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Thread: NBA greatest 50 players of all-time 20 years later.

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    Default NBA greatest 50 players of all-time 20 years later.

    It has been 20 years since the NBA celebrated its 50th anniversary season by naming the 50 greatest players of all-time list. If that vote were held today and incorporated the subsequent 20 years that followed I think the list would look quite different. I would keep 35 holdovers from the original vote and make 15 changes.

    Here are my subtractions :

    Lenny Wilkens, Nate Thurmond, Wes Unseld, Earl Monroe, Dave Debusschere, James Worthy,
    Bill Walton, Robert Parish, Dave Bing, Pete Maravich, Paul Arizin, Billy Cunningham, Bill Sharman,
    Sam Jones, and Tiny Archibald.

    Here are my additions :

    LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Garnett, Dwyane Wade, Gary Payton,
    Kevin Durant, Jason Kidd, Stephen Curry, Chris Paul, Allen Iverson, Steve Nash, Russell Westbrook and
    James Harden.

    Kevin McHale and Hal Greer would be my last two in from the original list that barely held on to their spots.

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    Why not just add 20 and make it fit the number of years the same way the original did?

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    Quote Originally Posted by CHBB View Post
    Why not just add 20 and make it fit the number of years the same way the original did?
    Yeah no doubt the NBA would probably do that in 5 years when they celebrate their 75th anniversary.
    I just thought it would be fun to see what a 50 greatest list would look like today. Another thing is that you hear the title of one of the 50 greatest of all-time associated with these guys even today when in actuality they aren't anymore.

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    Love this idea. Good post. How did you come to the players you removed?

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    Quote Originally Posted by usagre View Post
    Yeah no doubt the NBA would probably do that in 5 years when they celebrate their 75th anniversary.
    I just thought it would be fun to see what a 50 greatest list would look like today. Another thing is that you hear the title of one of the 50 greatest of all-time associated with these guys even today when in actuality they aren't anymore.
    Right I hear you.

    Me personally I judge based on whether or not I think said player could play in the modern era and score or dominate if the old rules allowing more physical play still existed. For example, I think Larry Bird would have a lot of trouble in this era where much quicker feet are required. I think he'd be a lot like Dirk though so he'd still be dominant offensively and use his intelligence to be very impactful in other aspects. However, I put guys who I know could play in this day and age and still dominate ahead of him, like Doctor J, Wilt, Kareem, the Big O, Elgin Baylor, etc. I also go by how good a player was when healthy or at his peak, so my list would have to include players like Vince, TMac, maybe Webber, etc. Definitely Penny and Grant Hill. I'd remove Scottie for LeBron, for one. Remove Ewing for say Anthony Davis. I'd add Bernard King. I can't believe he was left off. Honestly I'd put AD in instead of Duncan. Dirk for sure. There's just too many to do this right lol. I mean this past five years alone has produced an almost unprecedented amount of talent.

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    Quote Originally Posted by stuart View Post
    Love this idea. Good post. How did you come to the players you removed?
    I felt they were the weakest fron the original group of 50 that were selected. Upon a closer look I realized that most of them were secondary players in that they weren't the best player on their teams for long stretches of time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CHBB View Post
    Right I hear you.

    Me personally I judge based on whether or not I think said player could play in the modern era and score or dominate if the old rules allowing more physical play still existed. For example, I think Larry Bird would have a lot of trouble in this era where much quicker feet are required. I think he'd be a lot like Dirk though so he'd still be dominant offensively and use his intelligence to be very impactful in other aspects. However, I put guys who I know could play in this day and age and still dominate ahead of him, like Doctor J, Wilt, Kareem, the Big O, Elgin Baylor, etc. I also go by how good a player was when healthy or at his peak, so my list would have to include players like Vince, TMac, maybe Webber, etc. Definitely Penny and Grant Hill. I'd remove Scottie for LeBron, for one. Remove Ewing for say Anthony Davis. I'd add Bernard King. I can't believe he was left off. Honestly I'd put AD in instead of Duncan. Dirk for sure. There's just too many to do this right lol. I mean this past five years alone has produced an almost unprecedented amount of talent.
    Good point about transcendent players whose athleticism and skill can translate into any era. You definitely nailed it with those 5 old timers who were all ahead of their time. But I can't use that as a major criteria because it would lean too heavily towards modern day players. I think the best measuring stick is how one dominated his era against his peers. And then compare and contrast the dominance across eras. For example if we place too much emphasis on actual head to head someone like Bill Russell would be a glorified small forward with no outside shot in today's game. Or another way to look at it is that a middle of the road team in today's era would easily be NBA champion in the '50's and 60's due to the advantages in size, speed and overall athleticism.

