Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Seeing Stars in Dallas

If I ever ran into Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle at dinner, I’d ask him if he had any left. And if you’re wondering what I’m talking about, it’s the magic powder he put in his Gatorade before telling ESPN that Dirk Nowitzki is one of the 10 best players in NBA history.

No, seriously, he said that. Pick yourself up from the floor now, clean up the coffee, and hit play on the TiVo. Carlisle, the same coach who just led his team to a shocking, yet brilliant dismantling of the two-time defending NBA Champion Los Angeles Lakers, and the same coach who played with the likes of Larry Bird and Patrick Ewing in his younger years, should probably be checked for PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, because clearly, defeating Phil Jackson and Kobe Bryant took its toll.

Before we even go into my list of the 10 greatest players in NBA history, we should investigate whether or not Nowitzki, a 10-time All-Star and the 2007 league MVP, is even in the top 10 today. Granted, he is now 32, but he looked great last week against L.A. So, here is my list, in order, of the 10 best players currently suiting up in the NBA:

Lebron James, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, Dwayne Wade, Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, Nowitzki, Steve Nash, and Paul Pierce.

Everyone should agree that the first eight players are in the top 10, regardless of order, but then it gets debatable, and I’m not here to debate that. But the fact is, the 7-foot, 3-point shooting German big is not better than those first seven guys. So, what in the world makes Carlisle think Dirk is a top 10 player ever?

He isn’t in the top 20 in career points, points-per-game, rebounds, or shooting percentage. He is 13th in free throw percentage in his career. I’m sorry, but no Rick, he isn’t that good. I certainly believe Dirk is a very good player, who might be considered great if he had some jewelry to show off, but I can probably name 20 guys, without thinking about the order, who are better all-time. In fact, lets try that. Here we go (remember, no particular order here):

Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Moses Malone, Karl Malone, John Stockton, Oscar Robertson, Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor, Bill Russell, John Havlicek, Tim Duncan, Patrick Ewing, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Julius Erving.

Again, that’s just 20 that came to mind. I can keep going, but what’s the point? Well, there is a point, and that point is Carlisle should be focused less on NBA history, and more on scouting Oklahoma City and Memphis, because both teams are plenty capable of knocking out the Mavericks.

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