The NBA recently released its list of the top 75 players to ever play in the league, and as opinion tends to do, it provoked some reactions.
Eleven active players were included: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Carmelo Anthony, Anthony Davis, Kevin Durant, James Harden, LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, Damian Lillard, Chris Paul, and Russell Westbrook.
From some perturbed players to fans and television personalities alike, the pitchforks arrived right on cue. Let’s take a look at some of the best highlights from the disenchanted masses.
NBA Top 75 Players List Provocations
Klay Thompson really didn’t like being left off the list.
The Warriors backed him. The team gave him a new jersey at practice, altering his number to No. 77 (one number off the 76 players included in the list because of a tie).
Thompson and the Warriors have made it pretty clear that they believe he’s a top-75 NBA player of all time.
By all accounts, Thompson is one of the greatest outside shooters in the history of the game. He was the perfect No. 2 option after Curry before ex-Warrior Kevin Durant’s arrival at Golden State.
Without five-time All-Star’s Thompson’s vital contributions, the Warriors wouldn’t have established a championship dynasty in the Steve Kerr era.
Also not included was Kyrie Irving, and it probably won’t surprise most people who has followed him in his career that theories swirled around why the Nets guard wasn’t on the list.
Some internet sleuths have found drafts and videos online created for Irving’s inclusion on the list, but when it came out, his name was not one of the 76.
It’s also possible that these things were created accidentally or in case he was on the list by people who didn’t know who all would be on it until it was released. Maybe something more sinister is going on. I don’t know the answer, but it certainly riled some people up.
Unpredictable and mercurial but equally talented, Kyrie Irving is a generational talent. Don’t forget how much he meant to the Cleveland Cavaliers in helping LeBron James lead the team to its only NBA title in 2016.
A seven-time All-Star, Irving ー like Thompson ー is destined to be enshrined at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame some day. Career averages of 22.8 points and 5.7 assists per game are permanent reminders of his overall excellence in 10 seasons entering the 2021-22 campaign. Irving has only played in 70 or more games three times (and not since 2016-17), and less than 60 in five other seasons.
Dwight Howard has been one of the contemporary names excluded whom many have singled out as deserving. SI’s reaction article about the 75 players is littered with comments on Howard’s snubbing, and the player himself has publicly displayed his disagreement with the decision.
He has shown great maturity in not caring, though, as he explains in the clip above.
“I’m not upset about it,” Howard said. “I was for probably like 30 seconds, but I said you know what? Life is great. I’m alive. I’m still playing basketball in my 18th season. Who cares about a list made by people who ain’t never bounced a basketball before? Who cares?”
It’s refreshing to see someone handle something we all know ultimately doesn’t matter in the proper way by understanding that it’s something that ultimately doesn’t matter.
Other Notable Exclusions
Players like Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady, Manu Ginobili, Bernard King, and Tony Parker were among the other notable names left off the NBA top 75 player list, which had some people scratching their heads.