Excerpts from Standing Above the Crowd: Success Strategies in Athletics, Business, Community and Life by James Donaldson. Release date is January 201l. Pre-order now and save!!!For details go to www.StandingAboveTheCrowd.com I know that there are a lot of NBA basketball fans out there who will get a kick out of my chapter on my experiences playing against and observing some of the greatest players in NBA history. I’ll send out an excerpt from this chapter everyday leading up to the book release. I welcome your comments! THE 50 GREATEST PLAYERS IN NBA HISTORY
One of the most frequently asked questions that I encounter besides “how tall are you?” is either who is the greatest player that I’ve ever played against, or who is the toughest player that I’ve ever played against? Depending on the person’s knowledge of basketball who’s asking the question, I typically give a couple different responses. There’s a big difference between “the greatest” and “the toughest”. The game of basketball has been around for a long time now and it has evolved over the years from when Dr. James Naismith first tied a peach basket an old barn post and the players were shooting two hand set shots, to now where the game is played on a global scale with some of the finest athletes in the world. There were great players back in the beginning of the game, just as they’re great players now. I don’t know if it’s ever totally fair to compare players from one era against players of another era. Periodically you see sports aficionados coming up with hypothetical computerize scenarios of say the great Green Bay Packers of the 60s versus the New England Patriots of the new millennium. It’s impossible to really say who the best players are or which team would come out on top. But it’s a fun exercise and it creates a lot of heated conversation amongst the fanatics and all of us. I was lucky to play during perhaps the greatest era of NBA basketball. My NBA career spanned two decades essentially, from 1980 – 1996. Some of the greatest NBA players to ever play the game played during that era. I remember as a rookie in 1980 marveling at the great Dr. J. and also been privileged to witness the new era of NBA basketball that was brought to us by Ervin “Magic” Johnson and Larry Bird. All in all I was privileged to play against over 30 of the all-time 50 greatest NBA players ever. I’m going to go through the whole list of the 50 greatest players and share my thoughts with you in regards to either actually playing against them or watching them as I was a youngster. They are listed in alphabetical order and if you want to find the actual numerical order in which they are listed by the NBA you can check out their website at NBA.com
It seemed like year after year throughout the 80’s another great player was coming into the NBA to elevate the game to an even higher and higher level. Starting with Bird and Magic, and then a whole flood of great players such as Ewing, Olajuwon, Barkley, Malone and Stockton, Dominique, and more. But even with those household names, one stood out even more so than the rest, and that was Michael Jordan.
Michael was flat out pure talent when he came into the league with a dazzling array of jump shots, drives to the basket and fantastic dunks that we hadn’t seen the likes of since a young Dr. J.
Michael’s early years were ones where he was an unstoppable machine and evoked fear in every team in the league. I always felt bad for the “2 guards (shooting guards) who were assigned to guard him on the teams I played with as we prepared to play against the Chicago Bulls. Our whole game plan was structured to try to stop Michael Jordan, or at least slow him down.
Michael was the best talent in the league, but when he started winning championships, he became the best all-around player too. He had a way of making his teammates (very average teammates in many cases) much better than they actually were as they would get into position to either be decoys, or legitimate threats once he got the ball to them.
There were a lot of great players around during the era, but none commanded the total team respect more so than Michael Jordan did. When I lay everything out side by side by side (championships, scoring titles and overall statistics), Michael Jordan has to go down as the greatest NBA player ever.