My wife got me The Book of Basketball by Bill Simmons for Christmas. I can’t recommend this book enough. Even in setting it down I can feel it call out to me. If you ever have enjoyed basketball, this book is a must read.
When I was growing up near Chicago the Jordan Era was happening. We didn’t have season tickets, but we made it to some games. But for the majority of the Bulls’ games, both regular season and post season the lights of our house were dimmed and the bulls game was on.
Watching Jordan dunk and the slew of short white guys that accompanied the teams hit threes was a family tradition. Pippen running the point and launching threes or driving and creating his own style of dunking or dishing to Horace Grant for the exact same two-handed dunk every time are memories that I cherish.
Reading Bill Simmons’ book has thrown into contrast the vast knowledge I have over a very short time frame of the NBA. From the late 80s to late 90s I watched as much basketball as I could absorb and hardly ever missed a play off game. Then, after Jordan retired, so did I. Kobe’s unwavering selfishness, Shaq lowing his shoulder and hitting someone, anyone before he would dunk the ball from about 4 inches away, and Allen Iverson chastising his teammates for taking open shots when he only had 2 people on him drove me from the sport I grew up loving. My heroes had moved on and so did I.
Enter HD television and Charles Barkley announcing. Love affair rekindled.
Now you have stars like Lebron (6-8, 250 lbs – Star or Freak of Nature? Maybe Both) and Dwight Howard (who is coached by a cave troll). The League is exciting and the Baby Bulls are back in the heat. Or at least they were before they let their most exciting player go.
Now on to my list.
1.) Michael Jordon. What? Didn’t you read the first couple of paragraphs? I grew up a Bulls fan during the Jordan Era. And a legtimite Bulls fan not some guy from Charlotte who wanted to be “Part of the Winning Team”. Jordan wanted to win and wouldn’t let anyone stop him from doing it. I have so many memories of Jordan playing that I don’t think I can even begin to relate them all. One of the most endearing is Jordan and Pippen in the post season, hands on their knees from exhaustion, exhaustion on their faces but also determination; two Champions spending themselves in the pursuit of victory.
2.) Larry Bird. I didn’t get to see much of Larry Bird’s career so most of this rating is based off of video games. You could take any shot from any where with Larry Bird and it would go in. And you cannot underestimate how cool a hook shot 3-pointer is.
3.) Magic Johnson. I hate him. He beat the Bulls early on. I didn’t like him because of that but I have to admit that he was electric. He could pass the ball to anyone on the court even if it was physically impossible that he could have seen them. He was possibly the most versatile basketball player ever. He could play any position on the court at a professional level.
4.) Dominic Wilkins. Watching him and Jordan trade dunks for an entire game was a highlight of my youth. The games where Dominic played against Jordon were always highlighted on the schedule for me. You knew it was going to be a show. It was sad to me that he was a great player that was always on a bad team. I don’t remember them ever make an attempt with him to get a title. It was always a “You’ve got Dominic. What else do you want?” approach from ownership.
5.) David Robinson. I could have gone a lot of different routes with this pick and don’t think that there weren’t a lot of other people who came to mind but The Admiral not only had an awesome nickname but he was strong and graceful. He baseline turn around jumper, falling out of bounds was unstoppable. He was always exciting to watch.
I only have one thing to say in parting to the NBA. Why did you sell all your good games to TNT? When you had the games on local TV you were encouraging fan base. Do you really think that putting it on cable is going to drive more people to see games? Don’t think so.
Also what have you done with dunking in games? Nobody over 6’11 does it constantly anymore. Now every games is a three point contest.