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 Third Team, Fourth Team, Fifth Team, Sixth Team, 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).
This article reveals the five players who constitute the second-best possible starting lineup in basketball history. The next article will feature the top five 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 Second Team (be sure to comment with whom you think we missed):
Oscar Robertson, PG
189.2 WS, 23.2 PER, 25.7 PPG, 9.5 APG, 7.5 RPG, 1.1 SPG, 0.1 BPG
I want to like the movie Hoosiers; I really do. Gene Hackman is phenomenal as always, and the story of scrappy underdogs from a tiny rural town should tug at these old American heartstrings. Yet, I find myself rooting against Hickory in the third act. The all-white team faces a largely Black squad from a city, and my eye is drawn not to the cheering Hoosiers but instead to the defeated Bears. Those actors depicting the South Bend players deserved an Oscar for best supporting extra – the viewer all but sees the consequences of this defeat. For the less talented Bears, the loss means their potential greatest accomplishment in life will not be realized, and struggling through a racist society awaits the rest of their lives. For the talented players, the loss could decrease their likelihood of obtaining critical college scholarships.
And this fact only adds to my inability to enjoy Hoosiers: Oscar Robertson, one of the greatest players in the history of the game and a victim of racism in his high school days, played for the team on which the Bears is based. Crispus Attucks High School in Indianapolis, named after the first martyr of the Revolution, lost to Hickory-like Milan High in 1954. Fortunately for Robertson, he was just a sophomore, and his junior-year squad won the tournament in 1955.
The 1964 MVP and nine-time All-NBA First Team guard is a true legend and very arguably could be on the Golden Hall First Team. After an outstanding collegiate career, Robertson stayed in Cincinnati after being drafted by the NBA’s Cincinnati Royals. In just his second professional season, the Indianan averaged a triple-double across 79 games. Even without a three-point line, Robertson still ranks ninth in career points per game, eighth in total assists, third in assists per game, third in minutes per game, fourth in offensive win shares, and second in triple-doubles. He collected two championships, one with the United States at the Rome Olympics and the other with the Bucks and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in the 1971 NBA Finals.
Kobe Bryant, SG
172.7 WS, 80.1 VORP, 22.9 PER, 25.0 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 4.7 APG, 1.4 SPG, 0.5 BPG
Unlike Hoosiers, I initially liked Kobe Bryant. His style of play was similar to my favorite player growing up (Michael Jordan), and he seemed totally educated in the game and life, knowing the history through his father and fluent in Italian thanks to his dad’s playing days in Italy. Yet, his alleged rape of a woman in Colorado washed away my fandom.
In basketball terms alone, Bryant is one of the best to have played the game. His stats bear this out. His Lakers won five rings, and he was named Finals MVP twice. He features in the top ten in multiple career statistics: fourth in points, ninth in minutes played, and third in usage percentage. Of course, he also ranks in the top ten in some not so great stats: first in field goals missed and sixth in turnovers. Yet his MVP and 11 All-NBA First Team placements make clear his realized talent.
Larry Bird, SF
145.8 WS, 77.2 VORP, 23.5 PER, 24.3 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 6.3 APG, 1.7 SPG, 0.8 BPG
Look at that stat line. Larry Legend averaged a double-double for his career. In the rough and tumble 1980s iteration of basketball, few were tougher than Larry Bird. He could rain threes in the new arced era while presenting a commanding presence in the post and bringing in boards.
With three rings, nine All-NBA First Teams, and three consecutive MVPs, Larry Bird is an inner circle Hall of Famer and Second Team Golden Haller.
Karl Malone, PF
234.6 WS, 99.0 VORP, 23.9 PER, 25.0 PPG, 10.1 RPG, 3.6 APG, 1.4 SPG, 0.8 BPG
The Mailman may not have delivered an NBA championship, but Karl Malone did bring home gold from two Olympics and a continental contest. Given that Olympians tend to put in fewer minutes than in the NBA, projecting his stat line out to 36 minutes shows just how impressive his Dream Team I and II performances were. Combining the Barcelona and Atlanta appearances, Malone put up 22.1 points per game, 10.1 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 2.6 steals, and 0.8 blocks. Salt Lake may still be awaiting a championship, but back-to-back golds can be appreciated by all Americans.
Wilt Chamberlain, C
247.3 WS, 26.1 PER, 30.1 PPG, 22.9 RPG, 4.4 APG
In 124 seasons of major league basketball, only one individual has scored 100 points in a single game. The legend of Wilt the Stilt is inexorably linked to the number 100, with all its associated mythical recollections and implications. The aim of the game is to score, and no other has scored as much in a single contest. Moreover, with a first-place shooting percentage, Chamberlain led the NBA in points seven times and ranks seventh on the all-time list (add seven to the mystical number count).
On top of this, the Pennsylvanian collected boards like few others. He topped the NBA eleven times (that’s a prime number!), and still ranks first in career rebounds and rebounds per game.
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