T10B Busted: NBA’s 75th Anniversary Team

Synopsis: While Bill Russell may not be the greatest player in NBA history, he undeniably is basketball’s greatest champion. At a minimum, I have extreme confidence stating that Russell’s haul of 2 college titles, 1 Olympic gold medal, and 11 NBA rings will not be surpassed in my lifetime. Upon hearing about the Celtics legend’s recent death, I decided to complete a post I started last year after the NBA revealed the “75 Greatest Players in NBA History.” The league created its list based on submissions from a distinguished panel of current and former players, coaches, team executives, and media members. Despite input from these veritable experts, the announcement provided fodder for the rest of us to declare which players were snubbed and unjustly omitted. Partly in anticipation of the moment, my son and I developed an algorithm to rank players based on numerous objective measures (e.g. per game averages, year-end awards, championships, etc.). Based on our work, I am excited to announce T10B’s ranking of the 75 greatest players in NBA/ABA history. I’m not going to claim the ranking is perfect, but it should pass the scrutiny of experts and non-experts alike.


TOP10BUSTED: NBA’S 75th ANNIVERSARY TEAM

When the NBA announced its 50th Anniversary Team in 1996, I remember being shocked that Shaquille O’Neal had been selected over Dominique Wilkins. Shaq had just completed his 4th season in the league so I couldn’t accept that he had a better résumé than someone who was an all-time top 10 scorer with 9 All-Star appearances and 7 All-NBA team selections. Although a virtual lock as a Hall of Famer, The Diesel still had not earned the nicknames of Superman or The Big Aristotle by then. He had a very bright future but too few individual or team accomplishments to overshadow the Human Highlight Reel. I accepted that the process selecting the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History would be subjective. At the same time, I wondered if enough objective information could be captured and evaluated to determine a better outcome. Fast forward 25 years, I argue that goal has been accomplished based on information provided by basketball-reference.com and evaluated by Top10Busts.com. Yes, that’s a self-congratulatory plug.

The last year has been more hectic than usual. I changed jobs, moved twice and became an empty nester. Relative to these changes, all of them were desirable but for the last. I can get through a day without thinking about my old job or house, but can’t turn on the TV without realizing that my kids have grown and moved on. I long for the days when I watched Bones and The Middle with my daughter or Brooklyn Nine-Nine and The Goldbergs with my son. Today, I have a standing commitment to watch Survivor and The Great British Bake Off with my wife. If it’s not obvious, I spend a lot of time in front of the boob tube. Fortunately, I multitask so I haven’t completely wasted all that time. In fact, I do most of my blogging from my “Murray Goldberg” chair with the TV glowing in the background. My wife actually calls it my “Archie Bunker” chair, but I’m worried how that reference might be interpreted by the woke police.

VALUE OF A LOSS

Similar to my sitcom equivalents, I have fond memories of my favorite chair. It doesn’t match any furniture in our new home, but my wife thankfully understands its sentimental value and has allowed me to keep it (for now at least). As I type this post from that chair, I think about the countless football passes I threw to my son as he ran routes in our family room. I also remember having in-depth discussions while watching sporting events with him. Back when the NFL G.O.A.T. debate still existed circa 2015, we discussed whether Tom Brady’s 4-2 win/loss record in the Super Bowl should be considered more impressive than Joe Montana’s 4-0 record. I initially sided with Montana’s perfection until my son convinced me that a Super Bowl loss should be additive to a player’s legacy because he had to win a conference championship to get there. After hours of debate spread across the early and late games of an NFL Sunday, we agreed that Jim Kelly likely would trade three, but not all four, AFC Championships for one NFL title. We effectively concluded that a Super Bowl record of 1-1 and 0-4 should be viewed similarly. Therefore, our algorithm counts a Super Bowl loss the same as 1/3 of a Super Bowl victory.

