NBA

NBA 75th Anniversary Team: 15 greats who were left out

The NBA named its 75th Anniversary Team in October - and there were plenty of basketball legends who didn't make the list.

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  • Kryie Irving

    Kyrie Irving (2011-)

    All the ability in the world with ball in hand. The point guard debuted in the NBA with the Cleveland Cavaliers as first overall pick in the 2011 draft, and won a championship ring alongside LeBron James and Kevin Love, in the greatest ever finals comeback: from 3-1 down to 4-3 winners against the 73-9 Golden State Warriors. He’s a seven-time All-Star, claiming the All-Star Game’s MVP award in 2014, and won Rookie of the Year in 2012. After a spell at the Boston Celtics, he’s now at the Brooklyn Nets, although his refusal to receive the covid-19 vaccination has left him on the sidelines this season.

    FOTO: Steven Ryan (Getty Images)

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  • Tony Parker

    Tony Parker (2001-2019)

    After being drafted at number 28 in 2001, Parker spent his entire NBA career with the San Antonio Spurs. The France international oozed class and intelligence, controlling the tempo of games in a way very few have done in the American league. He was part of one of the greatest ‘big threes’ in history, alongside Tim Duncan and Manu Ginóbili. An NBA champion on four occasions, winning the finals MVP award in 2007, he was also a seven-time All-Star.

    FOTO: Christian Petersen (Getty Images)

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  • Chauncey Billups

    Chauncey Billups (1997-2014)

    “Basketball was my way of going to college.” Billups didn’t set out to be an NBA star, but, in a 17-year career in the league, ended up becoming a legend of the game, winning a championship and a finals MVP award, and making the All-Star Game four times. The point guard helped the Detroit Pistons to the last of their three NBA titles in 2004, in what was a memorable team: Ben Wallace, Tayshaun Prince, Richard Hamilton… Billups brought order to a team brimming with flair.

    FOTO: Brian Bahr (Getty Images)

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  • Klay Thompson

    Klay Thompson (2011-)

    The 11th pick in the 2011 draft, Thompson is one of the sharpest shooters in the history of the NBA, a player with a receive-it-and-take-aim-quick mentality who was part of what, for many, is the best ever NBA team: the Golden State Warriors who registered a 73-9 regular season and won three championship rings in five straight finals appearances. He holds the record for the most threes scored in a single game, 14, and is 20th in the all-time charts with 1,798 successful three-point shots… despite missing the last two seasons and being yet to play this term.

    FOTO: Ezra Shaw (Getty Images)

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  • Vince Carter

    Vince Carter (1998-2020)

    A man seemingly capable of defying gravity, he said farewell to the game last year. Carter was a unique, easy-on-the-eye player whom the NBA did not reward with a championship ring. However, he did manage eight All-Star selections and was part of one of the greatest slam-dunk contests ever, in Oakland in 2000. The shooting guard-small forward retired after a record 22 seasons in the NBA, having become the only player to have appeared in the league in four different decades.

    FOTO: Kevin C. Cox (Getty Images)

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  • Tracy McGrady

    Tracy McGrady (1997-2013)

    T-Mac is another NBA great who never got his hands on a championship ring. He began his NBA career at the Toronto Raptors, but it was at the Orlando Magic that he exploded into a franchise player and proved himself to be a generational talent. In four seasons with the Magic, he never went below an average of 25 points per game, peaking at 32.1. Twice the league’s highest scorer, a seven-time All-NBA Team member and an All-Star on seven occasions, McGrady was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2017.

    FOTO: Ronald Martinez (Getty Images)

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  • Adrian Dantley

    Adrian Dantley (1976-1991)

    An oft underrated player. One of the great points scorers of the early 1980s, he twice racked up more than anyone else in an NBA season (1981 and 1984) and averaged over 30 per game for a period of four years. All that came at the Utah Jazz. When, years later, he went Detroit, he just missed out on an NBA title on two occasions: in 1988, because the Pistons lost Game 7 to the Los Angeles Lakers; a year later, because he was traded midway through a season that saw Detroit seal the first championship in their history.

