I took a little break from writing (or blogging) after the NFL draft because I was burnt out after all the blogging during that time period. The world of sports has had a lot going on during that time frame, and Joe Pacheco and I continued The Average Joe Show every Tuesday at 8pm pst.
But let’s get to my ran-DUMB sports thoughts…..
As I write this blog during the final moments of the NBA Finals I can’t help but think about Lebron James place in NBA history. While James has his detractors (or “haters”), no one can question his overall game. He is the most talented player in the NBA today, period. His skill set is reminiscent of Magic Johnson’s game, except James has more spring in his legs and Magic was a better free throw shooter. I admit I am and was highly critical of James lack of “clutch gene” throughout his career, but this series in-particular he showed not only me, but every other critic (including Skip Bayless of ESPN) that he doesn’t need to make the last shot of a game to win it for his team. He also hit a 3 pointer to put the Heat by 5 in game 4 (on a cramped leg) that was the dagger and sealed a Heat victory.
But where does that leave James in the world of NBA greats? Is he better then Michael Jordan? NO. Magic? Not even close. Larry Bird? Nope. Kobe? Not to me. LeBron, to me, is not in MY top 5 NBA players of all-time. He is however in my top 10 and could climb to as high as #2 IF he wins 4 more titles. Here are my top 10 NBA players of All Time.
1. Michael Jordan: He redefined the NBA by globalizing it. No player has had the type of global impact that Jordan has had. Kids from Chicago to the Congo from Spain to China and beyond knew (knows) who Jordan is. His shoe brand (Jordan Brand) and NIKE has played a huge role, but his game and personality (on camera) really is what sets him a part. 6 NBA titles & Finals MVP’s, 5 time NBA MVP, 14 time NBA All Star, 10 time scoring champ, 9 time All NBA Defensive team, NBA Rookie of the Year, 1988 Defensive Player of the Year, 3 time steals champion, 3 time NBA All Star MVP, 2 time NBA Slam Dunk champion and a 2 time gold medal winning Olympic champion. One could argue that he really could have been MVP every year he played (from 1988 on) and may have been an 8 time champion if he didn’t retire to play baseball for a season and a half. He took a franchise that was an NBA also-ran and made them a proud franchise with a history that includes most wins in a season (72) and the third most NBA titles in NBA history (6).
2. Magic Johnson: Most will be surprised that I have Magic up this high, but he and Larry Bird saved the NBA. Magic was everything you’d want in a player and leader of men. He was a 6’9 Point Guard that (as a rookie) played Center against Moses Malone in the NBA Finals in the deciding game and led the Lakers to his first NBA title and a Finals MVP. Magic led the “Showtime” Lakers to 5 titles in totality and he would have been the NBA’s All-Time assist leader if it weren’t for the HIV virus he contacted and forced him to retire. That year (1991) he came back to the NBA in the All Star game and won the MVP. Later, in 1992, he was a part of the “Dream Team” which won the Gold medal. He led the “Dream Team” and won his last title, a gold medal, as a player. Magic off the court has been even more successful as a businessman, he now is an owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
3. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Karrem is the NBA’s leading scorer and block shots leader, 6 time champion, 6 time All Star and arguably the most fundamentally sound big man to play the game. His “sky hook” was unstoppable and I feel Kareem is underrated by most people. While some think Chamberlain is a better player, I think Kareem played against tougher competition when he played and still was the best player in the game for a very long time.
4. Wilt Chamberlain: Wilt was (arguably) the most dominating player in the history of sports. He was a Center that could do no wrong on the court (or off it), except for his free throw’s. He scored 100 points in a game, averaged a triple double and simply dominated the competition, except for Bill Russell and the Celtics. Wilt won 2 NBA titles to go along with 4 MVP’s.
5. Larry Bird: Larry Bird, along with Magic Johnson, helped save the NBA when they entered the NBA in 1979 & 1980. The rivalry between the Bird led Celtics and the Johnson led Lakers was must seen TV for any sports fan. Bird is a 3 time NBA champion, 2 time Finals MVP & the best pure shooter I have ever seen. He wasn’t flashy (like Magic) but he was a hustler that was consistent game in and game out and had a killer instinct that only Jordan could best. Larry “the Legend” helped turn the Celtics back into an NBA title contender and restored pride to Boston and the Boston Garden.
6.Bill Russell: Bill Russell’s statistics don’t tell the whole story. He was a 13 time NBA Champion, played great defense and sacrificed his offensive stats for the greater good of his team. He played Chamberlain better then any player their era and bested “the Big Dipper” in 9 NBA Finals in a 10 year span.
7. Kobe Bryant:
I have Magic a head of Kobe in terms of All Time players because of Magic’s role in saving the NBA, but Bryant maybe the greatest Lakers player to ever play. He is a 5 time champion, 2 time Finals MVP, 14 time All Star, 4 time All Star MVP, 2 time scoring champ, 9 time NBA all defensive team, gold medalist and scored 81 points in a game. Kobe is the closest player I have seen to Michael Jordan. He is the ultimate competitor and has no fear taking (and hitting) the big shot, no matter the angle, location, distance or how much time is remaining in the game.
8. Jerry West
9. Oscar Robertson
10. LeBron James
The Dodgers need to make a move or two to jump start their offense and Kevin Youkilis is NOT the answer. “Youk” is not the same hitter fans are accustomed to seeing and would only be a 1 year stop gap (he can be bought out of his $13 million dollar deal for $1 million at the end of the year). I was told that the Dodgers have engaged in talks with the Mariners for Ichiro, but no deal is eminent. They also called the Nationals about first baseman Adam LaRoche and like Ichiro, nothing is close to happening.
The Yankees are baseball’s hottest team and they are winning with pitching. But as good as the Yankees are pitching, the Pirates and Nationals are pitching just as well if not better. AJ Burnett and James McDonald lead the Pirates staff while Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez lead what maybe the best pitching in baseball in D.C. Both teams need to add more offensive punch (sorry Nats fans, Bryce Harper can’t do it all) and both look to be “buyers” at the trade deadline.
Speaking of Harper, he and Mike Trout of the Angels are the just what MLB needed. They two under 21 rookies are the future & face of MLB and have done nothing to make people think differently of their hype. Trout is being over shadowed by Harper, but who hasn’t been. All Harper has done at 19 years old is become the biggest hitter in the Nats line-up and do everything he has been asked to do (and more). He has also impressed with poise and maturity on the field, as well as his advanced approach to hitting. A former MLB exec told me at the beginning of the year that “Harper is Pete Rose and Trout is Dale Murphy”. So far he looks to be right.
While I don’t agree with “cheating” in pro sports, I also don’t agree with snitching. What Davey Johnson did was HIGHLY hypocritical on his end considering he managed Roger McDowell, who was known to “grease up” while pitching in the Majors, as well as other MLB players that have a history of “altering” or practicing habits unbecoming of a Major Leaguer. Johnson did the same thing to the Dodgers Jay Howell in the 1988 NLCS while managing the Mets. Joel Peralta pitched for the Nats previously and Johnson must have known that Peralta hid pine-tar in his glove. As a former pitcher, I see no use for tine-tar in a glove considering it doesn’t do anything to the ball, unlike a tac or nail in a glove, nail file super glued on a finger or vasoline under the bill of a cap.
This week on The Average Joe Show we will talk about Rodger Clemens being cleared of federal charges, should Pete Rose be let in the Hall of Fame and the NBA Finals. Tune in Tuesday at 8pm pst on http:blogtalkradio.com/the-average-joe-show.