Last Saturday, I started breaking down my top 3 All Time NBA teams starting with the 3rd Team.
Without further adieu... let's get to the all time 2nd team.
(Note: I just used my own personal opinion for these rankings... so go ahead and disagree, if you must)
And the All Time NBA 2nd Team leads off with:
Bob Cousy, Boston Celtics, Point Guard
In 13 seasons with the Celtics, Cousy made 10 All NBA first teams (and 2 second teams), won 1 MVP and 2 All Star Game MVP's. Averaging 18 points and 7.5 assists a game (he led the league in assists 8 straight years), Cousy was the original driving force behind the start of the Celtics Dynasty.
Cousy was the point guard leading the attack that won 6 NBA Championships in 7 years(the last 5 in a row). Then he retired (I'm ignoring his attempted 7 game 'comeback' in 1969 with Cincinnati).
Sure, those teams were loaded with Hall of Fame type players like Sam Jones, KC Jones, Tom Heinson, and of course Bill Russell. But someone had to make that engine go. Cousy was the guy who kept everyone happy distributing the ball at will, and was a wizard with the basketball in his hands. He would definitely keep the shooters and scorers on the 2nd team happy.
Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers, Shooting Guard
One of only 4 current players who made my top 3 All Time teams, Kobe Bryant has a remarkable career over 17 seasons (so far) with the Lakers.
In his time in the Purple and Gold, Kobe has won 5 NBA Championships, 2 NBA Finals MVP's, 4 NBA All Star Game MVP's, and 1MVP award.
An 11 time All NBA First Teamer (and 9 time First Team Defense, as well), Kobe has averaged 25 points per game, leading the league in scoring twice. He currently stands 4th all time in NBA scoring with 31, 617 points.
Despite all his accolades, awards, and championships, the thing that sets Kobe apart from other "greats" is his indomitable will. Not saying that all players don't want to be great, but Kobe has a drive that is just unreal. In 2009's The Art of a Beautiful Game author Chris Ballard dedicated a chapter to Kobe's will. Highly recommend this book to anyone who hasn't read it and loves basketball.
Larry Bird, Boston Celtics, Small Forward
Larry "Legend" played 13 seasons with the Celtics, compiling 3 NBA Championships, 3 MVPs, 2 Finals MVP's, and one All Star Game MVP.
He made 9 "All NBA" first teams, playing in 12 All Star games. He averaged 12 points and 10 Rebounds, along with 6 assists a game for his career.
A tremendous outside shooter, as a fan of the opposition I can say with honesty that no one was more terrifying with the ball in his hands in the closing seconds of a game than Larry. He could literally hit from anywhere on the court, regardless of whether he was well guarded or not.
Larry was unconventional player, to say the least. In that time, there weren't many 6'9" players who were stroking 3 pointers... in addition to his shooting, Larry was a great ball handler and tremendous passer who made the opposition pay for double teaming him.
In fact, it was very difficult for me to put Larry on the 2nd team. Up until this past season, he would have been solidly on the first team. If there is an argument to be made with my list, I would start with this one. It was a difficult decision, but I feel the correct one.
Kevin Garnett, Minnesota Timberwolves/Boston Celtics, Power Forward
KG has played 18 seasons (so far) averaging 19 points and 10 rebounds a game, while appearing in 15 All Star games (in which he won the MVP once).
He was the NBA MVP in 2004, the defensive player of the year in 2008, and has been name NBA First Team 4 Times, and First Team All Defense 9 times. And to be honest, he would have had more if he wasn't playing in the same era as our first teamer at his position.
One of the first players to come directly from High School to the NBA and have success, Garnett is known for his intensity on the court. He is not averse to doing any "dirty work" that needs to be done. A complete player, Garnett can impact the game on both ends of the court. At 6'11, Garnett has shown abilities that few men his size could match, including a pretty reliable (until recent years) jumpshot. A true leader in every sense of the word, KG is deserving of his spot on the 2nd team.
Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Milwaukee Bucks/Los Angeles Lakers, Center
Manning the middle, the "Captain" of the team, is the NBA's all time leading scorer, Kareem Abdul Jabbar.
My goodness, where to begin with the accolades for Kareem? He played 20 seasons in the League (14 with the Lakers), won 6 Championships, was named NBA MVP 6 times, and NBA Finals MVP twice.
Averaging 24.6 points and 11 rebounds per game, Kareem made 10 All NBA First Teams, and 7 All NBA Defense First Teams.
When lists mentioning the "greatest players of all time" are listed, Kareem seems to be the person most often left out, for some reason. In fact, most lists I've seen have him listed as the 3rd best Center all time, behind Russell and Chamberlain. I have him as second team because Kareem was a better all around player than Chamberlain, in my opinion. He was a better defensive player, he won more championships, and played longer (and was still relevant late in his career).
With perhaps the most unstoppable shot in the history of the game, the "Sky Hook", Kareem could score on anyone, and hold his own on the defensive end as well.
This team would be pretty tough to stop, with Kobe's slashing ability, Bird's shooting... Cousy distributing the ball to Cap in the paint, or running the Pick and Roll or Pick and Pop with Garnett. They could pretty much get any shot they wanted, and on the defensive end...good luck trying to run anything. This group of 5 is possibly better defensively than the first team is. It would certainly be a good matchup.
My next post will break down... the starting five... the top All Time NBA team.