    FOTO: ABC Photo Archives (Disney General Entertainment Con)

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  • Alex English

    Alex English (1976-1991)

    After being selected by the Milwaukee Bucks at number 23 in the 1976 draft, English’s NBA career took off at the Denver Nuggets, where he achieved the nigh-on impossible feat of making a name for himself alongside the great stars of the 1980s. He was an All-Star eight times, and was the highest scorer in the league in the 1982/83 season. He has scored more points than anyone else for Denver, where he spent 10 and a half years.

    FOTO: Focus On Sport (Getty Images)

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  • Paul George

    Paul George (2010-)

    A player with an astonishing scoring capacity, George made his name in the NBA with the Indiana Pacers, helping the franchise go toe to toe with the Miami Heat of Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh. An immense defender, he has made All-NBA Defensive Teams four times, has been an All-Star on seven occasions and was the steals leader in the 2018/19 season. After a spell at the Oklahoma City Thunder that didn’t work out, he is trying to win that elusive first NBA title alongside Kawhi Leanord at the Los Angeles Clippers.

    FOTO: Sean M. Haffey (Getty Images)

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  • Pau Gasol

    Pau Gasol (2001-2019)

    Spain’s greatest ever player announced his retirement in October, with an enviable resumé: a seven-time All-Star, four-time All-NBA Team member, Rookie of the Year in 2002 and twice an NBA champion with the Los Angeles Lakers, alongside his close friend Kobe Bryant. His arrival at the Lakers from the Memphis Grizzlies changed the history of Spanish basketball, and was a lifting-off point for a player whose No. 16 shirt has now been retired by Lakers - an almost impossible feat at a franchise that is such a giant of the game. Chicago, San Antonio and Milwaukee were also treated to Gasol’s talents.

    FOTO: Harry How (Getty Images)

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  • Draymond Green

    Draymond Green (2012-)

    Green had a hand in changing the way the game is played in the NBA. His passing vision and ability to defend in any position (he was named Defensive Player of the Year in 2017) allowed the Golden State Warriors to break new ground by playing ‘small ball’ with Green at center, despite his relatively low height. It paved the way for the three-point revolution and three NBA title wins in five years for the Warriors, who also managed the best ever regular season, 73-9.

    FOTO: Ezra Shaw (Getty Images)

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  • Chris Bosh

    Chris Bosh (2003-2016)

    A special player who was forced to retire early because of a life-threatening blod-clotting condition. Bosh was pure poetry, graceful in his movements and in his short and long-range shooting. He was a key figure in the two championship rings won by the Miami Heat in four consecutive finals appearances, is an 11-time All-Star, and is a member of the Hall of Fame, having also gone down in history in his time with the Toronto Raptors.

    FOTO: Mike Ehrmann (Getty Images)

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  • Dwight Howard

    Dwight Howard (2004-)

    Before descending into a destructive spiral, Howard was one of the great NBA centers. A natural successor to Shaquille O’Neal in the paint, he was an unstoppable force under the rim and catapulted the Orlando Magic, who had drafted him at first overall pick in 2004, to the finals in 2009. The Magic lost to the Lakers, a franchise where he finally won a championship ring in 2020, in his second spell with the Los Angeles team. Twice NBA blocks leader and five times rebounding leader, he has made eight All-Star Game appearances and been named Defensive Player of the Year on three occasions.

    FOTO: Zhong Zhi (Getty Images)

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  • Ben Wallace

    Ben Wallace (1996-2012)

    The center who wasn’t a center is one of the best defensive players the NBA has ever seen. Big Ben was a key cog in the Pistons’ ‘Bad Boys 2.0’, and won a title in Detroit, where he spent the bulk of his career. His 1,088 regular-season games is the most in league history by an undrafted player. Wallace is a four-time All-Star, four-time Defensive Player of the Year and nine-time member of All-NBA Defensive Teams (five in the First Team), as well as being twice rebounding leader and once blocks leader.

    FOTO: Jed Jacobsohn (Getty Images)

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  • Dikembe Mutombo

    Dikembe Mutombo (1991-2009)

    One of the best non-American players ever in the NBA. Born in Zaire (now DR Congo), he is an eight-time All-Star. A battling defender (winning the Defensive Player of the Year award on four occasions), he is the second-top blocker in the history of the league, with only Hakeem Olajuwon ahead of him. He played for the Nuggets, Hawks, Sixers, Nets, Knicks and Rockets, but never managed to win a championship ring.

    FOTO: The Sporting News (Sporting News via Getty Images)

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