NBA – The Face of a Franchise

Posted on 9 Aug, 2010, by in NBA

Who’s the first player you think of when you think of team “X”? That’s what this post is all about – not who was the best player in the history of the team and franchise, but who do you think of when you think of… you get the point. So we questioned everyone in the Sportige offices, did a little soul searching and asked some random fans about the subject. Here is what we came up with.

Atlanta Hawks – Dominique Wilkins

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It’s been nearly 16 years since ‘Nique last played for the Hawks, but he’s still their most memorable player. He is the franchise leader in points, games and minutes played, averaging 26.4 points per game between 1982-1994, leading the league in scoring once (1985-1986), never making it beyond the conference semi finals.

Boston Celtics – Larry Bird

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“Larry Legend” might not have won the most titles with Boston – that honour goes to Bill Russell, but despite all the great names – Havlicek, Parish, McHale, Cousy and more, time does take it toll on fame, so Bird does triumph over the giants of the 60’s and 70’s. He won three titles with the Celtics (81, 84, 86) and three consecutive NBA MVP awards (1984-1986) during his thirteen year career with Boston and in the NBA.

Charlotte Bobcats – Gerlad Wallace

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The Bobcats have been around for six years now, and Gerlad Wallace has been with the franchise since day 1. In 2009-2010 he helped the Bobcats make their first playoff appearance while he made his first All-Star game and got into the All-Defensive First team. He is the franchise’s all time leader in points and minutes played, averaging 16.5 points and 7.4 rebounds in 406 games.

Chicago Bulls – Michael Jordan

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Probably the easiest pick – The greatest to ever play the game doesn’t really have anyone coming close to him when it regards the Bulls, and probably the NBA and the game of basketball. What is there left to say? Six time NBA champions, 5 time NBA MVP and holds the records for highest career scoring averages in both the regular season and the playoffs in NBA history (30.1 and 33.5).

Cleveland Cavaliers – LeBron James

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One of the more hated figures in the city of Cleveland was probably synonymous with Cleveland and Ohio sports just about two months ago. What one decision can make. LeBron was with the Cavs since 2003, leading them to the NBA Finals once, winning 2 MVP’s and is the franchises all-time leader in points and minutes played.

Dallas Mavericks – Dirk Nowitzki

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Sorry Ronaldo Blackman, you got nothing on Dirk. Nowitzki has been with the Mavs for 12 seasons now, and besides being the all-time leader in points, rebounds, games and minutes played for the Mavs, he’s probably the greatest European to play in the NBA and one of the more versatile big men in the history of the game. Too bad he can’t carry his team all the way on his back. He got close once, but close doesn’t buy you championship rings.

Denver Nuggets – Carmelo Anthony

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Not as good as LeBron and Wade, not as versatile and not as successful with his team. But hey, pretty much only Wade and Darko delivered from that draft right? Darko has a title ring, right? Anthony has led the Nuggets into the playoffs in each of his seven seasons with the team, making it beyond the first round only once, 2008-2009, losing to the Lakers in the conference finals.

Detroit Pistons – Isiah Thomas

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The best of the two time NBA Champions “Bad Boys” and a horrible coach and GM so it seems, Thomas beats out Dumars, Rodman, the Wallaces, Chauncey and Rip. One of the greatest point guards in the history of the game was a 12 time All-Star and he also won the 1990 NBA Finals MVP award. He played only for the Pistons during his 14 year career and is still their all-time leader in points and assists.

Golden State Warriors – Chris Mullin

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Rick Barry won a title with the Golden State Warriors, but times does have an effect, and Mullin was the Warriors best player during their last continuous period of success. Mullin fought and beat his addiction to Alcohol, becoming one of the better scorers in the league during the late 80’s and early 90’s, averaging over 25 points per game in five consecutive seasons.

Houston Rockets – Hakeem Olajuwon

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The Ming Dynasty, backed up by Mr. McGrady couldn’t live up to the Dream’s legacy – not even close. Olajuwon made the most of Jordan’s first retirement, winning two consecutive NBA titles while Olajuwon became the only player to win a regular season MVP, defensive player of the year and Finals MVP award, all in the same season. One of the best centers in the history of the game and the league’s all time leader in blocks.

