Finally here is Part 2 of my Blog for the Greatest 2 Players ever for each Franchise. This week it is all the Eastern Conference Teams and remember this is only what they achieved with that particular Franchise and not how good the players were for their whole Career.
13 seasons, 24.3 ppg, 10 rpg, 6.3 apg
3 Titles (5 Finals), 2 x Finals MVP, 3 x MVP
12 x All Star (MVP 1982), 10 x All NBA Team (9 1st Teams)
3 x All Defense 2nd Team, 50/40/90 Club x 2
13 seasons, 15.1 ppg, 22.5 rpg, 4.3 apg
11 Titles (12 Finals), 5 x MVP
12 x All Star (MVP 1963), 11 x All NBA Team (3 1st Teams)
John Havlicek, Bob Cousy, Kevin McHale, Dave Cowens, Sam Jones, Paul Pierce, Jo Jo White, Robert Parish, Kevin Garnett
Starting off with the most successful franchise, the Celtics have countless Hall of Famers, but there are 2 that clearly stand head and shoulders above the rest. The bigger question would be who was the best Larry Bird or Bill Russell?
In terms of pure skill and offensive ability, Bird wins hands down but nobody in any sport can compete with Russell's 11 championships, and Russell is the best Leader and Defender ever as well. I have Bird 6th All Time and Russell 7th amongst all players but you could easily flip them since it's probably crazy to put anyone over someone who has more rings than fingers!
Russell's teammates John Havlicek and Bob Cousy are next on the Franchise list, with 'Hondo' the All Time Scoring Leader at over 26,000 Career Points and Cousy the Assist Leader and Former MVP. Havlicek won 8 titles, Cousy 6 and the other key member who deserves a mention is Sam Jones who lead them in scoring in many games and finished with an incredible 10 titles, all with Russell.
Then there is Bird's sidekick Kevin McHale, one of the greatest Power Forwards with the best post moves ever seen even to this day. 80s Starting Center Robert Parish also deserves a mention for forming the greatest Ever frontline with Bird and McHale.
Then comes Paul Pierce who is one of the longest serving Celtics, playing 15 years there and finishing 2nd All Time in pts ahead of Larry Bird! And teammate Kevin Garnett only stayed 5 years after his prime but he was clearly the driving force behind their only title in the last 34 years.
Finally a shout out to 70s legends Dave Cowens and Jo Jo White, especially Cowens who won an MVP and was the Leader of 2 title teams in the 70s with Havlicek.
Philadelphia 76ers (Also Syracuse Nationals)
11 seasons, 22 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 3.8 apg
1 Title (4 Finals), 1 MVP
11 x All Star (2 MVP), 7 x All NBA Team (5 1st Teams)
12 seasons, 27.6 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 3.9 apg
1 Finals, 1 MVP
8 x All Star (2 x MVP), 7 x All NBA Team (3 1st Teams)
4 x Scoring Champ, 3 x Steals Leader
Charles Barkley, Moses Malone, Wilt Chamberlain, Billy Cunningham, Hal Greer, Dolph Schayes, Mo Cheeks
Picking the best two 76ers might have been the hardest and closest decision out of any team with more than a handful of Hall of Fame Legends to choose from.
Ultimately I went with Julius Erving and Allen Iverson because of their overall impact and because they are Sixers through and through whereas Barkley, Moses and Wilt spent a lot of their Careers elsewhere.
Before there was Bird, Magic and MJ, there was The 'Doctor'. Dr. J revolutionised the sport and was the hottest ticket in town first in the ABA in the 70s and then the NBA where he spent all 11 years in Philadelphia. He made the All Star Game all 11 years he was there and won an MVP and a Championship, sweeping the Magic and Kareem lead Lakers.
If Dr.J revolutionised the sport in the 70s, then Allen Iverson did it again in a down period for the league after Jordan retired. He may not have won a title for Philly, but he did single handedly carry them to the Finals where he scored a memorable 48 pts in Shaq and Kobe's house to steal Game 1. He finished with almost 20,000 pts for the Sixers, 2nd All Time and tied 1st with Wilt with an impressive 27.6 scoring average over 12 seasons.
Wilt Chamberlain and Moses Malone were both so dominant and won multiple MVPs, titles and Finals MVPs for Philly so they could both easily be considered Top 2. Wilt especially won 3 straight MVPs but only played 3 and a half seasons there while Moses only played 4 seasons in Philly which in my opinion is not enough to overtake the more than decade of excellence provided by Dr. J and A.I.
Charles Barkley also deserves huge consideration for playing 8 incredible years where he made 7 straight All NBA Teams (including 4 straight 1st Teams) but he did not have much team success.
