The NBA officially unveiled their top 75 players of all time team, to kick off its diamond anniversary, however, there were actually 76 players named as there was a tie in the voting. This is the first, all-time top team since 1997, when the league celebrated its 50th anniversary.
It must’ve been somewhat difficult to pick the best 75 out of about 4,500 players to have ever appeared in an NBA game. But this “blue-ribbon panel,” as the NBA called it, attempted too.
There are some gripes with the list, but some props must be given for putting their thoughts out there in the form of this list.
The thing the selection committee got right was their decision to add so many current players. Out of the 76 players named, 11 were active players in the league right now: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Carmelo Anthony, Stephen Curry, Anthony Davis, Kevin Durant, James Harden, LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, Damian Lillard, Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook.
Some of them objectively don’t deserve to be on that list, but by putting that many active players on that list the league is taking the stance that this current generation of NBA talent has changed the way the game has been played. That is an extremely valid position to take; the way the game is played now is extremely different from the way it was played the last time the league released a list like this, and that group of players helped usher this new play style in.
With that being said, there’s really not much else that can be said about what the selection committee did well on this. All 50 of the players that made the NBA 50 team the last time around, made this list, so there were only 26 new additions, and 11 of those were the current players. There isn’t much else the league should really be patting themselves on the back for.
Here’s what the league’s committee got wrong, starting with their decision to just carry over the entire NBA 50 team onto this list. Nobody asked for Paul Arizen, Dave DeBusschere, Dolph Schayes and Bill Sharman to be on this list. Those are just some examples of the NBA still trying to cater to the older generations, but the criteria for this list was to select pioneers that helped shape, define and redefine the game. A self-glorifying way of saying, “the best 75 players ever.” Schayes played in the first ever NBA All-Star game in 1951 and Arizen helped implement the jump shot in basketball, but if telling the story of the NBA’s 75 years of existence through the use of a list of players, that story can be told without those guys. There have been a whole 25 years of generational talent that had to fight for 25 spots, which is completely baffling to try and comprehend why it had to be that way.
The biggest snubs rom this list all had their consist mostly during that 25 year gap in anniversaries. The biggest snubs were, in order, Dwight Howard, Tracy McGrady and Vince Carter. The biggest miss by the voters was Dwight Howard should’ve been on this list. Was he a pioneer that helped redefine the game? Maybe not necessarily, but Howard in his peak, was one of the most dominant bigs ever, next to Shaq. Now, he lacks the championships, but Howard is an eight-time All-NBA player, a three-time Defensive Player of the Year and is top-15 all time in rebounds and is still currently playing. He should’ve been on it easy over DeBusschere or Sharman or any of those other old heads.
The same goes for McGrady who was a two-time scoring champ, a seven-time All-Star and seven-time All-NBA. These two guys were just flat-out better basketball players than some of the guys on that NBA 75 team.
As for Vince Carter, he’s more of a personal snub for me. If the NBA really wants to go by that criteria that they listed, Carter was one of the most inspiring athletes during his time in the league. Every kid, and even some current players, wanted to dunk like Vince Carter, and for good reason, he was electric. Vince Carter literally shaped a generation of players to want to dunk and fly like he did.
Damian Lillard and Anthony Davis didn’t deserve to make this list. There is no offense meant by saying that, but Lillard just really only has the one All-NBA award to his name and just doesn’t meet the alleged criteria the league set. Davis has more All-NBAs and a championship, but once again, he doesn’t meet the criteria either. He probably will by the end of his career, but there were players stuck on the outside looking in that were more deserving than some of the guys that made it on.
But usually that’s the case with any list or rankings, but as sports fans that’s what they love. Arguing, talking about, and advocating their own sides and opinions, and that’s one of the things that makes sports, especially the NBA so great.