Indiana Pacers – Reggie Miller

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Positive emotion always beats negative emotion – they said that in Inception, so it must be true. Artest was a strong candidate, not for any right reasons, but the whole brawl thing did send the Pacers on a downward spiral which they still haven’t recovered from. Still, Reggie was so great, doing nothing but shoot and score for the Pacers in his 18 year career in Black and Gold, scoring over 25,000 points, 17th best in the history of the NBA. He is also the league’s all time leader in 3 pointers, made and attempted.

Los Angeles Clippers – Sorry, could not compute. In an act of sportsmanship, lets put the face of Elton Brand, who was their last significat player to also make the playoffs with the team.

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Los Angeles Lakers – Kobe Bryant

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Magic, Jabbar, West, Baylor, Worthy. Magic. Still, Kobe Bryant beats them all – Five NBA rings with two Finals MVP awards and being the Lakers’ all time leading scorer, passing West in 2009-2010. Greatest player ever? Nope… but probably the closest to MJ you can get.

Memphis Grizzlies – Pau Gasol

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Back in 1995, Bryant “Big Country” Reeves was the one who was projected to be the future of basketball in Vancouver. Shareef Abdur-Raheem was next. Only with Gasol did the Grizzlies make the playoffs – three consecutive times. Gasol is also the franchise all-time leading scorer. Rudy Gay should pass him in two years, maybe a tad less.

Miami Heat – Dwyane Wade

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The Miami Heat were never an important team. They had a bit of spotlight time after Riley arrived, with Hardaway and Mourning and a bitter Knicks rivalry. Still, after Wade came, everything changed. Than Shaq got traded to Miami, and it exploded, ending in a title, with Wade carrying the team on his back. He still is, and despite LeBron joining him this summer, there’s no doubt who’s the main man in South Florida. Maybe not for long, but for now, this is Wade’s team.

Milwaukee Bucks – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

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People more remember Kareem as a Laker, maybe as a UCLA Bruin, but he won his first NBA title and his first three MVP’s with the Bucks – He played his best basketball with the Bucks as well – The NBA’s all time leading scorer played only six seasons with Milwaukee, but is still their leader in points and rebounds all-time.

Minnesota Timberwolves – Kevin Garnett

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Before Garnett, the ‘Wolves never won more than 29 games in a season. Than came KG and Saunders – Minny became a playoff team – Garnett became, for a short while, the best basketball player in the league, winning the 2004 MVP award while leading the Timberwolves to the conference finals, their last playoff appearance. KG leads the franchise in – Games, Minutes Played, Rebounds, Assists, Steals, Blocks and Points. ‘Nough said. There doesn’t seem to be someone else in the near future.

New Jersey Nets – Jason Kidd

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The Nets’ all time leader in assists and steals spent seven seasons in New Jersey before heading back to the team where he started, but he led the Nets during their best period since becoming an NBA team, making the NBA finals twice in a row (losing to the Lakers and Spurs) and the playoffs six times.

New Orleans Hornets – Chris Paul

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When you’re talking about the New Orleans, not Charlotte, Hornets, than you’re saying Chris Paul. Paul made this team 20 wins better from the moment he arrived, and when he’s healthy, the Hornets are one of the stronger teams in the West, and Paul is probably the best point guard in the league. When he’s healthy, which wasn’t the case in 2009-2010.

New York Knicks – Patrick Ewing

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He’s the Knicks all time leader in points, games, minutes played, rebounds, steals and blocks. But he never got a title – There were too many Jordans, and too many (well actually just a couple, maybe three) better Centers in the league while he played. He was suppose to be the man who brings the title back to New York, but never had enough talent around him, and despite being one heck of a player, will always be remembered as kind of a loser.

