Greetings once again dear readers and welcome to part 2 of my list of the 50 Greatest NBA Players of All Time. Here is the list of 40 to 31. Hope you enjoy.
We tip this list off with a true German wunderkind.
40. Dirk Nowitzki
You could say that Dirk Nowitzki is the greatest athlete to ever come out of Germany, whether that's the case or not, an argument could certainly be made. Before Nowitzki was drafted to the NBA in 1998, basketball players everywhere could not possibly imagine seeing a 7 footer be a threat from beyond the 3 point line, but that's exactly what they got when Nowitzki blitzkrieged the league. Simply put Dirk Nowitzki is the greatest shooting power forward of all time, be it from the 3 point line or his unstoppable and now iconic step back jumper. Since his time in Dallas, he has provided the only level of success in this century so far, leading his Mavericks to the playoffs almost every season and winning more championships for the city than the Dallas Cowboys have and becoming a king slayer in the process. If asked, I can guarantee that nearly everyone in Big D finds Nowitzki simply wunderbar.
Accomplishments: 1x NBA Champion, 1x NBA Finals MVP, 1x NBA MVP (07), and 12x NBA All Star.
39. Elvin Hayes
In the pantheon of great NBA big men, The Big E often gets overlooked, overshadowed, and underappreciated. He only led the league in scoring right out of the gate, in his rookie year. His second year, he led the league in rebounding, the first time someone without the names Bill and Wilt in over 10 years at the time. Leading from the shadows of the NBA's Two Towers, Hayes took the league by force, first by teaming with one of the most dominant centers in the league (who will appear higher on this list) to form one of the most decorated and frightening frontcourts of all time. While many would consider the 1990s a true golden age for NBA centers, some will hopefully look back and discover that the late 60s and 1970s weren't a bad time for destructive and talented giants either. A list that definitely includes Elvin Hayes.
Accomplishments: 1x NBA Champion, 12x NBA All Star, 1x NBA Scoring Champion, and 2x NBA All Defensive Second Team.
38. Walt Frazier
Nowadays whenever fans watch today's New York Knicks they see a picture of ignorance, laziness, and just downright sadness. What they don't realize however is how the older and truer Knicks fans remember back to the glory days when their beloved Knickerbockers were on the verge of being a true dynasty and leading these Golden Knicks was Walt Frazier. In my honest opinion there was no better point guard in the 1970s than Clyde. Frazier was simply nearly unguardable as he regularly fired pass after pass to his teammates in the greatest arena in the world, Madison Square Garden. If that wasn't enough, Frazier was also perhaps the greatest defensive point guard of all time in some people's minds, a true force that would pick your pocket then throw the ball half court for a fast break layup. I really pity this generation of Knicks fans who are forced to watch their team become a picture of ineptitude, but the fans I pity most are the ones who remember the days of Clyde and the Golden Knicks and shed a tear knowing the sad reality that their much loved Knicks shall never achieve that level of greatness again, and if it does, it could be after they're long gone.
Accomplishments: 2x NBA Champion, 7x NBA All Star and 7x NBA All Defensive First Team.
37. George Gervin
Before the Lakers found magic they were always frozen solid by the Ice Man and an ice man Gervin was as his cool and calm demeanor shook opposing players to the bone and sent chills down their spine. The most lethal scorer of the 1970s, Gervin averaged 26 points a game in his storied career. Though Showtime may have provided the only obstacle from Gervin winning a championship that doesn't mean he didn't freeze them in place as he showcased his signature finger roll layup which has now become a staple for NBA players then and now. Though his San Antonio Spurs found great success with an admiral and a big fundamental, the entire franchise has this man to thank, for if it wasn't for Gervin the Spurs wouldn't have even been in the NBA and would've died a sad death along with the ABA. It was Gervin that made a lasting impression on the league after the merger and drove their decision to add the Spurs to the league.
Accomplishments: 9x NBA All Star and 4x NBA Scoring Champion.
36. Bill Walton
Another underappreciated big man is the Red Baron. Walton blazed into the NBA as one of the key pieces of the UCLA Bruins dynasty. Walton was fittingly picked overall number one by the Portland Trailblazers giving him a red hot jersey that matched his scorching bright red hair and beard (the greatest NBA beard of all time in my opinion). Walton served as the savior for the Trailblazers franchise as they torched through the league en route to an NBA championship. With his fiery offense and burning defense, Walton blazed a trail for future big men to come. Unfortunately if it wasn't for career ending foot injuries that put the fire out, there's no telling how much higher Walton could've climbed.
Accomplishments: 2x NBA Champion, 1x NBA Finals MVP, 1x NBA MVP (77), 2x NBA All Star, 2x NBA All Defensive First Team, and 1x NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award.
35. Bob Pettit
Bob Pettit is often looked at as one of the founding fathers of the NBA, a moniker I wholeheartedly agree with. Without Pettit, the power forward position may not have even existed and that goes for the entire league as well. Throughout NBA history, there will only be one name at the top of the NBA MVP Award list and that name is Bob Pettit, recipient of the first ever NBA MVP Award. Pettit is also the only player to lead his St. Louis Hawks team to victory over the most dominant NBA dynasty in Finals history, the Invincible Boston Celtics, although they appeared to be a little less invincible after Pettit and his Hawks defeated the kings of the NBA, and serving as the ONLY team that ever defeated them in the Finals. Unfortunately today's generation of NBA fans will never truly know just how instrumental Pettit was in building the NBA and helping it become one of the most popular and dominant leagues in the history of sports.
