The Basketball Golden Hall Sixth Team Unveiled! These five players constitute the sixth-best possible starting lineup in basketball history. The next five 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.
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.
The previous articles covered the Golden Hall Seventh Team, Eighth Team, Ninth Team, Tenth Team, and Golden Hall Bench (those 50 players regardless of position that were named to bring the total membership to 100).
Without further ado and in order of votes received, the Basketball Golden Hall Sixth Team (be sure to comment with whom you think we missed):
Jason Kidd, PG
138.6 WS, 17.9 PER, 12.6 PPG, 8.7 APG, 6.3 RPG, 1.9 SPG, 0.3 BPG
The Californian came into the league as part of the generation expected to lead the NBA out of the Jordan Era and into the next. Beginning with sharing rookie of the year honors with fellow Golden Haller Grant Hill, Kidd did just that.
His two-way stats reflect a star career. Kidd ranks fourth in triples-doubles. He is often regarded as the greatest rebounder at the position, and he ranks 65th all-time in career rebounds. In more traditionally-expected categories for point guards, Kidd ranks second in history in both career assists and steals. This prolific career helps explain how Kidd won two Olympics golds, an NBA Finals, and the point spot on the Golden Hall Sixth Team.
James Harden, SG
146.7 WS, 24.7 PER, 25.0 PPG, 6.7 APG, 5.6 RPG, 1.6 SPG, 0.6 BPG
The Beard, ah, the beard. The inspiration for my own attempt at facial hair was my spouse’s obsession with the impressiveness that is James Harden’s. For all his on-court feats, Harden’s longest-lasting cultural legacy will surely be his contribution to the mainstream return of bearded men.
As “important” as this revolution is, voters likely turned their attention more to his style of play than his style. Harden led the way in the rise of the triple, regularly leading or near the top of the leaderboard in three-pointers made and attempted (though notably not his percentage made). He led the NBA in points per game three seasons in a row and assists twice. He ranks eleventh all-time in career PPG and fourth in three-pointers made. Contemporaries have recognized his greatness, placing him on six All-NBA First Teams, awarding him an MVP and votes in eight other seasons, and now a place on the inaugural Golden Hall.
For all the criticism Harden received for demanding trades for more playing time, it should be noted that he has become a true team player with the Brooklyn Nets, moving increasingly to a pass-oriented role. Moreover, Harden rose to the occasion where it arguably matters even more: national pride. The Californian laced up twice for the United States, bringing home Olympic gold in 2012 and World Cup gold in 2014.
Scottie Pippen, SF
125.1 WS, 18.6 PER, 16.1 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 5.2 APG, 2.0 SPG, 0.8 BPG
In 2006, Scottie Pippen returned to the court, and this author was there. He donned his sneakers across town from his glory days to take on an old rival. That’s right, reader, you guessed it. Pippen rejoined the Central Arkansas Bears against fellow Conwegian-institution the Hendrix Warriors. Though the two teams played to a tie and Pippen played for just a few minutes and put up only four points, the game was a success in raising funds for an organization that serves people with developmental disabilities. Memorably for this Chicago Bulls fan and fellow Arkansan whose ancestral hometown is the same place where Pippen was born, Pippen touched me in the lobby and said, “excuse me.” Ah, the Hamburg touch!
On perhaps the greatest team of all time, Pippen was the second-best player. Too often overshadowed by Michael Jordan, the small forward put up solidly impressive numbers on both ends of the court. His defensive win share count ranks twentieth in history. The Arkansan led the league in steals per game once and ranks seventh all-time. His total points rank 67th and assists rank 34th. Besides his well-known six NBA titles with the Bulls, the Golden Haller also earned two Olympics golds as part of the inaugural and second-edition Dream Teams.
Bob Pettit, PF
136.0 WS, 25.3 PER, 26.4 PPG, 16.2 RPG, 3.0 APG
Sometimes height matters. For a high school freshman and sophomore in 1940s Baton Rouge, it certainly did. Bob Pettit was cut from the varsity team, but a growth spurt gave him the inches he needed to compete. From there, the rest is history. The six-foot, nine inches power forward moved up the Mississippi to Saint Louis and starred for the Hawks. With double-double career averages and twice leading the NBA in points per game, Pettit led his team to nine playoff appearances in an 11-year career. Denying the vaunted Boston Celtics a title in 1958, Pettit averaged 29.3 points and 17.0 rebounds in the six-game Finals.
178.7 WS, 26.2 PER, 21.1 PPG, 10.6 RPG, 3.0 BPG, 2.5 APG, 1.4 SPG
That 1992 Dream Team truly was talented and remains arguably the single-best set of players ever to take the court. With Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, and Larry Bird grabbing most of the attention, the Navy Academy center and 1991 NBA rebound champion is sometimes overlooked. Yet, his contributions to winning that gold medal, as well as a follow-up in 1996 (and a bronze in 1988), warrant attention. Averaging just 17 minutes of play per game, Robinson still managed to put up 11.3 points, 5.2 rebounds (2.2 offensive), and 1.4 blocks. With America relying on prolific production in such a short presentation, it is no wonder the Dream Teams of the 1990s went undefeated.
Of course, Robinson’s greater claim to fame is likely with the professional team of his entire career, the San Antonio Spurs. He led the league in blocks, rebounds, and points once, and he ranks all-time seventh, 36th, and 46th in those categories, respectively. Robinson often shined in the postseason. Among other feats, he led a crowded 1991 field in field goal percentage, two-point percentage, effective field goal percentage, rebounds per game, and blocks per game. With assistance from President Snow look-a-like Gregg Popovich and fellow big Tim Duncan, the Spurs (and Lakers) inherited the championship mantle from the fading Bulls.
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