Carr and the Irish never got past the Elite Eight. But then our No. 4, Oscar Robertson, never won it all either. Cincy needed him to leave for the Bearcats to win in 1961 and 1962. So does he merit his place on this list?
Which brings us to Bill Bradley -- and here I'm ready to apply the "moments" test. His 16-point run to close out Princeton's Final Four consolation game defeat of Wichita State still delivers goosebumps. I mean, a hook with each hand? That's as throwback as, well, as a consolation game. But quarrel with me here, if you will: Bradley and the Tigers had one NCAA run, in 1965, and fell short of a title ... does that 58-point outburst justify his place?
Which brings us to Jerry West. West Virginia never did win a title. How does Zeke make it on to this list? I have a hunch there's a case to be made ...
We're coming close to nitty-gritty time. Wilt is off the list. Do we add Austin Carr ... or anyone else who might not come immediately to mind?
Much as we've quibbled over the list, that seems to be the only substituting we'd do. All the rest has to do with placement. We invert Bird and Magic. We vault Laettner. We respect Oscar and West and Bradley. And here's what we wind up with:
Alcindor Walton Russell Laettner Robertson Magic Bradley Bird West Carr
And that still leaves off guys like Hazzard or Goodrich, stars of those back-to-back UCLA titlists in 1964 and 1965. And a guy like Joakim Noah, who sprinkled a little repeat magic dust for Florida much more recently ...
Alcindor Walton Russell Laettner Magic West Robertson Bird Bradley Carr
But don't for a minute think that a celestial Wilt is giving us any thought, when there's even one woman in the sky to catch his eye.