I have a request for blog post: Ranking the 10 (or so) best white NBA players of all time.
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?
Nananana, nananana, hey hey hey, goodbye!
Seriously though, there’s like a 0.00001% chance that Pao Gasol plays for the Lakers next year. Never seen a dude’s confidence so shattered in my life
LONG RAMBLING POST ABOUT HOW THESE NBA PLAYOFFS WILL AFFECT EVERYONE INVOLVED IN THE TOP 100 NBA PLAYERS OF ALL TIME DISCUSSION
This is obviously premature, but what’s the point of speculating after the fact? That’s no fun. This is pretty self-explanatory; how does the legacy every player currently still playing in the 2012 NBA Playoffs change based on the outcome? For the record, here are the players “definitely already in” or “probably on their way in” to the Top 100 Players in NBA History:
Spurs: Tim Duncan (def.), Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker (on their way)
Clippers: Chris Paul (def.)
Thunder: Kevin Durant (on his way)
Lakers: Kobe (def.), Pao Gasol (on his way)
Celtics: Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen (def.), Rajon Rondo (on his way)
Heat: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade (def.)
(The Pacers have no one who sniffs this discussion right now but ironically are probably the favorites in the East with a 3-seed, home court, a 2-1 lead and Bosh out. Ironic)
Tim Duncan: If the Spurs win it all this year, and they look like the overwhelming favorites, we have to have the uncomfortable “Is Tim Duncan one of the 5 best players of all time?” conversation, which is also the uncomfortable “He is better than at least 2 of these 3: Wilt Chamberlain, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson” consequence. Look at what his resume would be:
- Best player on 5 championship teams (nobody besides Michael Jordan and Bill Russell can unequivocally boast that)
- Best player on championship teams 13 years apart (nobody besides Russell or Kareem has that longevity)
- An incredible stretch of durability that saw him miss more than 10 games only twice and more than 20 NEVER. WHAT????
- Offensive and defensive statistical dominance coupled with stable leadership that made him the best player of the NBA’s fourth dynasty (dynasty: team that won 5 titles within 15 years with the same nucleus; the other three? Russell’s Celtics, Magic/Kareem’s Lakers and Jordan’s Bulls. Wow.)
I think given these stats, it’s very hard to argue against Duncan as the #4 player of all time behind MJ (untouchable #1), Russell (greatest winner, leader and defensive player of all time) and Kareem (6 titles + MVPs, second best scorer of all time after MJ).
Manu Ginobili: With the way he’s playing and his career, a Spurs title would solidify him as the Kevin McHale of this generation, except a guard.
Tony Parker: Likewise, he’s not the leader of the Spurs but there’s a GIANT drop off in talent after him on the roster. I’d argue he’s more important to the Spurs than Parish was to the C’s or Worthy to the Showtime Lakers. He and Manu definitely make it into Top 100 all time with a title this year.
Chris Paul: I don’t think this season really helps or hurts CP3’s legacy much if the Clips keep getting smacked around by a superior Spurs team. However, he needs to play much better in Games 3 and 4 (and any others) to make people forget about the absolute shit sandwich he put up in San Antonio. His legacy will be defined by how far he and Blake can take the Clips with a decent coach and a more experienced team in the coming years.
Kevin Durant: If this dude wins a title this year, his career is already better than DWade’s right? IDK how you argue against that. He’s a better scorer, accomplished more at a younger age, was ALWAYS the best player on his team (unlike Wade, who never was except for those years between Shaq and LeBron when Miami SUCKED) and is much more durable. I’d bet good money that if he puts up similar regular season numbers next year after winning a title, he’s a lock for MVP. Even a Finals loss or a WCF defeat to the Spurs would solidify his place in the Top 100 already, and I’d argue ahead of CP3, especially with his evisceration of Kobe’s Lakers (speaking of which…)
Kobe Bryant: Shaq loves this. Kobe blew Game 2. Not the Lakers. Kobe. If they get swept out 2 years in a row (or even just 2 straight second round losses), Kobe looks shitty. Yeah he won back-to-back titles without Shaq, but you know who’s to thank for that? Kevin Garnett for getting injured in 2009 (before he went down, those Celtics were playing significantly better than the team that throttled Kobe the year before) and Kendrick Perkins for missing Game 7 of a game that saw the Lakers get about 20 offensive boards off Kobe’s misses alone (I exaggerate… slightly). Injuries are obviously a part of the game, but with new Western powers emerging and stomping a repeat-champs Lakers squad that was healthier than its two title seasons (Bynum anyone?), we have to reevaluate Kobe’s last 2 rings (and they will be his last 2 rings) more as a product of the best team in the NBA being hurt than Kobe being a great winner/champ/leader. Also, he’s not clutch. We have proof. By which I mean MORE proof.
Pao Gasol: Pao Gasol just played his way out of the Top 100 with a second-straight “OMG how do they pay him to play basketball? He looks TERRIFIED!” postseason unless this shit gets turned around pronto.
Kevin Garnett: If the Celtics make the Finals, it’s mainly because KG started playing as well as he did during his MVP season (well, almost). He and Rondo are definitely Co-MVPs for the C’s so far in these playoffs, and for KG to prove the doubters wrong and return to the Finals means we have to put him ahead of Dirk and LeBron (at least for now) on the “Greatest NBA Players of All Time Who Are Still Active” list, at #3 behind Duncan and (gulp) Kobe. If the C’s WIN the Finals and KG keeps up at this high level of play, he undoubtedly earns a Top 20 spot of all time, leapfrogging Charles Barkley and Karl Malone at the very least. He also has an excellent argument for “second greatest power of all time” behind Duncan, and depending on your feelings regarding Bob Pettit, it might not even be a discussion. (Yes I know he’s been playing center this whole time. But so has Duncan. So… yeah. You still think Malone and Barkley had better careers?)
