In these times there’s something soothing about a good old fashioned top five.
So here’s mine. With all due respect (not the Ricky Bobby kind) to the likes of Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird who belong in any historical conversation...I’m going with the five best guys I’ve watched.
- LeBron James: The one man dynasty. No player has ever had more of an individual impact on a team than James. He is the difference between the finals and the lottery. He passes like Magic and scores like Michael. A complete physical freak who also happens to be a basketball genius. And he hasn’t relinquished his spot in year 17.
- Michael Jordan: At this point LeBron and MJ are 1A and 1B. But still believing His Airness is the GOAT is an eminently reasonable position. Jordan ripped hearts out with his ability to get buckets in the mid range and was fiercely competitive on both ends. And before someone else says it, he was 6-0 in the NBA Finals.
- Shaquille O’Neal: It is always hard to compare big men to perimeter players and I’m not sure it is possible for a big to be the best player in the game in today’s day and age but in his there’s a reason people usually only used one word to describe the Diesel–dominant. He made squads look helpless as they would scramble to send double teams or try one defender and simply allow him to feast.
- Kobe Bryant: Ranking Kobe is toughest for me. I feel almost guilty for perhaps diminishing him at times to prop up others in arguments, and now with his death so fresh it’s hard to truly have the proper perspective. He was the best difficult shot maker I ever saw and one moment that will always stand out to me...playing alongside the other top players in the world it was Kobe who took over the gold medal game against Spain in 2008.
- Steph Curry: This comes down to Curry or Kevin Durant. And while KD is overall superior, I have to give the nod to Curry for in many ways revolutionizing the game. He is Steve Nash hit by gamma rays and the definition of a good shot changed because of him. Not to mention Durant didn’t win it all until he joined the Dubs. We’ll see what he does in BK.
Honorable Mention: Tim Duncan and Hakeem Olajuwon