Basketball Generations

I get a bad rap for not liking basketball. I love basketball. I think it’s the perfect game; all players playing both offense and defense equally.

But basketball has let me down. Both the professional and collegiate games are not what they used to be. At the same time, football has gotten better and better, both the quality on the field and as a TV show. So while I now consider myself mostly a “football only” sports fan, basketball is my favorite sport.

One of the great arguments of any sport, and basketball in particular, is how the various generations match up with each other. The 1980s Magic-Larry-Michael generation is generally regarded as the Golden Age of basketball, but is it really?

I’ve put together a list of what I figure to be the top 12 man team each NBA generation could put together. A player is of the generation in which his rookie year falls.

Who do you think comes out on top?

These are not the 12 best individual players from each generation, but the best TEAM you could put together with all the players at your disposal, taking into consideration positions, specialties, etc.

I know who I think is the best, but I’ll just report, you decide.

Inception – 1965

Oscar Robertson, Jerry West, Rick Barry, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Bob Cousey, Lenny Wilkins, John Havlicek, Elgin Baylor, Bob Pettit, Jerry Lucas, Willis Reed

1966 – 1977

Walt Frazier, Tiny Archibald, Julius Erving, Elvin Hayes, Kareem Abdul-Jabar, Earl Monroe, Pete Maravich, George Gervin, Dan Issell, Moses Malone, Alex English, Dave Cowens

1978 – 1989

Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Charles Barkley, Hakeem Olajuwon, Isiah Thomas, Clyde Drexler, Scottie Pippen, Karl Malone, David Robinson, Reggie Miller, Kevin McHale


Jason Kidd, Kobe Bryant, Paul Pierce, Tim Duncan, Shaquille O'Neal, Allen Iverson, Gary Payton, Tracey McGrady, Kevin Garnett, Amare Stoudemire, Dirk Nowitzki, Grant Hill

Now that it’s put down on paper, what do you think?

From this, it seems to me clear that what we believe is, in fact, accurate. The 80s generation was the best.

The 80s generation has the best point guard, the best shooting guard, the best small forward, and John Stockton, Patrick Ewing, Dominique Wilkins and James Worthy didn’t even make the team.

The greatness of the 80s generation isn’t even revealed among the first 12, it’s revealed in the second 12 which would compete with any other generation’s first group and would absolutely destroy any other generation’s second team.

Look at a match-up between the Magic-Larry-Michael second 12 and the succeeding generations’ second unit and that’s all the evidence you’ll ever need to know when the greatest players played the greatest basketball.

1978 – 1989 “B” team

John Stockton, Mitch Richmond, Dominique Wilkins, Dennis Rodman, Patrick Ewing, Joe Dumars, Sidney Moncrief, James Worthy, Larry Nance, Brad Daugherty, Chris Mullin, Terry Cummings

1990 – 2002 “B” team

Steve Nash, Richard Hamilton, Vince Carter, Elton Brand, Dikembe Motombo, Tony Parker, Michael Finley, Tayshaun Prince, Alonzo Mourning, Ben Wallace, Gilbert Arenas, Manu Ginobili

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