Other Honourable mentions go to Hall of Famers Billy Cunningham and Hal Greer who were part of the 67 Title Team with Wilt and Franchise All Time Assist and Steals Leader Mo Cheeks. Finally shout out to Dolph Schayes who made 12 straight All Star and All NBA Teams while winning a title back in 1955, when the 76ers were the Syracuse Nationals.
New York Knicks
10 seasons, 18.7 ppg, 12.9 rpg, 1.8 apg
2 Titles (2 Finals), 2 x Finals MVP, 3 x MVP
12 x All Star (MVP 1982), 5 x All NBA Team (1 1st Team)
All Defense Team
15 seasons, 22.8 ppg, 10.4 rpg, 2.7 bpg
1 Finals, 11 x All Star
7 x All NBA Team (1 1st Team)
3 x All Defense Second Team
Walt Frazier, Carmelo Anthony, Bernard King, Earl Monroe, Dave DeBusschere
The two best Big Men in Knicks History are also the 2 best players. Willis Reed for winning the only titles and MVP in Knicks History and Patrick Ewing for being the Franchise Leader (By Far) in Games, Points, Field Goals, Free Throws, Rebounds, Blocks and even Steals! His 23,665 Points for the Knicks is almost 10,000 points higher than the 2nd Place Walt Frazier, and Ewing unfortunately had to run into Michael Jordan almost every year before coming within 1 game of the title in Jordan's retirement year.
But it was Willis Reed together with Walt Frazier who delivered the Knicks only 2 championships in the early 70s and for that they will be Knicks legends forever. When Willis limped out with a serious knee injury in Game 5 of the 1970 Finals and made his first couple shots, the team and whole Garden was inspired by his leadership and sacrifice to pull out the tough win over the star trio of Wilt, West and Baylor.
Reed would win Finals MVP as the Knicks won in 7 with Walt Frazier having one of the greatest Game 7 performances of All Time with 36 points, a crazy 19 assists and 7 rebounds. Frazier is the 2nd All Time Leading Scorer and 1st in Assists which along with the titles firmly puts him in 3rd place.
Hall of Famer Dave DeBusschere was also a huge part of those title teams and Earl 'The Pearl' Monroe who joined the Knicks for their 2nd title in 1973 had some of the silkiest smoothest one on one moves never seen before the 70s.
Super scorers Bernard King and Carmelo Anthony also deserve an honourable mention despite the lack of team success. In the mid 80s Bernard King was unstoppable topping out at an impressive 32.6ppg in 1985 and having one of the greatest performances in any playoff series when he averaged a mind blowing 42.6 ppg in a 3-2 series win over Isiah Thomas's Pistons. This included a 44 point, 12 rebound performance in the clinching game 5.
And Melo is by far the greatest Knick this century and he averaged 20+ppg for 6 straight seasons, topping out at 28.7ppg in 2013 when he famously got one vote in the MVP race to deny LeBron James a unanimous MVP.
Brooklyn Nets (Also New Jersey Nets)
7 seasons, 14.6 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 9.1 apg
2 Finals, 6 x All Star,
4 x x All NBA Team (3 1st Teams), 6 x All Defense (2 1st Teams)
2 x Assists Leader
5 seasons, 23.6 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 4.7 apg
3 x All Star
Buck Williams, Derrick Coleman, Drazen Petrovic, Kenyon Martin, Richard Jefferson, Stephon Marbury, Brook Lopez
Unlike the previous 3 franchises, there are hardly any Nets Legends to choose from but there is no question that the Greatest Net Ever is easily Jason Kidd.
J-Kidd spent almost 7 years of his prime in New Jersey leading the team to Back to Back Finals in the early 2000s forming the best team in Nets history. Kidd is the Nets All Time Leader in Assists, Steals and 3s and he made 5 All Star Teams, 3 All NBA Teams and 6 All Defense Teams. He even came close to an MVP which many people felt he deserved after he lead a 26 game turnaround in 2001 after being traded from the Suns.
The 2nd best Net is much more up for debate, with Vince Carter and Buck Williams forming the strongest cases. Williams is the Franchise Leader in Games Played and Rebounds and 2nd in Points. He also made 3 All Star Games and won Rookie of the Year for the Nets.
But I am going with Vince instead who also made 3 All Star Games but I just think he was a bigger star for the Nets averaging over 20 pts for 5 straight seasons including 27.5 pts, 24.2 pts and 25.2 pts in his 1st 3 seasons there.
