As part of the NBA’s 75th Anniversary celebrations, the league recently unveiled its list of the 76 (there was a tie) greatest players to grace the hardwood. The list, according to the league, include players in all positions and was selected by a panel of “current and former NBA players, coaches, general managers, team and league executives, WNBA legends, sportswriters and broadcasters.” Names were thereafter voted on. NOTABLE SNUBS OF THE ANNIVERSARY TEAM Mixed reactions have trailed the unveiling, with players, past and present decrying their omission, as well as keen followers of the game wondering why some accomplished ballers, including Hall of Famers failed to make the list.
Outlined below are some with cases for such arguments:
VINCE CARTER Carter played for 22 seasons, the only player to do so. Won the Rookie of the Year in 1999 and made the All-NBA teams twice. The 7-time All-Star owns one of the most vicious dunk highlights, not just in the NBA, but in the history of basketball. He left a cultural imprint on basketball that few across history can match. His performance in the 2000 Dunk Contest is regarded by many as the best ever. His in-game finishing was not far behind what he did on that either.
21 years ago, Vinsanity gave us one of the greatest NBA Slam Dunk Contest performances of all time 😤 pic.twitter.com/gdMtUo3bcO — SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) February 12, 2021
Over the last 10 seasons of his career, his numbers understandably tailed off, but his teams were still better with is veteran presence on the floor. During that closing decade, Carter’s squads were plus-1.2 points per 100 possessions when he played and minus-2.7 when he did not.
TRACY MCGRADY A glaring omission on the list. Yes, he did not win a title, but his career achievements make him a worthy inclusion. T-Mac is a member of the Hall of Fame, a 7-time consecutive All-Star, and the owner of one of the coldest offensive displays in the history of the NBA. He played in the league for 15 seasons and averaged 19.6 points, 5.6 rebounds and 4.4 assists on a 51.9 percent true shooting percentage. He was the modern point forward: tall, athletic, willing-passer, and a streaky shooter with gravity-defying skills.
"He could do everything I could do but he was taller." – Kobe Bryant on Tracy McGrady. pic.twitter.com/dJqieiG2Pd — Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) February 5, 2019
McGrady was so devastating during his prime that he prompted Kobe Bryant to call him the most challenging player he has ever had to guard. That is the ultimate compliment any player could have from The Black Mamba, and it speaks how good Tracy was back then. GRANT HILL No thanks to injuries wiping out the memory of most of his six prime years, it would have been quite hard to imagine Grant Hill missing out on the honor of being named to the 75th Anniversary Team. Even with the unfortunate absences, he has a heck of a case. He averaged 21.6 points, 7.9 rebounds and 6.3 assists and was sort of the precursor to LeBron; a point forward who could finish above the rim, score from the mid-range, find open teammates and defend multiple positions.
Hill is 68th in career BPM, and there are only five players in NBA history who match or exceed all of his career marks in assist percentage, rebounding percentage, steal percentage and true shooting percentage: Larry Bird, LeBron James, Magic Johnson, Nikola Jokic and Ben Simmons. As impressive as that company is, it still does not quite capture just how good Hill’s statistical peak was. Those numbers (with the exception of true shooting percentage) were all pulled down by his injury-plagued and post-prime years. MANU GINOBLI One of the greatest sixth men in NBA history. Whether he was facing starters or reserves, Ginobli’s slashing, passing, three-point shooting and opportunistic defense made him one of the most impactful players of his era. During the 14 seasons he played with Tim Duncan, the dynastic San Antonio Spurs were plus-12.2 points per 100 possessions when both were on the floor (compared to plus-7.5 when Duncan played without Manu).
Ginobli was sort of the Will to Duncan and Gregg Popovich’s Carlton and Philip Banks. The latter two were all about fundamentals and structure. The Argentine introduced some necessary chaos into the mix. His unpredictability was exactly the change of pace San Antonio needed in most games and helped secure four NBA titles.
DWIGHT HOWARD The latter part of Howard’s career may have done him in per consideration on the list. He is on track for a third straight season with single-digit averages in points and rebounds, but he had a five-year peak in which he was one of the most physically dominant players the game witnessed. Between the 2007-08 and 2011-12 season, Howard averaged 20.6 points, 13.9 rebounds and 2.5 blocks. During the period, he won three Defensive Player of the Year Awards (only Ben Wallace and Dikembe Mutombo have more) and had a plus-8.6 net-rating swing (the Orlando Magic were plus-8.4 points per 100 possessions with Howard on the floor and minus-0.2 with him off).
Howard has 13,000 rebounds and 2,000 blocks in his career. The only other players to accomplish that in the NBA thus far are an elite group: Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Shaquille O’Neal, Hakeem Olajuwon, Robert Parish and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. DIKEMBE MUTOMBO “One of the greatest defensive players the game has ever witnessed is Dikembe Mutombo”, as noted by Ernie Johnson on TNT (one of the panel of voters for the team), Mutombo’s efforts to build hospitals in his native Congo and to raise awareness about issues on the continent of Africa fits the NBA ideal of players doing good off the court. He is a four-time Defensive Player of the Year, eight-time All-Star, three-time All-NBA and led the league in blocks on three occasions. He is 20th in career rebounds, second in career blocks and 44th in career games.
Over the first 11 seasons of his career, Mutombo averaged 12.3 points, 12.3 rebounds and 3.4 blocks. He made eight All-Star teams and three All-NBA teams.
If you do think that, apart from the omissions, there have been surprise additions, or a wrong was righted from the 50th Anniversary team in 1996, kindly leave a comment or reach out on Twitter: @kayodemed, and let the conversation continue.