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As part of the NBA’s 75th-anniversary festivities, the league has officially unveiled its list of the 75 greatest players to ever play.
While it was released in the spirit of celebration, serving as a symbolic tip of the hat to the players who were selected, it is also a perfect opportunity for debate. Half the fun in sports is arguing about who is better, so there’s no better way to honor the history books.
To help us determine who was shorted, we compare the NBA’s official list to the 75 players that we recently voted on here at HoopsHype.
Top accolades: One NBA title, five All-NBA 1st Team selections, eight All-Stars, three Defensive Player of the Year awards, four All-Defensive 1st Team selections
NBA rank: 11th in rebounds, 13th in blocks, 59th in scoring
HoopsHype list rank: No. 62
If he had known he was going to get snubbed, Dwight Howard may not have been so excited to welcome fans to the 75th anniversary season. He is the only player in league history to win the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year in three consecutive seasons.
Howard has 13,000 rebounds and 2,000 blocks in his career. The only other players to accomplish that in the NBA thus far are an elite group: Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Shaquille O’Neal, Hakeem Olajuwon, Robert Parish and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Top accolades: Two NBA titles, one All-NBA 2nd Team selection, 11 All-Stars
NBA rank: 81st in rebounds, 95th in scoring, 111th in blocks
HoopsHype list rank: No. 64
When he was at the top of his game, Chris Bosh was pivotal in helping the Miami Heat win multiple championships. While his career was unfortunately cut short due to health concerns, Bosh helped usher in the modern era of the big man and was a prototype for the position.
Top accolades: Four NBA titles, one Finals MVP, three All-NBA 2nd Team selections, six All-Stars
NBA rank: 19th in steals, 53rd in scoring, 148th in steals
HoopsHype list rank: No. 67
As the longtime floor general for the San Antonio Spurs, Tony Parker is the only player in NBA history born outside of the United States to notch at least 19,000 points and 7,000 assists. His handle and his playmaking, as well as his magnificent tear-drop floater from the short midrange, set the precedent for international guards to have success in the United States.
Top accolades: Two All-NBA selections, eight All-Stars
NBA rank: 19th in scoring, 76th in assists, 138th in rebounds
HoopsHype list rank: No. 69
NBA legend Vince Carter joins LeBron James and Michael Jordan as the only players on record in league history to notch at least 25,000 points to go with 4,500 assists, 800 blocks and 500 three-pointers.
Before the rankings were released, however, Ben Rohrbach speculated that Carter was perhaps in danger of missing out (via Yahoo):
“The highest scorer in danger of missing the cut has to be Carter, whose 25,728 career points position him 19th, just ahead of Alex English (also left off the 50th anniversary list). Carter missed the playoffs in three All-Star seasons. He played in a single conference finals at age 33. While he may join Wilkins as arguably the most electrifying dunkers in league history, Carter made just two All-NBA teams and finished no higher than 10th in MVP voting.”
Carter enjoyed a fabulously long career in the NBA and was one of the most respected individuals in the league by the time of his retirement. But likely due to some of the reasons Rohrbach suggested, he wasn’t mentioned on the 75th-anniversary list.
Top accolades: Three All-NBA 2nd Team selections, eight All-Stars
NBA rank: 20th in scoring, 95th in assists, 143rd in rebounds and blocks, 145th in steals
HoopsHype list rank: No. 71
Alex English recently appeared on 104.3 FM The Fan and explained how it would have felt to make this list:
“Being on the list would be a vindication for not being on the Top 50 list … I think when I finished my career, I felt like I should have been there but wasn’t. So, it’s just vindication”
English had a solid case. When he finished his NBA career back in 1990-91, he had the seventh-most points scored in league history. He was also the first player in the NBA to ever score 2,000 points eight years in a row.
Unfortunately, he won’t get that vindication. Maybe he’ll get it when the league releases its 100th-anniversary list in 25 years.
Top accolades: Two All-NBA 1st Team selections, four All-Stars
NBA rank: 54th in scoring, 241st in assists, 250th in steals
HoopsHype list rank: No. 72
Recently, when asked who he was most worried about seeing snubbed on the 75th-anniversary list, Hall of Fame wing Clyde Drexler mentioned Bernard King to Complex:
“Well, there’s so many guys who are deserving. It’s like are you kidding me? Bernard King had a great run in the NBA. When you look at the total body of work you go, ‘Is he worth it? Should he be on it?’ I loved Bernard King coming up.”
King, who led the league in scoring with 32.9 points per game in 1984-85, is one of the greatest basketball players in the history of New York. The only knock on him is that injuries shortened the length of his career.
However, King still played in more games than Bill Walton, who managed to make the list for the 75th-anniversary and the 50th-anniversary.
Top accolades: Seven All-NBA selections, seven All-Stars, one Most Improved Player award
NBA rank: 72nd in scoring, 111th in assists, 147th in blocks, 235th in rebounds
HoopsHype list rank: No. 73
All things considered, standing at 6-foot-8 and with a blend of shooting touch and athleticism to finish at the rim, Tracy McGrady is largely considered to be the archetypal example of the modern NBA wing. McGrady, who finished with the most points per game of any player in the league two years in a row, paved the way for a new generation of players. McGrady, however, failed to get out of the first round of the players during all eight of his first trips to the postseason.