By Garrett Aleckson —
One thing is certain when it comes to top rankings in sports: The rankings will be hotly debated. ESPN released their Top 100 National Basketball Association (NBA) players of all-time rankings a few weeks ago.
When I think of an all-time list and rankings, I mostly think of former players. The few exceptions are those that would already be cemented in history as an all-time great. In this case, exceptions such as LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Dwayne Wade come to mind.
Some highlights of the list are as follows: Blake Griffin at 75, Tracy McGrady at 63, Carmelo Anthony at 59, Allen Iverson at 46, Clyde “The Glide” Drexler at 36, Patrick Ewing at 32, Dwayne Wade at 27, Steph Curry at 23, Karl Malone at 16 and Kobe Bryant at 11.
The top 10—from 10 down to one—consists of Hakeem Olajuwon, Shaquille O’Neal, Tim Duncan, Bill Russell, Larry Bird, Wilt Chamberlain, Magic Johnson, LeBron James, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Michael Jordan.
Looking at the list, there were some rankings that surprised me and some that I disagreed with. The two players I think should be higher are McGrady and Wade.
McGrady—the guy that scored 13 points in 33 seconds to complete a comeback attempt against the San Antonio Spurs—was my favorite player when I was young. McGrady even rivaled Kobe Bryant in his prime. Unfortunately, McGrady was held back by injuries and very poor supporting casts—often lacking a healthy Yao Ming. But I feel like the 63 spot is not high enough for the guy that rivaled Bryant.
I did not agree with Curry and Durant being ranked ahead of Wade or Isaiah Thomas. Wade averaged 34.7 points per game and 7.8 rebounds per game in the 2006 NBA Finals—earning him the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player (MVP) award. Thomas led the “Bad Boys” Detroit Pistons team to two championships, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. That is not to say that Curry and Durant won’t be top place holders down the road, but right now I do not think they should be there.
Now, let’s see what some fellow Stout students think about this list.
Senior Derek Austin had few issues with the list. The changes he thought were specifically for the top 10.
“I agree mostly with the list. I would change the top 10 though,” said Austin. “I would keep Jordan at one. Then I would have the rest so it is: Kareem at two, Russell at three, Wilt at four, LeBron at five, Magic at six, Bird at seven, Duncan at eight, Shaq at nine, and Hakeem at 10.”
Austin also noticed Curry’s placement in the top 25, and was hesitant for him to be there at this moment.
“I would say Curry is a little high only because he is so new to the league, but he will be there once his career is concluded.”
Senior Sam Ripp, on the other hand, had a few specific changes he would make, but not very many.
“I thought that they had the top spot right, and I don’t think it will ever change with Jordan,” said Ripp. “I think that Shaq should be ahead of Duncan and maybe Duncan shouldn’t be in the top 10 just yet. I would put Kobe ahead of Duncan in the top 10.”
Ripp, like many of us, has that favorite player he spotted on the list. But where does he think his favorite player should be in the ranking?
“I may be biased, but I think Kevin Garnett deserves a spot in the top 15 instead of being at 21. As much as I like Dirk Nowitzki, I don’t think he should be as high as 17—he could even switch spots with Garnett,” said Ripp.
Similar to Austin, Ripp noticed Curry and disagreed with his spot in the rankings.
“As I look through the list, I see Curry and Kevin Durant pretty high on the list, even though they have not even been in the league that long,” said Ripp. “I know they are good and will be great, but I’m not sure if they have done enough to be that high and higher than some of the other greats at this time.”
Senior Troy Mengel had disagreements with players that were placed outside of the top 25.
“Tracy McGrady and Dikembe Mutombo should be above Chris Webber. McGrady was more of a complete player than Chris Webber,” said Mengel. “It is tough to compare a guard to a center, but if I were picking a team I would have taken McGrady over Chris Webber. Webber also was a better player earlier in his career and McGrady was better longer,” said Mengel.
As for Mutombo or Webber, Mengel values the defensive presence that Mutombo is widely known for.
“Mutombo was a powerhouse on defense and, for the time he was playing, it was very important to have a good defensive center. Mutombo and Webber were close on the list but I think I would put Mutombo above Webber,” said Mengel.
Iverson was a source of surprise for Mengel. And he had a very compelling reason for Iverson being higher.
“I think Allen Iverson should be way higher because he may be the best pound for pound player ever,” said Mengel. “He was a four-time scoring championship and a three-time steals champion—which shows his power on offense and defense.”
Unlike Ripp, Austin and myself, Mengel was certain in his disagreement with Bryant being ranked 11.
“I think Bryant should be top five no doubt,” said Mengel.
Analyzing and debating rankings is fun because it allows us to go back to the glorious days of the past and live specific historic moments. We can discuss our favorite players, and get a sense of which players are underrated or underappreciated.