NBA 75th Anniversary, top 5 picks

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IMAGE COURTESY OF CNN

Orion Luera, Staff Writer

This year’s National Basketball Association (NBA) season marks the 75th anniversary since the NBA was founded. Throughout the 2021-22 season, the association will honor its historic legacy. This season will commemorate generations of basketball fans around the world, and current and former players and coaches. The league will also continue its legacy of supporting the communities that have played a role in strengthening the NBA family.

The NBA made a list of the top 75 players to commemorate the 75th season. Legends like Larry Bird, Bob Cousy, Kobe Bryant, and John Stockton are a few on the list. With 75 players to choose from, only five can play on the court at once. Here is my all-time starting five:

At point guard, Steve Nash. He played for the Phoenix Suns from 1996-98 then the Dallas Mavericks from 1998-2004. Eventually, he went back to the Suns and then joined the Los Angeles Lakers in 2012. Nash was one of the best shooters of all time. He averaged 91.4 percent on free throws and 43.6 percent on three pointers. One aspect that he lacked was his ability to play defense, but my next picks will reassure you that this team will not be easy to score on. Today, Nash is the head coach at the Brooklyn Nets.

Michael Jordan is without a doubt the greatest player of all time. He averaged 30 points per game, punishing the defense every play. He wasn’t a very good three point shooter, but averaged 44.1 percent on jumpshots, making it clear that he was very hard to defend. Speaking of defense, he was a lockdown defender. He was selected to first team All-Defense nine times and was named NBA defensive player of the year in 1988. Rarely stepping off the court, Jordan had elite conditioning and hardly ever showed signs of fatigue, making him reliable to give maximum effort on the court. He now owns the Charlotte Hornets and has his own shoe brand that has been selling basketball shoes since 1984.

Larry Bird is 6’9, putting him at the very top of the average height of small forwards in the NBA. He played for the Boston Celtics, and during his time there, he got the chance to play with Kevin McHale and Robert Parish, both great basketball players in their prime. They were nicknamed the big three because of how dominant they were. Bird was the best three point shooter of the 1980’s, and made 649 three point shots in his career. Bird is a solid pick for a small forward, and I would be able to rely on him for a game winner if I have to. Now, Larry is a consultant for the Indiana Pacers after stepping down from president.

In the 2020-21 season, Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Milwaukee Bucks to the championship and sealed the victory over the Phoenix Suns 105-98 and was crowned NBA Finals MVP. He was drafted by the Bucks in 2013, and has been playing there since. He is from Greece with Nigerian roots, and has two brothers also in the NBA. If Antetokounmpo’s unmatched dominance in the paint makes him my pick for power forward.

Standing at 7’1 and 395 pounds, Shaquille O’Neal was unstoppable in his prime. Throughout his career, he played on seven different teams, but where he stood out was with the Los Angeles Lakers winning three championships in a row with them. O’Neal’s main weakness was that he had poor free throw shooting, so people would foul him purposely because they knew he would make his shots; however, free throw shooting issues tend to be common among centers. Currently O’Neal is one of the hosts of the NBA on TNT show along with Charles Barkley, another former NBA player.

With these five picks, I feel my team would be unstoppable. If it were possible to see these old players against the current players that would be amazing and it would give people an understanding of how different basketball was back then compared to now.