Leland Stein III

Archive for January, 2012|Monthly archive page

Take notes NBA’s Open Court, NBA greatest players ever are . . .

In sports column on January 11, 2012 at 11:23 pm

ImageTake notes NBA’s Open Court

NBA greatest players ever are . . .

By Leland Stein III

As the NBA has commenced amid proclamations by too many media members that no one would watch or care about basketball, the start of the 2011-12 NBA campaign has seen sellout after sellout in cities across America.

The ratings for the Christmas Day games were excellent and among the fans it appears that tall Black men that used an American right to negotiate contracts have not bothered real basketball fans.

As the season continues the NBA, always on the forefront in the marketing campaign to build its brand, one upped baseball, football and hockey again, producing the popular “Open Court” one hour show on NBA TV just as the season was about to start.

Open Court features seven former players employed in Turner Sports’ NBA broadcoast corps, including Thursday night TNT staples Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith, NBA TV stalwarts and Detroiters Chris Webber and Steve Smith, game analysts Steve Kerr and Reggie Miller and new addition Shaquille O’Neal. Inside the NBA host Ernie Johnson moderates the discussion.

Open Court is exactly what the name projects. All of the seven of the panelist gave wonderful and funny antidotes about their years in the NBA, the players they competed against, their hated rivals, their best games, what it was like being a rookie in the league, just to mention a few. But the segment that got me to write this narrative was the one when all were talking about the best player ever in the NBA.

I was disappointed that no one on the panel remembered the older legends of the game. All concluded that Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird were the best in the NBA. Wow . . . wait a minute.

Sure Jordan, Johnson and Bird were the catalyst that moved the NBA into the modern media era. But I beg to differ that they were the best players ever to play the game.

Maybe all three of those men won more championships, but there has never and it seems will never be another player like the late, great Wilt Chamberlain, who traversed the NBA hardcourts from 1959 to 1973.

Chamberlain did win two NBA titles, while battling the superiorly talented Bill Russell led Boston Celtics as a member of the Philadelphia 76er’s and Los Angeles Lakers.

He was the best athletic big man ever, having competed in the NCAA championships in the high jump and then playing for the Harlem Globetrotters.

But Chamberlain’s NBA scoring, rebounding and assist records are too many to even recount or list. He is the only person in NBA history to average over 50 points per game for an entire season. He also is the only person to score 100 points in a game (Kobe Bryant is next at 81). He led the league in scoring seven times and rebounds 11 times.

Chamberlain is the only center in NBA history to lead the league in assist and he is fourth all-time in the number of triple doubles with 78. For his career he averaged 30.06 point per game. He is first all-time in rebounds per game in a career with 22.89 and even averaged 27 rebounds during one season, and, had 55 rebounds in a single game.

Chamberlain was the most dominate player to ever lace up a pair of Chuck Taylors in any era. What he did is simply mind blowing.

Next is Russell. If the Open Court panel was basing their greatest player retort on the number of NBA title won then who else has done what Russell has done? No one in any sort had won as much and he has. He won 11 NBA titles starting from 1956 to 1969. He was even the first black head coach in pro sports being player coach from 1966 to 1969 and he even won two titles as player coach.

Russell did not have the gaudy scoring numbers Jordan or Chamberlain had, but he was the best defensive player ever to play the game . . . ever, ever!!!!

Then there is Oscar Robertson, who played from 1960 to 1974. He won only one NBA title, because like Wilt he played in the Russell era, but he is the only player in NBA history to average a triple double for an entire season. He had a career average of 25.68 points per game and retired as the all-time assist leader. The Big O scored 56 points and had 22 assist in a game.

Jordan, Johnson and Bird were great, but the young fellas on Open Court should have researched their history first.

Leland Stein can be reached at lelstein3@aol.com or Twitter @LelandSteinIII