My son and I more recently discussed how LeBron’s 4-6 record in the NBA Finals compared to MJ’s 6-0 record. With all due respect to King James, the “value” from his 6 additional Finals losses doesn’t equate to MJ’s 2 additional wins. Now that the NBA has decided to award the Larry Bird Trophy and Magic Johnson Trophy, a finals loss might carry more weight if combined with additional hardware. While winning a conference finals MVP adds another stat to consider when ranking players, I don’t believe it will be impactful enough to move the needle when determining the best of the best.

UPDATED ALGORITHM

My previous claim about being an empty nester may be premature given that our son has spent the summer with us before heading back to school in the fall. While he was gone last year, I modified our original algorithm to create an updated (and expanded) ranking of the NBA’s all-time greatest players. Fortunately, he still had enough interest to review my work and offer some suggestions since coming home. Of note, our algorithm now accounts for:

  • More competition in the modern NBA, so the “value” of a title has increased over time.
    • It was easier to win a title with 8 teams in the 1960s vs. 30 teams today.
  • Adjusted stats to normalize based on different eras
    • Lower shooting percentage in early NBA led to much higher rebound totals
    • Steals and blocks were not official stats before 1973.
    • The 3-point shot did not exist in the NBA prior to 1979.
  • New awards/honors retroactively applied to older players
    • Bob Pettit earned the league’s first MVP award in 1956.
    • Jerry West earned the league first Finals MVP award in 1969.
      • For any trivia buffs, The “Logo” remains the only player on a losing team to win the award
    • The All-Defensive team didn’t exist prior to 1968.
    • The All-NBA 3rd Team was introduced in 1989.
    • Note: I did not factor the new conference finals MVP award because it did not exist for anyone prior to the announcement of the 75th Anniversary Team.
  • Full recognition for ABA awards and achievements
    • Competition in the ABA wasn’t as stiff as in the NBA, but the “merger” of the two leagues always should have included “merged” stats.
    • T10B Prediction: Adam Silver will see the light and correct this oversight before he retires.

Unlike the NBA’s 75th Anniversary Team, the following players are ranked based on their composite score. Let the debate begin . . .

T10B – GREATEST PLAYERS IN NBA HISTORY (#1-25)
Rank Player Best Decade Points Rebs Assists Win Shares MVPs All-Star 1st Team Titles Finals Finals MVPs T10B Index
#1 Michael Jordan ’90s 30.1 6.2 5.3 214.0 5 14 10 6 6 6 99.7
#2 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar ’70s 24.6 11.2 3.6 273.4 6 19 10 6 10 2 99.5
#3 LeBron James ’10s 27.0 7.4 7.4 242.0 4 17 13 4 10 4 99.3
#4 Bill Russell ’60s 15.1 22.5 4.3 163.5 5 12 3 11 12 6 98.5
#5 Wilt Chamberlain ’60s 30.1 22.9 4.4 247.3 4 13 7 2 6 2 98.4
#6 Tim Duncan ’00s 19.0 10.8 3.0 206.4 2 15 10 5 6 3 96.2
#7 Magic Johnson ’80s 19.5 7.2 11.2 155.8 3 12 9 5 9 3 95.7
#8 Kobe Bryant ’00s 25.0 5.2 4.7 172.7 1 18 11 5 7 2 95.5
#9 Shaquille O’Neal ’00s 23.7 10.9 2.5 181.7 1 15 8 4 6 3 94.7
#10 Larry Bird ’80s 24.3 10.0 6.3 145.8 3 12 9 3 5 2 94.5
#11 Karl Malone ’90s 25.0 10.1 3.6 234.6 2 14 12 0 2 0 94.5
#12 Bob Pettit ’50s 26.4 16.2 3.0 136.0 2 11 10 1 4 1 94.3
#13 Hakeem Olajuwon ’90s 21.8 11.1 2.5 162.8 1 12 6 2 2 2 93.6
#14 Julius Erving ’70s 24.2 8.5 4.2 181.1 1 16 9 3 6 0 93.4
#15 Jerry West ’60s 27.0 5.8 6.7 162.6 0 14 10 1 9 1 93.3
#16 Oscar Robertson ’60s 25.7 7.5 9.5 189.2 1 12 9 1 2 0 92.8
#17 Moses Malone ’80s 20.3 12.3 1.3 167.1 4 13 4 1 2 1 92.6
#18 George Mikan ’50s 23.1 13.4 2.8 108.7 3 4 4 5 5 5 92.4
#19 John Havlicek ’70s 20.8 6.3 4.8 131.7 0 13 4 8 8 2 92.2
#20 Kevin Durant ’10s 26.9 7.1 4.2 146.7 1 11 7 2 4 2 92.0
#21 Dolph Schayes ’50s 18.5 12.1 3.1 142.4 1 12 6 1 3 1 92.0
#22 Kevin Garnett ’00s 17.8 10.0 3.7 191.4 1 15 4 1 2 0 91.9
#23 Bob Cousy ’50s 18.4 5.2 7.5 91.1 1 13 10 6 7 1 91.8
#24 David Robinson ’90s 21.1 10.6 2.5 178.7 1 10 4 2 2 0 91.5
#25 Charles Barkley ’90s 22.1 11.7 3.9 177.2 1 11 5 0 1 0 91.2

