NBA’S MOST INFLUENTIAL PLAYERS

The Mount Rushmore of Basketball features only four players that have been influential in the history of the sport. The hypothetical basketball monument embodies the very principles of the iconic United States monument: The States could have hundreds of presidents throughout its history, but only four really made the most significant and lasting impression in the country’s history.

There has been an ongoing debate on which players should be placed in the ‘Mount Rushmore’ and why they deserve to be on it. There is no official four and a number of fans are taking advantage of the unofficial status of the lists to give their personal inputs.

While there is no consensus on the matter, here is an unranked list of the most commonly cited names for the Mount Rushmore of Basketball:

Bill Russell is probably the most legendary player in the history of basketball. He played as center for the Boston Celtics from 1956 to 1969, where he won 11 championship rings in the span of 13 seasons as  NBA player. Russell was a five-time MVP and twelve-time All-Star. He was the icon of the Celtics dynasty, when his team achieved eleven NBA championship wins in his thirteen-year career.

At the peak of his career, Russell averaged 15 points, 22 rebounds, and 4 assists per game. He never won a Finals MVP Trophy though, as the award did not existed yet in his time. In fact the award was named after him as ‘Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award.’

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s twenty seasons in NBA undoubtedly made enough history. He played as a center for the Milwaukee Bucks and later Los Angeles Lakers. With six NBA MVP awards, 19 All-Star titles, and 11 All-Defensive Team memberships, Kareem made a productive career that no one could surpass. He was also voted twice as NBA MVP, and honored as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History. He once averaged over 24 points, 11 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks a game.

Magic Johnson is one of the greatest leaders in the history of the league and the sport itself. He averaged 19 points, 11 assists, and 7 rebounds at the climax of his career. He was the face of Lakers in his 13-year NBA career. His playing rate of 85% from the charity stripe and 52 percent from the field are among the best for all time among point guards. He was featured in twelve All-Star games, and nine All-NBA first teams. He took home three League MVP titles and three Finals MVPs.

Larry Bird came into NBA as ‘The Hick from French Lick,’ and left it as ‘Larry Legend.’ He was the star of the Celtics in the 80s, finishing as All-Star nine-times in a decade, and made nine All-NBA teams. Bird led Boston when it won titles in 1981, 1984, and 1986. He was such a deadly shooter that he sometimes practiced 3-pointers with his eyes closed.

Oscar Robertson was known as ‘The Big O’ in his time when he played as point guard for the Cincinnati Royals and Milwaukee Bucks. In the span of his career, he was 12-time All-Star awardee, and 11-time All-NBA member. He also won MVP awards across 14 seasons.

Big O made history when he became the first ever player to have averaged a triple-double for a single season. For all his achievements, he was inducted in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1980.  

Jerry West has been to 932 games throughout his career, and averaged 27 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 6.7 assists. His 14 years of playing became synonymous with brilliant basketball. He became the third player in the league’s history to have reached 25,000 points after Wilt and Big O. He led LA Lakers to the NBA Finals nine times, and every year of his career are capped with an All-Star award.

Aside from the awards of his highly successful career, West was also decorated with a lot of nicknames. He is called ‘Mr. Clutch’ for his ability to pull a big play off in a clutch situation, such as his iconic buzzer-beating 60-foot shot that equalized Game 3 of the 1970 NBA Finals between Lakers and New York Knicks. He is also ‘The Logo’, in reference to his dribbling figure being incorporated into the league logo. His perimeter play with LA Lakers also earned him the name ‘Mr. Outside.’

Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game is the first and last that was ever recorded in history. He scared the bookkeepers of annals when he scored a hundred points flat for Philadelphia Warriors in a 169-147 win over New York Knickers back in 2nd March 1962. It is one of the greatest record in the whole history of the sport. That same game also set the record for most combined points in game, reaching 316.

In the 1961-62 NBA season Wilt averaged a staggering 50.4 points per game.

Michael Jordan is by acclamation, the greatest basketball player of all time. Although his NBA record is not enough to lift him up higher from the rest, Jordan is a huge basketball cultural icon. He is probably the most influential figure in the league history. He was known for his aesthetically pleasing slam dunks from the free throw line in Slam Dunk contests, which earned him the names ‘Air Jordan’ and ‘His Airness.’

MJ is also the very face of Nike’s Air Jordan sneakers, which is first introduced in 1984 and remain popular up to this day. The basketball boots is one of the most recognized objects among basketball enthusiasts.

Should we consider LeBron?

LeBron James is probably the hottest debate today on the Basketball Mount Rushmore. He one of the only two players to averaged at least 25 points, six rebounds, and six assists for a whole career; the other is the mighty Big O. He is also one of the five players with at least four NBA MVPs, alongside Wilt, Russel, and Kareem. Some people challenge his Mount-Rushmore-worthiness, citing his inability to beat Michael Jordan’s achievements.

The list never stops

Names such as Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, Derrick Rose, Steve Kerr, and even the recently sensational Stephen Curry are also people’s personal choices to take a place in the Mount Rushmore of Basketball, and these preferences could change as the world of sports, especially the basketball scene is dynamic and ever changing. The probable reason for the non-existence of an official status to the ‘Mount Rushmore’ is that the authorities know this fact of the game. There could be a thousand alpha players out there, but there could be no omega point.

By @FitsEly

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