Kenyon Martin and Richard Jefferson deserve an Honourable Mention for being key parts of the best Net team ever, while the early 90s combo of Derrick Coleman and the late Drazen Petrovic were on the path to stardom before a tragic car accident killed Petrovic in 1993 at just 28 years of age.
Finally shout out to Brook Lopez who is surprisingly the Franchise Leader in Points, finishing his Nets Career with 10,444 points - 4 more points than Buck Williams! Lopez is also the Franchise Leader in Blocks and is 2nd in Games Played.
1 season, 26.6 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 3.3 apg
1 Title (1 Finals), 1 Finals MVP
4 x All Star (2020 MVP), 3 x All NBA Team (2 1st Team)
2 x DPOY, 5 x All Defense (3 1st Team)
8 seasons, 17.6 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 7.1 apg
1 Title (1 Finals), 6 x All Star, 1 x All NBA Team
Vince Carter, Chris Bosh, DeMar DeRozan
This was probably the most controversial picks that I made deciding how to rank Kawhi Leonard who is far and away the best player to put on a Raptor Jersey, but he only played 1 (record breaking historic) year for them.
The Klaw averaged 30 ppg in one of the most remarkable individual playoff runs in NBA History. After beating Orlando in Round 1, he single handedly carried the Raps against the Sixers including making a Dramatic Game 7 winning jumper at the Buzzer. Then after losing the 1st 2 games of the Conference Finals against the Bucks, Kawhi took it upon himself to guard MVP Giannis and promptly shut him down on the way to 4 straight wins. And Finally he beat the 2 time defending champs (albeit with injuries to KD and Klay) winning his 2nd Finals MVP in the process.
Kyle Lowry is the easy other choice considering his role in the title winning team, his performance in the NBA Finals and his contributions to Toronto Basketball over his 8 seasons there. He has made the playoffs and All Star Team each of the last 6 years.
DeMar DeRozan, Chris Bosh and Vince Carter have all made strong contributions to the Franchise and have a strong case to be included over Kawhi. DeRozan made 4 All Star Games and is the Franchise Leader in Games, Field Goals, Free Throws and Points and was a fan favourite who was traded against his wishes to get a one year rental of Kawhi. Bosh made 5 All Star Games and is the Franchise Leader in Rebounds and Blocks and is 2nd in Points. And finally Vince also made 5 All Star Games for the Raps and more importantly put the Franchise on the map in the early 2000s, sparking basketball interest in Canada and possibly saving them from suffering the same fate as the Vancouver Grizzlies who were moved to Memphis.
But since the Raptors only have a 20+ year history and have experienced no playoff success, what Kawhi did bringing a title to Canada is far more impactful than what any other Raptor has achieved and the fact he achieved this all in just one season is even more impressive. This everlasting impact is the main reason I chose him.
13 seasons, 31.5 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 5.3 apg
6 Titles (6 Finals), 6 x Finals MVP, 5 x MVP
12 x All Star (3 x MVP), 11 x All NBA Team (10 1st Team)
1 x DPOY, 9 x All Defense 1st Team
10 x Scoring Champ, 3 x Steals Leader
12 seasons, 17.7 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 5.3 apg
6 Titles (6 Finals), 7 x All Star (1994 MVP)
7 x All NBA Team (3 1st Team), 10 x All Defense (8 x 1st Team)
Derrick Rose, Artis Gilmore, Horace Grant, Dennis Rodman, Bob Love
Probably the easiest decision out of all the Franchises, there is no doubt that Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen are far and away the best two players to wear a Bulls uniform.
His Airness is simply the greatest player ever to put on any uniform and his mind boggling accolades speak for themselves 6/6/5 (Titles/Finals MVP/MVP) and 10/10/9 (Scoring Titles/All NBA 1st Team/All Def 1st Team). But even more than his accolades was his intangibles - his drive, determination, intensity, leadership, will to win and just his aura is something we will never see again.
If Jordan was the greatest ever, Scottie just might be the most underrated player ever. Pippen could literally do everything - score, pass, rebound, handle the ball and defend like he was born with 4 arms! It was not a surprise at all that the year Jordan retired, Pippen finished 3rd in MVP voting establishing himself as the best Non Big Man in the league and leading the Bulls to 55 wins. In the All Star Game that year with all the best players in the world, Pippen's star shone the brightest as he took home MVP honors scoring 29 pts with 11 rebounds and 5 3s.
You also have to give a mention to Horace Grant and Dennis Rodman who were the 3rd best players on the title teams, Horace for the 1st 3 peat and Dennis for the 2nd. They did all the dirty work and without their interior defense and rebounding the Bulls would have not been nearly as successful as they were.