Accomplishments: 1x NBA Champion, 2x NBA MVP (56, 59), 11x NBA All Star, 1955 NBA Rookie of the Year, and 2x NBA Scoring Champion.
34. Nate Archibald
Looking back at the history of the point guard position and all the qualities that make the perfect one. A point guard must have great court vision, must be a great leader, must be able to stick his hand to the ball like glue, must be a precision passer, and must be lighting quick. All of these qualities match Tiny to a tee, especially the lightning quick part. Before Archibald, the typical point guard would bring the ball up court, stop, and set the play, but Archibald was not your daddy's point guard. Once Archibald took the ball up the court, you could forget seeing the inevitable stop and set play routine. The moment Archibald got his hand on the ball, he would be up the court and the ball would be through the net before the opposing team could say "hopscotch". Truly the first speedy point guard in NBA history (if wrong, feel free to correct). Archibald is also only the NBA player in history to lead the league in scoring and assists. While there have been successful short point guards in the league since the day Tiny arrived such as Chris Paul, Mugsy Bogues, Spud Webb, and Mookie Blaylock, none possessed the speed and courage of Tiny. The first mouse to play among giraffes.
Accomplishments: 1x NBA Champion, 6x NBA All Star, 1x NBA Scoring Champion, and 1x NBA Assists Leader.
33. Allen Iverson
I'm not gonna lie, when I first thought of this list, this man was not included, I'm glad I changed my mind. We go from the first tiny guard to the biggest tiny guard. When Iverson arrived in the NBA in 1996, not many gave him a chance, they said he was too small, too reckless, and had attitude problems, Iverson not only proved them wrong, but also proved them right by doing it the best possible way. No player in the history of the league or even today possesses the heart and grit that AI harbors in his 6'0 body. Iverson quickly burst onto the scene blowing by big men to get to the basket or even crashing his own body into them just to get that layup, sacrificing his own body for the game and for the victory. While Iverson does boast an impressive trophy case which unfortunately sports an empty space reserved for that NBA Championship, a space that now only collects dust sadly, but what that space is surrounded with are the broken ankles of dozens of NBA players. Before Iverson arrived, the crossover was a mildly used move for a player to drive to the basket for a layup, but once Iverson arrived, it became an art form. Not only would Iverson flash by his defender but in the process would also cause them to trip and fall or cause some other form of embarrassment. While Iverson does have his choir of critics that claim he brought a thug like lifestyle to the league with his numerous tattoos, corn rolls, and baseball sized diamond earrings, not even they can deny that Iverson will go down as the greatest little big man to ever play the game.
Accomplishments: 1x NBA MVP (01), 11x NBA All Star, 4x NBA Scoring Champion, and 1997 NBA Rookie of the Year.
32. Patrick Ewing
Perhaps the most loved and respected New York Knick of all time. The captain of the most fearsome, bruising, merciless, and downright nastiest team of all time, the New York Knicks of the 90s, or as they're known by their nickname that I've bestowed upon them, the Black and Blue Knicks. The Black and Blue Knicks are just that not only for the color of their jerseys, but also for the color of the bodies of every player that dared or was brave enough to play against them. Ewing was the center of the Bruise Brothers, the most physical frontcourt in NBA history which consisted of Ewing, Charles Oakley, Xavier McDaniel, and 6th man Anthony Mason. This team would knock you down, throw you down, tackle you down, and punch you out if you even thought about trying a layup against them. If Pistol Pete was the potential greatest point guard of all time, then Ewing definitely could've been the greatest center of all time, if only it wasn't for a certain Airness and his unstoppable dynasty. If you ask any Knick fan who the greatest Knick of all time is, I'm willing to bet 75 percent of them would pick Ewing. While most fans would say the Golden Knicks of the 70s is the greatest Knick team of all time, I can guarantee that some Knick fans would point to the Black and Blue Knicks of the 90s as the greatest New York basketball team of all time and with their brute force, physical style, and no mercy attitude, it would be hard to argue against them, especially with Ewing as the 7'0 monster guarding the rim and pumping his teammates up.
Accomplishments: 11x NBA All Star, 3x NBA All Defensive Second Team, and 1986 NBA Rookie of the Year.
31. Charles Barkley
Without a doubt one of the most brash and controversial players to ever lace up a pair of sneakers. Sir Charles was as feisty off the court as much as he was on it. Despite his bad attitude and pompous style, the Round Mound of Rebound skyrocketed to popularity in the 90s with his aggressive rebounding and scoring play. Entering the NBA as the 5th pick of the 1984 NBA Draft (the greatest draft of all time in many people's minds) Barkley would propel himself onto the national stage when he uttered one of the most famous sports quotes and television campaigns of all time when he stared into the camera and flat out stated "I'am not a role model". Like Ewing, there's no telling how large Barkley's legacy could have been if it wasn't for the Red Dynasty of the 90s. Whether he's inciting on court fights between players, refs, or even mascots alike, there's no denying that Charles Barkley is one of the rare NBA players that boasts how great he is in your face and back it up by dunking the ball down your throat. Now Barkley can be seen as an analyst on the immensely popular and highly entertaining Inside the NBA show on TNT. Even off the court, Barkley will never let fans forget him.
Accomplishments: 1x NBA MVP (92), 10x NBA All Star, and 1x NBA Rebounding Leader.
This concludes the second list of my 50 Greatest NBA Players of All Time list. Whether you agree or disagree is entirely your opinion which I greatly respect. I hope you enjoyed this installment and I'm looking forward to writing the next entry, but until then, keep shooting for the stars.