The NBA officially unveiled its top 75th anniversary players (consisting of 76 players due to a tie in votes). The Crossover staff reveals their biggest slights, surprises, active players who are not on the 75th Anniversary Team are more likely to be part of the 100th Anniversary Team and the top five players of all time.
The biggest slights
Howard Beck: Full disclosure: I was one of the 88 voters so I guess I am 1/88 responsible for each and every complaint. With that being the case, I’d say the biggest snub is Klay Thompson, the only player I voted for who did. no make the final list. Thompson is the second best shooter of all time, after Steph Curry. He is a great defender. He is a three-time champion and was absolutely essential to the Warriors dynasty. I’m surprised he didn’t make it.
Chris Herring: I would love to find a more unique answer, like Alex English or someone like Joe Dumars. But the answer is obviously Dwight Howard. It is amazing that it is not part of the list.
Michael Pina: Reducing to 75 thousands of NBA players is almost impossible. But Dwight Howard should be here. He is an eight-time All-Star who outpointed eight All-NBA teams and won three Defensive Player of the Year trophies. Howard leads all active players in blocking and rebounding and was easily the most dominant two-way center in the entire league during his prime, which lasted nearly a decade. (He finished in the top five for MVP four times.) This omission is difficult to understand.
Jeremy Woo: It’s hard to pick just one, and I don’t think it’s worth making a fuss, but at a glance, I’d be a strong advocate for Derrick Rose, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, and Pau Gasol. Injuries obviously sunk what would have been an obvious case for Rose, and he and Nikola Jokić are the only two MVP winners not on the list. An injury-ridden heyday and a short peak didn’t keep Bill Walton off the list. It’s extremely hard for me to believe that Tim Duncan should be the only player from the later era of Spurs champion teams on the roster, particularly when considering the sheer number of guys from the various Celtics dynasties of yesteryear who passed the court. Manu and Parker deserve it. The same can be argued for Gasol, who was a multiple-time champion with longevity. It was the right thing to do to preserve the sanctity of the original top 50 (and I’m too young to have strong opinions on the older guys), but if the goal had been to seriously revitalize everything, this list looks different I think.
Beck: That Dwight Howard didn’t make it. I didn’t vote for him, but I thought most of the others would. I’m also amazed that the entire 50th anniversary team made the 75th anniversary roster. I thought with certainty that one or two veterans would be eliminated in favor of more current stars.
Herring: Anthony Davis. The work is undeniable, but seeing him on the roster, but not Dwight, makes me wonder how much Davis benefited from winning the title alongside LeBron James. Howard never won it as a star, but he was largely responsible for giving his team a chance to win a ring. Davis has always been fantastic, but he was never able to carry his stick unaided the way a great Howard did.
Pineapple: For whatever reason, I wasn’t expecting some of the active players to make it, as their careers remain unsolved. Anthony Davis and Damian Lillard deserve it, but what separates them from Nikola Jokić (MVP winner), Paul George, Klay Thompson and Jimmy Butler? Or people like Tracy McGrady, Vince Carter, and Tony Parker?
Court: I feel like the decision to include some of the younger active players, more specifically Damian Lillard and Anthony Davis, was made at the expense of some worthy names. Those guys are great, but you have to think that we’ll have a 100th anniversary team 25 years from now. It would have been easy to include those guys later and reward more retired stars with full jobs, rather than making them wait to see if they’ve made the cut two decades from now. It’s all arbitrary, and the inclusion of active guys is important to help bridge the generation gap and generate interest, but I’m not in a rush to include so many current stars. For me, this exercise should be more about the breadth of history and less about the present.
Which active players who are not on the 75th anniversary team are most likely to be on the 100th anniversary team?
Stream: Nikola Jokic, Luka Doncic, Joel Embiid, Trae Young.
Herring: As the greatest great passenger man of all time, Jokić will do it. Embiid could do it if he stays healthy, and so could someone like Klay Thompson. Luka Dončić and Zion Williamson should get there too, health permitting. Someone like Kyrie Irving will also be an interesting player to watch in a conversation like that.
Pineapple: Luka Dončić, Zion Williamson, Ja Morant, Trae Young, Jayson Tatum, and LaMelo Ball are just a few young stars who will easily make it into the top 100 if they stay healthy for the next 10 years.
Court: Nikola Jokić, Luka Dončić and Joel Embiid.
Rank your five best players of all time
Stream: In no particular order, because I don’t think there’s an objective truth here (and I generally hate rankings): Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Russell, Magic Johnson.
Herring: In no particular order: Kareem, MJ, LeBron, Magic, Bird. I feel immensely blessed to have seen Michael and LeBron in my life. But how blessed are we that YouTube exists to see others, regardless of when we were born?
5. Tim Duncan
4. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
3. Bill Russell
2. LeBron James
1. Michael Jordan
Jordan, LeBron, Kareem, Russell, Duncan.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.