In anticipation of the 78th NBA season, the renowned basketball media site HoopsHype recently unveiled its highly anticipated ranking of the 77 best NBA players in history. This comprehensive list, created by eight dedicated HoopsHype staff members, employs a meticulous point-based system to evaluate the players, ultimately producing an intriguing hierarchy.
Notably, the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), renowned for its 11 national championships in college basketball, boasts a strong presence among past players. Among the standout alumni, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar secures the prestigious No. 3 spot on this all-time list. Following him, the dynamic guard Russell Westbrook claims the No. 48 position, while sharpshooter Reggie Miller takes the No. 54 slot. However, conspicuously missing from this esteemed group is the former NBA MVP, Bill Walton.
According to HoopsHype, Walton was previously featured on the list last year, but he was conspicuously absent from this year’s installment, along with other distinguished names such as Lenny Wilkens, Jerry Lucas, Nate Thurmond, Sam Jones, Bill Sharman, Dave Bing, Dave DeBusschere, and Billy Cunningham.
While Bill Walton may be better known to younger audiences as an eccentric and colorful commentator, it’s essential to acknowledge his substantial contributions to the game. Regarded by many as the second-best collegiate player of all time, Walton, despite enduring numerous foot and physical problems, left an indelible mark on the NBA.
Bill Walton, Draymond Green, Lenny Wilkens, Artis Gilmore, Klay Thompson, Adrian Dantley, Nate Thurmond, Chris Webber, Sam Jones, Paul George, Manu Ginobili, Dikembe Mutombo, Jerry Lucas, Dave Bing, Alonzo Mourning, Jimmy Butler, Derrick Rose, Bill Sharman, Billy Cunningham, Bob Lanier, Bobby Jones, Dave DeBusschere, Dennis Johnson, Jamaal Wilkes, Joe Dumars, Joel Embiid, Robert Horry
Standing at an imposing 7 feet tall, Walton possessed a rare blend of mobility and coordination, a sight to behold in the league. His impressive NBA career included winning two titles, one with the Trail Blazers and another with the Celtics. In 1977, he earned the NBA Finals MVP with the Blazers and followed that up by claiming the NBA MVP Award the following year. As his career progressed with the Celtics, Walton even clinched the 1986 Sixth Man Award, showcasing his enduring impact despite injuries taking their toll on his body.
Not just a scorer, Walton was a consistent presence on the All-NBA First Team defensively and led the league in rebounds and blocks in 1977. Given his penchant for outspokenness, it wouldn’t be surprising if Walton eventually weighed in on his omission from this year’s rankings, possibly offering his distinctive blend of humor and insight.