The NBA is celebrating its 75th anniversary this season, remembering all the great stars that made the league what it is right now. Many players have made history in the association, but only a handful of them can be considered among the top 10 players of all time.
Things get more complicated when people pick their Mount Rushmore. This can be very controversial, but fans and analysts still do it. Recently, ESPN's Stephen A. Smith revealed the four players that belong to his list.
While Jay Williams selected Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Magic Johnson, Stephen A. went with the three players that most people will consider the top 3 of all time: Michael Jordan, LeBron James, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. This trio is always mentioned at the highest spots on any list, so this comes as no surprise.
"The first three choices are easy for me. I've got Michael Jordan. I think he's the greatest of all time. I've got LeBron James. I think he's No. 2 of all time. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar won in high school, won in college, went to the pros, ended up being a six-time champion, a six-time league MVP, a 19-time All-Star and the all-time leading scorer in NBA history with over 38,000 points.
Moreover, Smith picked Magic Johnson as the 4th player, explaining that he thought of more players, like Bill Russell and Kobe Bryant. Ultimately, Magic earned his spot for all the things he did for the league and his impact on the game.
"I thought about (Bill) Russell. I thought about the era that he played in and how it was just Wilt Chamberlain, and ... he's the all-time champion with 11 rings. Thought about Kobe (Bryant). For me, it was Magic Johnson. And here's why: Magic Johnson is the greatest point guard in the history of basketball.
"Magic Johnson made the NBA transcendent. It was him that helped Kareem. (James) Worthy, Byron Scott, Norm Nixson before that, Michael Cooper coming off the bench. Magic was just a show. He made the NBA marketable. And if it were not for Magic, what would MJ have had? What would he have had to inherit?"
That's a solid point from Stephen A. Magic took the NBA to a different level during the 80s thanks to his 'Showtime' Lakers. He was a revolutionary figure in the game since his very first season with the Purple and Gold.
Smith isn't the first one who says this about the former point guard. Charles Barkley has credited Johnson and Larry Bird as the 'most important players' in NBA history. They saved the competition, and, as Stephen A. said, passed the torch to Michael Jordan in the 90s.
Some can make a case for Kobe, Russell, Shaq, Chamberlain, or whoever for that spot, but Magic has the credentials to be there right with the greatest of all time.