Tag Archives: NBA


Jay C. Brandriet


When you see potential gaps of time missing from Jordan’s career, it’s in three places. He broke his foot in his second season. He retired twice. A few of his legendary peers went right from high school to the NBA. Michael spent three years at the University of North Carolina. It was a different world in 1983. The VHS tape was just catching fire, and we had to watch commercials. To be a student at Chapel Hill was the best choice for his path at that time.

Jordan’s college and Olympic success reached the highest levels. Dean Smith helped mold him. In 1983-84 Michael peaked as the best player in the country. He was an NCAA champion in 1982.

Most of you know the story. MJ was a freshman and his UNC Tarheels were playing Georgetown for the NCAA championship. UNC was down one point with fifteen seconds left. Michael’s iconic  jump shot was the go ahead basket. North Carolina is a champion forever. That play was Jordan’s clutch side introducing itself.

Right before he became an NBA rookie, Mike was busy taking other countries to summer school. The 1984 United State’s Olympic team was the last amateur U.S squad to win a gold medal in men’s basketball. They were 8-0 and won by an average of 32 points.

Wikipedia describes the tournament in the “Legacy” category this way. “The 1984 Olympics were a coming-out party for Michael Jordan, who led the U.S. team in scoring and dazzled the worldwide viewing audience with his athleticism and speed.”

He won with terrific players in both situations. Fact remains, Jordan was a winner before his NBA days. It should matter just a little more than it does. This is the age of debate and details.

You know about the hops. It’s Michael’s foot speed and quickness that lack credit.









Team USA was coached by Bobby Knight. He is one of the biggest names and controversial figures known to the sport. Shortly after Jordan’s first retirement in 1993, Knight sat down with David Letterman and said the following:

“Michael Jordan is the best that’s ever played anything. To draw a comparison maybe you could pick Jim Brown or Babe Ruth. I think Michael took it to a different level.”

“We were going for the gold medal in Los Angeles in 1984. We are playing Spain and we led by 28 points at the half. Jordan has played 11 minutes. He has 19 points, 12 rebounds, and nine assists. We played the game as well as basketball can be played. I’m a great believer of lets play better in the second half. I’m walking across the floor and thinking, what am I going to say to get us to play any better? I open the locker room door and the first person I see is Michael. I figure I should jump all over him, to make a point to the other guys.”

“I walk over and I say Mike, when you gonna set a screen? We got four guys out their screening, when the hell you gonna screen somebody? All you’re doing is rebounding, passing and scoring. Screen somebody out here! Mike looked up at me and said…”coach didn’t I read last week you said I’m the quickest player you’ve ever been around?” I said, ya, what does that have to do with you screening? MJ answered “coach, I think I set them quicker than you can see them.”


Jay C. Brandriet




Jay C. Brandriet


Here’s the joke. Knock knock. Who’s there? Chris Webber is not in the Hall of Fame.

C Webb has been eligible for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame for like half a decade. Guys have to wait, I know. His first year, he did not get one nomination. This is absolutely disrespectful to Webber’s impact on the game.

We know about his ultra famous time out in college. The moment has become his signature play, along side dunking over Barkley. He was often injured. He never played in the NBA Finals. Truth is, his playoff career was “only” very good.

Chris was one of the top college players ever. He is also an all time NBA great. That’s enough. He’s in. The level you hit, is often the only thing a voter should need. I spent 1999 to 2002 devouring the NBA. I watched four plus games a night (smh, I know). This was Webber’s heyday. I thought over the first half of the 2000-01 season, Chris was the best player in the world. He was the center piece of those, ahead of their time Sacramento Kings teams. I remember Chris on a bum leg, trying to guard Shaq in game seven of the West Finals. I can see him digging that forearm into the big man. His other arm, waving to the crowd, begging them to get excited about it.

His hands were like magnets. Webber was one of the very best passers to play. He dropped circus dimes. He had patience under the rim, and had a cool way of using his shoulders. This era, was super competitive for him. The power forward was evolving and peaking in league wide depth. At worst, Webber was a low-level great.

Chris finished top ten in MVP voting five times.







Basketball reference is the only place I go for stats. It’s an awesome site. They have a section where it projects what percent chance a player has to get into the Hall of Fame. I asked Jay Yeomans today (jmoneysports.com) what percent chance he thought Webber had? His response was “90.” Sounded right to me.

