Right now ESPN.com has a great little thing where for each team in the league you can vote on who their greatest player was for each position. For the Knicks, do you go Patrick Ewing or Willis Reed at center? You gotta go Walt Frazier at point, and sorry, Bill Bradley, but Bernard King was unstoppable at small forward. Shooting guard I’m inclined to go with Earl The Pearl, but I’ve never seen Richie Guerin play, so maybe he has a case? And if the team is playing with today’s three point line and we’re thinking who’d mesh best together, maybe instead the two should be Allan Houston to stretch out the other team’s defense and keep ‘em honest. At power forward, for some reason they list David Lee, even though he pretty much just played center. I’m not picking him, of course, just pointing out that it’s odd that he’s in this category. Probably you should go with Dave DeDebusschere, although I grew up worshiping at the altar of Charles Oakley, and particularly if you chose Ewing over Reed, then you need an enforcer.
However, while you’re wasting time and avoiding work, don’t just stop with the Knicks. It’s interesting to see the riches and poverties of each team. On one hand, you’ve got storied franchises like the Lakers where you have an embarrassment of riches and get to make the enviable decision of which all-time amazing only-needs-one-name center you want: Shaq, Wilt or Kareem. On the other hand, you’ve got the Minnesota Timberwolves where two of three choices for their best big man ever include Michael Olowakandi and Rasho Nesterovich. Some greatest teams would easily win the championship next season (assuming you could magically have them all in their prime at the same time). Others, even teams that have been around for over 40 years, like of course the Clippers, probably wouldn’t be assured of being a top four team against our current crop.
The choices don’t include players who swapped this summer, so LeBron can only be picked on the Cavaliers, not the Heat. After you vote, you can then see how the other fans voted too. It’s nice to see that current animosity hasn’t blinded people to past accomplishments. Like LeBron of course is the top voter for the Cavs at small forward. Likewise, Toronto might hate Vince Carter and Chris Bosh, but they still acknowledge that they were the best for the Raps at their respective positions. Granted, they don’t have much competition, but even in situations where there is, people seemed to mostly choose correctly. Orlando might hate Shaq for abandoning them and the abuse he’s hurled on their current love, and two-time defensive player of the year, center Dwight Howard. Yet as great as Howard has been, they admit, okay, Shaq was definitely better.
It’s also nice to see that it isn’t just young people wasting their time on the internet, so the results don’t ridiculously skew towards recent players. On the Celtics, Bob Cousy, John Havlicek and Larry Bird rightly beat out Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce.
Lastly, it’s intriguing to see that some players who you think, okay, they’re kinda good, might actually be the best player ever at that position for their franchise. And we’re not just talking teams like the Bobcats or Twolves who’re relatively new (by the way, ABA players are included). Like Danny Granger is a good player, but it’s shocking to realize he’s probably the best small forward the Pacers have ever had. He wasn’t even considered one of the top three small forwards on Team USA’s 12 person roster (those honors would go to Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala and Rudy Gay). And is it really possible that on the top Bucks squad you’d have Kareem and Oscar Robertson playing alongside Milwaukee’s best small forward of all time, Glenn “Big Dog” Robinson? Sadly, perhaps so.