The NBA is celebrating its 75th anniversary this season, and some legendary San Antonio Spurs are already getting deserved recognition from some.
Reaching 75 years is an incredible milestone for a league that started with just 11 franchises in June 1946. This year, the NBA is going to celebrate in style, with several campaigns and special events to commemorate the occasion. Beyond special matchups and court logos, the NBA will soon be announcing "NBA 75", which will list the 75 greatest players in league history.
According to NBA.com, official selections are being made by a panel of media, current and former players, coaches, general managers, and team executives. Still, many outlets are already creating their own unofficial lists, USA Today and HoopsHype being among them.
Although not an official voter, former ESPN columnist Marc Stein revealed his own NBA Top 75 on Tuesday, which included some familiar names.
As expected, Tim Duncan was one of 15 players Stein considered a lock for the Top 75 list, along with names like LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, and former Spur Kawhi Leonard. Interestingly, his list also included the other two-thirds of the Big Three.
"Since I covered all five of the Spurs' championships, I felt strongly about including both Manu Ginobili and Parker," says Stein. He elaborates further on Manu, calling him the greatest sixth man he's ever seen and pointing out he's one of only two players to win an NBA title, EuroLeague title, and an Olympic gold medal. Tony Parker, he says, was "just as pivotal at Tim Duncan's side."
While he included both of Duncan's biggest sidekicks on his list, he admits it's unlikely that all three foreign stars in Pau Gasol, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker will make the list.
Why Marc Stein got this one right
Obviously, a site called Air Alamo is going to have their own bias, but I think Stein is right on target by including all three of the Spurs' legends in the NBA's top 75 players ever. A two-decade-long run like the one San Antonio had is unheard of in professional sports, and the results speak for themselves.
Although Duncan was the once-in-a-generation talent that steered the ship, Parker and Ginobili were stars in their own right. What better way to honor the historic achievement of the winningest trio in league history than by solidifying all three of them in NBA lore? Is there really a large gap between the two to justify leaving one off and accepting one, especially when considering international accomplishments?
Considering the wealth of talent the league has had over the last 25 years, I wouldn't be surprised if one of the Big Three narrowly misses the cut when the NBA makes the official announcement from October 19 through the 21st. If that happens, you can probably expect to hear more from me soon after.