The 'Mt. Rushmore of basketball' question posed to LeBron James by NBA TV created a small stir. It even caught-up to the DL-ed Kobe Bryant. There is no definitive answer to this question as it is very subjective and allows no more than 4 players to be named...not even enough to field a complete team on the floor. Heck, why not go all-out and answer this question instead, "Who will be the champion if the greatest NBA players compete in the same era?". This is definitely a more complicated question that is fair to say as purely hypothetical and shall I dare say 'fantastique'? There would probably be no right or wrong answers. Only the most daring and most imaginative can come up with the most acceptable conclusion.
Have you ever wondered how His Airness would fare against The King? Have you ever salivated at the thought of the Diesel Shaq banging bodies with the Big Dipper Wilt? Ever want to relive the Larry-Magic rivalry? Sure, we all basketball nuts do. Let's take a quick trip to this fantasy league and visualize what basketball dreams are really made of.
These elite players would either be in the team they originally played for or the team they are most closely affiliated with. This is necessary to allow such guys like Shaq, Wilt, and Kareem to actually compete against each other and not just be all part of the same lineup. Their physical and psychological development have all reached full-potential at this point and are now ready to battle.
I have to start with the Eastern Conference as I couldn't hold myself together any longer. The East features the most explosive match-ups ever. The contenders are the Hawks, Pistons, Knicks, Sixers, Magic, Heat, Celtics, and the Bulls.
I mentioned the Hawks because of one man...'The Human Highlight Film' Dominique Wilkins. Let's partner him with his fellow dunk contest champion Spud Webb. Throw in 'Sweet Lou' Hudson in the backcourt and Kevin Willis as the PF. Mt. Mutombo himself, Dikembe, mans the middle for this team. Formidable, yet they are inferior to the next team.
The Bad Boys Pistons are here and will hack their way to the top. Ever wanna see again 'The Worm' Dennis Rodman with Bill Laimbeer? Let's put a little Rasheed Wallace craziness in there to complement the backcourt of Isiah Thomas and Grant Hill. Mike ain't scared of this team though.
The Knickerboxers shall of course feature the gutsy Willis Reed. He has a bigger companion to man the center spot this time in Patrick Ewing. They need a scorer, and which scorer would they prefer? Carmelo Anthony or Bernard King? I'll stick with 'Melo and throw in Walt Frazier and Earl 'The Pearl' Monroe as guards. Sorry Knicks fans...this team still ain't gonna cut it even with the intangibles of Reed. That is because the next team has the player that the Knicks beat in that memorable 1970 NBA Finals.
Wilt 'The Big Dipper' Chamberlain could possibly be the most dominating player to ever don them sneakers. He should be playing for the Sixers because he scored 100 points playing for Philadelphia. What if he has Sir Charles Barkley and Moses Malone in the frontcourt? The Doctor Julius 'Dr. J' Erving playing guard instead? That's insane! And yet necessary as 'The Answer' Allen Iverson round up this mind-boggling team. I really have a hard time visualizing this team losing to the next team up our list. You be the judge.
Say the word dominating and Wilt comes to mind. Or could it be Shaq? I would love to see a battle royale in the low-post between Wilt and Shaq. This is heavyweight boxing match on court at its most extreme. Shaq is playing for the Magic alongside his fellow Superman impersonator Dwight Howard. You wanna talk about dunkathon...this is it, folks. Dunks after dunks, after dunks until that backboard crash into pieces. Could Shaq and D12 out-rebound Moses Malone and Wilt? Sir Charles says no. But the Magic would try to stay competitive against the Sixers with shooting from Rashard Lewis and '3-D' Dennis Scott. Giving up dimes instead of pennies is Anfernee 'Penny' Hardaway. I don't know folks. The Sixers probably has the edge on this one but has Shaq out-dunking Wilt.
Match-up royalty should feature King James versus His Airness Michael Jordan. But before that happens, will James' Heat featuring Alonzo Mourning, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and Tim Hardaway get past this next Legendary team?
