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Thursday August 3, 2006 6:01 pm

My Love Song to the NBA

Posted by Alvin Lai Categories: Editorial, Props, Site Features,

I love this game!My best friends and I recently entered the fourth decade in life. It’s true…the young do not realize how long youth can last. Yet the life experience we have gained allows us to reflect on the past. So as we here at Dropping Dimes launch into a new and exciting direction, it felt like a great time to share some thoughts on some players who jump out at me when I think back to earlier days.

A list like this is so hard to rank. Sometimes it was just a lasting impression that still rings true today. Other times it was about paying tribute to a player’s stellar career. This isn’t about the “best” players over the last 30 years. Otherwise names like Clyde Drexler, Patrick Ewing and Jason Kidd would probably be listed below. Nor do I pretend to think this list is comprehensive; as hard as I tried to remember every aspect and every angle of the NBA, it still feels like a few deserving guys are left off. This was a personal venture but my goal with this was to stir up some thoughts and emotions, both mine and yours. May you become motivated enough to think a little about your own list! Thanks in advance for reading.

30. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: I did not see Kareem play during his prime, but he makes this list for one reason: the Skyhook. It still is one of the most lasting images of my early days as an NBA fan.

29. Rafer Alston: Bootleg VCR tapes are a thing of the past thanks to the internet, but watching ‘Skip to My Lou’ bust his moves opened many eyes. Fans will always wonder how NBA players would fare on the black asphalt, and also if street ball stars could play in the pros. Skip showed that the crossover effect can indeed happen.

28. Robert Horry: If I have to think back to a “clutch player” or “role player,” Horry is the first player who comes to mind. I read that he would trade in all his rings for a career like Charles Barkley or Karl Malone, but trust me, Robert. You did just fine.

27. John Stockton: Number one all-time in both assists and steals speaks for itself. The relic that was his short-shorts thankfully ended with him.

26. Karl Malone: Stockton and Malone just have to be mentioned together. They took the most fundamental play in the book, the pick and roll, and ran it to perfection. Though denied by the Bulls twice in his title quest, ‘The Mailman’ did indeed always deliver.

25. David Robinson: The Admiral is the “nice guy” in my basketball universe. Take a look at his earlier stats if all you know of him is playing Robin to TD’s Batman. The guy was sick. And he was humble enough not to rub it in your face.

24. Ron Artest: If Zeus, Mercury and company are the topic du jour, then one must discuss Hades as well. Artest fairly or unfairly represents the ugly side of the NBA to a lot of people. Never forget that he can ball with the best. May the black cloud that lingers from The Malice at the Palace fade over time.

23. Dennis Rodman: The “black sheep” in this family, his off-court antics do not take away from what he could do after the tip-off. In an age where most fans cannot even fathom Wilt Chamberlain grabbing 55 rebounds in a single game, “The Worm” was able to average 18+ boards a game in his prime. And he was indeed the “cinnamon on the ol’ French toast” upon joining Jordan, Pippen and the Bulls.

22. Shaquille O’Neal: Perhaps the greatest physical specimen ever to lace ‘em up, Shaq is the Goliath-like figure in a world filled with people who cheer for David. After all, any fool and his grandma can hit a couple of free throws, right?

21. Reggie Miller: The ultimate outside shooter and trash talker. Reggie torching the Knicks in 8.9 seconds on May 7, 1995 is still one of the most fantastic things I have seen in sports.

20. Hakeem Olajuwon: I was going to pick Ben Wallace to represent the defensive side of the ball. But in the end, I chose to leave off the ‘fro and go with “The Dream” because Hakeem was also an offensive dynamo. His shredding of David Robinson in the playoffs after Robinson was named MVP over him still sticks out. MJ was picked 3rd overall, but we only criticize one team for making a fatal mistake that draft.

19. Damon Stoudamire: When I think about “Mighty Mouse” two things jump to mind. The first is that he was the first star on my hometown team, and after years of following the NBA, it felt great to finally have some local flavour. Basketball was my saving grace while ploughing through school, a welcome distraction to the grind. The second is that he represents all the professional athletes that just cannot keep it together. While in Portland, news of Stoudamire having more drug-related problems surfaced so many times, it became comical.

18. Scottie Pippen: Scottie represents “the Sidekick” role in my NBA pantheon. Of course this is unfair to Pippen. His career stands on its own merit. And as I’ve heard him put it, Michael never won any rings without him either. They are easily the greatest on-court duo in my lifetime thus far. Now if ‘Bron and Wade end up on the same team after their contract extensions run out…

17. Dwyane Wade: It’s simple, really. Flash got next. I am as excited as any other fan at the prospects of watching Lebron play over the next 15 years. But for ‘Bron to have a player like Wade to compete against…it would be like Magic and Bird in the same conference battlin’ it out back in the day.

16. Tim Duncan: TD represents the boom of fantasy ball in my eyes. Concepts like center eligibility, head-to-head play, big ball, etc, I learned from either having Duncan on my team or preparing to go against him in fantasy ball. Gone are the days of using the newspaper to update stats manually. Some quibble about his boring play, but his resumé speaks for itself.

Halfway home! We will pick up with the “top 15” on the flip side. Same hoops time. Same hoops channel.

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