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The NBA started stimulated mass appeal when Bill Russell (left) and With Chamberlain (right) joined the league and had classic clashes during the 60's - Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. New York World-Telegram and the Sun Newspaper photo by Ed Palumbo

 

SPORTS NOTES - NBA's ALL-TIME BEST - Part 1

James Loving/National Radio Text Service

 

 

 

The early NBA period was a time when the tough got going, salaries were low and racism was rife - The king of that era Bill Russell was sight to see as he was far from being graceful as he looked like a human erector set when he strode down the court. He lacked speed but seemed always to be in the right place at the right time when it came to blocking shots and grabbing rebounds. His famous duels with Wilt Chamberlain must go down as the greatest NBA duels of all time

 

 

Monday, September 30, 2013

OLD SCHOOL - WHEN THE TOUGH GOT GOING

The debate goes on who are the best NBA players of all time. We have observed pundits selecting their choice but the problem is they have a limited life span and haven't seen players that have played in the league prior to the scribes' birth. Video documentation is limited due to the lack of technology during the early NBA years and general interest in the game was limited as NFL football and the MLB (Major League Baseball) were priorities for the American sports fan.

The early NBA period was a time when the tough got going, when salaries were low and racism was rife. At that time NBA games were televised locally or regionally not nationally. National telecast were made possible in the mid 80's between CNN founder Ted Turner and NBA president David Stern. It was then that the NBA pressure cooker lid blew off the top. It was that agreement for NBA exposure that enabled the game to run wild to gain a wider audience.

Current and former NBA stars such as Karl Malone and Kobe Bryant have voiced their opinions on the subject but again the problem is they weren't born early enough to have been there and done that to have an opinion to critique the skills of players that graced the court prior to their era.

Our choices are based on having been there and done that. We have seen the leagues all-time best players perform LIVE since back in the day when players received such low salaries that they had to work day jobs during the off season to make ends meet to pay their bills.

The then Philadelphia Warriors Joe Fulks was the NBA's first great scorer but he played during an era when the game was much slower with two hand set shots and shooting underhand free throws were the norm. But that was then and this is now yet two players that came into the game are from the fringes of that era former Boston Celtic center Bill Russell and former Minneapolis/LA Lakers forward Elgin Baylor in our opinion qualify as still being the best of all time.

Baylor was poetry in motion and was one of the leagues top scorers during his early years aka the pre Wilt Chamberlain era before a horrid knee injury took him down and he was never the same since. We consider him as being the only player that was better than Michael Jordan but his injury shortened career denied him the chance to continue his record breaking stats. We have written extensively about Baylor's exploits thus this link will reveal most of his entire illustrious career.

Russell played center for the Boston Celtics of the National Basketball Association (NBA) from 1956 to 1969. A five-time NBA Most Valuable Player and a twelve-time All-Star Russell was the centerpiece of the Celtics dynasty, winning eleven NBA championships during his thirteen-year career. Before his professional career, Russell led the University of San Francisco to two consecutive NCAA championships (1955, 1956). He also won a gold medal at the 1956 Summer Olympics as captain of the U.S. national basketball team.

Russell was sight to see as he was far from being graceful as he looked like a human erector set when he strode down the court. He lacked speed but seemed always to be in the right place at the right time when it came to blocking shots and grabbing rebounds. His famous duels with Wilt Chamberlain must go down as the greatest NBA duels of all time. One might compare the duels between Magic Johnson and Larry Bird as being better but the decisive factor is Russell and Chamberlain played the same center position and had to go head to head while Bird and Johnson didn't.

During his career, Russell was one of the first big earners in NBA basketball. His rookie contract was worth $24,000, only fractionally smaller than the $25,000 of top earner Bob Cousy. In contrast to other Celtics, who had to work in the off-season to maintain their standard of living (Heinsohn sold insurance, Gene Guarilia was a professional guitar player, Cousy ran a basketball camp, and Auerbach invested in plastics and a Chinese restaurant), Russell never had to work part-time. The Philadelphia Warriors George Dempsey delivered milk to make ends meet. When Wilt Chamberlain became the first NBA player to earn $100,000 in salary in 1965, Russell went to Auerbach and demanded a $100,001 salary, which he promptly received.

It must be noted that both of these players' careers were during a time when racism was explosive and before Martin Luther King had his dream. The point being that at that time black players that had superior skills were targets to have their knees taken out as was Baylor's. Its not to say that was the intention in Baylor's injury but racism was rife as there were very few black players in the league during the early stages of both players' careers.

PART 2 - The BEST ALL-TIME NBA 1st team

THE NBA'S GREATEST of ALL TIME
1st Team
Position
2nd Team
next column
PF
future column
Elgin Baylor
SF
 
Bill Russell
C
 
next column
SG
 
next column
PG
 
11th & 12th MAN SUBSTITUTES
G
 
C/F
 

 


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