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. And here is Part Two of our series. Comments & Feedback Welcome.
Five NBA Titles in the Eighties (1980, 1982, 1985, 1987 & 1988). NBA Finals MVP in 1980, 1982 & 1987. NBA League MVP in 1987 & 1989 (plus one more in 1990). Seven times All-NBA First Team (plus two more in the nineties). Nine-time NBA All-Star (plus three more in the nineties). Could play all five positions on the court-including the infamous Game 6 of the 1980 NBA Finals, in which Magic Johnson would successfully take over the game filling in for an injured Kareem. Career Averages: 19.5 PPG, 11.2 APG, 7.2 RPG
Three-Time NBA Champion (1981, 1984 & 1986). Two-Time NBA Finals MVP (1984 & 1986). Three-Times selected as NBA League MVP (1984, 1985 & 1986). Nine-times named to the All-NBA First Team (1980-1988). NBA Rookie of the Year in 1980. One of the grimiest; but most Clutch players in NBA History. Played dream-crusher to Julius Erving, Isiah Thomas, and Dominique Wilkins year-after year-after year... If not for a bad back, Larry Bird probably would have went on to rule a little but more into the 1990's. Hated & Feared-but Respected. Now clearly one of the best executives in the game today. Career Averages: 24.3 PPG, 6.3 APG, 10.0 RPG
NBA Rookie of the Year for 1985. The 1988 NBA League MVP (the first of five). Also named NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 1988. All NBA First Team in 1987, 1988 & 1989 (would go on to be selected seven more times in the nineties). Three Times All NBA Defensive First Team (Six more times in the Nineties). Earned his first three NBA Scoring Titles in the 1980's. Five-time NBA All-Star in that decade. Averaged 31.1 Points, 5.5 Assists, 5.8 Rebounds, & shot 50.5% from the Field throughout the eighties. Of course we all know what would come in the following decade of the 1990's, as MJ ascended to his throne atop the NBA's Elite.
Won Five more NBA Titles in the Eighties (1980, 1982, 1985, 1987 & 1988). MVP of the 1985 NBA Finals. NBA League MVP in 1980. Four more All-NBA First Team selections & three more All Defensive First Team Awards. Ten more NBA All Star Game appearances. Averaged 20.6 Points, 2.0 Blocks, 8.9 Rebounds, & shot 56.6% from the Field to finish off the decade of the eighties & his career. 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