Paul Pierce: Bill Simmons (who I base most of these rankings off of) recently wrote that we will remember Pierce as the 4th greatest Celtic of all time behind Russell, Bird and Havlicek. A 2nd title would obviously not give him as many as tons of other guys besides those 3, but he is The Captain and those 3 are the only “alpha dogs” to lead the Celtics to more titles. Considering that Simmons ranked Bob Cousy #21 greatest player of all time back in 2010, a second title with Pierce putting up a few more Atlanta Games 2 and 4’s (and not Philly Game 2’s) means he has a very good argument for top 25 players of all time, no? Sounds crazy, but in 2010 Simmons had Stockton #25, followed by Rick Barry, Bill Walton and (blech) Dwyane Wade. Pierce definitely belongs in that group if not above it.
Rajon Rondo: Rajon Rondo is playing like a fucking unbelievable animal and if they get back to the Finals, it’s the 2nd time in 3 years he’s led them there. I cannot overstate how happy I am he didn’t get traded for Chris Paul. IDK how high a Finals win with Rondo throwing up triple doubles at will puts him all time given that he’s only been a star since 2009, but he’s definitely in the top 100. Don’t think so? Simmons had Robert Horry, Arvydas Sabonis, Shawn Kemp and Chris Mullin in the 80’s. I rest my case.
Ray Allen: Reduced to a bench role, a good C’s run would help his legacy the way the 86 Celtics help Walton’s. A bit, but his place in history is pretty much set.
LeBron James: If the Heat go down to the Pacers, how is that on LeBron? Bosh is out, leaving this Heat team slightly more or slightly less talented than the shitty Cleveland teams LeBron bolted on for South Beach depending on your opinion of those teams and how Dwyane Wade plays each night (speaking of which…)
Dwyane Wade: Fucking Dwyane Wade. Just had one of the worst playoff games of all time against Indiana last night and LeBron is STILL getting blamed for the loss? WTF??? This guy gets the biggest double standard treatment of all time. Kobe’s legacy always suffered because he won those first 3 titles with Shaq. But Wade wins one with a not-quite-as-good-but-still-beastly Shaq and HE’S a born winner? Even though Shaq bolts and the Heat turn into a shit sandwich? Even though that title will always have an asterisk for some of the most fishy officiating of all time, where Wade basically just ran into Mavericks for four straight games and shot as many free throws as the whole Dallas team at some points? He’s Kobe Lite, but more fragile. There’s been this myth floating around that you can compete for a title with Wade on your team but not another top 5 NBA player - clearly not true. He’s killing the team. If he’s hurt, he shouldn’t play, but it would just contribute to his legacy as a dude who can’t stay healthy. If he isn’t, he’s sucking ass and killing his team when they need him to step up. Unless he turns it around NOW and starts shooting the fucking lights out, I think it’s absolutely insane that we consider him to have one of the 5 best careers among active players. Hell, wouldn’t an OKC title automatically give Kevin Durant a better stake to that claim?
To sum up, if things continue the way they look like they’re headed (Celtics-Pacers ECF and Spurs-Thunder WCF that’ll probably both go 7, with the C’s and Spurs being the 2 hottest teams in the NBA since the All-Star break and PROBABLY the most likely title opponents, here’s who the biggest winners and losers are individually):
- Ginobili/Parker (could be switched with Pierce)
- Dirk (more 1st round sweeps than titles??? weak)
- People who hate LeBron more than Kobe or Wade
I swear, if you’re from Boston you gotta watch non-Boston teams play once in awhile just to remind yourself how good we have it. Are the Utah Jazz even a real basketball team? I feel like the Lakers aren’t even trying and they’re just shitting all over the Jazz by accident.
David Stern just cockblocked the Lakers’ trade for Chris Paul. You know that Kobe and CP3 were sexting each other pictures of themselves smelling flowers and making smilie faces and shit, and then their agents call them and are like “Yo cancel the order on those power rings that look like you two kissin’ each other when you put them together cause OG Stern stuck his old white foot up that trade’s ass,” and then Rapey McGee and Mr. “I hate Mardi Gras cause I ain’t like seein’ no tits I just wanna get to know a girl and have a meaningful discussion about menstruation and shit” start crying on their matching purple, sorry, LAVENDER couches like 14 year old girls, and then their phones both vibrate and they stop crying and pick ‘em up and it’s a text from OG Stern being like “Suck upon MAH dick” and then right after that it vibrates again and it’s OG Stern again bein’ like “And don’t go all PMS and bitch about this to some reporter cause I will have one of yo asses shipped to Toronto and the other one shipped to Minnesota. It is fuckin COLD up there feel me???”
Ron Artest is fucking insane. Besides changing his name to Metta World Peace like a fucking idiot, he’s changing his number from 15 to 70. Here’s why:
“I’m changing it to 70 because it’s like something to do with the universe,” Artest said. “Everything kind of repeats itself. The universe is one. It’s the same thing. Healthy minds, just keeping the kids positive.”
Ron that has absolutely nothing to fucking do with the number 70. Not a motherfucking thing. You are fucking crazy.
The Heat sold their souls, Lebron would never get a Ring without The Devil's Help!
Back from my weekend :)
I’m OFFICIALLY going to Boston College! How exciting!
Sadly, in other news, I gave in to the temptations of food in Boston...
ON THAT 4-0 SWAG.. WE ARE FAR FROM DONE
lets go eagles
Sometimes I love my school.
AND SOMETIMES I FUCKING LOVE MY SCHOOL.
LMFAO SO I GUESS RIGHT NOW WE'LL GET ANOTHER DOUBLE PLAY