    Being from New York City I saw Bernard King in his prime in the early to mid '80 a lot and he was an absolute monster offensively but it was for only a couple of seasons. Injuries derailed his career. Only negative I would say was that he was primarily a scorer with little else to offer. I think Alex English, and Adrian Dantley both contemporaries of his were all similar players. As for Ewing I think he gets shortchanged a bit. He played in an era dominated by bigs who in some cases were better than him but make no mistake he was a top 5 player in the entire league for a good stretch. From 1989-1995 a stretch of 7 years he finished in the top 5 in NBA MVP voting 6 times. The problem was that centers like Shaq, Hakeem and Robinson were also in the top 5 vote and in many cases finished ahead of him. For example in 1994 and 1995 those four centers were all top 5 in the MVP vote. Ewing also did it with a very limited supporting cast and managed to push the eventual NBA champs in those years to the brink. In both 1992 and 1993 his team gave he Bulls their toughest matchup pushing them to 6 and 7 games respectively. And in 1994 7 games in the NBA finals to Hakeem.

    Vince, Grant Hill and Webber are close but don't crack the list in my opinion. Penny just didn't do it for long enough. I agree with using peak performance as a criteria but it has to span at least 5 years or so. Under that criteria someone like Bob McAdoo who in the mid 70's for a three year stretch was as good as it gets would be more highly heralded. But the remainder of his career was good but no where near that level. Funny thing is that when the vote happened in the middle of the 1996 season Penny actually got some strong consideration even then and that was based solely on about only 2 great seasons at that time. I remember NBA reporter and voter Peter Vescey made the argument that if you're gonna put Shaq on the list after only a couple of seasons you should put Penny. It goes to show you the path to greatness that he was headed on. I disagree on Mcgrady in that I think guys like Dominique, and Alex English were better versions who also didn't make the list.
    An excellent player no doubt but I also think he takes a hit due to the fact that he was the best player on his teams for like 7 or 8 years and couldn't lead his team out of the first round of the playoffs even once.
    Last edited by usagre; 04-10-2017 at 08:24 PM.

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    Personally, I wouldn't include Vince, McGrady or Webber (or Penny for that matter).


    I haven't the time yet to go over who I would take off the original list, but I definitely agree with fitting in
    LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Garnett, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Chris Paul, Allen Iverson, and Steve Nash. Westbrook for as monster of a season as he's had would be next. Then Payton.

    Might be too early for Harden IMO -- I use the "if injured tomorrow" argument to gauge career and I don't think he would make it on his merits yet.

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    Quote Originally Posted by stuart View Post
    Personally, I wouldn't include Vince, McGrady or Webber (or Penny for that matter).


    I haven't the time yet to go over who I would take off the original list, but I definitely agree with fitting in
    LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Garnett, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Chris Paul, Allen Iverson, and Steve Nash. Westbrook for as monster of a season as he's had would be next. Then Payton.

    Might be too early for Harden IMO -- I use the "if injured tomorrow" argument to gauge career and I don't think he would make it on his merits yet.
    Funny you say that about Harden because I totally agree. He just makes my cut and was the last guy I was debating. He definitely needs another season or two at a high level and then he's a lock in my opinion.

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    Quote Originally Posted by stuart View Post
    Personally, I wouldn't include Vince, McGrady or Webber (or Penny for that matter).


    I haven't the time yet to go over who I would take off the original list, but I definitely agree with fitting in
    LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Garnett, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Chris Paul, Allen Iverson, and Steve Nash. Westbrook for as monster of a season as he's had would be next. Then Payton.

