The name of this blog comes from the best 8-man suite (SWEET) on the Boston College campus.
Former residents include myself, TJ Killa AKA Tha Tarrible Thunda, Mannie Fresh, Ali-Aladdin, Fingers Magee, Cervenkatron, Showdown champs Baby U-ee and KISH!!!, and the legendary #2 Montel Harris, the source from which all swag flows forth.
I’m not gonna pretend that a lot of my opinions about basketball are HEAVILY informed by Bill Simmons’ bible basketball, The Book of Basketball (which by the way is probably the most entertaining book a basketball fan could ever read). So I’m gonna give you his top 10, then tweak it based on the seasons that have past since the paperback’s publication and my own differing opinions - which may or may not be justifiable.
10. Kevin McHale (#35 overall) (13 years, 10 qualit, 7 All-Stars… Top 5 (‘87)… All-Defense (6x, three 1st… season leader: FG% (2x)… 2nd-best player on one champ and 2 runners-up; 6th man for 2 other champs… 2-year peak 24-9-3 60% FG… 3-year Playoffs peak 24-9, 59% FG… 3rd-best Playoff FG ever, 100+ games (56.6%)… career: 55% FG (12th) 80% FT)
9. Dave Cowens (#31 overall) (11 years, 8 quality, 7 All-Stars.. ‘73 MVP… ‘75 MVP runner-up… ‘71 Rookie of the Year… Top 10 (‘73, ‘75, ‘76)… All-Defense (2x)… Playoffs 14.4 RPG (5th all-time)… 4-year peak: 20-16-4, 46% FG… 4-year Playoffs peak: 21-16-4 (50 g’s)… best or 2nd-best player on 2 champs, 21-15-4 (36 g’s)… starter for 68-win team)
8. Bill Walton (#27 overall) (10 years, 4 quality, 2 All-Stars… ‘77 Finals MVP… ‘78 MVP, ‘77 runner-up… Top 5 (‘78), Top 10 (‘77)… All-Defense (2x)… leader: rebounds (1x), blocks (1x)… best player on 1 champ, 6th man on 1 champ… ‘77 Playoffs: 18.2 PPG, 15.5 RPG, 5.5 APG, 3.4 BPG
7. Rick Barry (#26 overall) (14 years, 10 quality, 12 All-Stars… ‘75 Finals MVP… Simmons MVP (‘75)… Top 5 NBA (‘66, ‘67, ‘74, ‘75, ‘76), Top 5 ABA (‘69, ‘70, ‘71, ‘72), Top 10 (‘73)… ‘67 All-Star MVP… season leader points (1x), FT% (9x), steals (1x)… best player on 1 champ and runner-up… ‘67 Playoffs: 35-8-4 (15 G); ‘75 Playoffs: 28-6-6, 44% FG, 92% FT (17 G)… 3-Year ABA Playoffs peak: 34-8-4, 49% FG (31 G)… 3-year NBA Playoffs peak: 27-7-6, 45% FG, 91% FT (40 G)… career: 24.8 PPG (13th), 89.3 FT (3rd), 5.1 APG… 25K Point Club
6. John Stockton (#25 overall) (19 years, 10 quality, 10 All-Stars… Top 5 (‘94, ‘95), Top 10 (‘88, 89, ‘90, ‘92, ‘93, ‘96), Top 15 (‘91, ‘97, ‘99)… Playoffs record: most assists (24)… 5-year peak: 16-3-14… leader: assists (9x), steals (2x)… ‘88 Playoffs: 19-4-15 (11 G)… 2nd-best player on 2 runner-ups… Playoffs: 13-10.4, 80% FT (182 G)… missed 22 games total, played 82 games in 17 of 19 seasons… career: assists (1st), games (3rd), steals (1st)
5. Bob Cousy (#21 overall) (13 years, 13 quality, 13 All-Stars… ‘57 MVP… Top 5 (‘52-‘61), Top 10 (‘62, ‘63)… two All-Star MVPs… records: most assists in one half (19), most playoffs FTs made (30)… leader: assists (8x)… 2nd-best player on 6 champs… 3-year Playoffs peak: 20-6-9 (32 G)… career: 18-8-5, 38% FG, 80% FT
