“There Are So Many Other Players Outside Of Him Who A…

<“There Are So Many Other Players Outside Of Him Who A…>

In the opening week of the 2021-22 season, the NBA will unveil the 75th Anniversary Team, a collection of the 75 greatest players in league history.

The last time the NBA did an anniversary team was in 1996 when the league honoured the 50 greatest players of all time. Of the 50 players who made the cut, only one was international.

His name? Hakeem Olajuwon.

Time will tell how many international players make the 75th Anniversary Team, but it will almost certainly be more than one.

With that in mind, our NBA.com Staff gives their opinion on whether or not some of the greatest international players of all time deserve a spot on the upcoming anniversary team.

Hakeem Olajuwon

A Hall of Famer with 12 All-Star selections, 12 All-NBA selections, two Defensive Player of the Year awards, one MVP award, two Finals MVP awards and two championships.

Scott Rafferty (@crabdribbles): We don't need to spend much time talking about Olajuwon because he's a no-brainer. His resume is ridiculous.

Yash Matange (@yashmatange2694): As Scott said, no discussion is required here

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Kyle Irving (@KyleIrv_): Make that three times over. Olajuwon is a lock.

Kane Pitman (@KanePitman): Did anyone stick around to hear my answer? He's in, obviously.

Dirk Nowitzki

A 14-time All-Star with 12 All-NBA selections, one MVP award, one Finals MVP award and one championship.

Kane Pitman: Dirk would have been on the list without the title, but the path that led to beating LeBron James and the Miami Heat leaves the 2011 championship as one of the more memorable runs in recent times.

Rafferty: Another easy one. Not only is Dirk a one-time MVP, but he's the greatest shooting big man the league has ever seen. It helps that he had one of the most memorable postseason runs of all time in 2011 when he led the Mavs to their first and only championship to date.

Matange: No-brainer for me. In addition to the accolades, his legacy also includes one of the signature and most unstoppable moves in NBA history - the one-legged fadeaway, which no doubt played a huge role in him ranking sixth on the league's all-time scoring list. Then, of course, there's the unforgettable 2011 playoff run.

Irving: Plain and simple - Dirk has a case as the greatest international player in NBA history. He's another lock for the NBA 75.

Yao Ming

A Hall of Famer with eight All-Star selections and five All-NBA selections.

Irving: I wouldn't be surprised if Yao does make it because of the imprint he left on the game of basketball from a global perspective, but I don't necessarily think he's more worthy than some of the other players you would consider to be on the fringe. I think if Yao does crack the NBA 75, it will be easy to compare some players who were left off that may have been more deserving.

Matange: He certainly earned and deserved his place in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame because of the international impact of his NBA career, but I'm not so sure Yao will get into the NBA's Top 75.

Pitman: It really just comes down to whether or not Yao's counting stats work against him. Lasting only seven seasons before injuries began to take hold, Yao was a five-time All-NBA representative. He did fail to reach the 10,000 point plateau and never finished higher than 12th in MVP voting, but the story of the NBA can't be told without including Yao. I think he gets in.

Rafferty: There's no denying his everlasting impact on the game, but my gut says Yao is on the outside looking in on the NBA 75 team. Had he been able to stay healthy this might be a different conversation.

Steve Nash

A Hall of Famer with eight All-Star selections, seven All-NBA selections and two MVP awards.

Matange: The story of the NBA in the 2000s can't be told without Nash and the seven seconds or less Suns. The Canadian two-time MVP is a lock.

Rafferty: Yup. Debate all you want about whether or not he deserved his second MVP, but Nash is one of only 14 players in NBA history to win the award multiple times. An all-time passer and shooter, he was the heart and soul of the seven seconds or less Suns that forever changed the league.

Pitman: Nash is in. To add to Scott's point about his passing ability, Nash is third in all-time assists with 10,335, trailing only John Stockton and Jason Kidd.

Irving: I'm with my three colleagues here. Nash is one of the greatest passers the NBA has ever seen and even without a championship, his resume still passes the eye test with his back-to-back MVP awards. He has to be in.