And a big honourable mention to Derrick Rose who as the youngest MVP of All Time, was on his way to becoming a legend before horrible injuries struck. His 2011 MVP season where he averaged over 25 pts and lead the Bulls to 60 wins is still the greatest Bull season by anyone not named Jordan.
Finally a shout out to Hall of Famer Artis Gilmore who is the Franchise's best ever Center averaging 19pts and 11 reb in 6 seasons while making 4 All Star Games for the Bulls.
Kareem Abdul Jabbar
6 seasons, 30.4 ppg, 15.3 rpg, 4.3 apg
1 Title (2 Finals), 1 Finals MVP, 3 x MVP
6 x All Star, 5 x All NBA Team (4 1st Team)
4 x All Defense (2 1st Team)
2 x Scoring Champ, 4 x Blocks Leader, Rebounding Leader
7 seasons, 20 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 4.3 apg
2019 MVP (2020 MVP Favourite)
4 x All Star, 3 x All NBA Team (1 1st Team)
2 x All Defense (1 1st Team), M.I.P 2017
Oscar Robertson, Sidney Moncrief, Bob Dandridge, Ray Allen, Glenn Robinson, Vin Baker
The Bucks have had some All Time Greats but their best ever players played most of their Career elsewhere.
So even though Kareem Abdul Jabbar only spent 6 years in Milwaukee, it was an incredible 6 years. 6 All Stars, 5 All NBA 1st Teams, 3 All Defense Teams, 3 MVP's, 1 Finals MVP and of course Milwaukee's only ever championship in 1971. That year Kareem's Bucks had a 66-16 record and swept the Finals 4-0 over the Bullets in one of the most dominant seasons ever.
Many young fans don't realize that Kareem's partner in crime Oscar Robertson actually only played his last 4 years of his Career in Milwaukee and spent all of his prime seasons with the Cincinnati Royals. He still played a major role as sidekick to Kareem during their 1971 title run and averaged 16p/5r/7.5a, but that is not enough to top what Giannis has achieved the last few seasons for the Bucks.
Before the season was suspended, The Greek Freak was having one of the most dominant individual seasons EVER leading the Bucks to a near 70 win pace as a lone superstar. His 31.6 P.E.R is one of the highest ever and his per 36 minute stats were insane - 35pts, 16 reb and 7 ast! One of the greatest seasons ever together with his MVP from last year is enough to push Giannis over the Big O and any other Buck in history not named Kareem.
Sidney Moncrief also had a great Career with the Bucks, spending 10 seasons there with 5 All Star Appearances, 5 All NBA selections and 2 Defensive Player of the Year Awards in the 80s. Bob Dandridge also spent 9 seasons in Milwaukee making 4 All Star Teams and was a key player during their 1971 title run.
And Honourable Mentions go to Glenn 'Big Dog' Robinson and Ray Allen who formed a deadly trio with Sam Cassell that got the Bucks within one game of the NBA Finals in 2001. Robinson averaged over 21 points and 6 rebounds in 8 productive seasons for the Bucks while Allen averaged almost 20 ppg across 7 seasons and is still the Franchise's All Time Leader in 3 pointers made.
Detroit Pistons (Also Fort Wayne Pistons)
13 seasons, 19.2 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 9.3 apg
2 Titles (3 Finals), 1 Finals MVP
12 x All Star (2 x MVP)
5 x All NBA Team (3 1st)
14 seasons, 16.1 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 4.5 apg
2 Titles (3 Finals), 1 Finals MVP
6 x All Star, 3 x All NBA Team
5 x All Defense (4 1st Team)
Grant Hill, Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton, Ben Wallace, Bob Lanier, Dave Bing, Dennis Rodman, Bill Laimbeer
Isiah Thomas is far and away the best Detroit Piston in history. He was the clear leader and best player of the Bad Boy Pistons, doing what no other legend has done in history - beating Jordan, Magic and Bird to win titles. He has had some historical playoff moments including a Finals record 25 points in the 3rd quarter with a severely twisted ankle against LA, and a incredible 16 points in the last minute and a half of a deciding 5th game to erase an 8 point deficit and force OT against the Knicks in 1984.
'Zeke' was a lifelong Piston playing 13 seasons, making 12 All Star Teams and winning 2 All Star Game MVP Awards and a Finals MVP. He is the franchise's All Time leader in points, assists and steals and is without doubt a Top 5 point guard of All Time.
