The NBA just announced that the 2011-12 season is cancelled until at least November 30, making today a sad day for basketball fans. So, until we actually have something to talk about besides revenue sharing and luxury tax, I will be posting Top 10 lists on a bi-weekly, maybe eventually daily, basis.
There was a time in the NBA where somehow, the basketball gods managed to create a special type of player. They concocted a combination of semi-athleticism with textbook jump shots, great hairlines, and almost too revealing of short-shorts. No this wasn’t the 1950’s, this was the magical decade of the 1990’s…
10. Brent Barry
90’s Accolades: All-Rookie 2nd team, 1996 Dunk Contest Champion
90’s Averages: 9.5 PPG, 2.65 RPG, 2.56 APG
A gifted passer and playmaker, Brent Barry will always be known first and foremost for capturing the Slam Dunk title at the 1996 all-star game (even though he did the same dunk twice!). Besides his high-flying claim to fame, Barry was truly a gifted athlete and a creative player who thrived for the fast break. His flush on Dennis Rodman at the 1:11 mark of the video below is still one of the most vicious posters ever.
9. Bryant Reeves
90’s Accolades: All-Rookie 2nd Team
90’s Averages: 14.2 PPG, 7.2 RPG
Whether you called him Big Country, dominant, overpaid, a bust, or just plain fat, Bryant Reeves was the face of the Grizzlies during their start in Vancouver. He could out-work you in the post and out-eat you at the dinner table. But regardless of issues with controlling his weight and his brevity in the league, Reeves put up big numbers in the 90’s and for that, he earns a spot in the top 10.
8. Scott Skiles
90’s Accolades: 1991 Most Improved Player, All-time single-game assist leader (30)
90’s Averages: 12.7 PPG, 7.1 APG
Few white players get to etch their name into the NBA record books, but on December 30, Scott Skiles made history by dishing out a still-standing record of 30 assists in a single game against the Denver Nuggets. Besides his record-setting night, Skiles made a living in the 90’s by being an unselfish point guard with deadly range from long distance.
7. Jeff Hornacek
90’s Accolades: 1x All-Star, 1998 3-Point Contest Champion
90’s Averages: 14.6 PPG, 4.9 APG, 3.5 RPG
If you were like 90% of NBA fans in the 90’s (ie. a Bulls fan) you hated Jeff Hornacek. You hated that he had the ability to break Michael Jordan off the dribble, you hated that he was able to nail beyond-the-arc bombs from wherever, and you hated that the only thing smoother than his jumper was his comb over. Hornacek put up above-average scoring numbers during his career, and was instrumental in the Jazz’ back-to-back Finals appearances in ‘97 and ‘98.
6. Christian Laettner
90’s Accolades: 1992 Olympic Gold Medal, 1x All-Star
90’s Averages: 15.5 PPG, 7.3 RPG
Though he’s most remembered for his game-winner against Kentucky in the 1992 NCAA Tournament, Christian Laettner was a more-than-reliable center in the NBA of the 90’s. Arguably, his two shining moments in basketball came before he ever suited up for an NBA squad, but the way he stood out in an era dominated by un-athletic white post players can’t go unnoticed. Laettner was a crafty inside-out threat, with the only thing more serious than his post play was his serial-killer-like game face.
5. Dan Majerle
90’s Accolades: 3x All-Star, 2x All-Defensive 2nd Team, 2x leader in 3-point FG
90’s Averages: 12.8 PPG, 4.6 RPG
Along with Charles Barkley and Kevin Johnson, Dan Majerle was the Suns’ nucleus in the early 90’s. Majerle was a tall, athletic guard who could knock down 35-footers, finish the fast break with emphatic results and put in one hell of a Celine Dion music video cameo. Thunder Dan was a fan favourite in Phoenix, and his All-Star performance throughout in the 90’s helps him crack the top five.
4. Steve Kerr
90’s Accolades: 4x NBA Champion, 1997 3-Point Contest Champion
90’s Averages: 5.9 PPG, 42% from 3-Point
Steve Kerr didn’t have the stats or the flash or the physique, but he headlined a group of white players (Jud Buechler, Bill Wennington, Jack Haley, and imports Luc Longley and Toni Kukoc) that helped the Bulls to their second three-peat of the 90’s. Even more impressive than his three-point shooting percentage and ability to come up big in clutch moments was that Kerr is the only player outside of the Celtics 50’s-60’s dynasty to win four consecutive championships. So if numbers don’t speak for themselves, rings do.
3. Mark Price
90’s Accolades: 3x All-Star, 1x 1st Team All-NBA, 2x 3rd Team All-NBA, 2x Three-Point Contest Champion
90’s Averages: 14.3 PPG, 6.6 APG, 1.2 SPG, 93% FT
Mark Price was a dynamic scorer with an awesome hairline who could light up opposing teams through his lethal outside shooting or his ability to finish tough baskets at the hoop. He had a knack for finding holes in opposing teams’ defense and exploiting them to the fullest. Whether it was from beyond the arc, the free-throw line, or in the paint, Price could score at will, and his illustrious 90’s career earns him the number three spot.
2. Chris Mullin
90’s Accolades: 4x All-Star, 1x 1st Team All-NBA, 1x 2nd Team All-NBA, 1992 Olympic Gold Medal, 2x leader in minutes played, 1998 leader in FT%, 2011 NBA Hall of Fame Inductee
90’s Averages: 18.4 PPG, 1.6 SPG
I can joke and poke fun at other players on this list, but Chris Mullin was a pure beast. He was the reincarnation of Larry Bird, with a drive and tenacity that rivaled Michael Jordan. Even though Mullin was slow and un-athletic compared to NBA standards, he still figured out ways to shoot over you, dribble around you and finish above you. Despite not winning a championship, Mullin solidified his place among the NBA’s greatest with his consistently remarkable play and an induction into the Hall of Fame this past summer.
1. John Stockton
90’s Accolades: 7x All-Star, 1993 All-Star game MVP, 2x 1st team All-NBA, 3x 2nd team All-NBA, 3x 3rd team All-NBA, 4x 2nd team All-Defensive, All-time NBA leader in career assists and steals, 6x leader in APG, 1x leader in SPG, 2009 NBA Hall of Fame Inductee
90’s Averages: 14.5 PPG, 11.4 APG, 2.2 SPG, .52% FG
I don’t need to tell you that John Stockton would be compared with the greatest players of all time had it not been for Michael Jordan and the Bulls thwarting his championship opportunities. I don’t need to tell you that Stockton’s closest active competitor for his all time assist record is over 4,000 dimes behind him, or that his all-time steals record is safe by over 750. I don’t need to tell you that he defied fashion trends by sticking with short shorts long after they had gone out of style. No, the only thing I need to tell you is that John Stockton is the greatest white player of the 1990’s.