In honor of the 10 year anniversary of the original "50 Greatest Players" list, TNT's team of expert analysts and Doug Collins presented their amendment to the list in the form of the "TNT's Next 10" special.
Tim Duncan: Can't argue with this one. 8-time NBA 1st team, 7 All-Star appearances, 2-time MVP, 3 rings, and the best poker face ever. Moving on...
Kobe Bryant: What bothered me is that Kobe, at age 27, is younger at the time of induction than anyone else on either list (edit: except Shaq). I know, I know, "But the Lakers won 3 titles because of Kobe". Just like the Bulls and Pistons won 5 titles because of Rodman. "But Kobe is one of the greatest scorers ever." If you can make that assertion based on his 28 ppg over the last 3 years, fine. But is this a list of "greatest players ever" or "greatest players right now"? In 5 years, when the Lakers return to the playoffs, or Kobe is on the all-time scoring list, or has an MVP award under his belt, (or at least hasn't went down the path of Penny Hardaway) let's talk.
Note: Charles Barkley was the lone voice of reason, saying Kobe hasn't accomplished enough at this point, and refused to put Kobe on his list over Joe Dumars and Dennis Johnson. Sir Charles rules.
Dominique Wilkins: For 'Nique, this is his official consolation prize, the toaster oven and dish set after losing the "Showcase Showdown" that is the last 20 years of his life. I honestly expected 'Nique to lose out to Derek Harper or Charles Oakley. He tends to find creative ways to get hosed.
Allen Iverson: I was on the fence with this one at first, but, to his credit, he's a former MVP and took that god-awful '01 Sixers team (old man Mutombo was their 2nd leading scorer. SECOND!) to the finals. And, after 9 seasons, he's in the top 5 all-time in career ppg and steals per game, so it's perfectly understandishable.
Bob McAdoo: Probably the greatest journeyman ever, I've only seen him play a few times with the Lakers, when he was well past his prime. But does it make sense to leave HOFers off this list? Just typing this makes this "Next 10" list seem somewhat pointless...
Kevin Garnett: The loneliest man in the NBA is a former MVP, 8-time All-Star, and is on pace to finish in the top 25 in career blocks and rebounds. And, by looking at the T'Wolves bench, he won't have anything to show for it anytime soon. But the stat dorks at 82games.com say he's the 15th most efficient player ever, and it's hard to argue with a stat dork.
Reggie Miller: I had a fairly intense internal dialog when Reggie made this list...
Crazed Pacers Fan: Reggie Miller...is a BASKETBALL GOD! The onlyConnie Hawkins: Never seen him play, but if he's a HOFer and he's in NBA Street, he mustcanshoot.
question now, is Reggie: A) a basketball god or B) the greatest player
Sane Human Being: Reggie was one of the panelists for this
list, and he apparently voted for himself 10 times. Love him to death, and
at least three of my favorite playoff moments involve Reggie and the Knicks. He's hit seemingly 100s of clutch shots over the years, but
Reggie's not a superstar. Over the course of a season, in his prime he
wasn't any better than Mitch Richmond or Reggie Lewis.
Crazed Pacers Fan: Sorry, "Not a superstar" isn't one of the
options. I'll put you down for "basketball god". Next!
Jason Kidd: Kidd is already 9th all time in assists and 20th in steals, and is 4th in career triple doubles, behind Oscar Robinson by about 982. Kidd also has the distinction of having the 2nd worst career FG% since 1970!
Gary Payton: Was labeled a bust early in his career, GP is now 6th all-time in assists, 3rd in steals. GP was also a ground-laying forefather for all trash-talking and superdickery we enjoy in the league today. To his defense, I'd probably be an asshole too if I spent the best years of my career with Olden Polynice and Ervin Johnson.
The Honorable Mention list included Adrian Dantley, Olde Alex English, Dennis Rodman, Walt Bellamy (former Hawks are constantly screwed out of stuff), Bernard King and Steve Nash (Doug Collins had the balls to say Nash, the MVP, is a young player that hasn't accomplished enough in his career just yet. Makes sense, but then he votes in Kobe.)
In the end, like the housecat that lovingly leaves a half-eaten sparrow at your feet, TNT meant well with the "Next 10", but you're somewhat disgusted by it. It just seems wrong to leave an MVP (Nash) off the list but keep Kobe and Reggie. And there are more than a few HOFers that weren't even mentioned, but apparently aren't as good as Payton, Jason Kidd, etc. I'm sure everything would've been OK if they somehow got Rob Gordon involved...
Shaq was actually 24 when he was named to the 50 Greatest, though ... younger than Kobe is today.
Age, I don't think is that big of a factor, especially considering Kobe was like 17 or 18 when he got in the league. I know he's young, but it seems like he's been around forever. He's only had about a year and a half of "Iverson" type freedom and he's setting all kinds of ridonkulous scoring records. Give the man his due, he's already a legend regardless of his status as a possible sexual predator and reprehensible dry snitch.
BTW I hope these guys don't get you fired, Jim. You wear some great ties.