NBA’s All Time 50 Greatest Players: Excerpts from Standing Above the Crowd: Success Strategies in Athletics, Business, Community and Life by James Donaldson


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!!!

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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!

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

James Worthy



In the breakneck speed of the daunting fast-break of the “Showtime Lakers,” James Worthy was probably the fastest and most valuable member.  He possessed catlike quickness and sprinter speed to get from one end of the court to the other for one of his patented Tomahawk dunks.  Playing with Magic Johnson didn’t hurt, but Worthy showed that he was able to carry the team from time to time by putting up tremendous numbers himself.

Worthy was one of those rare blends of athletic ability, intelligence, teamwork, unselfishness, a hard work ethic, and coachable.  He was a winner everywhere he went as he was also an NCAA champion at the University of North Carolina.

Worthy managed to get his share of the limelight even on a star-studded team like the Los Angeles Lakers of the 1980s.  That’s saying something in itself but he was consistently productive game after game, and year after year.  The Lakers won multiple championships during James Worthy’s tenure with the Los Angeles Lakers.

I don’t think there was ever an adequate defense devised that could slow down James Worthy.  It seemed like he was everywhere at once because he was so quick, he gave his defenders fits.  He was also a pretty good defender in his own right in playing the passing lanes and coming up with steals and putting pressure on his man.
After an illustrious career, Worthy moved on to be a bona fide TV commentator for NBA basketball games.


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