4. Bob Pettit (#17 overall) (11 years, 10 quality, 11 All-stars… MVP: ‘56, ‘59… Runner-up” ‘57, ‘61… Top 5 (‘55-‘64), Top 10 (‘65)… ‘55 Rookie of the Year… 4 All-Star MVPs… 3-year peak: 28-18-3… leader: scoring (2x), rebounds (1x)… career: 26.4 PPG (6th), 16.2 RPG (3rd)… Playoffs: 26-15-3 (88 G)… best player on one champ and 3 runners-up… first member of 20K-10K club)
3. John Havlicek (#14 overall) (16 seasons, 13 quality, 13 All-Stars… ‘74 Finals MVP… Top 5 (‘71-‘74), Top 10 (‘64, ‘66, ‘68, ‘69, ‘70, ‘75, ‘76)… All-Defense (8x, five 1st)… 3-year peak: 27-9-8… 4-year Playoffs peak: 27-9-6 (57 G)… leaer: minutes (2x)… most career assists for a nonguard (6,114).. best or 2nd-best player on 4 champs, played for 8 champs (8-0 in Finals)… Playoffs: 22-7-5 (172 G)… career: minutes (10th), points (14th)… 25K Points Club
2. Jerry West (#9 overall) (14 years, 12 quality, 14 All-Stars… ‘69 Finals MVP… Simmons MVP (‘70)… MVP runner-up: ‘66, ‘70, ‘71, ‘72… Top 5 (‘62, ‘63, ‘64, ‘65, ‘66, ‘67, ‘70, ‘71, ‘72, ‘73), Top 10 (‘68, ‘69)… All-Defense (4x)… records: Fts, season; points, Plaoff series… leader: scoring, assists (1x)… career: 27 PPG (5th), 27-7-6, 47% FG, 81% FT… 4-year peak 30-6-6… Playoffs (153 G): 29.3 PPG (3rd)… Finals 30.5 PPG (55 G)… best player on 1 champ, best or 2nd-best player on 8 runner-ups… averaged a 26-5-10 during LA’s 33-game winning streak… 25K Point Club)
1. Larry Bird (#5 overall) (13 years, 10 quality, 12 All-Stars… Finals MVP: ‘84, ‘86… MVP: ‘84-‘86… Simmons MVP (‘81)… runner-up: ‘81, ‘82, ‘83, ‘88… ‘80 Rookie of the Year… Top 5 (‘80-‘88), Top 10 (‘90)… All-Defense (2x)… leader: threes (2x), FT% (4x)… 5-year peak: 28-10-7, 51% FG, 90% FT… 4-year Playoffs peak: 27-10-7, 50% FG, 90% FT (84 G)… ‘84 Finals: 27-14-3… ‘86 Finals: 24-10-10…. ‘87 Playoffs: 27-10-9, 43.9 MGP (23 G)… career: 24-10-6, 50% FG, 88.6 FT% (9th)… highest career APG, forwards (6.1)… Playoffs: 24-10-6.5, 89% FT… best player on 3 champs and 2 runner-ups… member of ‘92 Dream Team… 20K Point Club
Solid list for 2010, but if you wanna get riled up about 5 of those guys playing all or most of their primes for the Celtics (Bird, Havlicek, Cousy, Cowens and McHale) and a 6th contributing significantly for them multiple seasons (Walton), fair enough. The other white guys in the top 50 are Steve Nash (#36, 1 slot below McHale), George Mikan (#38), Dirk Nowitzki (#39), Dave DeBusschere (#46), and Billy Cunningham (#49). If you wanna count half of Jason Kidd, he’s #42.
Now, after the 2011 NBA Finals, Simmons went on the record calling Dirk Nowitzki one of the top 20 players of all time (LeBron James is #20 in the book. LOL!). I agree - Dirk’s performance throughout the 2011 NBA Playoffs was unbelievable and as time goes on it’ll become more and more legendary.
