For someone who had played in the past and watched the present, it was tough for Oscar Robertson to name just five of his favorite NBA players. The Big O was transcendent in his time, understands the nuances of the game, and appreciates the past and the present. His Top 5 is a fascinating list, mostly because Robertson selected one active NBA player, and it's not who you think it is.
Robertson was LeBron James before LeBron James
The Big O played for 14 seasons, from 1960 to 1974. He was a triple-double machine and averaged 25.7 points, 9.5 assists, and 7.5 rebounds in his career. Robertson was actually LeBron James before LeBron James. He was big, he was quick, and he could play as a point guard. At 6’5” and more than 200 pounds, The Big O was a nightmare to defend. Not only could he score but Robertson also elevated the play of those around him.
The former Cincinnati Royals player recorded triple-doubles before it was even cool - his nickname is Mr. Triple Double. His record seemed untouchable for many years until Westbrook broke it. The Hall of Famer did this at a time when there’s no advanced technology yet to help a player’s recovery or specialized diet to become better athletes. Oscar was just ahead of his time, and it showed in the numbers he put up consistently.
The Big O’s top five players all time
The former Milwaukee Bucks star was asked who was his top five players of all time. Oscar named Michael Jordan, Steph Curry, Jerry West, Bill Russell, and Wilt Chamberlain. The selection was not surprising, and it seemed a balanced lineup. A Russell and Chamberlain frontcourt would almost become unbeatable at their peak.
Jordan’s choice was not surprising. However, Curry’s was. Steph being named by a legendary player as one of his top five all-time speaks about the level of respect Curry has among the game's legends. Many credited him with changing how basketball is played. In Oscar’s time, there was no 3-point area yet. The rainbow arc was only introduced to the NBA in 1979, five years after Robertson retired.
Jerry West was also included, and it just shows how great of a player he was in his time. Overall, Oscar’s top five are excellent picks and very credible coming from a living legend. Some would have inserted a player here and there, but it was the top five for Oscar, and he had his reasons. No one should question a former player who knows where he is coming from.