Excerpts from Standing Above the Crowd: Success Strategies in Athletics, Business, Community and Life by James Donaldson. Release date is January 201l. Pre-order now and save!!!For details go to www.StandingAboveTheCrowd.com I know that there are a lot of NBA basketball fans out there who will get a kick out of my chapter on my experiences playing against and observing some of the greatest players in NBA history. I’ll send out an excerpt from this chapter everyday leading up to the book release. I welcome your comments! THE 50 GREATEST PLAYERS IN NBA HISTORY
One of the most frequently asked questions that I encounter besides “how tall are you?” is either who is the greatest player that I’ve ever played against, or who is the toughest player that I’ve ever played against? Depending on the person’s knowledge of basketball who’s asking the question, I typically give a couple different responses. There’s a big difference between “the greatest” and “the toughest”. The game of basketball has been around for a long time now and it has evolved over the years from when Dr. James Naismith first tied a peach basket an old barn post and the players were shooting two hand set shots, to now where the game is played on a global scale with some of the finest athletes in the world. There were great players back in the beginning of the game, just as they’re great players now. I don’t know if it’s ever totally fair to compare players from one era against players of another era. Periodically you see sports aficionados coming up with hypothetical computerize scenarios of say the great Green Bay Packers of the 60s versus the New England Patriots of the new millennium. It’s impossible to really say who the best players are or which team would come out on top. But it’s a fun exercise and it creates a lot of heated conversation amongst the fanatics and all of us. I was lucky to play during perhaps the greatest era of NBA basketball. My NBA career spanned two decades essentially, from 1980 – 1996. Some of the greatest NBA players to ever play the game played during that era. I remember as a rookie in 1980 marveling at the great Dr. J. and also been privileged to witness the new era of NBA basketball that was brought to us by Ervin “Magic” Johnson and Larry Bird. All in all I was privileged to play against over 30 of the all-time 50 greatest NBA players ever. I’m going to go through the whole list of the 50 greatest players and share my thoughts with you in regards to either actually playing against them or watching them as I was a youngster. They are listed in alphabetical order and if you want to find the actual numerical order in which they are listed by the NBA you can check out their website at NBA.com
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George “Ice” Gervin was a marvel to watch on the basketball court. So smooth with every movement, he would tantalize you into watching him that you didn’t dare over commit yourself to try to stop one move, because he come right back with another one on you. He had a variety of great shots that were virtually unstoppable that included midrange jump shots from about every angle on the court, bank shots from just about every angle (he would actually call out “bank” as he shot the ball from time to time) and of course, as everyone knows, “George could finger roll”.
They called him “Ice” because of his ultra cool demeanor on the court. I remember an awesome poster from the time in which George was sitting on big huge cubes of ice that were fashioned as a throne, bedecked in a robe and crown, and a basketball in hand. It was one of the best posters of the day and all the guys thought it was so cool.
Gervin played for the San Antonio Spurs throughout the vast majority of his career. The Spurs were always one of my most favorite teams to play against because not only did they have Gervin but they also had one of my favorite point guards in James Silas, and the biggest strongest player in the league that I had to go up against, Artis “A–Train” Gilmore. I wasn’t privy to all the locker room chemistry that may or may not have been there, but they always seemed to be a team that had fun in the basketball court and we matched up against pretty well.