    Might be too early for Harden IMO -- I use the "if injured tomorrow" argument to gauge career and I don't think he would make it on his merits yet.
    You didn't mention Jason Kidd. He was the other one of the 15 I would have added. I think he's a no brainer.

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    It is definitely a tough list to crack. It was hard enough selecting 50 players in 50 years in 1996 and that led to a lot of snubs let alone 50 in 70 years. Players like Paul Pierce , Ray Allen and Reggie Miller were all really good players in the last 20 years and I barely even considered them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by usagre View Post
    Good point about transcendent players whose athleticism and skill can translate into any era. You definitely nailed it with those 5 old timers who were all ahead of their time. But I can't use that as a major criteria because it would lean too heavily towards modern day players. I think the best measuring stick is how one dominated his era against his peers. And then compare and contrast the dominance across eras. For example if we place too much emphasis on actual head to head someone like Bill Russell would be a glorified small forward with no outside shot in today's game. Or another way to look at it is that a middle of the road team in today's era would easily be NBA champion in the '50's and 60's due to the advantages in size, speed and overall athleticism.

    Being from New York City I saw Bernard King in his prime in the early to mid '80 a lot and he was an absolute monster offensively but it was for only a couple of seasons. Injuries derailed his career. Only negative I would say was that he was primarily a scorer with little else to offer. I think Alex English, and Adrian Dantley both contemporaries of his were all similar players. As for Ewing I think he gets shortchanged a bit. He played in an era dominated by bigs who in some cases were better than him but make no mistake he was a top 5 player in the entire league for a good stretch. From 1989-1995 a stretch of 7 years he finished in the top 5 in NBA MVP voting 6 times. The problem was that centers like Shaq, Hakeem and Robinson were also in the top 5 vote and in many cases finished ahead of him. For example in 1994 and 1995 those four centers were all top 5 in the MVP vote. Ewing also did it with a very limited supporting cast and managed to push the eventual NBA champs in those years to the brink. In both 1992 and 1993 his team gave he Bulls their toughest matchup pushing them to 6 and 7 games respectively. And in 1994 7 games in the NBA finals to Hakeem.

    Vince, Grant Hill and Webber are close but don't crack the list in my opinion. Penny just didn't do it for long enough. I agree with using peak performance as a criteria but it has to span at least 5 years or so. Under that criteria someone like Bob McAdoo who in the mid 70's for a three year stretch was as good as it gets would be more highly heralded. But the remainder of his career was good but no where near that level. Funny thing is that when the vote happened in the middle of the 1996 season Penny actually got some strong consideration even then and that was based solely on about only 2 great seasons at that time. I remember NBA reporter and voter Peter Vescey made the argument that if you're gonna put Shaq on the list after only a couple of seasons you should put Penny. It goes to show you the path to greatness that he was headed on. I disagree on Mcgrady in that I think guys like Dominique, and Alex English were better versions who also didn't make the list.
    An excellent player no doubt but I also think he takes a hit due to the fact that he was the best player on his teams for like 7 or 8 years and couldn't lead his team out of the first round of the playoffs even once.
    All good points.

    I completely agree about using both how a player fared in his respective era and how his various abilities would translate to say the most superior version of the modern NBA to judge where a player would fall in the All-Time list.

    I agree about English and Dantley who I think are criminally underrated. I think Reggie Miller is a case where he'll always both be sheltered by and punished for the fact that he played in Indiana rather than for a major team in a major city that was a legitimate contender most years.

    And I completely agree that Ewing often gets shortchanged. Hell that whole era does. David Robinson and Karl Malone are never a part of the "greatest big men ever" discussions and then you look at guys like Tom Chambers and what he did or Mitch Richmond along the wing. Not to mention Brad Daugherty in Cleveland. Even a defensive specialist like Horace Grant could bring the ball up the floor and hit midrange jumpers.