Since the release the first T10B ranking of the 25 Greatest NBA Players in 2016, the following changes occurred.

  • LeBron jumped from #5 to #3 (won another title and more stat stuffing – in a good way)
  • Duncan and Magic switched #6 and #7 spots (increased importance of career longevity)
  • Larry Legend remained in top 10, but got passed by Kobe and Shaq (same reason as above)
  • Karl Malone went from #13 to #11 after passing Hakeem Olajuwon and Bob Pettit (see above)
    • Bob Pettit also jumped Hakeem (weight given to Finals losses – don’t have to “win it all” to be considered a winner)
  • Dr J and Jerry West switched #14 and #15 spots (inclusion of ABA accolades)
  • George Mikan fell behind Oscar Robinson and Moses Malone (discount applied to early NBA stats due to fewer teams and players)
    • Despite J.J. Reddick’s assertion that the early league included “plumbers and firemen,” Bob Cousy rightfully still ranks in the T10B Top 25.
  • Keven Durant entered the Top 25 at #20 (moved up from #28 after winning 2 titles and 2 Finals MVPs)
    • Don’t worry, KD currently is at #18 after ’21-’22 season and likely to finish career in the Top 10.
  • Dolph Schayes jumped from #25 to #21 (credit given for likely awards/accolades which didn’t exist in early NBA)
  • Elgin Baylor fell out of Top 25 (impact of having short career relative to other all-time greats)
T10B – GREATEST PLAYERS IN NBA HISTORY (#26-50)
Rank Player Best Decade Points Rebs Assists Win Shares MVPs All-Star 1st Team Titles Finals Finals MVPs T10B Index
#26 Chris Paul ’10s 18.3 4.5 9.4 189.5 0 11 4 0 1 0 91.1
#27 Rick Barry ’70s 24.8 6.7 4.9 128.9 0 12 9 1 3 1 91.1
#28 Dirk Nowitzki ’00s 21.4 7.7 2.5 204.2 1 13 4 1 1 1 90.5
#29 Elgin Baylor ’60s 27.4 13.5 4.3 104.2 0 11 10 0 7 0 90.0
#30 Artis Gilmore ’70s 18.8 12.3 2.3 189.7 1 11 0 1 2 1 89.7
#31 Dwyane Wade ’00s 22.0 4.7 5.4 120.7 0 13 2 3 5 1 89.5
#32 Scottie Pippen 90s 16.1 6.4 5.2 125.1 0 7 3 6 6 0 89.5
#33 Russell Westbrook ’10s 23.1 7.4 8.5 105.1 1 9 2 0 1 0 89.5
#34 James Harden ’10s 25.0 5.5 6.6 143.7 1 9 6 0 1 0 89.4
#35 Steph Curry ’10s 24.2 4.6 6.5 112.2 2 7 4 3 5 0 89.2
#36 John Stockton ’90s 13.1 2.7 10.5 207.7 0 10 2 0 2 0 89.1
#37 Elvin Hayes ’70s 21.0 12.5 1.8 120.8 0 12 3 1 3 0 88.9
#38 Jason Kidd ’90s 12.6 6.3 8.7 138.6 0 10 5 1 3 0 88.8
#39 Isiah Thomas ’80s 19.2 3.6 9.3 80.7 0 12 3 2 3 1 88.4
#40 Gary Payton ’90s 16.3 3.9 6.7 145.5 0 9 2 0 1 0 88.1
#41 Dwight Howard ’00s 16.0 12.0 1.4 138.7 0 8 5 1 2 0 88.0
#42 George Gervin ’70s 25.1 5.3 2.6 116.3 0 12 5 0 0 0 87.8
#43 Walt Frazier ’70s 18.9 5.9 6.1 113.5 0 7 4 2 3 0 87.8
#44 Patrick Ewing ’80s 21.0 9.8 1.9 126.4 0 11 1 0 2 0 87.7
#45 Giannis Antetokounmpo ’10s 21.0 9.2 4.5 76.6 2 5 3 1 1 1 87.7
#46 Dan Issel ’70s 22.6 9.1 2.4 157.8 0 7 1 1 4 0 87.5
#47 Clyde Drexler ’90s 20.4 6.1 5.6 135.6 0 10 1 1 2 0 87.3
#48 Willis Reed ’60s 18.7 12.9 1.8 74.9 1 7 1 2 2 2 87.3
#49 Allen Iverson ’00s 26.7 2.9 3.7 99.0 1 11 3 0 1 0 87.3
#50 Steve Nash ’00s 14.3 3.0 8.5 129.7 2 8 3 0 0 0 86.8

