The NBA finals begin this week with the promise of a tense and exciting series between the two best teams in the league, Miami and San Antonio.
The Heat, of course, are led by LeBron James, who many people claim is one of the top 10 to ever play the game. And some people put him in the top five.
Which, of course, got me to thinking: who are my top 10 basketball players of all-time and does James make the list?
My list is not based on titles won or scoring average or years played. The one thing that I look at is domination.
Does a player absolutely dominate every game he plays? Is he such a force that his performance dictates the pace, style and outcome of the game? Is he a guy who is unstoppable, no matter what the opposition tries?
It’s important to understand that I do not actually consider the different eras in sports. I don’t think you can compare George Mikan to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, but you can compare their respective dominance.
So here we go.
My top four are Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell and Oscar Robertson.
Each center changed the game and couldn’t be stopped from what they did best. Abdul-Jabbar was an offensive force, Russell was a defensive genius and Chamberlain did it at both ends of the court. Robertson is the only man to ever average a triple-double for an entire season.
Numbers five and six on my list are really fairly easy for me: Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson. Jordan brought an athleticism to his sport and Johnson brought a charismatic versatility that made them the kind of players who could take control whenever they wished.
Larry Bird is No. 7. His story is legend and he may well be known as the toughest player ever. He seemed to have an iron will that went with his magnificent talent.
The eighth player on my list is Elgin Baylor, a guy who was LeBron James over a decade before James was born. He was big and tough and could shoot from the outside, drive to the basket and post up just about anyone.
Number nine goes to the "Doctor," Julius Erving.
Wayne Embry, the former Bucks’ center and general manager tells a great story about Erving.
"I had these camps in Boston and one summer after we finished playing, I went to the camp," Embry said. "They had this kid who they wanted me to play against. This skinny little kid started to back me down and I blocked him and then all of a sudden, he wasn’t anywhere around. He had just gone to the sky and dunked over me."
Rounding out my top 10 is Walt Frazier, the smooth guard for the Knicks. Frazier was just about the smartest basketball player I ever saw. He never made a mental mistake and could run an offense like nobody I ever saw.
I think James is a great player. And he may eventually have to make the top 10. But as long as I’m leaving off people like Jerry West, Hakeem Olajuwon and Kobe Bryant, King James still has some way to go.
With a history in Milwaukee stretching back decades, Dave tries to bring a unique perspective to his writing, whether it's sports, politics, theater or any other issue.
He's seen Milwaukee grow, suffer pangs of growth, strive for success and has been involved in many efforts to both shape and re-shape the city. He's a happy man, now that he's quit playing golf, and enjoys music, his children and grandchildren and the myriad of sports in this state. He loves great food and hates bullies and people who think they are smarter than everyone else.
This whole Internet thing continues to baffle him, but he's willing to play the game as long as OnMilwaukee.com keeps lending him a helping hand. He is constantly amazed that just a few dedicated people can provide so much news and information to a hungry public.
Despite some opinions to the contrary, Dave likes most stuff. But he is a skeptic who constantly wonders about the world around him. So many questions, so few answers.