By Jason Fryer
A few weeks ago, NBA Hall-of-Fame member Karl Malone shocked the NBA world by not naming Michael Jordan to his all-time starting lineup. Following not naming Jordan to his lineup, Malone said that people should concentrate on naming their all-time roster and not their idealistic starting lineup. With that said, I’ve decided to take the Mailman’s advice and go a step further. Throughout the next few weeks, I’m going to name my all time NBA, NFL, NHL, and MLB rosters. My initial top roster will concentrate on my all-time NBA roster. The requirements are a starting 5 along with a bench that includes 2 guards, 2 forwards, 1 center, and 2 wild cards.
My Starting 5:
PG: Ervin “Magic” Johnson: The 12 time All-Star, 3 Time NBA MVP, 5-time NBA Champion, and 3-time Finals MVP could dictate the the tempo of the game in so many different ways. How many players (let alone rookies) could lead his team on the road of game 7 of the NBA Finals, transform from a point guard to center, and then fill in for one of the top 5 players of all-time and win the championship?
None. One writer once called Magic Johnson “Tragic” Johnson after the Lakers lost to their long time rivals, the Boston Celtics in game 7 of the NBA Finals. Like an all-time great, Johnson came back the following season and this time made sure their season would end in a different fashion as LA went into the Boston Garden and defeated the Celtics 111-100 in game 6. In the end, it was Johnson who was prepared for the big stage as he led they Lakers in rebounds (10) and assists (14) while also recording 14 points all along while showing why (sorry Dr.J and Larry) Magic was the best player of the 1980’s.
SG: Michael Jordan: What else can you say…the greatest player of all time won 5 MVP’s (and should have been more but that’s for another time), 10 time scoring titles, had the highest PPG(point per game) average in the history of the NBA (30.1), a defensive player of the year award, and 6 NBA Championships (winning Finals MVP each time). The best two way player in the history of the sport would find any way possible to win a game: wither it meant scoring every point, making a game winning shot, or setting up a teammate in a game that’s tied or trailing to win the Championship. Jordan would be the perfect player on this team as he and Bird are the only “score first” players that are in my starting 5.
SF: Larry Bird: In a few years, I do believe LeBron will pass bird as the greatest small forward of all time. However, the 3-time MVP, 3-time NBA Champion, and 2-time Finals MVP was (just like his 1980’s rival Magic Johnson) a player that could control the game in so many different ways. Bird’s career averages were 22.8 ppg, 6 apt, and 7.5 rpg meaning and along those lines, I feel Bird could have easily averaged 27 points per game for his career if he wanted to. However, like the rest of the players in this starting lineup, Larry Legend sacrificed a great deal of scoring so he could win multiple of championships. As Bird Hall-of-Fame teammate Kevin Mchale said in the Documentary “Magic and Bird: A Courtship of Rivals”.
“Larry and Magic could control the game with 12 shots, it was amazing. They would be 7 for 12, 20 points, 15 rebounds, 12 assists, and you would go; man the guy shot the ball 12 times and he was the best player on the court. By far.“
To me, this showed not just the brilliance of Bird and Magic, but the will to do anything it took for their team to win the game. Even greats today such as Kevin Durant feel Larry was a do anything it took to win the game:
“Larry Bird because I just respect him so much, how humble he is, how he was just all about playing the game of basketball above nothing else. Just how hard he played and how skilled he was.” (FanNation)