Before you get too worked up, I fully recognize that Steph Curry’s ranking as the 35th greatest player in NBA history seems inappropriately low. If it helps, his current ranking would be #28 after adding a Finals MVP to his already stacked resume. Furthermore, he likely will finish his career in the top 20. Curry is the greatest shooter in NBA history and has changed the way the game is played. Still, anything higher than Oscar Robertson at #16 seems like a stretch.

The more interesting debate coming from the above table relates to the players (highlighted in red) excluded from the NBA’s 75th Anniversary Team. The omissions of Artis Gilmore and Dan Issel relate to the NBA’s ridiculous contention that ABA stats shouldn’t count. That oversight hopefully will be corrected by the time the All-Century Team gets announced in 24 years. On the other hand, there’s no identifiable explanation for the omission of Dwight Howard. The voting panel must be suffering from amnesia having failed to remember that the former Superman was a 3x Defensive Player of the Year, earned 4 All-NBA 1st team selections, and likely will finish his career in the top 10 for total rebounds. I don’t necessary agree that numbers never lie, but at least they don’t forget.

T10B – GREATEST PLAYERS IN NBA HISTORY (#51-76)
Rank Player Best Decade Points Rebs Assists Win Shares MVPs All-Star Games 1st Team Titles Finals Finals MVPs T10B Index
#51 Dave Cowens ’70s 17.6 13.6 3.8 86.3 1 8 0 2 2 0 86.6
#52 Dominique Wilkins ’80s 24.8 6.7 2.5 117.5 0 9 1 0 0 0 86.4
#53 Paul Pierce ’00s 19.7 5.6 3.5 150.0 0 10 0 1 2 1 86.3
#54 Paul Arizin ’50s 22.8 8.6 2.3 108.8 1 10 3 0 1 1 86.2
#55 Jerry Lucas ’60s 17.0 15.6 3.3 98.4 0 7 3 1 2 0 86.1
#56 Wes Unseld ’70s 10.8 14.0 3.9 110.1 1 5 1 1 4 1 86.1
#57 Bob McAdoo 70s 22.1 9.4 2.3 89.1 1 5 1 2 4 0 86.0
#58 Anthony Davis ’10s 23.9 10.2 2.3 88.8 0 8 4 1 1 0 86.0
#59 Billy Cunningham ’60s 21.2 8.0 4.3 78.6 1 5 4 1 1 0 85.8
#60 Kawhi Leonard ’10s 19.2 6.4 2.9 83.3 0 5 3 2 3 2 85.8
#61 Pau Gasol ’00s 17.0 9.2 3.2 144.1 0 6 0 2 3 0 85.7
#62 Bob Lanier ’70s 20.1 10.1 3.1 117.1 0 8 0 0 0 0 85.6
#63 Sam Jones ’60s 17.7 4.9 2.5 92.3 0 5 0 10 11 2 85.5
#64 Kevin McHale ’80s 17.9 7.3 1.7 113.0 0 7 1 3 5 0 85.4
#65 Carmelo Anthony ’10s 22.9 6.3 2.8 106.1 0 10 0 0 0 0 85.1
#66 Robert Parish ’80s 14.5 9.1 1.4 147.0 0 9 0 3 5 0 85.1
#67 Ray Allen ’00s 18.9 4.1 3.4 145.1 0 10 0 2 4 0 84.9
#68 Tony Parker ’00s 15.5 2.7 5.6 111.3 0 6 0 4 5 1 84.9
#69 Adrian Dantley ’80s 24.3 5.7 3.0 134.2 0 6 0 0 1 0 84.8
#70 Chris Webber ’90s 20.7 9.8 4.2 84.7 0 5 1 0 0 0 84.7
#71 Chris Bosh ’00s 19.2 8.5 2.0 106.0 0 11 0 2 4 0 84.6
#72 Bill Sharman ’50s 17.8 3.9 3.0 82.8 0 8 4 4 5 0 84.5
#73 Tracy McGrady ’00s 19.6 5.6 4.4 97.3 0 7 2 0 0 0 84.5
#74 Hal Greer ’60s 19.2 5.0 4.0 102.7 0 10 0 1 1 0 84.4
#75 Nate Thurmond ’60s 15.0 15.0 2.7 78.0 0 7 0 0 2 0 84.3
#76 Alex English ’80s 21.5 5.5 3.6 100.7 0 8 0 0 0 0 84.2

Note: The table seemingly includes an extra player, but I simply mirrored the number of players the NBA’s 75 Anniversary Team. We don’t know which two players tied in the NBA’s voting system, just that 76 players received the honor. 

MORE SNUBS

The players highlighted in red who didn’t make the 75th Anniversary Team fall into four categories.

