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ESPN's Undefeated releases updated NBA’s 50 Greatest Players list

Alex Aroko
1.06K   //    25 Oct 2017, 21:57 IST

NBA's greatest 50 players at the 1997 All-Star Game
NBA's greatest 50 players at the 1997 All-Star Game

What’s the story?

The Undefeated staff, led by senior NBA writers Marc Spears and Mike Wise, have updated the NBA’s official list of 50 greatest players from 1996 with their own version.

In case you didn’t know…

When the NBA gathered its 50 greatest players at the 1997 All-Star Game in Cleveland to celebrate the 50th-anniversary list it created that fall, everyone was honoured for the magnificent basketball they had played and what they meant to the game.

However, the emergence of elite athletes more suited to the modern game has called for changes to that list. While Pete Maravich played a futuristic brand of basketball, Steve Nash and Jason Kidd took the same to new heights. Where Jerry West would dribble away from defenders, Allen Iverson would take on them with the ankle-breaking crossovers.

The heart of the matter

14 players from the past two decades were added while deleting an equal number from the NBA’s previous list. The common thread in their voting mirrored the drastic changes in the game over the past two decades or so.

“I don’t give a damn if you revolutionized the game, Pistol Pete brought more to the creation of the AND1 mixtape culture than he did the NBA. I’m looking at his numbers in the league, they just don’t hold up. Sorry, Pistol,” said Marc Spears.

The inclusion of Shaquille O'Neal, who only had a four-year body of work was among the controversial decisions made by the panel that mostly listed players of the 70s and 80s.


NBA legends will constantly surpass milestones set by their predecessors through the years. The cycle of the game allows for it and there’s always room for great players.

Author’s take

Whether the changes make your face cringe or not, the changes are inevitable. We have players chasing the greats - LeBron James is chasing the ghost of Michael Jordan. What happens if he passes him? The game is constantly changing and so are the players. New and more revered styles create a domino effect with everyone adjusting from their mundane styles to extraordinary ones that are preferred.

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Alex Aroko
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