In preparation for the NBA’s highly anticipated 78th season, HoopsHype’s team of eight dedicated staffers has once again undertaken the task of compiling their annual ranking of the league’s greatest players. This year, in a nod to the NBA’s illustrious history of 77 seasons prior, HoopsHype decided to expand its prestigious list to encompass 77 all-time basketball legends.
Notably, the list was marked by a significant presence of iconic Los Angeles Lakers figures. However, two standout luminaries managed to secure their well-deserved positions for the first time in the history of these annual rankings. Remarkably, it appears that the group of eight staffers may not have been consistent over the years in determining these esteemed selections.
One of these exceptional additions to the list is the retired power forward/center, Pau Gasol. Recognized for his pivotal role alongside the legendary Kobe Bryant, Gasol played an instrumental part in guiding the Los Angeles Lakers to three consecutive NBA Finals from 2008 to 2010, clinching championships in both 2009 and 2010. This year, in his remarkable list debut, Pau Gasol secured the 58th spot. The past year has indeed been monumental for solidifying Gasol’s legacy, with the Lakers retiring his iconic No. 16 jersey and his induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Throughout his illustrious career, this towering seven-footer earned the accolade of a four-time All-NBA selection and a six-time All-Star, representing not only the Lakers but also the Memphis Grizzlies and the Chicago Bulls.
Another standout addition to this exclusive list is none other than Dwight Howard, who once found himself pitted against Gasol’s Lakers during a riveting five-game NBA Finals series in 2009, when Howard was with the Orlando Magic. Howard’s inclusion in this elite club lands him at the impressive ranking of No. 62. While securing his lone championship title as a valuable reserve with the Lakers in 2020, Howard’s career boasts an impressive record of eight All-Star selections, numerous All-NBA nods, and an exceptional three-time recognition as the Defensive Player of the Year. Notably, this towering 6’10” big man also achieved the remarkable feat of finishing second in the MVP voting race back in 2011.
“One of the greatest international NBA players of all time, Pau Gasol was a menace in his heyday, a supremely skilled big man who could shoot, dribble a bit, pass and create for teammates, and use his long limbs well when tasked with rebounding and protecting the rim,” HoopsHype writes (no specific staffer was credited). “Despite being a well-liked figure around the NBA, winning two rings and having such a well-rounded skill set, Gasol was one of the most glaring omissions of the NBA75 list. We didn’t make the same inexplicable mistake.”
In a sport celebrated for its storied history, the recognition of Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard among the NBA’s all-time greats is a testament to their indelible contributions to the game of basketball. As the NBA’s 78th season draws near, fans and enthusiasts eagerly await the next chapter in the league’s remarkable journey, filled with anticipation and excitement for what lies ahead.
“At one time, Dwight Howard was the best big man in the NBA, an era that lasted for multiple seasons during his time with the Magic. Howard was an awe-inspiring athlete for his size, who would often sky for rebounds, block shots or finish alley-oops,” HoopsHype said. “Like Gasol, Howard was another glaring omission from the NBA75 list despite being a Top 10 rebounder ever, ranking 13th all-time in blocks and having three Defensive Player of the Year awards. But that might have to do with him not being that well-liked by coaches and teammates during his time in the league. Howard was also a huge playoff performer, coming up big both when he was a star with the Magic (he impressively led them to the Finals in 2008-09) and as a role player with the Lakers, finally winning a title in 2019-20.”