We of The Daily Californian sports staff have created here our official ranking of the greatest 25 basketball players to ever do it. This list was compiled democratically, with every member on staff concocting their very own top 25 list. We ran the numbers, and after assigning point values to every number position, formed a master list aggregating every player’s raw scores. What you see before you is our loud, heartily contested and proud result.
25. Scottie Pippen / Steve Nash
By Sophie Goethals
Comparing Scottie Pippen and Steve Nash is like comparing oranges and steak — sure they both fall into the broad category of “food,” but the similarities between the two essentially end there. It’s just nearly impossible to distinguish who is the objectively better between them. At that point, rankings become too contingent upon personal preference: If you like quick and crafty little point guards, then you’ll no doubt be in support of Nash, but if you’re more into a versatile and defensively tenacious small forward, Scottie’s your guy.
So, because of our staff’s vast array of opinions, we have found ourselves an outcome that basketball would never allow — a tie. A stalemate at the 25th best basketball player of all time between Nash and Pippen seems oddly fitting. After all, the two are simultaneously incomparable and undeniably some of the best players to ever take the court but in completely different ways.
If you’re a nut for Nash, your argument would probably go as follows: eight All-Star games, 12 playoff appearances, two MVPs, 10th all-time in three-point shooting percentage and the third-most assists in NBA history. Beyond the gaudy numbers — and trust me, they’re gaudy — Nash carpentered a style of point guard that has been in league vogue ever since. The “Seven Seconds or Less” offense for which he played maestro prioritized quick and effective ball movement that ushered in unprecedented scoring efficiency.
On the other side of the aisle, praisers of Pippen would argue his dominance in the form of six championship rings, 16 playoff appearances and eight NBA All-Defensive First Teams. Pippen was as malleable a player as there ever was: He rebounded like a big man, ran an offense like a point guard and played stoic defense against anyone. Pippen was the perfect complement to Michael Jordan, but few believe that Pippen would have been a supreme star in his own right without MJ.
Here we are, at the finish line — and in some ways, the starter’s pistol. Both sides have made their arguments and, to much annoyance, a clear answer cannot be decided. For lack of a better solution, we at The Daily Californian have decided to split the title of No. 25 — which sheds as much light on the caliber of these two players as the sheer impossibility of comparing such vastly different competitors. We promise the rest of the list won’t be so indecisive.
24. Dwyane Wade
By Devang Prasad
Flashback to the 2006 NBA Finals. Particularly, the last four games of the series. What I saw was a man named Dwyane Wade single handedly destroy a heavily favored Mavericks side. The Heat were trailing 2-0 in the series, and Wade inspired them to four straight victories to give Miami its first NBA Championship. He averaged an unbelievable 34.7 PPG in that series. I remember watching that as a kid, and I was quite simply blown away. Miami, for me back then, was only Shaquille O’Neal’s new team, and everyone else was just another player. Wade changed it all. Never before had I seen a player toy with a team’s defense in that manner.
Never before had I seen a man obliterate an entire city’s hopes and dreams in such a ruthless fashion. To this day, that is the Wade I always think of when someone mentions his name. Maybe it was the injuries that came soon after that momentous series that stalled his ascension to basketball greatness. Wade did win another two titles as part of the infamous Big 3 of Miami, but he was definitely not the same player that I saw back in 2006. He had slowed down, but those killer instincts on the court remained. His performance against the Bulls in game five of the Eastern Conference Finals in 2011 was astounding. The way he and LeBron inspired a 19-4 run to mount a comeback was absolutely beautiful to watch. His ability to be devastatingly effective throughout his illustrious career, in spite of a plethora of injuries, explains the greatness of Dwyane Wade to me.
23. David Robinson
By Kapil Kashyap
In his 14 years in the NBA, David Robinson amassed a combination of individual and team success that has been matched by few in history. Robinson’s impressive resume includes 10 All-Star selections, and two NBA Championships with the San Antonio Spurs (1999, 2003). Plus, he was the league’s MVP in 1995, a year that also featured prominent big men such as Karl Malone, Hakeem Olajuwon and Shaquille O’Neal all as close to their primes as Robinson was. His legacy as one of the best two-way players in the history of basketball is bolstered by the fact that he won a scoring title, a blocks title — he averaged three blocks for his career — a rebounding title and a Defensive Player of the Year award.
But, the stats and accolades still don’t do justice to the experience of watching David Robinson wreak havoc on a basketball court. The Admiral, as he was known, was an athletic freak, a mobile seven-foot center with the ability to outrun opposing wings and the strength to battle down low against any big man. I never had the privilege of watching Robinson while he was still in the league, so to those of you that aren’t privy to his greatness, look for his highlights on YouTube and you’ll be amazed.
Of all his career nights, the one that encapsulates his offensive gifts the best was his performance against the Los Angeles Clippers in the Spurs’ last game of the ‘93 to ‘94 regular season. Going into that game, Robinson trailed O’Neal by 33 points for the scoring title. That evening, Robinson casually erupted for 71 points and 14 rebounds, affirming himself as the league’s top scorer. A 71-point game to win the scoring title is the stuff of legend, and that’s exactly what Robinson was. A legend.
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