The NBA’s Top 57 Not 60

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On a recent episode of NBA TV’s Open Court, there was a discussion surrounding a surreal event that occurred during the NBA’s 1997 All-Star Game, in which the NBA paid tribute to what was deemed as the “Top 50 Players” in the history of the league. As a huge fan of basketball, this was undoubtedly the Holy Grail (sorry Sean Carter) of all Holy Grails, as it was a living, breathing and walking basketball encyclopedia displayed right before our very eyes. The only time as fans that we have had the fortunate honor of seeing such a mosaic of basketball greatness, was during the 1992 Barcelona Olympics with the inception of the original Dream Team. To see the likes of Russell, Kareem and Wilt or Oscar Robertson, Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan, all gathered together during a ceremonial enshrinement, was pure, uncut nostalgia for any true basketball nerd. It will conjure up a clichéd epiphany that will cause you to state: “It can’t get much better than this, right?” Well whenever there is ceremonial honor, there is always room for an epic debate and unbridled controversy. It is the reason that asterisks were invented and blogs were created by evil geniuses who scribble ink to have their voices heard (www.geniusscribbleink.com yes I did just shout out my own blog for ratings) in order to add disclaimers and retorts to what is not believed to be a unanimous belief. I, for one, did not believe Shaquille O’Neal belonged amongst the honorees, as he was still an unproven talent who had accomplished very in the NBA at that point. Of course I was not alone in questioning whether certain individuals belonged, as we all could speculate who should have been amongst the Top 50 but were never inducted. Names like Bob McAdoo, Dennis Johnson and my personal choice, Dominique Wilkins come to mind, due to their collective accomplishments and contributions to the NBA. So being as it may, the panel of Open Court forum decided to expand the Top 50 and turn it into a Top 60, electing to include those who were left off the original ceremony, as well as, the modern-day players who they believed could be considered a part of that legendary tapestry as well. In listening to their back and forth bantering that suggested including Chris Webber which to me bordered on blasphemy, I began to think long and hard in trying to conclude who would make up my next Top 10 nominees if I had to choose from both the past and present. Low and behold, as the title of my blog surmises, I could only come up with 7 additional players, with a virtual tie for final seventh spot. My list will follow this blog, however, I wanted to pose to the reader just who they would add to that illusive Top 50 players list?  I’m interested in hearing from you.  Here are my magnificent seven.

1. Dennis Rodman

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5× NBA champion (1989–1990, 1996–1998)
2× NBA All-Star (1990, 1992)
2× All-NBA Third Team (1992, 1995)
2× NBA Defensive Player of the Year (1990–1991)
7× All-Defensive First Team (1989–1993, 1995–1996)
All-Defensive Second Team (1994)
7× NBA rebounding champion (1992–1998

2. Kobe Bryant

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5× NBA champion (2000–2002, 2009–2010)
2× NBA Finals MVP (2009–2010)
NBA Most Valuable Player (2008)
16× NBA All-Star (1998, 2000–2014)
4× NBA All-Star Game MVP (2002, 2007, 2009, 2011)
11× All-NBA First Team (2002–2004, 2006–2013)
2× All-NBA Second Team (2000–2001)
2× All-NBA Third Team (1999, 2005)
9× NBA All-Defensive First Team (2000, 2003–2004, 2006–2011)
3× NBA All-Defensive Second Team (2001–2002, 2012)
NBA All-Rookie Second Team (1997)
NBA Slam Dunk Contest champion (1997)
2× NBA scoring champion (2006–2007)
Los Angeles Lakers all-time leading scorer

3. Tim Duncan

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5× NBA champion (1999, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2014)
3× NBA Finals MVP (1999, 2003, 2005)
2× NBA Most Valuable Player (2002–2003)
14× NBA All-Star (1998, 2000–2011, 2013)
NBA All-Star Game MVP (2000)
10× All-NBA First Team (1998–2005, 2007, 2013)
3× All-NBA Second Team (2006, 2008–2009)
All-NBA Third Team (2010)
8× All-Defensive First Team (1999–2003, 2005, 2007–2008)
6× All-Defensive Second Team (1998, 2004, 2006, 2009–2010, 2013)
NBA Rookie of the Year (1998)
NBA All-Rookie First Team (1998)
NBA Shooting Stars champion (2008)
San Antonio Spurs all-time leading scorer

4. Dominique Wilkins

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9× NBA All Star (1986–1994)
All-NBA First Team (1986)
4× All-NBA Second Team (1987–1988, 1991, 1993)
2× All-NBA Third Team (1989, 1994)
NBA All-Rookie Team (1983)
NBA scoring champion (1986)
2× NBA Slam Dunk Contest champion (1985, 1990)
2× NBA Shooting Stars champion (2013–2014)
Atlanta Hawks all-time leading scorer
No. 21 retired by Atlanta Hawks

5. Allen Iverson

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NBA Most Valuable Player (2001)
11× NBA All-Star (2000–2010)
2× NBA All-Star Game MVP (2001, 2005)
3× All-NBA First Team (1999, 2001, 2005)
3× All-NBA Second Team (2000, 2002–2003)
All-NBA Third Team (2006)
NBA Rookie of the Year (1997)
NBA All-Rookie First Team (1997)
NBA Rookie Challenge MVP (1997)
4× NBA scoring champion (1999, 2001–2002, 2005)
3× NBA steals leader (2001–2003)
No. 3 retired by Philadelphia 76ers

6. Lebron James

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2× NBA Champion (2012–2013)
2× NBA Finals MVP (2012–2013)
4× NBA Most Valuable Player (2009–2010, 2012–2013)
10× NBA All-Star (2005–2014)
2× NBA All-Star Game MVP (2006, 2008)
8× All-NBA First Team (2006, 2008–2014)
2× All-NBA Second Team (2005, 2007)
5× NBA All-Defensive First Team (2009–2013)
NBA All-Defensive Second Team (2014)
NBA Rookie of the Year (2004)
NBA All-Rookie First Team (2004)
NBA scoring champion (2008)
Cleveland Cavaliers all-time leading scorer

7. Dennis Johnson/Dwayne Wade

Dennis Johnson

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3× NBA champion (1979, 1984, 1986)
Finals MVP (1979)
5× NBA All-Star (1979–1982, 1985)
All-NBA First Team (1981)
All-NBA Second Team (1980)
6× NBA All-Defensive First Team (1979–1983, 1987)
3× NBA All-Defensive Second Team (1984–1986)
No. 3 Retired by the Boston Celtics

Dwayne Wade

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3× NBA champion (2006, 2012–2013)
NBA Finals MVP (2006)
10× NBA All-Star (2005–2014)
NBA All-Star Game MVP (2010)
2× All-NBA First Team (2009–2010)
3× All-NBA Second Team (2005–2006, 2011)
3× All-NBA Third Team (2007, 2012–2013)
3× All-Defensive Second Team (2005, 2009–2010)
NBA All-Rookie First Team (2004)
NBA scoring champion (2009)
2× NBA Skills Challenge champion (2006–2007)
Miami Heat all-time leading scorer

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