The NBA will be celebrating its 75th anniversary next season. The celebration will include naming the NBA’s 75 greatest players, 50 of which were already selected during the 1996-1997 season, when the league celebrated its 50th anniversary. Basketball Network’s “The Next 25” aims to look back at the careers of some of the game’s greatest players as we give our take on who should be part of the twenty-five names that the league will add to the list.
In each edition, we will make a case for five players that we feel meet the criteria. Today, we focus on five more players who ought to make it to the list announced this coming season. We call this edition “the triple-threats” for their ability to shoot, pass and drive with the best of them.
Kidd needs to be considered one of the best point guards of all time; the ten-time All-Star finished with over twelve thousand assists throughout his career and fourth in NBA history in career triple-doubles. Jason won a ring with the Dallas Mavericks later in his career at the expense of the newly formed big three in Miami. Kidd came close to a championship earlier in his career, with two finals appearances during his time with the New Jersey Nets. Few players in NBA history could make their teammates better as Jason Kidd could. Kidd first became famous for running the fastbreak to perfection, being on highlight reels for setting up some of the greatest plays in NBA history. With averages of 12.6 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 8.7 assists for his career, the numbers for Kidd don’t blow you out of the water. However, where Kidd goes, winning follows, and that is rare. His track record for winning is not just a case for his inclusion in the list of the 75 Greatest Players of all time but the Hall of Fame.
Along with Coach Mike D’Antoni, Nash helped usher in the era of small ball with the Phoenix Suns’ “7 seconds or less” offense, which believed that the best available shot more often than not comes within the first seven seconds of the shot clock. To execute this, Phoenix had to do away with the traditional 7-footer at the center position and instead boasted a front line of super athletes ranging from 6’8-6’10. Basketball, as we know it today, would not be possible without the genius of Steve Nash. Steve won back-to-back regular-season MVPs in 2004 and 2005. Only eleven other players in NBA history have accomplished such a feat. Nash also came close to becoming only the fourth player in NBA history to win the award in three consecutive seasons but finished as the runner-up to Dirk Nowitzki in what would be his third straight MVP campaign. Nash arguably has the most decorated resume of those who retired without a championship and deserves to be considered as one of the game’s greatest ever.
One of the most versatile big men to ever play the game, Webber was the cornerstone for a Sacramento Kings that came within one Vlade Divac tap out from a championship. In an era where power forwards ruled the league, Chris was as talented as a player as Garnett, Duncan and Nowitzki. Unfortunately, Chris retired without a ring, and his most famous basketball moment is a blunder involving calling a timeout in the dying seconds of a March Madness game, but if you go and type Chris Webber on the YouTube search bar, you will quickly find a player that no big man today can measure up to. C-Webb could handle it like a guard, throw nifty behind the back passes on the break or from the post. He could also defend and score on you from both inside and out. Webber was a problem for the league and the main reason why the Kings competed at the highest level in the early 2000s. Chris Webber often gets ridiculed for missed opportunities in the clutch, but he was instrumental in how big men evolved into today’s players. Players like Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins would have been shown the door if not for Chris Webber’s dominance as a versatile big man.
“Flash” was the first member of the heralded 2003 draft class to play a significant role in winning a championship, winning the finals MVP in 2006 while leading the Miami Heat to an unlikely comeback against Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks. Wade was surrounded by veterans then, but he put on a show in that series and gave us one unforgettable play after the other. D-Wade is a three-time NBA champion and one-time finals MVP, but he brought more than just his accolades to the game. Wade was one of the toughest players out there and never backed down from a challenge, he changed the way teams guarded the pick-and-roll with his ability to split the trap and zoom past defenders en route to the basket. Now, players split the trap often but none can quite do it like D-Wade. He was a true pioneer in many ways and a basketball icon on and off the floor. He also played an instrumental role in the growth of his best friend, LeBron James. Without D-Wade, we may have never seen LeBron reach the heights he has achieved today, and for that, the sheriff of Wade County deserves all the praise.
King James should be classified as a “no-brainer” for this list. Considered to be the greatest of all time by some, it is incredible to see that some people in the basketball world will argue that he does not belong on this list. LeBron is the first active player to make our published lists so far and possibly retire with the most decorated NBA career we have ever witnessed. He is currently a 4-time champion, 4-time Finals MVP, and 4-time regular season MVP that sits third on the all-time scoring list with a few more seasons of elite play left in the tank. The guy has had four primes, reinventing himself more than any other player in what will be his nineteenth NBA season in 2021-22. James was the star of a team that is the only one to come back from a 3-1 deficit in the NBA finals while leading all players in every statistical category against a team that went 73-9 in the regular season. LeBron’s resumé is a lengthy one, and he will continue to add on to this as the seasons come and go. At the rate he is going, he could still be playing at an elite level at the age of 41 or 42, simply amazing. By the time it is all said and done, LeBron may surpass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the top scorer in NBA history while finishing in the top-10 in assists as well. Throw a championship or two in there and you will be looking at the undisputed GOAT, so how can you be the GOAT or at least second to MJ and not make it to the list? LeBron is definitely one name that the selection committee will not miss.