets made. He is now in second place with 2,560.

    Miller, who spent all 18 seasons of his career with the Pacers, is a five-time All-Star. He was an athletic scorer who averaged 18.2 points per game. His best scoring season was in the 1989-1990 season when he averaged 24.6.

    Miller is now known for working on the NBA broadcasts on TNT.

Eastern Conference Guard: Michael "Air" Jordan, Chicago Bulls

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    There is no question that Michael Jordan makes this list.

    As the best player in NBA history, Jordan has done it all. In addition to his high flying dunks that helped him dominate the slam dunk contest, his six NBA Championships and becoming the league scoring champion 10 times, he has also claimed 14 All-Star selections and was the league MVP five times.

    He was the Defensive Player of the Year in 1988 and the Rookie of the Year in 1985.

    Jordan and the Bulls teams that he led are credited with increasing the popularity of the NBA and helping it to become so exciting that it helped expand to a worldwide audience.

    It seems like at the height of his fame, every kid wanted to "Be Like Mike."

    He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2009.

Eastern Conference Forward: Larry Bird, Boston Celtics

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    During his 13 seasons in the league, Larry Bird was the key part of one of the best frontcourt trios in NBA history. Along with Robert Parish and Kevin McHale, the Boston Celtics won three NBA championships during his career.

    Bird stayed with the Celtics for his career and averaged 24.3 points, 10 rebounds and just over six assists per game.

    He was a three-time league MVP, 12-time All-Star and the Rookie of the Year in 1980. He was also named the NBA Coach of the Year in 1998 with the Indiana Pacers.

    Known as a tough competitor and a great shooter, Bird is one of the greatest players ever to perform in the NBA.

Eastern Conference Forward: Scottie Pippen, Chicago Bulls

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    Scottie Pippen was known as one of the best defenders in the league during his career and was the perfect compliment to Michael Jordan during the Chicago Bulls championship seasons.

    Matched with Jordan, he was a six-time NBA champion, seven-time All-Star and was named to the league All-Defensive first team on eight consecutive occasions.

    After playing for the Bulls, Pippen also played for the Houston Rockets and the Portland Trailblazers.

    He is one of only four Bulls players to have his jersey retired and entered the NBA Hall of Fame in 2010.

Eastern Conference Forward: Dominique "Human Highlight Film" Wilkins

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    After being drafted and traded by the Utah Jazz, Dominique Wilkins found a home with the Hawks in Atlanta.

    As one of the most athletic players in the league, Wilkins was known for his dunking ability and was one of the few dunkers to rival Michael Jordan.

    While playing primarily for the Hawks, and four other teams at the end of his career, Wilkins averaged 24.8 points per game. He was also a nine-time All-Star and a two-time Slam Dunk Champion.

    During the 1985-86 season, he won the league scoring title by averaging 30.3 points per game.

    He entered the Hall of Fame in 2006.

Eastern Conference Center: Patrick Ewing, New York Knicks

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    After a stellar college career at Georgetown, Patrick Ewing was selected by the New York Knicks as the first pick in the 1995 NBA draft.

    Ewing spent most of his career in New York but was never able to break through and win a championship.

    While with the Knicks, he was the Rookie of the Year, an 11-time All-Star and a member of the original Dream Team. He also won an Olympic gold medal in 1984 prior to his professional career.

    Ewing averaged 21 points, 9.8 rebounds and three blocked shots per game for his career. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2008 and is now an assistant coach in the NBA.

Eastern Conference Center: Alonzo Mourning, Miami Heat, Charlotte Hornets

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    Alonzo Mourning spent 16 seasons in the NBA with the Hornets, Nets and Miami Heat.

    He is known for being one of the more athletic centers to have played in the league at that time.

    Mourning was selected second in the 1992 NBA draft behind Shaquille O'Neal by the Charlotte Hornets. During his time in Charlotte, he was paired with Larry Johnson to create an exciting duo.

    His best seasons came with the Miami Heat where he won the NBA title in 2006. Mourning was a seven-time All-Star and a two-time Defensive Player of the Year.

    He averaged about 17 points, nine rebounds and almost three blocked shots per game for his career.

Eastern Conference Coach: Phil Jackson, Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers

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    As the coach of the Chicago Bulls and the Los Angeles Lakers, Phil Jackson is one of the most successful coaches in NBA history.

    While coaching players such as Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal, Jackson's teams won 11 NBA titles and dominated the league for two decades.  

    Known for his triangle offense and the ability to deal with the super egos that come with superstars, Jackson retired after last season.

    He was inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame in 2007.

    NBA Statistics found at www.basketball-reference.com.

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