We’re now riding 2 months without sports, and it can be hard to find things to talk about when your entire network revolves around them. So ESPN started ranking it’s top 74 players off all time. First off why 74? 75 is such a better number to start with if you are doing this list. What could they just not decide who the 75th best player of all time was? Anyway when lists like these are made they have one purpose… to get everyone screaming at each other about who should be ranked where. And ESPN made sure to have some rankings that are complete head scratchers and ensure that boomers and millennials go at each other on Twitter.
Making lists like these is an impossible task when trying to rank the right players in their right spots. So much goes into what makes a player great. Things that are heavily looked at are longevity vs. productivity, or comparing one guys era to another. You also have to compare different positions. It is much easier when ranking football players, because for the most part you are only ranking by individual positions. In basketball though everyone does the same things with different positions being much better than others at certain parts of the game. For this article I’m not gonna give you my own ranking or talk about each one, but I will talk about how absurd some guys placements are on this list and other players who somehow did not make the list.
Right off the bat you see Dikembe Mutombo ranked at 73. Dikembe was a great shot blocker, rebounding and overall defender. In what world though was Dikembe Mutombo a better basketball player than Dwight Howard. Dwight Howard was so much more of an offensive threat than Dikembe even if Mutombo was a slightly better defender. Think of the year Howard was in Charlotte a couple years ago. At that point he had fallen off the map and was no where near the player he once was. He still averaged 16.6 points that year. Mutombo’s career high in points for a season was 16.6. Dwight also led the Magic to the NBA Finals back in 2009 and has participated in 3 conference finals throughout his career. Mutombo had only one trip past the 2nd round of the playoffs where, thanks in large part to Allen Iverson, he got to the NBA Finals. Dwight’s current reputation is what kept him off this list and that’s a shame cause he should definitely be on it.
Speaking of Allen Iverson he finds himself at #29 on this list. Right in front of him is John Stockton. This is where you have to weigh longevity vs. productivity. Stockton definitely was a more consistent player for a longer period of time, and was probably a much better team player too. Allen Iverson was always “the guy” on his team and was a much better scorer and playmaker than Stockton. Stockton is the king of assists and it helps when you have one of the best power forwards ever in Karl Malone to pass to. I’m not trying to take anything away from Stockton, but go ask GM’s of then and now. If you were start a team with Iverson or Stockton who would you pick. Stockton isn’t carrying a team to the finals by himself.
Next we’ll dive into current players whose all time status is pretty generous to say the least. I’ll skip past Anthony Davis who besides a few NBA awards and really good stats has done nothing meaningful to earn a place that high yet. What’s really alarming is how high Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kawhi Leonard are. Don’t get me wrong I love both of those guys, but how can I consider them to be already among the 30 greatest basketball players to have ever played. Giannis has won 2 playoff series total in his career and it took 6 years into the league to win his first. How is that greater than so many of the other guys below him on this list? Then there’s Kawhi who in his first several seasons was just a role player behind the aging Big 3 in San Antonio. He’s only been a superstar for 3 years and while what he’s been able to accomplish so far is impressive, are we really going to say he’s had a better career than Dwyane Wade? Wade was a baller as soon as he entered the league and not to mention the dude went to 5 NBA Finals and won 3. I’m not saying that some day they won’t have better careers, but as of today… fuck no.
One thing I quickly wanted to touch on was Stephen Curry and Kevin Durants spots. I have no problem with the area of the list that they are in. Both have proven in their long careers that they are truly all time greats. The only thing I would say is that Durant has to be higher than Curry. I am a huge Steph Curry fan too so this is as unbiased as it comes. The last 3 years proved that Durant is a better basketball player than Curry. Doesn’t mean they both aren’t great, but Durant should be ahead of Curry.
Now that we’re moving into the top 10 I’m not gonna spend too much time critiquing it, because lets face it, top 10 is a fucking crab shoot. I have MJ then Lebron at 1 & 2 like a lot of people probably do. After that I’ve seen all types of different orders. The only one that I strongly disagree with is the great Bill Russell at 4. I know he won 11 championships and is one of the greatest rebounders and defenders to ever play this game. This is where different eras make it so tough. Russell played in a time when there was anywhere from 8 teams to 17 by the time his dynasty had ended. It was a much easier era, and when you look at Wilt Chamberlains career stats you wonder why Russell wasn’t the stat sheet stuffer that Chamberlain was. I would move Russell to that 8-9 range. He is the greatest winner of all time, but those teams he was on had some all time great players as well.
Obviously there’s more players who ranked wrong whether too high or too low. Let me know which player rankings you strongly disagreed with.