Last year

Greatest players in their prime by position ever

Select 3 teams of 5 by position from any player in history when in their prime!

Disclaimer: Positional forwards are not defined due to difficulty articulating the power forward position.

Assumptions: All players are assumed to have had access to the technology, sports medicine and knowledge available in this time period.

*Up to 12 additional players can be listed as possible inclusions if undecided.


1st Team 2nd Team 3rd Team
C - Wilt Chamberlain Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Bill Russel
F - Elgin Baylor Lebron James Tim Duncan
F - Larry Bird Julius Erving Charles Barkley
SG - Michael Jordan Kobe Bryant Jerry West
PG - Oscar Robinson Magic Johnson Nate Archibald

* Roger Brown (ABA) - Difficult to define as he was blackballed in his prime.
Never saw an actual game, but from what I have seen, he
appears as good as, if not better than Oscar Robinson.
Elvin Hayes, John Havlicek, Isiah Thomas, Bernard King, Shaquille O'Neal, Hakeem Olajuwon, Moses Malone, John Stockton, David Thompson, George Gervin, Karl Malone

Topic #46517 | Report this topic

Last year

LOL at Oscar "Robinson". Is that David's brother?

Reply #779885 | Report this post

Last year

Lebron is ahead of everyone you have listed as a forward.

Reply #779887 | Report this post

Last year

Perhaps consider the criteria and assumptions a little more closely anonymous. I don't think LeBron ever averaged 38pts and 24rbs playing in canvas shoes and travelling in buses!

Reply #779890 | Report this post

Last year

Excuse me "Robertson"

Reply #779891 | Report this post

Last year

No Lebron. I stopped reading.

Reply #779892 | Report this post

Yinka Dare  
Last year

Those centres were all good but they simply dominated because they were much bigger than everyone else. Put shaq, Olajuwon or David Robinson in their era and they would have been better.

Reply #779893 | Report this post

Last year

"I don't think LeBron ever averaged 38pts and 24rbs playing in canvas shoes and travelling in buses!"

...or got to play against guys playing in canvas shoes and travelling in buses

Reply #779898 | Report this post

Jon Snow  
Last year

1st Team 2nd Team 3rd Team
C - Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Wilt Chamberlain Shaq
PF - Tim Duncan Karl Malone Dirk Nowitzki
SF - Lebron James Larry Bird Kevin Durant
SG - Michael Jordan Kobe Bryant Jerry West
PG - Magic Johnson Stephen Curry Oscar Robinson

Reply #779900 | Report this post

Last year

"Assumptions: All players are assumed to have had access to the technology, sports medicine and knowledge available in this time period."
Goes on to use canvas shoes and bus transport as a justification....

Reply #779922 | Report this post

Last year

Whiskers, if lebron played against those dudes in the 70's and 80's he would have torn them to shreds. He's 10 times the athlete Larry Bird was and better at literally everything except spot up shooting.

Reply #779927 | Report this post

Captain Obvious  
Last year

Jon Snow - I agree with your 1st team, although it lacks outside shooting.
However, I think your 3rd team beats your second team!

Reply #779974 | Report this post

Last year

Anonymous, I respect your opinion, that's kind of what having a healthy basketball debate is all about. Nobody can ever truly critique how great Lebron is. He is beyond judgement, really. Undefinable is many ways. But... the most difficult task is to compare generations. That's why your being asked to assume, all other variables being equal, which takes a bit of thought and creativity. Just as its not really fair or valid to judge Lebron, its also not really fair or valid to dismiss any of the greats who came before. If all things are being equal, you must also expect their performance to transcend generations. With that criteria in mind, its in no way disrespectful to place any individual on the second greatest team in the history of basketball (by position), (in their PRIME). As for the debate regarding Lebron's athleticism and strength, their was once a player called Dominique Wilkins, who himself probably deserves a mention. Listen to what he has to say about Larry Bird. Athleticism and pure strength and power still counted for nothing against Larry Bird. The same thing would have happened against Lebron. As for using the canvas shoes and buses argument, I understand why you would consider that contradictory. But it highlights my point and your response was expected long before you even thought about it. Yes, these guys did, of course, go on to play against others in canvas shoes and travelled in buses. But the assumption is that ALL players are judged assuming equal variables, and that generational difference can be moved back into Baylor's era if you like. It works both ways. Please don't let your perception and subjectivity cloud what is an objective task. To highlight this a little further, Subjectively, Magic Johnson is my all-time favorite player, but he is on my second team. Can you imagine what it must feel like for me to admit, objectively, that Larry Bird has him beat, HANDS DOWN. Your not wrong, or right, and neither am I. Any person who respects Lebron and feels passionate about his legacy does understand basketball as you honestly do, but that's missing the point, and leads right back into the generational debate, which is not a fair criteria. Forgive me if I'm wrong, but your responses appear to be a little skewed by negative emotion, which leads me to suggest an underlying bias towards the opinions of others. I honestly hope this is not the case, and I also hope this doesn't further affect your ability to accept the sincerity of this response, rather than perceive this as a cynical attack. Thanks for your responses, and thanks for highlighting the point I was trying to make with this thread. I have enjoyed discussing this with a fellow basketball junkie.

