If you happened to be active on Facebook like this writer, you might have come across a thread on your feeds asking to name your favorite players of all-time from each of the 30 National Basketball Association teams and after which copy and repost them for others to give theirs.
I do not know how it started and the inspiration for it, but the big NBA fan that I am, I just could not resist giving my take on it and just went for it as instructed.
Some of those on my list were just no-brainers.
They are Dominique Wilkins (Atlanta), Larry Bird (Boston), Jason Kidd (Brooklyn/New Jersey), Michael Jordan (Chicago), LeBron James (Cleveland), Dirk Nowitzki (Dallas), Magic Johnson (Los Angeles Lakers), Kevin Garnett (Minnesota), Charles Barkley (Phoenix), Clyde Drexler (Portland), Tim Duncan (San Antonio), Vince Carter (Toronto) and John Stockton (Utah).
All of these players are legends in more ways than one and synonymous for the teams they played for even after some moved on to play for other squads, leaving me with little need to explain why I chose them really.
Others though might have come as a surprise to others, rendering me having to write this piece, which I do not really mind at all.
Always had a liking for the defensive end in the basketball scheme of things, it is little wonder I have those types of players in my list of all-time faves.
Alonzo Mourning for Charlotte, Joe Dumars for Detroit and Bobby Jones for Philadelphia made watching the NBA in the 1980s and 1990s all the more interesting.
“Zo” played only three seasons with Charlotte (1992–95) but it was enough to leave an impression on me and make him a favorite for the Hornets. He was a two-way player who helped his team to contend with throughout his run. And who can forget his buzzer-beating jumper that eliminated the Celtics in the 1992 playoffs.
Dumars (1985–99) was my favorite Pistons Bad Boy. Another two-way player, he does his thing with little fanfare but with much effectiveness. Detroit won back-to-back titles with him around and surely he had a hand on those.
Jones (1978–86), meanwhile, was a picture of grit and hard work on the floor. In 1983, he was a key piece in the championship run of the Sixers because of his tremendous play on defense on his way as well to winning the first-ever NBA Sixth Man of the Year award.
In the late ‘90s and early 2000s, the era of versatile big men was taking root, and it surely caught my fancy and liked a number of them, who eventually became favorites.
Vin Baker (Milwaukee), Shareef Abdur-Rahim (Vancouver, now, Memphis Grizzlies) and Lamar Odom (Clippers) were pretty solid all-around fours.
Baker was steady in his four years with the Bucks (1993-97) and was an All-Star in his last two years there.
Abdur-Rahim I liked since college (California) and he did not disappoint upon entry to The Association, a bona-fide 20-plus scorer in five years (1996-2000) with the Grizzlies and one of the bright lights in the early years of the franchise in Vancouver.
Odom, for his part, just could do it all with the Clippers in his first four years (1999-2002) in the league, a steady 15-6-5 player and did it with much showmanship and flair.
Anthony Davis continued such tradition in the 2010s and more, which is why he is my favorite for New Orleans.
Apart from the versatile big men who crept up in the late ‘90s and early 2000s, explosive guards also abounded during that stretch. Among my all-time favorites that came from that time are Jason Williams (Sacramento) and Steve Francis (Houston).
What can I say with “White Chocolate” Williams (1998–2000)? Just a pure joy to watch with his ball wizardry while helping the long-struggling Sacramento team be noticed anew in the NBA.
“Stevie Franchise” (1999–2004), meanwhile, had the hops to jump on anybody and a steady playmaker that complemented well the start of the Yao Ming era in Houston.
Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard and Penny Hardaway were the ones for me for Denver, Indiana, Washington and Orlando, respectively.
Abdul-Rauf (1990–95), formerly Chris Jackson, was a damn good scorer despite just standing 6’1” and playing with a moderate form of Tourette syndrome, which results in uncontrollable body movements.
Rose and Howard were part of the “Fab Five” of University of Michigan, along with Chris Webber, and had solid NBA careers. Rose (1996-2001) was all-around for the Pacers in their impressive run in the late ‘90s and complemented the play of Reggie Miller. And so was Howard with Washington in his seven years (1994–2000) there where he became a one-time All-Star.
Hardaway, meanwhile, captured many fans’ fancy with his Magic Johnson-like qualities, including his writer. His six years with the Magic (1993–99) was just impressive, helping Orlando become a powerhouse squad especially when Shaquille O’Neal was still there.
Golden State’s Chris Mullin and New York’s Bernard King left my young basketball mind in the ‘80s impressed with the way they found so many ways to score the basket.
For Miami, it is Eddie Jones (2000–05) for me, who helped usher in the solid stretch for the Heat in the late 2000s and early 2010s while for Oklahoma City (formerly Seattle) it is Shawn Kemp (1989–96), who amazed with his incredible melding of power and finesse.
So many legends, so many favorites and so much history. Such list could well go on. This is why I love the NBA.
Michael Angelo S. Murillo has been a columnist since 2003. He is a BusinessWorld Senior Reporter covering the Sports beat.