I do have beef with Bob Pettit so high, though. Sure, he was dominant in his time, but for most of the time BLACK PEOPLE DIDN’T PLAY IN THE NBA. This pisses me off for a number of reasons; yeah, he still played well as more and more black guys joined, but he was a horrible racist. Why does this matter? For one, racism of players obviously did nothing to speed up the integration process; and two, HIS TEAM DRAFTED BILL RUSSELL AND TRADED HIM TO THE CELTICS FOR WHITE GUYS. How much of this was due to the racism of the team, led by Pettit? I don’t know. But they spent most of the following decade (and the rest of Pettit’s career) getting their brains bashed in by Russell and the Celtics, in their good years. He only won one title, which is especially hurtful considering he had his chance in the all-white era. Oh yeah, that was the one year between ‘57 and ‘66 that Russell’s Celtics didn’t win it all. Cause Russell was hurt. In what now seems like the most obvious benefit of not being racist ever, the Celtics became the greatest sports dynasty of the past 60 years because they were the first to fully embrace African-Americans on the team. See kids? Racism is bad even if you’re a totally selfish prick.
There’s also some minor things that need addressing: McHale over Cowens doesn’t make sense to me given how much better the NBA was during McHale’s time (there was no ABA), his extra ring, his better stats, and his status as maybe the best post player of all time. He also cut short his own career by playing on a BROKEN FOOT in the ‘87 playoffs, while Cowens cut his own career short temporarily by retiring and becoming a cab driver for a little while. McHale also gets bonus points for basically inventing the modern concept of the 6th man. So yeah… still don’t get what was going on here in Simmons’ head.
The question of Walton is big. Walton was basically one of the most dominant players of all time for about two years, but then he got hurt and never was the same. How does that compare to someone like John Stockton, who was never close to being the best player in the league at any time but was very very good for an amazingly long period? Simmons kind of equivocates here… he puts Walton higher than guys like David Robinson because he’d rather have the peak, but then he puts him lower than Stockton. My feeling is this: when we judge a player’s greatness, we need to focus on his peak, rewarding players with greater longevity only when the respective peaks are similar in quality. For example, Magic over Bird. In Simmons’ words, Walton at his peak “guaranteed you a championship,” while Stockton, despite his consistency never even won one. As for Rick Barry, he never lost his talent but made stupid ass decisions that hurt his team, while Walton proved to be one of the greatest teammates of all time on the ‘86 Celtics. If Barry suffers a crippling injury in his 4th year, this discussion never even happens. So without further ado…
THE TOP 10 GREATEST WHITE GUYS IN NBA HISTORY:
10. Kevin McHale - Maybe I’m a bit biased because he traded the C’s KG for a giant pile of dog shit
9. John Stockton - I remember watching him play, but I also remember rooting against him very hard because he was going against Michael Jordan and I was 7 and that’s who you rooted for when you were 7
8. Rick Barry - Even if he was a prick, he still had the numbers and a ring
7. Bill Walton - Even if it was for less time, I’d rather this guy on my team than the last two
6. Bob Pettit - Still think he’s a dirty racist, but how much can you penalize one of the Top 5 Players of an era?
5. Bob Cousy - Invented the fast break, one of the NBA’s first superstars, and oh yeah, won a shitload of titles for the Celtics
4. Dirk Nowitzki - Doesn’t have as many rings as some of the other guys, but he also didn’t have Bill Russell or Larry Bird on his squad. Plus, HE BEAT THE HEAT.
3. John Havlicek - 8 rings, great teammate, and his numbers are nucking futs. Still the C’s all-time leader in points.
2. Jerry West - It’s usually pointless to play what-if’s because there’s so many outside factors, but Bill Russell denied this guy like 7 more rings. If Russell never came into the league, it’s possible that West would be remember as the consummate winner instead. He also had baller numbers. AND… he’s the NBA logo!
1. Brian Scalabrine - The greatest teammate in the history of sports, and the one and only factor driving the C’s ‘08 title run and Derrick Rose’s MVP Award.
1. Larry Bird - Is anyone in the world going to argue this?
For those who missed it yesterday, here is part 1. For those who did not…
My epic project (Part 2):
Pairing each of the 96 dudes from the Bill Simmons’ Book of Basketball pyramid of the greatest NBA players of all time with a famous rapper based on wholly subjective criteria: Part 2 (#61-37):
61. Bob McAdoo – Del The Funkee Homosapien: I’m not gonna lie, I paired these two cause Bob McAdoo is a hilarious name, and “Del The Funkee Homosapien” is the goofiest rapper name I could think of.
