Talk of the mythical NBA "Mount Rushmore" dominated the headlines for most of the month of February. Athletes, Analysts, Sports Writers, coaches, and Fans locked themselves into debate-mostly based on their own personal experiences with the Great Game of Basketball. Sadly though, few presented their case based on stats or the players overall IMPACT on the game. Each decade was different. The style in which the game was played, the level of competition, and more. But there were only a few that changed the way that the game was played. With that said, my list focuses more on a decade-by-decade approach to those who stand above all others...
Bill Russell Won Nine NBA Titles (during the 60's-Eleven Titles Overall). Four MVP Awards (during the 60's-Five Overall). Ten NBA All-Star Games (during the 60's-Twelve Overall). MVP of the 1963 All Star Game. Ranked the league's top 10 for assists per game four times during the decade. Two times selected as First-Team All-NBA & Seven times Second-Team All-NBA. First Team NBA All-Defensive Team in 1969-the first year that the award began being given out & Russell's final season. First Black NBA Head Coach. Career Averages: 15.1 PPG, 4.3 APG, 22.5 RPG
In 1960 Wilt won the NBA Rookie of the Year, NBA MVP Award & All Star Game MVP in the same season. Won his first of two NBA Titles in 1967 (his second came in 1972). Four MVP Awards. Ten NBA All-Star Games (during the 60's). Seven Times All NBA First Team & Two Times All Second-Team (during the 60's-Three Times Overall). Led the league in field goal percentage seven times. Seven-Time Scoring Champion & Eight-Time Rebounding Leader. Scored 100 Points versus The New York Knicks on March 2nd 1962. Career Averages: 30.1 PPG, 4.4 APG, 22.9 RPG
Jerry West was selected as NBA Finals MVP in 1969 (The Lakers actually lost the series in seven games-West won his first title in 1972). NBA All Star for each year of the decade (plus a few more in the 70's). All NBA First-Team 1962-1967 (plus a few more in the 70's). All NBA Second-Team 1968-1969. Averaged more than 46 points per game in the 1965 Western Division Finals series versus the Baltimore Bullets (six games). Career Averages: 27.0 PPG, 6.7 APG, 5.8 RPG
Averaged 30 Points Per Game throughout the entire decade of the 1960's. Led the league in Assists per Game seven times during the decade. 1961 Rookie of the Year. 1964 NBA MVP. NBA All Star for each year of the decade-plus a few more in the 70's. All-NBA First Team from 1961 to 1969. All Star Game MVP in 1961, 1964 & 1969. Arguably the best guard of the decade. Career Averages: 25.7 PPG, 9.5 APG, 7.5 RPG.
Kareem won the first of five NBA Championships in 1971. That same year, he won the first of his six League MVP Awards & would also be selected as NBA Finals MVP. Nine NBA All Star appearances during the decade (more to come in the 80's). Six Time All NBA First Team Selection (Four more in the 80's). Three Time NBA All-Defensive Team (three more in the 80's). Kareem Abdul-Jabbar currently ranks the NBA's All-Time Leading Scorer (38,387 points) & is first in Field Goals Made All-Time. Kareem also ranks third All-Time in Rebounds (17,440) & Blocked Shots (3,189). He scored in double figures in 787 straight games, over the course of his 20-Year Career. Career Averages: 24.6 PPG, 3.6 APG, 11.2 RPG
Julius Erving won three scoring titles, three MVP Awards and two league championships over the course of five seasons in the ABA (American Basketball Association) & was the catalyst for the merger that combined the NBA & ABA into one entity. During his first season in the NBA, Dr. J would be selected as Second-Team All NBA & would win the NBA All Star Game MVP Award. The following year, he would make First-Team All NBA; and would be back in the All Star Game again (he would make the All Star for each of his eleven seasons in the NBA). Championship glory would allude him until 1983; but "Dr. J" Julius Erving's scoring ability & flair for electrifying crowds would change the way thatr the game was played forever. Career Averages: 22.0 PPG, 5.1 APG, 6.5 RPG
The only player ever to lead the NCAA, NBA, and ABA in scoring. Four ABA All Star Selections, One ABA Title & One Scoring Title. NBA Finals MVP & Champion in 1975. Selected as All-NBA First Team in 1974, 1975, & 1976 (plus two prior selections in 1966 & 1967). All-NBA Second Team in 1973. Multiple All Star Game Appearances. Missed only nine free throws during the entire 1978-1979 season. A tenacious scorer & defender. Also said to be quite the asshole in his day. Career Averages: 23.2 PPG, 3.9 APG, 6.7 RPG
Walt "Clyde" Frazier was among the NBA's All Time Best scorers, passers & pick-pockets. And quite possibly the greatest New York Knick in history. Frazier won NBA Titles in 1970 & 1973. All-NBA First Team in 1970, 1972, 1974 & 1975. All-NBA Second Team in 1971 & 1973. All-NBA Defensive First Team from 1969 through 1975 & 1975 All Star Game MVP. Seven straight All Star Game Appearances. Career Averages: 18.9 PPG, 6.1 APG, 5.9 RPG