Now the 2nd spot is up for debate, but I am going with Isiah's backcourt teammate, the underrated Joe Dumars. Not only did he always take all the toughest defensive matchups, he routinely lead the team in scoring in many big games and series including the 1989 NBA Finals when Dumars won Finals MVP averaging 27.3 pts in a 4 game sweep of the Lakers. He also played his whole 14 year career in Detroit finishing 2nd All Time in scoring as well as making 6 All Star Teams and 5 All Defense Teams.
Hall of Famer Grant Hill may not be the best Piston ever but he he was the most talented. Hill's prime is very underrated and he averaged 22p/8r/6a over 6 seasons and was All NBA 1st or 2nd Team 5 straight years. He was so good in the mid 90s he was leading the All Star Game voting even getting more votes than Michael Jordan!
Honourable mentions to 3 Time All Star Chauncey Billups, 3 Time All Star Richard Hamilton and 4 Time All Star Ben Wallace- the key trio in the the 2004 title winning team with Hamilton being the leading scorer and longest serving member, Billups the Floor General and Finals MVP, and Big Ben the defensive anchor who won a record 4 Defensive Player of the Year Awards.
Also shoutout to Hall of Fame Teammates Dave Bing and Bob Lanier who both scored over 15,000 points each and made 13 Combined All Star Games. Dennis Rodman and Bill Laimbeer also deserve a mention for the big role they played for Detroit in the 80s, combining to form the backbone of the Bad Boys with Rodman winning 2 Defensive Player of the Year Awards and Laimbeer averaging a double double over 13 seasons.
11 seasons, 27.2 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 7.3 apg
1 Title (5 Finals), 1 Finals MVP, 2 x MVP
10 x All Star (2 x MVP), 10 x All NBA Team (8 1st Teams)
2 x All Defense 1st Team, Rookie of The Year
6 seasons, 21.6 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 5.5 apg
1 Title (3 Finals)
4 x All Star (MVP 2014), 2 x All NBA Team
Rookie of the Year
Mark Price, Brad Daugherty, Larry Nance, Kevin Love
Has any player ever left a team to such negative criticism only to return and become the greatest hero in the City's history? LeBron James left after 7 years as a 2 Time MVP and already the best ever Cavs player. But if his 1st act was Hall of Fame worthy, his return was the stuff of legend. Coming back from 3-1 down to beat a record 73 win team while winning Game 7 on the road is something that nobody can expect to see in their lifetime again. LeBron scored over 23,000 points for the Cavs, and had over 6,000 assists and 6,000 rebounds as well as 1,376 steals and 1,251 3 pointers - all Franchise records.
LeBron may get most of the credit for the 2016 title, and rightfully so. But there is no denying Kyrie Irving had perhaps the best sidekick performance EVER in Finals History, clearly outplaying the unanimous MVP Stephen Curry while averaging 27 points not to mention making the key clutch 3 point basket over Steph to clinch the title. Bron and Kyrie's Game 5 performance which swung the momentum back in Cleveland's favour, is still the only Finals Game where teammates have both scored 40+ points. Kyrie's huge performances on the biggest stage for the Cavs keeps him firmly in 2nd place above Mark Price.
Now we cant talk about the Cavs greatest players without mentioning their late 80s, early 90s teams lead by Mark Price, Brad Daugherty and Larry Nance. Price was a 4 time All Star and 4 Time All NBA Team member for the Cavs and for a short period in the early 90s he was considered the best Point Guard in the league with John Stockton. 1986 No. 1 Pick Brad Daugherty had his Career cut short by injury but he still made 5 All Star Games averaging 19 pts and almost 10 rebounds in 8 seasons. And Larry Nance made 2 All Star Teams while averaging 17pts and over 8 rebounds in 7 seasons with the Cavs.
Finally an Honourable Mention to Kevin Love who never got his due as the 3rd wheel and (similar to Chris Bosh) had to sacrifice the most individually as he was a Top 10 player in the league when he joined LeBron and Kyrie. Still 17pts and 10 rebounds over 6 seasons is nothing to sneeze at, and his defensive play to stop Curry from scoring on the last possession of Game 7 will be forever remembered together with LeBron's huge block and Kyrie's dagger 3.
18 seasons, 18.2 ppg, 3 rpg, 3 apg
1 Finals, 5 x All Star, 3 x All NBA 3rd Team
8 seasons, 18.6 ppg, 9.6 rpg, 2.4 bpg
6 x All Star, 3 x All NBA Team
Most Improved Player 2002
Paul George, Danny Granger, Mark Jackson, Rik Simts, Detlef Schempf
The best player in Pacer history is without a doubt Reggie Miller who has played 1,389 Games for the Pacers, more than 500 games more than the 2nd place Rik Smits! And he is the runaway Franchise leader in Points, Field Goals, Free Throws, 3 Pointers, Assists and Steals.
