Regardless of how many time has passed, there are some deaths that will always mean something to us, that will always make us feel sad, angry, and in disbelief, especially if we’re talking about our idols.
Throughout the history of basketball, there have been a handful of stars that were gone too soon and were taken from us and we didn’t have the chance to see them continue to build on their legacy.
Needless to say, these players touched thousands of lives during their careers and that’s why they’ll always live on the memories of millions of people, not just the history books. Truth to be told, they could team up and challenge all angels for a run at their money. Today, we’re going to talk about that mythical Heaven’s All-Time Starting Lineup:
PG – Pete Maravich
Pete Maravich once said: “I don’t want to play 10 years in the NBA and die of a heart attack at age 40.” Crazy as it may seem, that’s exactly how things went down, as he died from a heart-attack soon before turning 41 years old after a 10-year successful career in the NBA.
Maravich was one of the league’s most unstoppable scorers in his prime. Some may even say his game was pretty similar to what Stephen Curry brought to the table nowadays (minus the three-point shooting). Also, his crafty moves and passes inspired others like Magic Johnson.
Pistol Pete led the league in scoring once, made it to 5 All-Star Games, the All-Rookie team, and 4 All-NBA teams. He played for the Hawks, Jazz, and Celtics and averaged 24.2 points and 5.4 points per game on 44% from the floor and 66% from beyond the arc.
SG – Kobe Bryant
It doesn’t matter how much time has passed, Kobe’s death will never feel real. We’re talking about one of the most influential players of all time, a guy that set the standard for greatness and that was never going to take less than 150% from him or the rest of his peers.
Kobe’s tragic passing is something most of us still can’t fathom. He was thriving post-retirement, taking care of his girls and his wife, and trying to pass his wisdom to the next generation of hoopers. He loved inspiring everybody around him and his relentless mentality will never be matched.
Throughout his incredible career, Bryant won 5 NBA Championships, 2 Finals MVPs, 1 MVP, 2 Scoring Titles, 2 Olympic Golds, made it to 15 All-NBA teams, 12 All-Defensive teams, 18 All-Star Games, won 4 All-Star MVPs and 1 Oscar. Also, he averaged 25.0 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.7 assists, and 1.4 steals per game.
SF – John Havlicek
(1940 – 2019)
John Havlicek doesn’t get enough recognition by young fans, but he was one of the main reasons why the Boston Celtics still are the winningest franchise in NBA history. He was a born winner that made a huge impact on both ends of the floor.
As a matter of fact, he’s the all-time leading scorer in Boston Celtics franchise with 26,395 points over his 16-year career. He went a perfect 8-0 in the NBA Finals and was one of the most athletic players of his generation, as he was also drafted by the Cleveland Browns as a wide receiver.
Throughout his career, Hondo won 8 NBA Championships, made it to 8 All-Defensive teams, 11 All-NBA teams, 13 All-Star Games, the All-Rookie Team and won 1 Finals MVP; averaging 20.8 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 4.8 assists with 1.2 steals per game. He died at 79 years old.
PF – Moses Malone
Moses Malone has to be one of the most underrated players of all time. Not only nowadays, but he also wasn’t as respected as he should’ve been during his prime either. As a matter of fact, he was traded right after winning the MVP award, something that had never happened in the league.
Malone was one of the most dominant big men that have ser set foot on an NBA hardwood, a rebounding machine that could score at a high clip and swat shots with ease. Yet it seems like we don’t talk about him and his game enough today.
Throughout his career, he averaged 20.3 points, 12.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and 1.3 blocks per game. He made it to 13 All-Star Games, 2 All-Defensive teams, 8 All-NBA teams, led the league in boards 6 times, won 3 MVPs, 1 Finals MVP, and 1 NBA Championship. He died in his sleep from hypertension and atherosclerotic heart disease.
C – Wilt Chamberlain
Wilt Chamberlain is one of the most athletic and naturally gifted human beings to ever live. He could thrive on any sport and, contrary to popular belief, he could still be a dominating big man if he played nowadays with his out-of-nature wingspan and vertical leap.
Chamberlain bullied all of his opponents throughout his career. He could outjump them, he was way stronger than them and was also incredibly smart and talented. Up to this day, he still holds the most records in the league and some of them aren’t likely to be topped. Ever.
He won 2 NBA Championships, 4 MVPs, 1 Finals MVP, made it to 13 All-Star Games, 2 All-Defensive teams, 10 All-NBA teams, won the Rookie of the Year, 1 All-Star MVP, 7 Scoring Titles, led the league in rebounds 11 times, and once in assists. He averaged 30.1 points, 22.9 rebounds, and 4.4 assists per game and died from a heart condition.
Sixth Man – Drazen Petrovic
Drazen Petrovic was one of basketball’s rising stars when he made it to the NBA. However, he had a tough time coping with his new life while with the Portland Trail Blazers, so his numbers were far from impressive early on his career.
However, his trade to the New Jersey Nets skyrocketed his game and Petrovic quickly became one of the biggest sensations in the league. He could’ve been the greatest three-point shooter in NBA history before tragically passing away on a car accident at just 28 years old.
Petrovic averaged 15.4 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 2.4 assists per game on 50% shooting (46% from three) during his NBA career, making it to 1 All-NBA team and the Hall of Fame. Also, he won 3 Olympic Medals, 1 FIBA World Cup, and 2 EuroLeagues.