60. Nate Archibald – Bushwick Bill: Nate Archibald’s nickname was “Tiny.”Bushwick Bill is a midget.That’s it.I never said every entry was gonna be clever.
59. Robert Parish – Inspectah Deck: “He’s like that dude that’ll sit back and watch you play yourself and all that right? And see you sit there and know you lyin; and he’ll take you to court after that.” This quote comes off the Wu-Tang Clan’s first album, and is of course Method Man describing Inspectah Deck.But it could also be applied to the quiet Celtics giant, Parish, who was notoriously calm except for that one time he knocked the shit out of Bill Laimbeer (0:17).
58. Bernard King – Big L: Bernard was one of the most naturally talented players to ever step foot on the hardwood, routinely throwing down jaw-dropping dunks in front of packed MSG crowds during the ‘70’s.His career was unfortunately cut short by injuries.Big L, also from New York, was arguably one of the most skilled rappers of all time, routinely spitting out jaw-dropping punch lines in his rhymes.He was murdered just before he probably would’ve become rap’s next big superstar.
57. Tommy Heinsohn – Flavor Flav: Tommy was a player and then coach for one of the greatest dynasties in ball history, the Boston Celtics.Flavor Flav occasionally rapped for one of hip-hop’s greatest dynasties, Public Enemy.But to most of us C’s fans today, Tommy is the best (and most biased… not a coincidence?) announcer in the whole damn NBA.And Flavor Flav?The greatest hypeman of all time… hands down.
56. Paul Arizin – Pete Nice: Arizin was a 10-time All-Star playing in a pretty much exclusively white league for his whole career.Pete Nice was one of the first white dudes in hip-hop to earn legit respect, as a member of 3rd Bass.Arizin wasn’t quite on the same level as dudes like Cousy and Mikan.That’s why he’s not one of the Beastie Boy. He’s not a legend, he’s just Nice.
55. Dominique Wilkins – Nelly: ‘Nique had a lot of highlight-reel-worthy dunks, and scored shitloads of points.But he couldn’t play defense and never won jack.Likewise, Nelly has a ton of hit records, but they’re mindless club bangers and he’s never really put out a verse with any deep meaning or emotion behind it (unless drunk and horny counts as an emotion).Wilkins’ battles with MJ during the ’87 and ’88 Slam Dunk Contests seem as inconsequential in retrospect as Nelly’s battles with Eminem in 2002 for the top of the charts.
54. Paul Pierce – The Game: Both came up with a lot of hype and had some initial success.Then they started just pissing everybody off and hit the skids for awhile.Eventually, both dudes manned up.Game reunited with some of the dudes he feuded with for his upcoming album (hopefully to recapture the magic of his debut), and The Truth stuck it out with the C’s until they finally surrounded him with enough talent to win a title.Also, Pierce got stabbed once and didn’t miss a game.I’m pretty sure Game was shot at least once a week from the years 1999 through 2002.
53. Dwyane Wade – Redman: D-Wade proved his own worth by leading the Heat to a title in ’06, and Redman did the same when he dropped the classic disc Whut? Thee Album in ’92.Both dudes desired greater success/fame, so they paired up with a more famous peer (LeBron, Meth), who wasn’t necessarily as focused on winning/making music.Also, both dudes really suck at spelling.
52. Dennis Johnson – Guru: Two dudes who thrived during the peak of their respective games (DJ in the 80’s NBA, Guru in 90’s hip-hop) as part of legendary teams (DJ with the Celts, Guru with Gang Starr), and never got as much recognition as the other dudes on their squads.Both died tragically young, and neither from drug use or drunk driving or any stupid shit like that either.
51. Bill Sharman – Kurtis Blow: Two dudes from way back when.Sharman pretty much invented the modern 2-guard style, and then dominated with it.Kurtis Blow was the first rapper to release a steady stream of good shit.Also keeps the Boston-Celtics-are-to-the-NBA-what-New-York-is-to-hip-hop theme going.
49. Elvin Hayes – Plies: These two are both cases of guys who had a lot of hype and a lot of potential, but never really justified the hype.Elvin Hayes’ coach called him a “no good fucking prick” once.Plies’ voice makes me feel like someone’s pouring diarrhea down my ears.Not my favorite guys on the list.
