When my parents first asked me if I wanted to play basketball I was pretty adamant that I didn’t want to. It just didn’t look that fun to me but my parents persisted and I gave in.
When I started playing my attitude quickly changed and I couldn’t get enough. During that same transition I also began to watch the game on TV. It wasn’t on that often but I watched as much as I could. I quickly adopted the Boston Celtics as my team so naturally most of my favorites wore Celtic green. Other guys really had to stand out to make my list but along the way a bunch of players made the cut.
This is a list of my favorite players from that time in my life and why I liked each so much.
Larry Bird- the reason I loved Larry bird was that he was so arrogant but always seemed to back it up. He was far from athletic but used what he had to be one of the best players in the leagues history. He was just so smart and talented offensively. I never saw bird when he was at his most dominant but he still managed to shine even at the end of his great career. Bird was my favorite player then and still is to this day.
Chris Mullin- since I’m a lefty I’ve always had a soft spot for great left-handed shooters and Mullin was one of the best. He could fill it up with the best of them. It didn’t hurt that Mullin played on a very entertaining team.
Drazen Petrovic- Petrovic is another one of those guys that could just flat-out score. He had great range and a pure stroke. I still remember hearing the news that he had died just after he was making a name for himself and was blossoming into a star. I actually teared up. I liked him that much as a player.
Reggie Lewis- Lewis was another great player that I couldn’t watch enough. He was also another player that died in the prime of his career. I loved to watch Lewis because of his great midrange game. He was just so smooth and could score at will.
Dan Majerle- Thunder Dan caught my eye because he played exactly the same way I did on the offensive end of the floor. In fact more than a few of my friends called me thunder. I loved watching him jack up and knock down his crazy deep threes.
Reggie Miller- for some reason most of my favorite players were guys who were as cocky as could be and could really shoot the rock. Miller was no different. He could bomb the three and talk trash with the all-time greats.
Sam Cassell- I loved watching Sam play for a couple of reasons. The first is that he was always willing to take and make the big shot. Even as a rookie he stepped up and made huge threes when the Rockets won an NBA title. The second is because he was just so demonstrative when he made big plays. He always wanted everyone in the building to know who the man was and that was just awesome.
Kevin Johnson- I loved kJ because he was just so dang explosive. He seemed to get to the rim at will and could really finish. His base line dunk on Hakeem Olajuwon is one of those lasting images that will always be with me.
Hakeem Olajuwon- dream was one of my favorites because he had so many post moves and they always seemed to make the guy guarding him look really stupid. I got a huge kick out of that. I also loved that he was willing to trust he teammates in big spots. He knew that he couldn’t win a title on his own so he was more than willing to pass out of the double team.
Danny Ainge- Ainge became one of my all-time favorites for one play he made long after he was a Celtic. Mario Elie had scored a bucket earlier in the fourth quarter for the Rockets and had taunted Ainge. When the game was just about over, Ainge took the ball out-of-bounds and decided to exact his revenge. Instead of passing the ball to one of his teammates, he fired the ball right off Elie’s face. Just an all-time classic play that made me change my view of a guy. He went from a guy I really liked to watch to one of my favorites.
Kenny Anderson- what can I say. I loved players who had swagger and Anderson just oozed it. Throw in the fact that Kenny had a sick handle and there is no doubt why he was one of my early favorites.
Penny Hardaway- from the time I saw Hardaway dunk on Randy Reid in college I was hooked. He just made the game look so effortless. He could score and distribute and defend before a career changing knee injury took away most of his explosiveness. I also wonder how great penny would’ve been had he stayed healthy but either way I still was a huge fan.