Dikembe Mutombo

A Hall of Famer with eight All-Star selections, three All-NBA selections and four Defensive Player of the Year awards.

Rafferty: This is a tough one. He's tied with Ben Wallace for the most Defensive Player of the Year awards, but Mutombo never finished higher than 13th in MVP voting in a single season. He's not a lock for me, but he's in the mix for one of the final spots.

Matange: As Scott said, he's not a lock and he might contend for the final few spots. That's a tough thing to hear or say about the player tied for the most Defensive Player of the Year awards but that's the high standard of centers in NBA history.

Pitman: There will be some players that make this list that were incredible offensive players and weren't exactly dominant on the other end. Mutombo is the reverse, but defence just isn't seen to be as cool which seems a little unfair. He won the Defensive Player of the Year four times, was an 8-time All-Star, 6-time All-Defence and 3-time All-NBA. It's a yes from me.

Irving: The fact that he's tied for the most Defensive Player of the Year awards in NBA history gives Mutumbo a compelling case, but I don't think he makes the cut. For what it's worth, I think he's a great example for what I mentioned above with Yao, but I feel like he's more deserving of the two to get in.

Giannis Antetokounmpo

A five-time All-Star with five All-NBA selections, one Defensive Player of the Year award, two MVP awards, one Finals MVP award and one championship.

Pitman: If I said Yao made it, I really have no exscuse not to include Antetokounmpo. Even if he retired after collecting last season's title, his resume would be enough to get him in. Two MVPs, a Finals MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, Most Improved Player, All-NBA selections, All-Star selections. He's a lock. The only question is how high he would be ranked on the all-time list, which is crazy to think given he is likely only just about to enter his prime.

Matange: Piggybacking on Kane's point, I would have the Greek Freak as a lock if he had retired after last season's title. For a 26-year-old, his resume is absolutely stacked. Simply can't deny him a place on the NBA 75.

Rafferty: He's only 26, but there's no doubt Giannis should be on the NBA 75 team. He's arguably the best player in the league today and he's coming off one of the most dominant performances we've ever seen in the Finals. It's scary to think about what his resume is going to look like the next time we do one of these anniversary teams.

Irving: I'm in agreement here. The panel can't let Giannis' age get in the way of their voting - he has to be on the NBA 75. Kane and Yash already drove the point home, but Antetokounmpo could retire today and have a resume worthy of the greatest 75 players of all time. He's only going to continue to build on that and he deserves a spot on this list.

Nikola Jokic

A three-time All-Star with three All-NBA selections and one MVP award.

Rafferty: I mentioned Jokic in passing when Kyle and I discussed which active players will likely be "snubs" for NBA 75, but the more I think about it, the more I think he should be on it. Longevity isn't on his side, but if we're talking about the best players of all time, how's he not in? He's the best passing big man we've ever seen and he had a historic season in 2020-21, earning him MVP. He hasn't made it to the Finals yet, but he's been nothing short of incredible in the postseason, posting averages of 25.9 points, 11.3 rebounds and 6.4 assists through 43 postseason games. Want to guess how many players in NBA history can match those numbers? Not a single one. Put Jokic on the list.

Irving: I have Jokic on the outside looking in. He's in the process of building a strong resume but he doesn't have the accolades to match up with the others that will make this list. Think of it this way: If he didn't win MVP last year, we wouldn't even be considering him just yet. Does that one award qualify him immediately? I wouldn't say so. But I will say that assuming he continues at this trajectory, he'll be a lock for whenever the NBA does its next "greatest players" list.

Pitman: Jokic is where I draw the line. It may be controversial to leave an MVP off the list but I just think NBA 75 has come two years early for him. The counting stats and individual awards make him a difficult snub.

Matange: Jokic is the reigning MVP but I don't see him making the cut. He's got three real noteworthy years but that's about it and can't put it better than Kane did - NBA 75 has come two years early for him.

Tony Parker

A six-time All-Star with four All-NBA selections, one Finals MVP award and four championships.