Oklahoma City Thunder – Kevin Durant

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Kevin Durant isn’t just the face and future of the Thunder, but also, along with a few others, of the NBA. The 2010 NBA scoring champion played his rookie year while the Thunder were still in Seattle and were called Supersonics, but made the transition to Oklahoma as smooth as possible, leading a team that is quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with out West. If I would have said Sonics, I’m sure the answer would be Gary Payton, maybe even a couple of Shawn Kemp fans. But there’s no Basketball in Seattle right now, so it’s all about OKC and the Thunder this time.

Orlando Magic – Dwight Howard

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A close win over Shaq. Howard has been with Orlando for six seasons now, leading the Magic into the playoffs the last four, including a Finals appearance in 2009, only the second time in franchise history. Howard might not be an offensively skilled center like Shaq, Hakeem or Robinson, but he hovers around the 20 points per game mark, and is better than Shaq when it comes to defense. He has won the last two Defensive Player of the Year awards and is the rock and most important piece of the puzzle Orlando hope will win a title, soon.

Philadelphia 76ers – Allen Iverson

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Under Larry Brown, through good, bad and worst, Iverson was one of the more unique talents to play in the NBA in the last two decades, taking a very limited team to the NBA finals in 2001, winning the MVP during that year. His time in Philly wasn’t always the most pleasant, but he was their best player since their 1982-1983 title winning season with Dr. J and Moses Malone. Still, maybe because of time doing his thing, when thinking of Philly, Iverson is the first name that comes to mind for most fans.

Phoenix Suns – Steve Nash

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Nash and Phoenix were a match made in basketball heaven – A super fast point guard who loves a high tempo game with a team that loves scoring a lot of points – The Suns haven’t averaged less than 100 ppg since the 1976-1977 season. With Nash at the helm, the Suns have made three conference finals, the most that anyone could have gotten from this team and the different lineups surrounding Nash during his six seasons there, and haven’t had a losing season. Nash himself has led the league in assists four times and won two MVP’s.

Portland Trail Blazers – Clyde Drexler

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Drexler didn’t win a title with Portland, but he did make it to two NBA Finals, losing once to the Pistons and once to Jordan and the Bulls, making the playoffs with Portland eleven consecutive times. He is the Blazers all-time leader in points, rebounds, games and minutes played, averaging 20.8 points during his eleven and a bit seasons there.

Sacramento Kings – Chris Webber

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The Kings have a rich yet ancient success history as the Rochester and Cincinnati Royals, but as the Kings, only during the late 90’s came a long stretch of playoff success. Chris Webber, along with Peja, Bibby and Divac, was the main reason for the team becoming one of the best in the league, a few ref calls away from making the NBA Finals. Webber never managed to stay healthy for a whole season in California and actually his entire career, which will always be followed by his NCAA Final Four timeout call.

San Antonio Spurs – Tim Duncan

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To be bigger than David Robinson in a small market like San Antonio, that’s something. Robinson needed Tim to come along so he can retire with a couple of championship rings. Duncan, along with Shaq and Kobe, has been the most successful NBA player during the previous decade, winning four NBA titles, three Finals MVP awards and two back to back regular season MVP’s. He is first or second on most of the Spurs’ stat categories and will eventually be remembered, probably, as the greatest power forward in the history of the NBA.

Toronto Raptors – Vince Carter

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It’s been about six years since Carter left Toronto. He helped the Raptors into three playoff appearances. They have made the post seasons twice since he left to the Nets, no big difference. But despite Bosh, when you think Toronto, you immediately bring yourself back to his “half-man, half-amazing” days and that un-worldly 2000 dunk contest.

Utah Jazz – Stockton & Malone

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Eighteen years, eighteen playoff appearances, two NBA Finals, one of the greatest guard-big man combo’s in the history of the game and undoubtedly the greatest one that didn’t produce a title. Jerry Sloan is still trying to find a new pick n’ roll duo to get a title to Utah.

Washington Wizards – Gilbert Arenas

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For better and for worse, the Wizards have tied their future to Arenas’. There were three awesome seasons in the mid 00’s, but than came a huge contract, followed by injuries, followed by Arenas doing some crazy and stupid stuff with guns. Now Washington are rebuilding, hoping Arenas can return to his 2005-2006 self.