The answer? 14.6 percent! Huh? I’d assign Ron Harper, or Kenny Smith that number.

Kevin Johnson is at 19 percent, and Mark Price 18.3. They both are close to Hall level, and Webber was better than both. Chauncey Billups is at 84.4 percent. Um. Chris was better than him too, That Finals MVP award must carry serious weight.

On TNT a few years back a handful of guys were picking out of a pool of all time stars, like a fantasy draft. Webber was one of the guests on the panel. Duncan, Dirk, and KG had been chosen and were off the board. It was getting late and a little awkward as Chris had not been taken. C Webb had to stick up for himself a bit. “I’m cool with those guys going ahead of me. But I promise you Tim, Kevin, and Dirk know me real well.” Truth. Webber’s last pick of the draft? He ended up taking himself.

The Hall factors in what you did in college and international play. His NBA experience should be enough. He better get that invite in 2019. There have been scandals  surrounding Michigan and Webber at that time so his, success has been kind of “erased.” That time out never happened then either.

Jay C. Brandriet




Jay C. Brandriet


These LeBron James decisions have become familiar, massive television events. The delivery is getting smoother and the choices are getting better. The story broke last night. Four years, 153.3 million dollars. LeBron is leaving Cleveland to  join the Los Angeles Lakers.

We know these takes remain a little blurry. The Lakers and other teams are still incomplete. This squad will look different in a few years.

This move is a little risky, but it’s more brilliant.

It’s risky because he’s playing in the Western Conference. This group of teams offers a ton of heavy weights. Remember the Battle Royal in the WWF? It’s brilliant because he is showing he is willing to give up his grip of Eastern domination, to come hang with the “big boys.”

It’s risky because he has to play the Warriors to get to the Finals. It’s brilliant because he may as well get in there and go nose to nose with them. He is already connected with that group for life. Friends close, enemies closer.

It’s risky because he is playing on a must win stage. He is competing in the shadow of the best individual players in NBA history. It’s brilliant because he will ultimately win. He will become one of those Lakers shadows.

What if he failed in L.A.? LeBron is more self secure than he used to be. He’s showing lack of fear to do this.

The Lakers fan base is a nation. Tonight, “King James”  took their love hostage. The prize athlete in the sport is with its most glamorous franchise. He is normally the top story.  In L.A, he is THE STORY. LBJ just made sure the defending champion Warriors  are the second most popular team in the state of California.

Some imply this will be James farewell act. Not true. He will only be saying goodbye to his prime. He will do it chasing Michael Jordan under the brightest of lights. He can never be as perfect as Mike, but he will match him by taking different roads to GOAT island. He will do it with the volume of greatness.

Winning in multiple cities is one angle ( I think he gets at least one ring with the Lakers).  He will be relevant as an active player for more than two decades. It will be during the noisy internet, social media era. He is now in Los Angeles? He’s piling on. Basketball society will be overwhelmed by his long-term relevance, as he smashes records nightly. LeBron loves to control the narrative.

Even if James teams up with a player as top shelf as Kawai Leonard, this time LBJ doesn’t look as bad. The Warriors have gotten to the point they are seen as skilled bullies. More “super teams” are about to be seen as normal.

It’s ironic my favorite player (“Magic”), just joined forces with LeBron. Russ Riggs gets it.







He is in the best place for his family and his entrepreneurial goals. You know this is going well when Dan Gilbert and Cavaliers fans are celebrating LBJ today.

Jeanie Buss and Magic Johnson are the right people in the key seats.  I like the fit basketball wise. James meshes with everyone, and this team is full of young, ready to improve talent. Tonight they also added JaVale McGee and Lance Stephenson. Both add physical impact. More shooters and help are still on the way, this year and next. LeBron and Luke Walton will get along  just fine. Walton will let James run things, but has enough experience and respect to maintain his status.

L.A. has struggled for a handful of years. LeBron is about to save the Lakers. He sure picked a good story to control.


Jay C. Brandriet


Jay C. Brandriet


This is not an all time list. It’s not even a “my time” list. There are several players I watched that I did not include (Kareem. Moses, and more).  I wanted to focus on those I felt I saw at their best.  It’s a challenge not to list about 125 guys. Here are the 35 I’d claim are the best I’ve seen to date. Kyrie, Dominique, and Alonzo Mourning just missed the cut.


#35- TRACY MCGRADY – If you can score 13 points in 35 seconds to beat the Spurs, you’re hired.

