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

Moses Malone


The types of centers that gave me the most difficulty were the ones who were a little bit smaller than I was, just as strong, and super-quick.  Moses Malone fit the bill to a tee.  On top of that, he was an extremely hard worker who never seem to tire!  Moses would go down in my book as the most difficult player for me to play against over the years for my position.  He would just keep coming at you every single minute of the game and could play real solid defense (a trait that he doesn’t get much recognition for) on the other end.  I knew going into the game by playing against Moses Malone was going to be a long night no matter who came out on top.

The game that I remember most in playing against Moses was when I was with the Seattle Supersonics and we played against his Houston Rockets in the playoffs.  This was during my second or third year, but I was in the starting lineup on most occasions in playing a lot of minutes in the rotation just about every night.  Jack Sikma was the starting center and I was the backup center for the playoffs.  Moses Malone wore out both me and Jack to the tune of 38 points and 32 rebounds!  Every NBA player as a game that he can remember in which his opponent just went off on and there’s absolutely nothing that he could do.  That playoff game back in 1983 was that game for me (and I’m sure for Jack also).



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