Miller made the playoffs 15 times and had a great rivalry with the New York Knicks, having some of the most clutch playoff moments of All Time including his famous 8 points in 9 seconds at the Garden to erase a 6 point deficit in 1995. He also made the NBA Finals in 2000 and his Pacer team in 1998 was the only team to push Jordan's Bulls to 7 games during their 2nd threepeat.
The 2nd spot is really a two horse race between Jermaine O'Neal and Paul George. PG13 averaged over 18pts and 6 reb over 7 seasons and made 3 All Star Teams while pushing the Lebron/Wade Heat to 7 games in the 2013 Eastern Conference Finals when George announced himself to the world.
But I am giving the slight edge to Jermaine O'Neal who averaged almost 19p/10r over 8 seasons, making 6 All Star Teams and 3 All NBA Teams. O'Neal even finished 3rd in the MVP race in 2004 when he lead the Pacers to the best record in the league and the Conference Finals.
Honourable mentions to Reggie's ex teammates Rik Smits, Mark Jackson and Detlef Schrempf and shout out to Danny Granger who spent 9 solid seasons in Indiana making the All Star Team in 2009 when he averaged an impressive 25.8 ppg.
15 seasons, 22.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 5.6 apg
3 Titles (5 Finals), 1 Finals MVP
13 x All Star (MVP 2010), 8 x All NBA Team (2 1st Teams)
3 x All Defense 2nd Team
4 seasons, 26.9 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 6.7 apg
2 Titles (4 Finals), 2 x Finals MVP, 2 x MVP
4 x All Star (MVP 1982), 4 x All NBA 1st Team
4 x All Defense (3 1st Team)
Alonzo Mourning, Shaquille O'Neal, Tim Hardaway, Chris Bosh, Glen Rice
Even though the Miami Heat have had some great players in their relatively short history, there is absolutely no doubt which 2 stand above the rest.
Firstly Mr Miami himself, Dwyane Wade. It's hard to put into words what D-Wade means to this Franchise....15 incredible years, over 21,000 points, 13 All Star Appearances and most importantly 3 titles. His performance in the 2006 Finals where he averaged 35 pts to will his team back from 0-2 down is still to this day one of the greatest individual Finals performances of All Time. Add to that 2 more titles with LeBron and the Heatles in 2012/13 and you have by far the greatest player in Heat history.
Then of course LeBron James with Back to Back Titles, 4 Finals appearances, 4 All NBA First Teams, 4 All Defense Teams, 2 MVPs and 2 Finals MVPs in 4 incredible years. Most would argue LeBron's absolute Peak years were spent in Miami and his 2013 season where he was one vote away from a unanimous MVP and narrowly missed out on Defensive Player of the Year is one of the greatest all around seasons played in NBA History.
Shaq also deserves huge props for delivering on his promise to bring a title to Miami because I do not think a young D-Wade could have achieved that on his own. Shaq could have even won in 2005, losing out to Steve Nash but overall he only spent 4 years in Miami and it cannot compare to LeBron's 4 years.
Heat legends Alonzo Mourning and Tim Hardaway also have to be mentioned for what they gave to the Franchise. 'Zo' made 5 All Star Teams, 2 All NBA Teams and won 2 Defensive Player of the Years in his decade plus service to the club, and he is still the Franchise's All Time Leader in Blocks and 2nd in Points and Reobunds. Tim Hardaway spent 6 seasons in South Beach making his only All NBA 1st Team as well as 2 Second Teams.
And shout outs to Chris Bosh for being an integral part of two title runs and also Glen Rice who was their first real star in the late 80s/early 90s and averaged almost 20 points in almost 500 games for the Franchise.
8 seasons, 18.4 ppg, 13 rpg, 2.2 bpg
1 Finals, 3 x Defensive Player of the Year
6 x All Star, 6 x All NBA Team (5 1st Teams)
5 x All Defense (4 1st Team)
4 x Rebounding Leader, 2 x Blocks Leader
4 seasons, 27.2 ppg, 12.5 rpg, 2.8 bpg
1 Finals, 4 x All Star, 3 x All NBA Team
Rookie of the Year, Scoring Champ
Tracy McGrady, Penny Hardaway, Nick Anderson, Scott Skiles, Hedo Turkoglu, Dennis Scott
The Orlando Magic was one of the toughest Franchise's to rank because there are 3 or arguably 4 players who have strong claims to be in the Top 2.