  1. Overshadowed by legendary teammates whose greatness might be discounted if credit shared too widely
    • #61 Pau Gasol overshadowed by Kobe Bryant during the Lakers titles in 2009 and 2010
    • #68 Tony Parker overshadowed by Tim Duncan for 4 of 5 titles by Spurs from 1999-2014
    • #71 Chris Bosh overshadowed by LeBron James and Dwyane Wade during Heat’s run in early 2010s
      • James and Wade freely talk about wishing they didn’t sacrifice any money when creating their “super-team.”
      • Unlike Bosh, however, they avoided sacrificing their legacies.
  2. Viewed as one-dimensional player (apparently “only” considered a scorer and not an all-time great player)
    • #69 Adrian Dantley
    • #73 Tracy McGrady
    • #76 Alex English
  3. Overshadowed by one of the best-of-the-best playing the same position at the same time
    • #61 Bob Lanier wore bigger shoes than Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (size 18 1/2 vs. 16), but otherwise had a hard time measuring up to the greatest center of all-time.
      • Making Lanier’s omission even more surprising, he was the only voter on the panel not to make the anniversary team.
      • As an aside, I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Lanier almost twenty years ago. I admittedly approached him to see if his feet were as large as advertised (they were), but took advantage of the encounter to ask, “Who was the greatest?” Without hesitation, Lanier said, “Kareem, no doubt about it.” He then proceeded to post me up and demonstrate Kareem’s sky hook while saying, “You can’t stop that. No one can.”
  4. Played his best basketball in relative obscurity for a perennial loser
    • #70 Chris Webber seemingly was overlooked because of where he played and what he did off the court.
      • Reputation suffered from well-documented problems (drug arrest, sexual assault allegation, U of M pay-for-play scandal)
      • Presumably considered a “non-winner” because never got to NBA Finals
        • Should Webber be blamed for biased officiating in 2002 Western Conference Finals when the Lakers got 27 foul shot (vs. 9 for the Kings) in the 4th quarter of Game 6 to force Game 7?
        • Just because Tim Donaghy was a crook, it doesn’t mean that the allegations were untrue.
      • Since relocating to Sacramento 37 years ago, the Kings have had 8 winning seasons
        • They had winning records in each of Webber’s 7 seasons with the team (7 for 7 – 100%)