You wanna talk about old-school basketball...I will give you old-school basketball with the Boston Celtics. Larry 'Legend' Bird has his compadre back at the low-post, Kevin McHale. Guess what, instead of 'The Chief' Robert Parish, the Celtics has Bill Russell at center. Russell is the kryptonite to Wilt. And I bet he would also be the kryptonite to the Superman impersonators Shaq and D12. Who are the guards you ask? Just John Havlicek and Bob Cousy. The Celtics might lack the athleticism and flare of the other teams but they more than make up for it with guile and cold-blooded efficiency.
I grew up watching Michael Jordan so you might say I'm leaning a little towards this Bulls team. Has anyone imagined pairing Michael Jordan with Derrick Rose? This should be THE MOST ATHLETIC BACKCOURT IN THE HISTORY OF HUMANKIND...period. Bring back Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant with his dependable jumpers plus Joakim Noah and this is all Michael need. The Bulls would only have 2 HOF players on this team but Jordan is the top Ace of all aces. If I am a betting man, I would never bet against MJ.
It's time to switch to the Western Conference. I don't feel they are as compelling as their EC counterparts but still feature some high profile players. Dallas/Phoenix, Utah, Minnesota, Seattle/OKC, Portland, San Antonio, Houston, and the Lakers will be battling.
I put up a hybrid Mavs/Suns team as these players were one time or another part of their most successful campaigns. Nowitzki of course has to team up with Steve Nash. Let's have Tyson Chandler and 'The Matrix' Shawn Marion along with Jason Kidd. Two point guards? This "7 seconds or less" offense ain't going that far anyways.
Utah is bringing back 'The Mailman' Karl Malone and his sidekick John Stockton. They will PnR you to death with some help from 'Pistol' Pete Maravich and Derron Williams playing SG. I can't really come up with an outstanding Jazz center so I would just throw in Antoine Carr in the mix.
Since George Mikan played for Minneapolis, why not have him play center for the Wolves with Kevin Garnett at SF and Kevin Love at PF? Let's bring back the notorious Stephon Marbury and Ricky Rubio perhaps?
Seattle is coming back to life with a pair of explosive players from OKC. Anybody wants to see the 'Reign Man' Shawn Kemp with his high-flying dunks? He is now paired with the lengthy Kevin Durant. Gary 'The Glove' Payton trash-talks his way at the point with 'Jesus Shuttlesworth' Ray Allen shooting the lights out of the arena. Russel Westbrook would have to play SG this time as this might suit him best in the squad. This team is definitely lethal.
Portland isn't that much superior to these teams but they do feature Clyde 'The Glide' Drexler. His backcourt partner is Damian Lillard. I'm sticking Detlef Schrempf in this team plus LaMarcus Aldridge at the PF and will it be Arvydas Sabonis or Bill Walton at center? Let's go with Bill Walton on this one.
This leads us now to the elite teams in the west-Houston, San Antonio, and Los Angeles. These teams are featuring Twin Tower combos that would wreck havoc against the Beasts from the East.
The San Antonio Spurs feature 'The Admiral' David Robinson and 'The Big Fundamental' Tim Duncan. 'Nuff said. But wait, they have 'The Iceman' George Gervin in their team? Killer. Throw in Tony Parker at point and Manu Ginobili with his Eurostep at SG and they have one tough team to beat.
The Houston Rockets has an equally imposing Twin Tower combo that could challenge the Spurs anytime, anywhere. The 'Great Wall of China' himself Yao Ming teaming with 'The Dream' Hakeem Olajuwon? This is out of bounds! I'll have 'Mr. Big Shot' Robert Horry and Tracy McGrady in there plus Kenny 'The Jet' Smith to shoot some 3s.
And yes, the Lakers. Showtime is baaaack! Ever imagined 'The Black Mamba' Kobe Bryant finishing the break with a pass from Ervin 'Magic' Johnson? The other option is Elgin Baylor. Not a bad idea, huh. In keeping with the Twin Towers meme, Pau Gasol should play PF this time while the iconic Kareem Abdul-Jabbar with his 'Sky Hook' plays center. It's tough to leave 'Mr. Clutch' Jerry West out of this lineup but gotta stay true with the Showtime theme of the Lakers.
So who wins it all? The Spurs' Twin Towers will probably have their way against Houston's Twin Towers but Showtime will come out of the West. Royal Rumble at its finest in the East will have His Airness narrowly beating out the Sixers. Lakers against the Bulls? Am a Laker fan but I did mention that I will never bet against MJ.