This is a guest post by Contributor Porter Brewer. To submit an article and become a contributor, email Info@MixedTapeVideos.com.
I know many nostalgic fans disagree with me, but I think that some of the old school guys are overrated. It is impossible to deny when watching highlights that there is a significant difference in skill level when comparing the NBA of the 60s and 70s to the modern NBA. When I make my greatest of all time list, it is a list of the players who I think are truly the greatest of all time. It’s not the best of their era or anything like that. If I drafted a team, my “GOAT” list is the order in which I would draft because I truly think they are the greatest basketball players of any era to ever grace a basketball court with their greatness. When I look at guys like Oscar Robertson and Bill Russell, they simply don’t rank that high on my list. Here’s why.
Bill Russell was a great team player, probably the best ever. The problem with Bill though is that he was absolutely terrible on offense. His 15 points on 22 rebounds a game is pretty pathetic. He is basically a 60s levelheaded version of Dennis Rodman. However, I still consider him an all-time great because there was obviously something different about him that made him able to work as a player coach in the 60s, a time when race relations were at a low point. His leadership was second to none, which is the biggest reason why he has more rings than fingers. He was also a freak on defense and on the boards, which is why I believe Dennis Rodman is such a good comparison. I might even consider him the best defender of all time, but you can’t be a top ten player in the history of the game if you can’t score. If he played today, he would never sniff an MVP. There are also a few facts that shed proper light on his championships. For example, he won many of his championships when there were only eight teams in the league. More than that though, there was no salary cap! That is why he always had such a great team. Boston had a big market and could afford to continually sign the best players to huge deals. During his career, he played with legends like Bob Cousy, John Havlicek, and Sam Jones. These are actually just three of the six Hall-of-Famers with whom Russell played!
Oscar Robertson is the one who I’m really not that impressed with. He was a terrible defender and he played in a time where basketball was basically a series of fast breaks. The bottom line is that the number of possessions per game was way higher in the 60s. Also, shooting was terrible at the time, allowing for a lot more rebounds. The comparison to Russell Westbrook is a great one. Can you imagine if LeBron James played at the time? He would have had a million points, rebounds, and assists every game! Also, my biggest complaint with Oscar is that his highlights show that his game wouldn’t fly in today’s NBA. His season average of a triple-double will live in basketball lore forever, but I believe that he beat up on a lesser NBA, not to mention the fact that he never won a ring until he played with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Up to now, it may seem like I’m dismissing all of the old-time greats. However, that’s not true. Some of those old school players would dominate in any era. Which brings me to…
Wilt Chamberlain is the only player from the 60s that I absolutely believe would be a superstar in today’s league. The man’s athleticism was unparalleled, and this would still be the case if he played today. His combination of size, strength, speed, and coordination makes me wonder if he is from this planet! In college he won the Big 8 Conference high jumping competition three years in a row and ran a 49-second 400 meter dash! This becomes even more impressive when you consider the fact that he was 7’1″. In my opinion, he is the most athletic player in NBA history. In the end though, what separates him from the other greats of the 60s is his highlight tape. The video below will give you a small peek into just how unique Wilt really was. Some of his post moves might be outdated, but with his skill set, it wouldn’t take him any time at all to adjust his game and become the best center in today’s league. I have him ranked #3 all time.
Basically, it’s all a matter of context. Players like Oscar Robertson and Dennis Rodman downplay the success of current players like Stephen Curry, claiming that it’s due only to the shortcomings of the new-era league. Well, that argument can go both ways.