        • They have had one winning season without him (1 for 30 – 3%).

I read numerous articles identifying various players snubbed by voters for the NBA’s 75th Anniversary Team. While each one provided ample reasons why those players should have made it, I don’t remember many mentioning specific players who shouldn’t have. Again bucking the trend, this post not only details which players should have been excluded but also the order in which is should have happened.

T10B – GREATEST PLAYERS IN NBA HISTORY (77-100+)
Rank Player Best Decade Points Rebs Assists Win Shares MVPs All-Star Games 1st Team Titles Finals Finals MVPs T10B Index
#77 Spencer Haywood ’70s 20.3 10.3 1.8 78.5 0 5 3 1 1 0 84.2
#78 Jack Sikma ’80s 15.6 9.8 3.2 112.5 0 7 0 1 2 0 84.2
#79 Walt Bellamy ’60s 20.1 13.7 2.4 130.0 0 4 0 0 0 0 84.1
#80 Damian Lillard ’20s 24.6 4.2 6.6 93.1 0 6 1 0 0 0 84.0
#81 Nate Archibald ’70s 18.8 2.3 7.4 83.4 0 6 3 1 1 0 83.9
#82 Dennis Rodman ’90s 7.3 13.1 1.8 89.8 0 2 0 5 6 0 83.9
#83 James Worthy ’80s 17.6 5.1 3.0 81.2 0 7 0 3 6 1 83.9
#84 Grant Hill ’90s 16.7 6.0 4.1 99.9 0 7 1 0 0 0 83.7
#85 Dave Bing ’70s 20.3 3.8 6.0 68.8 0 7 2 0 0 0 83.5
#86 Ed Macauley ’50s 17.5 7.5 3.5 100.4 0 7 3 1 2 0 83.4
#87 Chauncey Billups ’00s 15.2 2.9 5.4 120.8 0 5 0 1 2 1 83.3
#88 Neil Johnston ’50s 19.4 11.3 2.5 92.0 0 6 4 1 1 0 83.1
#89 Dikembe Mutombo ’90s 9.8 10.3 1.0 117.0 0 8 0 0 2 0 83.0
#90 Lenny Wilkens ’60s 16.5 4.7 6.7 95.5 0 9 0 0 1 0 83.0
#91 Alonzo Mourning ’90s 17.1 8.5 1.1 89.7 0 7 1 1 1 0 83.0
#92 Tom Heinsohn ’60s 18.6 8.8 2.0 60.0 0 6 0 8 9 0 83.0
#93 Vern Mikkelsen ’50s 14.4 9.4 2.2 83.4 0 6 0 4 5 0 82.8
#94 Bernard King ’80s 22.5 5.8 3.3 75.4 0 4 2 0 0 0 82.7
#95 Mo Cheeks ’80s 11.1 2.8 6.7 103.5 0 4 0 1 3 0 82.6
#96 Reggie Miller ’90s 18.2 3.0 3.0 174.4 0 5 0 0 1 0 82.5
#97 Gail Goodrich ’70s 18.6 3.2 4.7 76.3 0 5 1 1 4 0 82.4
#98 Vince Carter ’00s 16.7 4.3 3.1 125.3 0 8 0 0 0 0 82.4
#99 Pete Maravich ’70s 24.2 4.2 5.4 46.7 0 5 2 0 0 0 82.3
#100 Chris Mullin ’90s 18.2 4.1 3.5 93.1 0 5 1 0 0 0 82.3
#102 Dave DeBusschere ’60s 16.1 11.0 2.9 60.8 0 8 0 2 3 0 82.1
#110 Earl Monroe ’70s 18.8 3.0 3.9 77.4 0 4 1 1 3 0 81.3
#113 Bill Walton ’70s 13.3 10.5 3.4 39.3 1 2 1 2 3 0 80.3
#117 Klay Thompson ’10s 19.5 3.5 2.3 46.8 0 5 0 3 5 0 79.4
  • Purple Ink: Selected to 75th Anniversary Team while also being on the voting panel
    • What’s that Arsenio, things that make you go . . . 
  • Blue Ink: Selected to 75th Anniversary Team, but not on voting panel