Matange: Can't tell the story of the NBA without the San Antonio Spurs, which in turn, can't be explained without their Big 3 that included Frenchman Tony Parker. The Finals MVP really makes this a no-brainer for me.

Rafferty: I feel like Parker is in. He played a key role in one of the most dominant dynasties in NBA history and was an MVP candidate at his peak.

Irving: Man, this is the first one that has really stumped me. My knee-jerk reaction would have been "no," but the more I think about it, I feel like he's in. The four NBA championships is one thing, but the one Finals MVP takes him over the top. And to Yash's point, how can you tell the story of the 2000s in the NBA without Parker?

Pitman: I have Parker in my 75. Four All-NBA selections, four championships and a Finals MVP, Parker finished fifth in MVP voting in 2012.

parker-duncan-ginobili

Manu Ginobili

A two-time All-Star with two All-NBA selections, one Sixth Man of the Year award and four championships.

Matange: Individually, it looks really tough for Manu to make the cut. He does have the Big 3 legacy card here. I'm split - my heart says yes but head says no.

Pitman: As much as I love Manu, I think he is right on the fringe and potentially misses out. Spending much of his career coming off the bench in the perfect role to maximise San Antonio's success, it's not a surprise that his two All-Star selections came in campaigns he was an every night starter (2005, 2011). Ginobili has four championship rings so I doubt he has many complaints.

Irving: I think Manu is going to be one of the snubs. He's right there and it's counteractive to my point above about "how can you tell the story of the NBA in the 2000s without him?" but I don't think he gets in. There are just too many other deserving players.

Rafferty: I will forever hold a special place in my heart for Ginobili, who was an absolute joy to watch. While he also played a key role in one of the most dominant dynasties of all time and is arguably the greatest sixth man in NBA history, he didn't quite reach the same peak as Parker. He's on the same page as Mutombo for me - not a lock, but in consideration for one of the final spots.

Pau Gasol

A six-time All-Star with four All-NBA selections and two championships.

Irving: I have Pau in. He was so important to those two Lakers' championship teams and they would not have won without him. His dominance during his peak speaks louder than his six All-Star bids and four All-NBA selections.

Rafferty: Pau feels like a safe bet. He was one of the best bigs of his era and was instrumental in the Lakers going back-to-back.

Pitman: Pau makes it. A dominant force in the Los Angeles Lakers back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010, there are many out there that argue he should have taken the Finals MVP in 2010. Gasol is one of only 18 players to top 20,000 points and 10,000 rebounds according to Statmuse.

Matange: Being a Kobe-lifer, I'm incredibly biased on this one, but it's not like Gasol's accolades and achievements don't earn a spot for himself.

Luka Doncic

A two-time All-Star with two All-NBA selections.

Irving: Nope, not yet. Luka is incredible but I don't see how you could make the case that he's one of the 75 greatest players in NBA history today. I mean, he hasn't even won a playoff series. He'll be a mortal lock for every "greatest players in NBA history" list after this one, but he hasn't done enough to crack this one just three years into his career.

Matange: I really want to put him in there but it's hard when he's been part of the league for just three of the 75 years. He's incredibly talented for a 22-year-old and could be the pick that Shaq was in the 50 Greatest Players announced in 1997. My heart says he's making it but my head says no.

Rafferty: I'm not sure there are 75 players in NBA history who are better basketball players than Doncic, but it doesn't feel right to have him on NBA 75 this early in his career, especially when he hasn't made it out of the first round of the playoffs yet.

Pitman: Similar to Jokic, it's difficult for me to include Doncic after just three seasons in the league. If you ask me whether or not I think he would make this list by the end of his career, it's obviously a no-brainer. I'm basing my selections on whether or not I think they are in the 75 greatest players to play in the NBA up until today. By that criteria, I have Doncic with some more individual accolades to collect ... which he will, perhaps beginning with an MVP in 2021-22.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.

Source : https://in.nba.com/news/nba-75-anniversary-team-international-players/1gb3sdhx9iiot162sy2fuxkoow

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