But with respect to Tracy McGrady who was individually brilliant in his Orlando Magic prime years, I am going with the 2 Big Men Shaq and D-12 mainly because of overall impact and team success.
Shaq was the biggest thing to enter the league in the 90s and really put the Orlando Magic on the map, leading them to the NBA Finals in just his 3rd season, famously beating the Bulls in Jordan's comeback in 95. He only stayed 4 seasons in Orlando but he averaged a monster 27 points, 12.5 rebounds and 2.8 in those 4 years, finishing runner up in the MVP race to David Robinson in 1995.
Dwight Howard was not the player Shaq was offensively but his defense and overall impact cannot be denied as he also lead a surprising Magic Team over Lebron and the Cavs and into a Finals matchup with Kobe and the Lakers in 2009. He has more accolades than any other Magic player with 3 Defensive Player of the Year Awards and 5 straight All NBA 1st Team selections and he finished Top 5 in MVP voting 4 times.
But I have to say T-Mac at his Peak was unguardable and one of the best pure scorers the league has ever seen. He averaged 28 pts, 7 reb and 5 ast in 4 amazing years but since he did not win a playoff series in those 4 years he just misses out on the Top 2.
Penny Hardaway also deserves a big Honourable Mention for the pairing he formed with Shaq and the role he had in their Finals run. He actually stayed 6 years in Orlando - 2 more years than Shaq and T-Mac, and he peaked in 95 and 96 making 2 straight All NBA 1st Teams and even finishing 3rd in the MVP race. Yes Prime Penny Hardaway was one of the greatest point guards ever and as close to Magic Johnson that we have seen.
Finally you have to mention Nick Anderson, who never made an All Star Team but will always be remembered as the 1st ever draft pick for the Orlando Magic and he is the Franchise's leader in Games and 2nd in Points to Howard.
Washington Wizards (Also Washington Bullets and Baltimore Bullets)
9 seasons, 21.3 ppg, 12.7 rpg, 2.4 bpg
1 Title (3 Finals), 8 x All Star,
6 x All NBA Team (3 1st Teams),
2 x All Defense 2nd Team, Rookie of the Year
13 seasons, 10.8 ppg, 14 rpg, 3.9 apg
1 Title (3 Finals), 1 Finals MVP, 1 MVP
5 x All Star, All NBA 1st Team
Rookie of the Year
John Wall, Bradley Beal, Gilbert Arenas, Antawn Jamison, Chris Webber, Juwan Howard, Bernard King, Bob Dandridge
The two greatest D.C players ever both played in the 70s during their glory years when they were known as the Bullets and won a title in 1979.
Elvin Hayes was one of the most underrated stars ever considering he has achieved almost everything. He won a title, made 6 All NBA Teams and 8 All Star Games for the Bullets (12 overall) and even lead the league in scoring and rebounding. He finished his career with 27,313 points and 16,279 rebounds good for 10th and 4th on the All Time List! He has more career points than legends like Hakeem Olajwuon, The Big O and Tim Duncan and only the Big 3 Wilt, Russell and Kareem have grabbed more rebounds than him and they were all Centers.
Wes Unseld did not put up nearly the numbers that Elvin Hayes did but some would argue he was even more important to his team. Unseld even won an MVP in his Rookie Season when the Franchise was in Baltimore. He then made 5 All Star Teams and capped off his Hall of Fame Career with a Finals MVP and title with Hayes and also Bob Dandridge who should get a mention for the big role he played in winning the title.
Then Honourable mentions to 90s Duo Chris Webber and Juwan Howard, 2000s duo Antawn Jamison and Gilbert Arenas and current duo John Wall and Bradley Beal. Peak Agent Zero was one of the best guards in the league for 3 seasons in the mid 2000s averaging 28 pts and 6 assists while having some memorable game winners. And Bradley Beal is scoring the Ball even better averaging over 30pts and a sizzling 37pts since the All Star Break this season. Backcourt mate John Wall may have been injured the last couple years but he is still the Wizards All Time Leader in Assists and Steals and made 5 straight All Star Games from 2014-18.
Washington has also had some other legends who have played short stints most notably Michael Jordan of course, but also Moses Malone and Bernard King stopped by for a few years when they were a bit older but could still put up points. King even put up 28.4 ppg in 1991 in his last full season in the league.
Atlanta Hawks (Also St Louis and Milwaukee Hawks)
11 seasons, 26.4 ppg, 16.2 rpg, 3 apg
1 Title (4 Finals), 2 x MVP
11 x All Star (4 x MVP), 11 x All NBA Team (10 1st Teams)
2 x Scoring Champ, Rookie of the Year
12 seasons, 26.4 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 2.6 apg
8 x All Star, 7 x All NBA Team (1 1st Team)
1986 Scoring Champ
Lenny Wilkens, Dikembe Mutombo, Joe Johnson, Al Horford
When it comes to the Hawks, there are 2 players that clearly stand out from the crowd.