Importantly, I’m not claiming any of these highlighted players are schlubs unworthy of their Hall-of-Fame status. Instead, I’m simply contending that they do not rank among the 75 greatest. Notwithstanding the lack of Top 75 credentials, these players presumably were elected to the 75th Anniversary Team for the following reasons.

  1. Previously honored on 50th Anniversary Team, so voters automatically assumed they deserved the honor again.
    • Includes: #81 Nate Archibald; #85 Dave Bing; #90 Lenny Wilkens; #99 Pete Maravich; #102 Dave DeBusschere; #110 Earl Monroe; and #113 Bill Walton
    • Each of these players certainly showed short-term greatness worthy of Top 75 status; however, they lacked the same career longevity as the other all-time greats.
  2. Benefitted from being really good players on all-time great teams
    • #82 Dennis Rodman – likely not considered one of 75 greatest if he didn’t play with Jordan and Pippen during Bulls’ title run from 1996-98.
    • #83 James Worthy – Top 75 position influenced by success with Magic and Kareem on Showtime Lakers
  3. Shooting seems to be over-valued as a skill for an all-time great player
    • #80 Damian Lillard – a little premature to have cracked the top 75
      • Perhaps best long-range shooter in the clutch (yes, even better than Curry)
      • Had off-year during injury-shortened ’21-22 season, so still outside T10B Top 75
        • However, likely to break into Top 75 very soon.
    • #96 Reggie Miller
      • Provided one of the greatest moments in NBA playoff history with 8 points in final 9 seconds of Game 1 of Eastern Conference Semis against New York Knicks
        • Impact lessened (and Top 75 status in doubt) if Patrick Ewing didn’t brick lay-up in final second of Game 7 in same series
    • #117 Klay Thompson
      • Thompson was not included on the 75th Anniversary Team, but his name came up as a player who had been snubbed by the voters.
      • He is a phenomenal shooter/scorer and accomplished defender, but needs more court time to avoid Bill Walton status as an all-time great talent plagued by too many injuries.
THE BEST OF THE REST

Relative to other potential Top 75 players who have not been mentioned yet, here’s how they ranked according to the T10B algorithm.