#34- JAMES WORTHY– I picture him waving the ball around like it’s a grape fruit. First step, spin move, two points.

#33- PAUL PIERCE- I always thought of Paul as a grind it out, low-level superstar. In the end, he had a phenomenal career.

#32- GRANT HILL- He was such a big deal as a new age point forward. As an older player, Grant became a defensive guy.

#31- KEVIN MCHALE– Karl Malone and Charles Barkley both called McHale their toughest matchup. Kevin was a back to the basket stud.

#30- JASON KIDD- Pushing the ball with that hard dribble, J Kidd had eyes everywhere.

#29- CHRIS WEBBER – His hands were basketball magnets. Sensational passer. Chris hit the top five player level in the pros.

#28- GARY PAYTON – In his defensive crouch, Palms showing. Rocking his head side to side, and chewing his gum like the cockiest man alive. “The glove” was legit.

#27- JAMES HARDEN – Point flurry’s, step back threes, makes you foul him…Harden is an offensive witch.

#26- RUSSELL WESTBROOK- More than all these triple doubles, Westbrook’s competitive fire is the story.

#25- PATRICK EWING- Patrick had the size, rugged traits, and one of the most elegant shots from the baseline.

It’s a joke Chris Webber is not in the Hall of Fame.







#24- SCOTTIE PIPPEN- On six title teams, Pippen ranged anywhere from the third to twelfth best player in the world.

#23- CLYDE DREXLER- Clyde was a classic aerial player and finisher at the basket. Rare Drexler note: He finished in the top ten in steals, seven times.

#22- STEVE NASH- He almost glided as he ran. Nash was a degree of difficulty shot maker, and his percentages are clean.

#21- KAWHI LEONARD- Before he went down with injury last May, I thought Kawhi was ready to challenge LeBron James as the best in the game.

#20- ALLEN IVERSON- His blinding quickness, aggressiveness, and long arms made him so unique.  Iverson mopped up the floor with his body.

#19- CHRIS PAUL- He competes like he wants to bite your face off. Chris has led the league in steals six times.

#18- JOHN STOCKTON- He destroyed bigger people fighting through picks. John’s precision and decision-making were an art.

#17- ISIAH THOMAS Isiah played the game like he knew he was being watched. He was a showman, built for the big moment.


At this point, Steph Curry does not need the validation of a “Finals MVP trophy”. Dude is brilliant.








#16- CHARLES BARKLEY- He shot 58 percent from the field over his first six seasons. Chuck’s work on the boards is still baffling for his height.

#15- DIRK NOWITZKI- His Finals MVP performance in 2011, is etched in my mind as true greatness. Five players in history have more points than Dirk,

#14- DWYANE WADE- I remember those hesitation dribble moves, before he’d explode to the hoop. Wade was a  closer from day one.

#13- DAVID ROBINSON – Robinson was chiseled, mobile, and cat quick. He owns the NBA’s last quadruple-double.

#12- KARL MALONE – “The Mailman” running the outside lane, and rattling the rim  in his early days was a scary sight.

#11- KEVIN GARNETT- One of the most versatile players to live. KG wouldn’t even let the other team score, after the whistle.

#10-STEPHEN CURRY- He became the first player to attempt a three point shot from 29 feet….early in the shot clock…and it still felt responsible.

#9- KEVIN DURANT- Looking at Durant’s controversial move a couple years ago, he’s now covered himself by his June performances.

#8- TIM DUNCAN- Tim was a coaches dream. Poise. Brains. Worker. Unselfish.  All time winner.

#7- SHAQUILLE O’NEAL- Shaq couldn’t be guarded in his prime. He was an automatic dunk, and led the NBA in field goal percentage ten times.

#6- HAKEEM OLAJUWON- At his apex, his offense and defense were both a ten. He covered space in the blink of an eye.

“Dream” is the best defensive player I have seen.









#5- LARRY BIRD– For all the attributes he brought to the game, Bird also had an intimidating swagger.

#4- KOBE BRYANT- For my money, the most over all skilled player in NBA history.

#3-MAGIC JOHNSON- Most fitting nickname in all of sports.

#2- LEBRON JAMES- Think of the career he has had. LeBron will dominate for at least five more years and it’s mind-blowing.

#1- MICHAEL JORDAN – From what I’ve seen over 32 seasons, Jordan is the clear standard by which basketball excellence is measured.


Jay C. Brandriet