Who made it, who didn’t and who should have?



Twenty-five NBA seasons ago, the league honored its 50 greatest players.

This season, the NBA’s 75th anniversary, the league named its 76 greatest players (there was a tie), determined by a blue-ribbon panel of ex-players, executives, coaches and media.

It was bound to happen and create a small bit of controversy but there were notable omissions from the list, a surprise addition, a wrong was righted, and we compare the NBA’s list of 75 to USA TODAY Sports’ recently announced list.

Interestingly, not one player from the 50 greatest players announced during the 1996-97 season dropped off the list of 75 greatest players revealed by the NBA over the past three days. It was just 26 new names added to the list.

Here are takeaways from the NBA’s list of 76 greatest players:

Notable omissions

  • Tracy McGrady

  • Dwight Howard

  • Tony Parker

  • Manu Ginobili

  • Vince Carter

  • Bernard King

  • Alex English

  • Pau Gasol

  • Bob Lanier

  • Adrian Dantley

  • Dikembe Mutombo

  • Alonzo Mourning

  • Nikola Jokic

  • Klay Thompson

  • Chris Bosh

Dwight Howard was one of the most notable omissions from the NBA's 75th Anniversary Teams.

Dwight Howard was one of the most notable omissions from the NBA’s 75th Anniversary Teams.

Surprise addition

It’s obvious players who had just joined the league around 1996-97 or had yet to be drafted when the 50 greatest players were announced would make the list of 75 — players such as Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki, Dwyane Wade, Reggie Miller, etc.

But one player whose NBA career started in 1972 and ended in 1986 made the NBA’s list of 75 greatest players — after not making the list of 50 from 25 years ago.

That’s Bob McAdoo. The other players added to the NBA’s list all started their careers in the 1990s and later.

McAdoo was the 1974-75 MVP, a two-time All-NBA selection, five-time All-Star, two-time NBA champion and three-time scoring champ who averaged 34.5 points, 14.1 rebounds and 2.1 blocks the season he won MVP.

A wrong, righted

Atlanta Hawks great and Hall of Famer Dominique Wilkins didn’t make the 50 greatest list. And he should have, given what he had accomplished by 1996. Wilkins was still playing at the game — overseas and in the NBA. But he belonged then. At the time, it rankled Wilkins and the Hawks organization.

But he’s on the list of 75 greatest now.

Wilkins is a Hall of Famer, a seven-time All-NBA and nine-time All-Star selection, the 1985-86 scoring champ and 14th on the league’s all-time soring list.

USA TODAY Sports list vs. NBA list

USA TODAY Sports recently named its 75 greatest NBA players with the added burden of ranking them 1-75.

How did the two lists compare? Sixty-eight players were on both lists.

The differences? USA TODAY’s list included Tracy McGrady, Dwight Howard, Tony Parker, Vince Carter, Manu Ginobili, Bernard King and Alex English while the NBA’s did not.

The NBA’s list included Hal Greer, Jerry Lucas, Bill Sharman, Nate Thurmond, Dave Bing, Billy Cunningham, Lenny Wilkens and Damian Lillard and USA TODAY’s did not.

Follow Jeff Zillgitt on Twitter @JeffZillgitt.

The NBA’s 75th anniversary team, in alphabetical order:

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar; Ray Allen; Giannis Antetokounmpo; Carmelo Anthony; Nate Archibald; Paul Arizin; Charles Barkley; Rick Barry; Elgin Baylor; Dave Bing; Larry Bird; Kobe Bryant; Wilt Chamberlain; Bob Cousy; Dave Cowens; Billy Cunningham; Stephen Curry; Anthony Davis; Dave DeBusschere; Clyde Drexler; Tim Duncan; Kevin Durant; Julius Erving; Patrick Ewing; Walt Frazier. Kevin Garnett; George Gervin; Hal Greer; James Harden; John Havlicek; Elvin Hayes; Allen Iverson; LeBron James; Magic Johnson; Sam Jones; Michael Jordan; Jason Kidd; Kawhi Leonard; Damian Lillard; Jerry Lucas; Karl Malone; Moses Malone; Pete Maravich; Bob McAdoo; Kevin McHale; George Mikan; Reggie Miller; Earl Monroe; Steve Nash; Dirk Nowitzki; Hakeem Olajuwon; Shaquille O’Neal; Robert Parish; Chris Paul; Gary Payton; Bob Pettit; Paul Pierce; Scottie Pippen; Willis Reed; Oscar Robertson; David Robinson; Dennis Rodman; Bill Russell; Dolph Schayes; Bill Sharman; John Stockton; Isiah Thomas; Nate Thurmond; Wes Unseld; Dwyane Wade; Bill Walton; Jerry West; Russell Westbrook; Lenny Wilkens; Dominique Wilkins; James Worthy.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: NBA 75: Who made the list of greatest players and who should have?


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