Let the arguing begin.
The final 25 — well, 26 because of a tie — names on the NBA 75th anniversary team were announced on Thursday, which means we have the full list of 75 players for the team.
— NBA Communications (@NBAPR) October 21, 2021
So who got snubbed? A handful of Hall of Fame players have very legitimate cases, starting with one of the greatest defensive players the game has ever seen in Dikembe Mutombo. Here’s a list of some NBA legends who got snubbed.
• Dikembe Mutombo. Four-time Defensive Player of the Year, eight-time All-Star, three-time All-NBA, and he led the league in blocks three times. One of the great defenders the game has ever seen and, as noted by Ernie Johnson on TNT (one of the panel of voters for the team), Mutombo’s efforts to build hospitals in his native Congo and to raise awareness of issues there fits the NBA ideal of players doing good off the court.
• Dwight Howard. Howard said he was “disappointed” not to make the team, and he’s got a right to be. Too many younger fans don’t realize how great Howard was in his first eight seasons in the league (before he rushed a return from back surgery to try and play for the Lakers his first stint there). His resume includes an NBA title, 3-time Defensive Player of the Year, he’s an eight-time All-NBA player and 8-time All-Star and five-time rebounding champion. Every player with 13,000 rebounds and 2,000 blocks made the 75th Anniversary Team, except Howard.
• Artis Gilmore. Speaking of big men who should have made the team, Gilmore was the 1972 MVP, an ABA champion who was an 11-time All-Star, and made the All-Defensive Team five times. He had one of the smoothest games from a big the league has ever seen.
• Vince Carter. One of the great dunkers the game has ever seen (just ask Frederic Weis), Carter’s game was much more than that with 10 seasons where he averaged more than 20 points a game. Carter is an 8-time All-Star and won Rookie of the Year in 1999.
• Yao Ming. Injuries cut his career short, just eight seasons, but he is an 8-time All-Star, 5-time All-NBA player who also opened the door to China and that market for the NBA. Not only one of the best players of a generation, he helped make the game more international.
• Grant Hill. He unquestionably would have made the list if injuries had not slowed him the second half of his NBA career. Even still, he is a seven-time All-Star, five-time All NBA player who was the Rookie of the Year in 1995.
• Bernard King. Brooklyn native and Knicks legend, he was one of the great scorers of a generation (and he led the league in scoring in 1985). He is a four-time All-NBA and four-time All-Star player.
• Tracy McGrady. One of the great scorers the game has ever seen. McGrady led the league in scoring twice, and he is a 7-time All-NBA and All-Star.
Klay Thompson thought he was snubbed, although I’m not so sure.
The question is who gets taken off the list, and it’s fair to as how history will view some current players — Damian Lillard, Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook — who made the team. It’s a debate, each of those guys has a good case.
Which is why this will be a fun argument.