The league is moving away from the big man, and the guards are running the show. Sounds familiar? You must’ve followed the NBA in the 1980s. After Bill, Wilt, and Kareem, it was time for Magic, Isiah, Larry, and Michael. The ancient Greeks told us history repeats itself, and we still didn’t pick up on that. Here’s how Wilt explained the lack of great big men in the 80s.
“Oh, you have great centers, but the point guards have taken over the game.”Wilt Chamberlain
Magic was running the show in LA, an unusually tall point guard, and Larry was doing the same in Boston as the point forward. Isiah was leading a strong Pistons team in Detroit, and everyone else had to stop those guys to have any chance at a title. That’s the main characteristic of every era – the top few guys set the fashion trends for the entire league.
So when Bob Lanier and Wilt were asked about who they would start a franchise with, they both went with a point guard. Lanier picked Magic, not a difficult decision. The young point guard was the best guard and one of the two best players in the league. Wilt, on the other hand, surprised everyone with his pick.
”You won’t believe this, but I love Johnny Stockton. I think he’s the most complete person in his position.”Wilt Chamberlain
Wouldn’t guess this in a million years. Stockton is one of those players that other players always rank higher than most fans. Wilt was one of the best athletes ever to play, but he once again showed his basketball IQ with this pick. “Johnny” would end his career as one of the greatest never to win a title and the NBA’s all-time assist leader; it’s not even close. Stockton finished his career with 15,806 assists. Jason Kidd is second all-time with 12,091.
Wilt did add Magic is his favorite player so that Laker Nation can sleep well. Johnson, by the way, is 5th overall, with 10,141 assists in his career. The main reason Stockon got away from him is longevity. Stockton famously played in 1504 games in his 19 seasons in the NBA. Magic only had 906 in his 13.
If you want to make a case for Magic as the best passer ever, we have the data point for you. Out of all the guys on the top 50 assist leaderboard, only two cracked over 10 assists per game. Stockton at 10.5, and Earvin Magic Johnson at 11.2.
You couldn’t go wrong either way, but it was fascinating to learn that Wilt saw Stockton as the best point guard in the 80s.