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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!!!

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!

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

Karl Malone


In my book, Karl “The Mailman” Malone has to go down as one of the hardest working, talent laden superstars who continued to work on and improve his game every year that he was in the league.  As a rookie from Louisiana Tech, Karl was a very good player, but perhaps more of an athlete than an overall basketball player.  He could run and jump with the best of them, especially being 6’9” and about 260 pounds.  But he kept working and working on his game until he got to a point where he was an excellent foul shooter (his first couple years in the league his foul shooting was very limited) and could pull up and hit a midrange jumper from anywhere on the floor.  He had blazing speed that would leave all of the other big men in the dust and could finish off his layups with thunderous tom-a-hawk dunks (many times with his non-layup hand placed behind the back of his head as he posed for the flurry of flash bulbs that would go off as he was in midair finishing one of his dunks).

Consistency was the name of the game for Karl Malone.  You could always count on him for his 20 points and 10 rebounds night after night, and year after year.  You don’t end up in the second-leading scorer in NBA history by just showing up, you have to work at it and be consistent.

I had many opportunities to play against the Karl Malone led Utah Jazz over the years and I would do my best to make sure that Karl wouldn’t take over the inside of the paint and dominate a game.

My last NBA stop was with the Utah Jazz where I was honored to be a teammate with Karl Malone.  He kept the bar set really high or all of his teammates as we would hit the weight room before and after practice and he didn’t take too kindly for not pushing ourselves as hard as we could.  Karl was definitely one of those guys that I wouldn’t hesitate to go to battle with to take on any situation that confronted us.


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