Bob Pettit is one of the most underrated players of All Time and is almost forgotten in any conversations mentioning the best Power Forwards to ever play. His resume speaks for itself and he has achieved everything from MVP (Twice) to a Title while making an incredible 10 consecutive All NBA 1st Team Selections. He averaged 20+ in every season including seasons of 28p/20r and 31p/19r and the only case against him really is the time that he played (1955-65).
Dominique Wilkins gets the other spot and he was one of the most exciting and talented scorers the league has ever seen. He is the Hawks All Time Leader in points 23,292 points averaging over 26 points for 12 Hall of Fame Seasons in Atlanta. The Peak of his Career was his famous Game 7 duel with Larry Bird in the 1988 ECSF when he barely lost by 2 points after an incredible 47 points in the Boston Garden.
Lenny Wilkens who is more known for his coaching had a Hall of Fame Career as a Player as well, mostly for the Hawks making 5 All Star Games for them in the 60s. Dikembe Mutombo is another Hall of Famer who had his best years in Atlanta winning 3 Defensive Player of the Year Awards and also making 5 All Star Games.
Also Honourable Mentions to the best 2 players for the Hawks this Century Joe Johnson and Al Horford. 'Iso Joe' lead Atlanta all 7 years he was there, making 6 All Star Games and were a solid playoff team almost every year. But it was 4 Time All Star Horford (along with Paul Millsap) who lead the Hawks to their only ever 60 win season in 2015.
8 seasons, 19.8 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 5.4 apg
3 x All Star, All NBA 3rd Team
5 seasons, 19.6 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 4.1 apg
2 x All Star, All NBA 2nd Team
Rookie of the Year
Alonzo Mourning, Glen Rice, Gerald Wallace, Baron Davis, Muggsy Bogues, Dell Curry, Emeka Okafor
Last and probably least is the Charlotte Hornets who have been one of the worst Franchises since they entered the league in 1988 and have been even worse since Michael Jordan bought the team in 2011.
There are a number of candidates for the Top 2 spots but I am going with Kemba Walker who spent 8 years in Charlotte which is more than any other Hornet legend and he made 3 All Star Games as well as an All NBA Team. He is comfortably the Hornets All Time Leading Scorer and 3 Point Shooter and he is 2nd in assists.
For the 2nd spot I am going with Larry Johnson by a hair over Alonzo Mourning, Glen Rice and Baron Davis. LJ was a huge star after he won Rookie of the Year in 1992 and his 'Grandmama' perona was one of the most talked about gimmicks in the league. He made only 2 All Star Teams and only one 2nd Team All NBA which is surprising because he averaged almost 20p/10r/4a in 5 seasons there.
Mourning and Glen Rice were also stars when they played for Charlotte but they both only stayed 3 years or else they would definitely be Top 2. 'Zo' was a beast on both ends averaging over 21 points, 10 rebounds and 3 blocks making 2 All Star Teams. He also made the biggest shot in Franchise history as a Rookie in 93 when he nailed a long 2 at the buzzer to stun the Celtics in the 1st round.
Rice the player traded for Mourning made his only 3 All Star Games of his career in 3 years playing in Charlotte, even winning the All Star Game MVP Award in 1997 when he scored 26 points outshining East Stars Jordan, Pippen, Hill, Shaq and Penny!
Honourable mentions goes to Steph's father Dell Curry and the shortest player in NBA History 5"3 Muggsy Bogues who both played 10 seasons at the Hive, with Bogues the All Time leader in Assists and Steals and Curry 2nd in Points and 3 Pointers made.
Baron Davis also played some of his prime years in Charlotte making 2 All Star Teams peaking at 23 points, 7.5 assists and 2.4 steals in 2004. Also a shoutout to Gerald Wallace who had a solid 7 years in Charlotte making 1 All Star Team and leading the league in steals. Little known fact Wallace is only the 3rd player after Hakeem Olajuwon and David Robinson (and the 1st Non Center) to average over 2 blocks and 2 steals in the same season, which he achieved in 2006 (2.5 stl, 2.1 blk).
Thanks for reading! If you like this blog please comment, share and subscribe to get future blog updates. Don't forget to follow my Instagram https://www.instagram.com/startingvbasketball/ to get daily NBA Updates, Rankings and Comparisons!