Honoring NBA greats who paved the way for today’s superstars

Bill  Russell deservingly, receives a great deal of recognition for his accomplishments.

Bill Russell appropriately receives a great deal of recognition for his extensive career accomplishments.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

As the National Basketball association (NBA) exits the month of the All-Star game, many fans are looking forward to the playoffs and the MVP race. The recent conversation about all-time great NBA players always features Michael Jordan, Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and many, many, more. This has prompted OnPointPress.net to honor some of the all-time greats who deserve as much recognition as those who are regularly mentioned.

At the end of each month, for the rest of the NBA season, we will highlight a center, forward, and guard who deserve to be recognized publicly and often.

Moses Malone is one of the best centers of all-time.

Moses Malone is one of the best centers of all time.

At center, we recognize Moses Malone. Malone started his professional career in 1974 in the American Basketball Association (ABA) as one of the first players to go straight to the pros from high school. Malone played for 9 different teams during his 21-year career, while earning MVP honors 3 times (79′, 82′ and 83′) and making the All Star team 14 times (2 ABA and 12 NBA).

Malone was the key acquisition of the Philadelphia 76ers in 1983 and the Malone\Julius Irving-led team finally captured the NBA championship in a sweep of the Lakers that season. Malone was named MVP in the Finals as well. Many basketball fans remember Malone for his serious demeanor and exceptional rebounding prowess. Malone retired in 1995 with 29,580 points, 17,834 rebounds, and 1936 assists. He should regularly come to mind when discussions of best centers of all time is raised.

Elgin Baylor, is not only one of the best players of all-time but is also the best scorer (27.4 ppg) in Lakers history.

Elgin Baylor, is not only one of the best players of all-time but is also the best scorer (27.4 ppg) in Lakers history.

At forward, we recognize Elgin Baylor. Baylor was the first overall draft pick of what was then the Minneapolis Lakers in 1958, and won rookie of the year honors in 1959. One of the best scorers of all time, Baylor would later average 27.4 points per game in his 13-year career (currently 4th best all time). Baylor would put together a phenomenal stretch while averaging 34.8, 38.3 and 34 points per game, respectively, in the 1960-63 seasons.

Baylor, along with Jerry West, led the Lakers to the NBA Finals on eight different occasions but had the dubious distinction of losing every appearance. As fate would have it, Baylor would suffer a serious knee injury that cut his career short. In fact, he retired early in the 1972-73 season, the same season the Lakers would set an NBA record winning 33 consecutive games and finally winning the championship. If not for the Celtics domination of the sixties, Baylor would definitely be brought up more regularly. Baylor (6’5″) was also an exceptional rebounder, who averaged 13.5 rebounds per game (career high 19.8 rpg in 1960) for his career.

Hal Greer holds the career scoring record for the 76ers.

Hal Greer holds the career scoring record for the 76ers.

At guard, we recognize Hal Greer. Greer joined the NBA in 1958 with the Syracuse Nationals, which eventually became the Philadelphia 76ers ,in 1963, and would play his entire career with the franchise. Though he played many years with Wilt Chamberlain, Greer holds the record as the 76ers all-time leading scorer.

The 10-time All Star would team with Chamberlain to lead the 76ers past the Boson Celtics in 1967, ending the Celtics 8-year championship run and culminating in the first title of the 76ers franchise. Greer actually led the team in scoring (27.7 ppg) during that playoff run, which marked the pinnacle of his career. Of the guards that played throughout the 1960’s, only Oscar Robertson and Jerry West are more accomplished than Greer.

This article is not intended to be a biography for these players. Instead, the writer’s intent is to remind fans of the contributions these players made to the exciting game of basketball and to the NBA in particular. Stay tuned as we honor more NBA greats in the near future.–OnPointPress.net

Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and management training consultant. Follow me @OpenWindowMES on Twitter.com.