  • #103 – Kyrie Irving
    • Top 25 talent offset by Top 10 head case
  • #106 – Nikola Jokic
    • Would have been T10B Top 75 player after 2nd consecutive MVP for ’21-22 regular season
  • #108 – Manu Ginobili
    • Hall-of-Fame worthy, but not one of 100 greatest
  • #111 – DeMarcus Cousins
    • Another potentially all-time great whose career was negatively impacted by injuries
  • #112 – Draymond Green
    • Green’s contributions admittedly don’t show up on a stat sheet so his T10B ranking might be low.
    • Then again, he’s another head case whose lack of availability needs to be considered when evaluating his overall greatness.
      • It’s fair to argue that the Warriors would have beaten the Cavs in the 2016 NBA Finals if not for Green’s absence from Game 5. Green was suspended from that game due to an accumulation of flagrant fouls, so his unavailability was avoidable.
    • Overall, Green’s positive and negative intangibles might net out such that the algorithm still works for him.
GOING AFTER THE CROWN JEWELS
With bush league moves like hitting LeBron James in the groin, Draymond Green certainly ranks as one of the Top 75 greatest instigators in NBA history.
APPENDIX – VOTING PANEL
NBA 75th ANNIVERSARY TEAM VOTING PANEL
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Tim Duncan Jack McCallum David Robinson
Marv Albert David DuPree Brian McIntyre Bill Russell
David Aldridge Wayne Embry Ann Meyers Bob Ryan
Sam Amick Julius Erving Yoko Miyaji Bill Simmons
Giannis Antetokounmpo Patrick Ewing Earl Monroe Sam Smith
Steve Aschburner Walt Frazier Steve Nash Stephen A. Smith
Charles Barkley George Gervin Rachel Nichols Marc Spears
Rick Barry Russ Granik Dirk Nowitzki Erik Spoelstra
Howard Beck Becky Hammon Shaquille O’Neal John Stockton
Dave Bing Elvin Hayes Robert Parish Hannah Storm
Sue Bird Ernie Johnson Candace Parker Sheryl Swoopes
Carol Blazejowski Magic Johnson Chris Paul Isiah Thomas
Mike Breen Sam Jones Bob Pettit Rod Thorn
Doris Burke Michael Jordan Scottie Pippen Rudy Tomjanovich
Jerry Colangelo Steve Kerr Gregg Popovich Peter Vecsey
Doug Collins Bob Lanier Shaun Powell Bill Walton
Cynthia Cooper Kara Lawson Ahmad Rashad Rick Welts
Bob Costas Lisa Leslie Willis Reed Jerry West
Dave Cowens Nancy Lieberman Tim Reynolds Michael Wilbon
Billy Cunningham Zach Lowe Bill Rhoden Lenny Wilkens
Stephen Curry Jerry Lucas Pat Riley James Worthy
Clyde Drexler Jackie MacMullan Oscar Robertson Jeff Zillgitt
  • Former NBA players highlighted by following colors:
    • Orange- Former NBA players, but not considered all-time great player
      • Participation on panel related to other contributions to the game (e.g. coach, team or league executive)
    • Blue – Included on NBA’s 75th Anniversary Team and ranked as T10B Top 75 Player
    • Purple – Included on NBA’s 75th Anniversary Team, but not ranked as T10B Top 75 Player
    • Red – Ranked as T10B Top 75 Player, but not included on NBA’s 75th Anniversary Team
CONCLUSION

Overall, I don’t have major issues with the NBA’s 75 Anniversary Team. After all, I agree with 65 of the 76 names included on the list. To the extent I have a concern, it involves the decision to carry over the entire 50th Anniversary Team. By keeping all 50 players, the voters simply determined the 25 greatest players from the last 25 years. While somewhat interesting, that premise lacks the intrigue worthy of substantial analysis or debate.

After learning about the panelists, I wondered how seriously some of them took their assignment to evaluate players throughout the entire 75-year history of the NBA. I don’t believe they universally agree with J.J. Reddick’s “plumbers and firemen” assertion regarding underwhelming talent in the early NBA, but I doubt many of them studied players whose careers ended before they were born. I’m wonder how many panelists looked at fellow panelists

TOP10BUSTED: NBA’S 75th ANNIVERSARY TEAM
%d bloggers like this: