Time to Update the List of the 50 Greatest Players in the History of the NBA

Would Scottie Pippen Still Make the Cut?

(This blog was originally posted on the Yahoo Contributor Network on June 14th, 2011. As of 7/31/14 YCN has taken down all of its content)

In 1996 a panel of players, media and coaches selected the 50 greatest players in the history of the NBA. Fifteen years later would that list be the same? Without question, no.

Scottie Pippen was on the list in 96, a fact we have been reminded of a lot recently when the sports media, in conjunction with Pippen’s bewildering comment that Lebron James could be better than Michael Jordan, brings it to our attention.

According to the original Robin, Scottie Pippen, Jordan was probably the greatest scorer whereas James is an all-around player. Just yesterday a former teammate of Pippen and Jordan, Steve Kerr, weighed in saying that Lebron is more like Scottie than Michael.

Before I get to who would make it to an updated list of the 50 greatest over Pippen, lets remember that Jordan won a defensive player of the year award and made the all-defensive team in ten seasons. And while what we may see over and over again is Jordan’s game winning shot in the NBA Finals against Utah over Bryon Russell, that would not have been possible if Jordan didn’t steal the ball from Karl Malone at the other end of the floor.

Further, while the dynamics of those Bulls teams required Jordan to be a scorer to be successful, Jordan was a great passer as well, and he did find Steve Kerr for a game winner in that Utah finals too.

One thing to keep in mind about assist numbers and totals are that in part they are based as much on finishers as they are on passers. For example, how many assists did Magic Johnson get by lobbing a ball into Kareem Abdul Jabbar (the all time leading scorer and six-time MVP) and watching him make his patented skyhook? Conversely, if Jordan were to lob a ball into Stacey King, Bill Wennington, Luc Longley or an aging Bill Cartwright, (centers that played with Jordan) he was not as likely to get an assist. There, I got that out of my system.

On to the 50 greatest players update. My way of answering this question is to create a fantasy draft where all of the players are 20 years old and I ask myself who would I take if I were starting a team. Who would I want to build around?

Here is a list of those I would take before Pippen who either came into the league after the 50 greatest list was created or whose careers were still in progress: Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Dwyane Wade, Lebron James, Dwight Howard, Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Garnett, Gary Payton, Alonzo Mourning, Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire, Paul Pierce, Steve Nash, Tony Parker, Manu Ginoboli, Jason Kidd, Chris Paul, Pau Gasol, and Baron Davis — A couple of debatable players are Ray Allen and Pau Gasol… And some young players that could possibly bump Pippen in the future depending on how they continue to play are Derrick Rose, Kevin Durant, Deron Williams, Rajon Rondo, Andrew Bynum, Blake Griffin, Kevin Love, and Russell Westbrook.

Now you can debate some people on or not on this list, and you can debate which players from the 1996 top 50 players would get bumped to accommodate any new additions. I would like to see a panel, similar to the one in 1996, weigh in on and do an update. Sorry Pip, don’t think you’d make it. You’re still great Scottie, but Dude seriously, don’t be dissing Michael.

Published by Jeff Schubert

Jeff Schubert is the Host/Executive Producer of the show Filmnut that airs on thestream.tv. Each webisode provides an in-depth interview about the making, marketing, or distribution of film, TV or new media…

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