NBA still contentious after all these years


Seventy-five years and they still cannot get it right. That’s the problem when you involve sports with politics or kowtowing to a certain group.

The National Basketball Association’s (NBA) 75th Anniversary Team had glaring omissions and surprising inclusions. Just like they did back in 1997 when the league unveiled its 50th Anniversary Team.

For sure, any all-time list will always be contentious. That is why it was wrong to include players voting for each other.

During the NBA at 50 list, Shaquille O’Neal was wrong to be included. He was at that time only in the league for four years. It is a stretch of the imagination to include him then. Certainly he is today. But when you start that way you can expect controversy to remain today.

Even with the NBA 50 list, I wasn’t sure about Dave Bing, Billy Cunningham, Dave Debusschere, Jerry Lucas, Pete Maravich, Earl Monroe, Bill Sharman, Nate Thurmond and Lenny Wilkens. And then there’s the curious case of Bill Walton who didn’t play long enough.

I thought that Dominique Wilkins and Bob McAdoo should have been included. And this 75th Team, they were added belatedly so. Bernard King is still on the fringes.

And if Pistol Pete made that list, where was Chris Mullin (five-time NBA All-Star, All NBA once, All-NBA Second Team twice and All-NBA Third Team once)? Before Steph Curry, Mullin was the greatest Golden State Warrior.

Chris tallied 17,911 points, 4,034 rebounds and 3,450 assists. That’s more than some of the guys on the 50 or 75 list.

Mullin is the only one on the Dream Team outside Christian Laettner who is not on this list. Listen, he was included on the team for what he could do. And this only affirmed his selection to the 1984 Olympic gold medal team. And the Golden State Warriors retired his number. That means you are one of the team’s all-time greats.

Was that a snub?

Granted if you make the list then you shouldn’t be removed anymore. So that leads us to the new list.

This time around, I was certainly shocked to see Carmelo Anthony, Anthony Davis and Damian Lillard on that list? I will consent to Reggie Miller being on the list because he is the greatest Indiana Pacer. If you’re the best player on your team, you have to be one of the best in the league and he was among the best in the league especially during the last half of his career.

I think Pau Gasol, Vince Carter, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Joe Dumars, Dennis Johnson, Yao Ming and Dwight Howard should definitely be there.

The confusion and controversy stems, I guess from the definition of “greatest.”

I guess, looking at the list, there are the obvious ones who—won several NBA titles, a Most Valuable Player Award and several All-NBA and All-Star selections—but that will keep the list to a minimum. So now there’s room for those who either were part of title teams and put up some very good numbers. And there are those who didn’t win an NBA title but reaped the awards and accolades. This is where Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, John Stockton, Allen Iverson, George Gervin and a few others come in.

Now that’s where it gets contentious.

If you weigh in journalist Peter Vescey’s belief that recognizing players on their potential to be an all-time great is enough to get them on that list. I guess that is why he voted for Shaquille during the 50thAnniversary of the league and that is why he believes Luka Doncic and Nikola Jokic should be on the list.


Potential is a dangerous word. If you do not live up to the hype, then what does that make you? Being on that list means you should have significant mileage with corresponding accomplishments.

You cannot go on a body of work for most then use potential on others.

When the NBA hit its 25th year, they published a list of only their 10 greatest. The problem with going for 50 or 75, the panelists are choosing a number to fill when the others might not be deserving. So now you have this controversy.

And at this rate, it looks like some of these wrongs will be righted 25 years from now. But why do I get the feeling that the 100 list will be every bit as contentious?

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