The game’s 75 greats

The new temporary NBA logo in honor of the 75th season.

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The new temporary NBA logo in honor of the 75th season.

Jamison Joyce, Staff Writer

In celebration of the NBA’s 75th season, the league released the “NBA 75 Team,” a list that current and former NBA players, sports media personalities and league executives voted on to rank the 75 greatest players to ever play in the NBA. The list ended up including 76 players due to a tie in the voting.

 Many retired and active players have voiced their feelings towards their placement on the list. Some players feel like they were snubbed from the list, as well as their fans. With all of these voiced opinions about the list on television and social media, the list has garnered some controversy. Many people feel like there were multiple inferior players occupying spaces that other players could be in, based on their accomplishments and skills.

The list was formed by a collective of current and former players, coaches, general managers, team and league executives, and sportswriters. The members of this collective were asked to select 75 players they felt were deserving of a spot on the 75 team, and the league would place the top 75 most voted players on the list. This method contained personal bias and was ineffective in including the 75 best players based on their skills and accomplishments. Players and coaches may have voted for players that they were closely associated with even if they did not have qualities of a legendary player. Additionally team executives could vote only for players from their organization. These factors somewhat invalidate the value of being selected to the list.

 The question has arised: should the placement of players on the list be based on accolades and skills or legacy and personal biases? To be one of the greatest at something, you have to be set apart from everyone else who has ever done it. If a player doesn’t compare to the best of the best in any era of the game, they don’t deserve to be mentioned in the same realm.

One of the most notable players to be snubbed from the 75 Team was Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard. In his prime, Howard was awarded the NBA Rookie of the Year Award and three NBA Defensive Player of the Year Awards. Additionally, he has made two appearances in the NBA Finals and won once. He has the 15th most blocks in league history, has been selected to eight NBA All-Star teams, averages 12.1 rebounds over his career, and has been named to eight All-NBA first teams and five All-NBA defensive teams. Howard is one of the most accomplished players in his position in the history of the league, but was still not recognized by the NBA as a top 75 player.

 On the other hand, former NBA center Dolph Schayes was selected to the NBA 75 Team, although he played in the NBA during the 50s with a significantly lower skill level amongst players and only 11 active teams compared to the 30 teams of the modern NBA. Schayes did not achieve the things Howard has achieved as a player, despite playing in a substantially less competitive league, and lacks the same dominance and skill of Howard.

Another fan favorite player that didn’t make the cut for the NBA 75 team is Brooklyn Nets point guard, Kyrie Irving. Irving has made three NBA finals appearances, has received the NBA Rookie of the Year award and is a seven time NBA All-Star. During his time on the Cleveland Cavaliers, Irving was arguably a top two point guard in the NBA and helped them win a championship.  It doesn’t make much sense that Irving didn’t make the team when players such as Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard did. Although Lillard is a phenomenal player, his skills don’t amount to Irving’s, and neither do his career accomplishments. Lillard has never played in the NBA Finals and has only been to five All-Star games. Irving is clearly more fit for the 75 team than Lillard.

It is speculated that Irving was snubbed for Lillard due to the various off-court controversies he has been involved in over the course of his career. However, when making a list such as this, these matters should not go into the process of picking players. Additionally Howard was likely not placed on the team over Schayes because of popularity. During Schayes prime, he was considerably more popular and is viewed today as a legendary player, but popularity has nothing to do with the skillset a player has and should not be a player’s claim for a spot on the NBA 75 Team.

 Although this list will be looked back on as an important part of NBA history, it is somewhat invalidated by not including players like Howard, Irving, and more, while also including players many argue are undeserving of a spot. In the future, if the NBA plans on making another list similar to this, hopefully they will consider factors of a player that actually hold value.

Contact Jamison Joyce at [email protected]