I wanted to finish this list before the new NBA season.
Anyway, here are the next four names on this list.
40 | ISIAH THOMAS
Isiah Thomas is the leader of the Detroit Pistons’ Bad Boy squad in the late 80s wherein the team won two championships. As a player, Thomas is a devil-may-care player who made life difficult for the ones stopping him and for the ones who thought he is a breeze on defense. Thomas spent his entire career with the Pistons and is the city’s all-time leader in points, steals, games played, and assists. He also had a Finals MVP, three All-NBA First Teams, two All-Star MVPs, and 12 All-Star appearances. His 3-point shooting might be atrocious (as he played in a time when the triples were just being introduced) but he only averaged less than 15 points per game once. I guess he could have had more had not for his Bad Boy reputation. I know blaming one’s attitude is an easy bail out but check out his history with Michael Jordan… and Karl Malone… and Scottie Pippen… and even Larry Bird for that matter.
39 | RUSSELL WESTBROOK
Picking Derrick Rose as the top pick of the 2008 NBA Draft over Russell Westbrook is debatable. Injuries aside, D-Rose showed that he had the talents to explode in the NBA. But to pick Westbrook over Michael Beasley and OJ Mayo though is just… insane. For as long as he’s not joining a superteam and at the same time, is getting those monster stats, you can be damn sure that Russell Westbrook will be an all-time great. As of this writing, he has logged ten seasons. He won his MVP award in grand fashion – becoming the first person since Oscar Robertson accomplished the feat 55 years ago to average a triple-double in a season. As of this moment, Westbrook is a seven-time All-NBA Teamer, a seven-time All-Star, a two-time All-Star MVP, a two-time scoring champion, and an assist season leader. Surely, the biggest thorn to his GOAT status is the NBA Championship – a feat he could achieve later in his career.
38 | WILLIS REED
For a lot of fans, Willis Reed’s best moment has to be his inspirational performance in Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals. But the man dubbed by his peers as The Captain is more than a living inspirational story. Reed is a one-time MVP, a two-time Finals MVP, a five-time All-NBA Teamer, a seven-time All-Star, a one-time All-Star MVP, the 1965 Rookie of the Year, and a holder of two NBA rings. And I guess this is why Reed can’t go any higher. Sure, he was able to hold his own alongside contemporaries Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, Nate Thurmond, and even Kareem Abdul-Jabbar but because he overachieved, Reed only played in ten seasons. Just imagine Reed’s future had not for his blasted thigh muscles.
37 | GARY PAYTON
Gary Payton is considered as one of the worst things a superstar scorer would encounter. The mere fact that he’s the only point guard to win the Defensive Player of the Year award is an ominous sign. And if his talents aren’t enough to make a player lose his focus, then his mouth could be a tool to further mess up one’s psyche. In fact, the man known as The Glove is the man behind Michael Jordan’s 23-point game in the 1996 NBA Finals – MJ’s NBA Finals’ worst scoring output. Payton is a nine-time All-NBA Teamer (two of which were First Teams), a nine-time All-Star, and a nine-time All-Defensive Team member. He played his best years teaming up with Shawn Kemp in Seattle but was able to win a title as Dwyane Wade’s backup in Miami when he was done looking for individual accolades and was bent on retiring with a title.
To be continued!