    Five years makes sense. My whole point with putting guys like Grant and Penny in there is it took over a decade for there to be anybody even remotely like either, and honestly I still think the original would bust the ass of the second coming in both cases. I think both players would be even better in this day and age. I'd also put Vince above Kobe though I know many would disagree with me. What he did before he got jumper's knee was just insane though. My case for Webber is the same. There really was nobody like him for years when healthy. I agree about TMac but I always felt he was more a complementary player than a franchise one anyway.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CHBB View Post
    Not to mention Brad Daugherty in Cleveland.
    Yeah great point on Daugherty. At his best he was the fifth best center among his contemporaries. Extremely skilled had he played today he would be right there in argument for the best center in the league. Not a great defender but did everything else including score, rebound and pass. I would compare him to Marc Gasol. Both excellent passers and I would give the offensive edge to Brad and the defensive edge to Gasol.

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    Quote Originally Posted by usagre View Post
    Here are my additions :
    LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Garnett, Dwyane Wade, Gary Payton,
    Kevin Durant, Jason Kidd, Stephen Curry, Chris Paul, Allen Iverson, Steve Nash, Russell Westbrook and
    James Harden.
    .
    Except for Durant (it's still too early), agreed with the rest.

    Though, I could add Chauncey Billups or Tony Parker to the list instead of Westbrook (it's early for him as well)

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    Here is NBA greatest 50 player of all time.
    1. Michael Jordan
    2. LeBron James
    3. Wilt Chamberlain
    4. Magic Johnson
    5. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
    6. Bill Russell
    7. Tim Duncan
    8. Larry Bird
    9. Shaquille O’Neal
    10. Kobe Bryant
    11. Hakeem Olajuwon
    12. Oscar Robertson
    13. Jerry West
    14. Moses Malone
    15. Kevin Garnett
    16. Karl Malone
    17. Dirk Nowitzki
    18. Julius Erving
    19. Stephen Curry
    20. Charles Barkley
    21. Chris Paul
    22. Scottie Pippen
    23. John Stockton
    24. Kevin Durant
    25. Dwyane Wade
    26. Elgin Baylor
    27. David Robinson
    28. Steve Nash
    29. Jason Kidd
    30. Clyde Drexler
    31. Patrick Ewing
    32. Walt Frazier
    33. John Havlicek
    34. Allen Iverson
    35. Isiah Thomas
    36. Bob Cousy
    37. George Mikan
    38. Paul Pierce
    39. Rick Barry
    40. Dolph Schayes
    41. Elvin Hayes
    42. Gary Payton
    43. George Gervin
    44. Kevin McHale
    45. Bob Pettit
    46. Ray Allen
    47. Reggie Miller
    48. Dominique Wilkins
    49. Dwight Howard
    50. Kawhi Leonard

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    Great job on your list. We agree on 44 of the 50 players. Not counting the specific ranking order of the players the only difference is that you add Paul Pierce, Dwight Howard, Ray Allen, Reggie Miller, Dominique Wilkins and Kawhi Leonard and I have Dave Cowens, Willis Reed, Hal Greer, Jerry Lucas, James Harden and Russell Westbrook.

    I can't argue with Greer and Lucas not making your list because they barely made mine. And it might be too soon for Harden and Westbrook as well so I won't argue there. My only disagreements are with Kawhi Leonard and Dwight Howard.
    It's way too early for Leonard to make a list like this considering he's only had a couple of elite seasons. And I can't see putting Howard in ahead of Cowens and Reed who were both league MVP's as well as multiple time Nba champions.
    I can't really go crazy with Miller, Allen, Dominique or Pierce because they came close to cracking my list as well.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sara141 View Post
    Here is NBA greatest 50 player of all time.
    Good list. Although I would retain Bill Walton in that list despite his career being grounded by injuries mostly. I'd have Walton ahead of Howard at this point. But when Bill was healthy, RIP City ensured and delivered the franchise's championship. After that year, it seems that sky was the limit for him until the recurring injuries in his ankle and knee kept him grounded for pretty much of his career. One can argue that he could have had racked up more DPOY and All-Defensive team had he been healthy from the start of his career and during his peak. His 86 ring with the Celtic was a nice reward for a career he endured, but he still played a vital role as the team's extended defensive anchor in backing up Parish as well as backing up McHale on clean up duties.
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