Reply #780000 | Report this post

Last year

Cram, see above

Reply #780001 | Report this post

Last year

Sorry, those last two posts were from me.

Yinka Dare
Yes, those centres were all exceptional and they were seriously considered, especially Robinson, who's ability has certainly been dismissed by history. In saying that I still stand by more opinion and respect yours. Would give anything to see it actually happen. I just cant goes past Chamberlain in particular. I just cant.

Jon Snow
Yep, excellent choices. Cant really argue objectively about yours for the same reason that I cant argue objectively about mine.

Captain Obvious
Excellent point

Overall, the argument I expected to see was athleticism. In my opinion, the most disrespected era's in this regard was the 60s and 70s. I've seen Oscar "Robertson", thanks again, a point guard, block a shot, and with his arm at full extension, his elbow was just below the top of the square. Chamberlain could touch the top of the backboard. Russel could start his layup 40 feet out. As for the 70s, avoiding the cocaine argument, and the transitional nature of this period, all I have to say is, David Thompson, Connie Hawkins, Doctor J, (IN THEIR PRIME), and countless others. Absolute freaks of nature. Listen to what Jordan has to say about David Thompson. This is MICHAEL JORDAN speaking, not me.

My teams, admittedly, are also heavily skewed towards offensive ability. I admit that, and should rightly be pulled up on that. Defense is the MOST important aspect of basketball, PERIOD. So let me put forward a name who I will proudly be mocked and humiliated for. Dennis Rodman. I'll add to that further. Anyone who knows or has played basketball (or any sport for that matter) at a high level, understands how the mental aspect affects performance. Rodman again. Confidence is key. Who had more confidence than Larry Bird. Exceptionally beautiful arrogance. Its this reason, more than any other "anonymous", that Lebron just cant be put above Bird, in my opinion. Crunch time is what stops Lebron from being the GOAT, and believe me, I wish it wasn't so.
Thanks everybody

Reply #780003 | Report this post

Last year

Lebron is the GOAT. Needs to be on the list

Reply #780010 | Report this post

PG - Magic.
SG - Jordan.
SF - probably LeBron at this point.
PF - Duncan (if the Spurs can get away with saying he isn't a center, than so can I)
C - too many to choose from really - for dominance over his competition, Chamberlain; for longevity, Jabbar; for all round game (and probably my pick), Dream.

Reply #780015 | Report this post

Last year

He is on the list? Second team forward?

Reply #780017 | Report this post

Last year

Hopefully your online now. Lets get into this. I love this debate, as much as I think its pointless and cant be resolved which is kind of the point.

Reply #780018 | Report this post

I'm just surprised no one has said Scalabrine TBH.

Reply #780019 | Report this post

Last year

Corey Suicide Williams

I appreciate your comments regarding Duncan. Its the reason I just couldn't define the PF position. You have pretty much nailed it with the centre argument. What is the defining variable. Can we truly be objective? Are there too many additional factors not being considered? Does Jordan three peat again without a Rodman. Would this place Lebron above him? Is it stats, teammates, the cultural environment in specific generations, motivation, predispositions? Can somebody offer a criteria for comparison that equalises everything?

Reply #780020 | Report this post

I think Duncan is probably truly a center, just that he always had some bigger, slower lug next to him in the starting line-up - Nesterovic, Nazr, Oberto, Tiago, Robinson. But those guys weren't playing crunchtime. They had Robert Horry for that, the original stretch 4 (probably, I don't know). But if it's not Duncan at PF, it's... Barkley? Malone? Rambis? I don't know...

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Last year


Reply #780040 | Report this post

Last year

I agree, Duncan was a centre. He was listed as PF because of Robinson in my opinion. This stretch four label? If I look back far enough, I think it might have been McAdoo, but he was also listed as Centre. There was another big around that time called Mel Daniels (ABA) who had a game that stretched out to about 20 feet. Killed the bigs in his time for this reason.

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Last year

If you're into this kind of discussion, read 'The Book of Basketball’ by Bill Simmons. Excellent analysis of past players, their eras, their match-ups, etc.

Reply #780059 | Report this post

Last year

Probably THE best basketball book ever written Hoopie

Reply #780143 | Report this post

Last year

like how people are saying Duncan's only a four because of DRobinson.
No.shit Sherlock.
The admiral was.an elite 5 at the time.duncan came in, so Duncan became a 4.. not to hard to figure out is it?

PG . Magic
St, MJ
St, LeBron
PF , Duncan
C , Wilt


PG , Stockton
St, Steph
SF, Scottie Pip
PF, Karl Malone
C, Shaq

Reply #780428 | Report this post

Last year

I love topics like this, here are my teams:

A Team

C- Wilt Chamberlain
PF- Tim Duncan
SF- Larry Bird
SG- Michael Jordan
PG- Magic Johnson

B Team

C- Kareem Abdul Jabbar
PF- Kevin McHale
SF- LeBron James
SG- Jerry West
PG- Isiah Thomas

C- Bill Russell
PF- Karl Malone
SF- Elgin Baylor
SG- Kobe Bryant
PG- Oscar Robertson

A few players who were very difficult to leave out were Hakeem Olajuwon, Shaq, Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Moses Malone, Pete Maravich and Charles Barkley.

Reply #780435 | Report this post


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