NBA Mount Rushmore Day
NBA Mount Rushmore Day
In a recent interview with NBA TV, LeBron James said that Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Oscar Robertson are on his Mt. Rushmore as the greatest players in NBA history. LeBron followed up with saying:
"I'm going to be one of the top four to ever play this game. For sure. And if they don't want me to have one of those top four spots, they better find another spot. We've got to bump somebody. Somebody got to get bumped. That's not for me to decide. That's for the architects, to chisel somebody's face out and put mine up there."
As a part of SB Nation's theme day, it's not for us here at Sonics Rising to decide whether or not LeBron will belong at the top when his career is over, or if his current list is even right.
Instead, we'll debate what four players deserve to have their faces on the Seattle Supersonics' Mt. Rushmore.
First, the candidates:
GARY PAYTON: The Glove's resume speaks for itself: nine-time All Star, voted to nine straight All-NBA Defensive First Teams, ranks fourth all-time in the NBA for steals, ranks eighth all-time in the NBA for assists, the all-time leading scorer in Supersonics history, the only point guard to ever be voted as Defensive Player of the Year and a member of the 2013 Hall of Fame class.
SHAWN KEMP: The Reign Man. One of the greatest dunkers of all-time (more on that later). Kemp was a six-time All Star and averaged a double-double in a finals series against arguably the greatest team of all-time; Kemp went 23-10-2 versus the 96' Bulls. Things didn't end well between the front office and Kemp during his time on the Sonics, but since his retirement he has continued to support Seattle and their hopes of an NBA team returning.
JACK SIKMA: A great scorer and rebounder, Sikma was a seven-time All Star and a big part of the 1979 Supersonics, who won the title over the Washington Bullets. Most centers aren't known for being excellent from the free throw line, but Sikma only shot below 81% from the charity stripe in one season out of his 14-year career. He also led the league in defensive rebounds twice and is 15th all-time in defensive rebounds for a career. His number 43 jersey was retired by the Sonics in 1992.
GUS WILLIAMS: Another big part of the 1979 team, Williams was a two-time All Star and averaged 28.6 points-per-game in the '79 finals. Williams also had his number retired by the Sonics in 2004.
SPENCER HAYWOOD: Before cocaine killed the second half of his career, Spencer Haywood was one of the best big men in the NBA. During his five seasons in Seattle, Haywood was a four-time All Star and averaged 24 points and 12 rebounds per game. Because Haywood wasn't four years out of high school at the time of his signing, the NBA threatened to disallow the contract and punish the Sonics with sanctions. Haywood and then Sonics owner Sam Schulman would take the NBA all the way to the Supreme Court. Shortly after the court ruled in favor of Haywood, he reached an out of court settlement with the NBA which allowed him to stay with and play for the Sonics-an event that would pave the way for players leaving college early to enter the NBA Draft.
"DOWNTOWN" FRED BROWN: Freddie was never voted to an All-Star team with the Sonics, but when he retired in 1984 he was the Sonics all-time leader in games played, points scored, field goal attempts and free throws. Dubbed as "Instant Offense" by his teammates, Brown seldom started in games, but always did exceptional work off the bench as a 6th man. Downtown also still holds the team's all-time record for points in a regular season game with 58. Oh, and he was also Taylor Bartle's Mom's favorite player.
Other names to remember: Dennis Johnson, Ray Allen, Lenny Wilkens, Nate McMillan and Detlef Schrempf.
The staff voted on who should be on the Sonics' Mt. Rushmore and came up with these four when it was all said and done:
Gary Payton (unanimous), Jack Sikma (unanimous), Shawn Kemp and Spencer Haywood.
Others receiving votes included Gus Williams, Fred Brown and Lenny Wilkens.
Now, let's have some fun with Mt. Rushmore thing and debate other categories:
(The following Mt. Rushmores reflect my opinion only, not the rest of the staff at Sonics Rising)
Bill Russell, Shaquille O'Neal, Hakeem Olajuwon, Kareem Abdul Jabbar
Magic Johnson, Bob Cousy, John Stockton, Gary Payton
Fred Brown, Robert Horry, Bruce Bowen, Manu Ginobili
THE 2010-11 WIZARDS:
Andray Blatche, JaVale McGee, Nick Young, Jordan Crawford
(add in Gilbert Arenas and imagine the headache that John Wall had his rookie year.)
Vince Carter, Shawn Kemp, Dominique Wilkins, Michael Jordan
Ray Allen, Larry Bird, Reggie Miller, Mitch Richmond
Feel free to use the comment section for open debate on the Mt. Rushmore's. Vote on the poll too!