48. James Worthy – Big Boi: Big Game James was always content to play a supporting role, despite his prodigious talent.Whether on MJ’s Tar Heels teams or Magic’s Lakers, Big Game James did what it took to win.Same deal with Big Boi.He doesn’t seem bitter that Andre 3000 gets most of the credit for Outkast’s success, he just goes to work and outclasses 90% of the rest of the field with seemingly no effort.
47. Billy Cunningham – Kool Keith: I’m not gonna lie, I can barely put a face to either of these guys.I paired them cause they’re the two most fucking lame names of all time.
46. Hal Greer – Kool G. Rap: If you haven’t done your homework, these names are vaguely familiar at best, right?Well, both these dudes wrecked shit in the early days.However, Greer had the misfortune of having to go up against Russell’s Celtics basically his whole career, while Kool G. Rap’s legacy has been somewhat overshadowed by his contemporaries, Rakim (hint hint #2) being the prime example.
45. Dave DeBusschere – Pimp C: Dave was part of those legendary ‘70’s Knicks squads, while Pimp C was part of legendary rap duo UGK.The premature deaths of both men shocked their respective establishments, and their legacies have continued to grow since.
44. Nate Thurmond – Treach: Bill Simmons calls Thurmond the dude that nobody realizes was as good as he was.The same can be said for Treach, the leader of Naughty By Nature.In fact, Eminem said that he gave up rapping for awhile cause he never thought he’d be as good as Treach.Imagine if Wilt had said that about Nate…
43. Clyde Drexler – Prodigy: Drex was a member of the ’92 Dream Team, made the Finals as part of the ’92 Blazers, and won the Finals with Hakeem on the Rockets in ’95.Prodigy, as part of one of the best rap duos of all time, Mobb Deep, is still one of the most respected MC’s to emerge from the 90’s.But Drex is best remembered for getting shit all over by Michael Jordan all the time, while Prodigy’s most lasting legacy is getting cussed out by 2Pac on “Hit ‘Em Up.”
42. Jason Kidd – Jadakiss: J-Kidd led the Nets to consecutive Finals (where they got mauled), but you could tell he was always more comfortable as the #2 or 3 guy, like in Dallas this year.Likewise, Jada’s best work came as a member of The LOX, not as a solo artist.Also, both their names can be abbreviated to Ja-Ki.Wonder why that hasn’t stuck?
41. Wes Unseld – Big Pun: Two dudes that physically should not have been able to do what they did.Wes was like 6’6, 275 and was still one of the best centers of his time.Big Pun was like 5’5, 2000 and could flow faster than a Kenyan doing wind sprints.2 points for fat guys all around the world!
40. Gary Payton – DMX: Bald, rocking the goatee, and PISSED AS HELL.Both these dudes are legendary trash talkers, and at their peaks, were among the best in their respective games.But Payton was only really a star for about 10 years for no apparent reason, and DMX decided to start getting his ass tossed in jail when he got bored of making #1 albums.Whatever floats your boat guys.
38. Steve Nash – Drake: Stevie is hands down the best Canadian basketball player ever, and Drake is already the unquestioned greatest Canadian rapper of all time.Nash gets a lot of shit from some people for not playing good D (even though he’s the best offensive point guard of this generation) while Drake catches flack from some people for being too soft/not pretending to want to kill people.Some people are fucking stupid.
37. Dirk Nowitzki – J. Cole: Dirk’s been around awhile, but he always had a rep as a choker or overrated until he won his first title this past spring.Cole’s had a buzz building around him for awhile, with three mixtapes released, but if his debut album doesn’t blow people’s minds, expect the bust/overrated tag to haunt dude for a long time.Also, Dirk is without a doubt the best German baller of all time, and guess where Cole was born… Deutschland!Crazy, right?Also worth noting: after Dallas won the Finals this year, Bill Simmons called Dirk one of the top 20 players of all time in his grantland.com column.Guess who #20 in the book was?Hint: It’s the funniest possible answer.
200 swag points for whoever made it all the way here. This will continue to get better as we approach the top. I double-promise. Check back (and follow if you haven’t already) for Part 3.