Fan votes have been collected and combined with those of Overtime Heroics writers to reveal the first edition of the Basketball Golden Hall. As previously covered, fans and writers will convene once a decade to take stock of the greatest athletes to have graced the court. We will reveal the First Edition in eleven parts followed by a wrap-up article.
This article reveals the five players who constitute the seventh-best possible starting lineup in basketball history. The next six articles will feature the remaining top fives of all-time, with each team made up of a point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward, and center.
Without further ado and in order of votes received, the Basketball Golden Hall Seventh Team (be sure to comment with whom you think we missed):
Jerry West, PG
162.6 WS, 22.9 PER, 27.0 PPG, 6.7 APG, 5.8 RPG, 26 SPG, 0.7 BPG
It is interesting to think about what the career three-point leaderboard would look like if the innovation had been introduced earlier to professional basketball. Where would the all-time greats rank? Would earlier generations have pioneered parts of the revolution the game is currently experiencing? It is hard to say, but it is likely that Jerry West would have played a key role with any on-court renovation.
The Logo’s early life generated an obsessiveness that created a true Golden Haller. After losing his brother in the Korean War when he was just a young boy, West became reclusive. One of his few outlets for handling his trauma and newfound weakness was basketball. Practicing for hours on end, West perfected angles and likely achieved his 10,000 hours of skill-development at an early age.
The West Virginian brought this honed shooting style to the NBA for a 14-year career. In ten of those campaigns, West was named to the All-NBA First Team. Despite lacking the aforementioned three-point shot, he still ranks sixth all-time in points per game. He twice led the association in player efficiency rating and true-shooting percentage. West really turned on his game in the playoffs, leading the NBA in points per game four times and assists thrice. His dominance was so dramatic that West was named Finals Most Valuable Player in 1969 despite his Lakers losing the series.
George Gervin, SG
116.3 WS, 21.4 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 2.6 APG, 1.2 SPG, 1.0 BPG
Iceman has to be one of the coolest nicknames in basketball history. Short, sweet, and says so much with so few letters, George Gervin more than earned it. The guard simply did not sweat on the court; he always kept his cool. The Michigander led in points per game four times in the regular season and finished in the top ten in each of his 14 seasons. He also led in PPG six times in the playoffs and received MVP votes in seven different campaigns.
117.5 WS, 21.6 PER, 24.8 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 2.5 APG, 1.3 SPG, 0.6 BPG
The son of a military father, Dominique Wilkins moved frequently in his young life. It is perhaps this early experience of frequent mobility that led him to demand a trade when drafted by the Utah Jazz to the NBA team near his University of Georgia: the Atlanta Hawks. With the Hawks, Wilkins became one of the true stars of the league just as the NBA was gaining in popularity. He led the NBA in scoring in 1986 and averaged 20 or more points per game for eleven consecutive seasons. Wilkins is perhaps most famous for his physics-defying dunks, winning two slam dunk competitions.
Though Wilkins performed well in the playoffs, his Hawks were unable to secure an NBA ring. The French-born forward did, however, play one season with the Panathinaikos Greens. He led the club to a EuroLeague title and was named Final Four MVP.
Kevin McHale, PF
113.0 WS, 20.0 PER, 17.9 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 1.7 APG, 1.7 BPG, 0.4 SPG
The Boston Celtics are perhaps the iconic NBA franchise. In multiple eras, Boston has won titles (17 in total), trailing only the Lakers (18). In each iteration, a few stars have risen to prominence. In the 1980s, Kevin McHale was one of those stars. The hard-playing Minnesotan perfected several offensive moves, creating what he dubbed “the Torture Chamber” to baffle defensive opponents. He led the NBA in field goal percentage in back-to-back seasons and helped lead the Celtics to three Finals titles and another two appearances.
Moses Malone, C
179.1 WS, 22.0 PER, 20.3 PPG, 12.3 RPG, 1.3 APG, 1.3 BPG, 0.8 SPG
A workhorse, Moses Malone led the NBA in minutes per game twice during the rough and tumble early 1980s. While fighting for boards, he led the league in rebounds per game on six separate regular season occasions and thrice in the playoffs. The Virginian starred in both the American Basketball and National Basketball Associations, and he played a Finals MVP-level role in securing the title for the Philadelphia 76ers in 1983. To this day, Malone ranks ninth in points scored, third in rebounds, first in offensive rebounds, fifth in defensive rebounds, second in free throws, and eighth in both games played and minutes.
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