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Top Cinq
I was having some drinks at the Crocodile Bar in Paris last week, and the bartender, who spoke less English than I do French, wanted to talk basketball with me once he found out I was an American who wrote about sports for a living. Most of all, he wanted to know who the best players were in the NBA. He asked about Tony Parker, who is huge in France, and I said: "Peut-etre top quinze (Maybe top-15). "Pas top cinq (Not top 5)." So he says: "Top cinq! Top cinq!" He wants to know my top five. And I started to answer, but then stopped. I told him I'd have to think about it, and I'd write it down for him. (I already had a piece of paper and a pen because the Crocodile has 300 different drinks on the menu, and you have to write them down or you'll forget which ones you've chosen).

I didn't want to give him a bad list - he was looking to me to give him the TRUTH on the matter, and I was pretty sure he'd be repeating what I told him to other people, so I wanted to give him something defensible in case he got challenged on it. A year ago, I might have made LeBron James my top choice, but while James is a great talent, his team is mediocre, and he's not carrying them to wins night after night. Kobe Bryant is great, but the Lakers haven't been much better than the Cavs since Shaq left. Kevin Garnett? Same problem. Tim Duncan? Doesn't seem dominant anymore, merely very efficient. Steve Nash? Scott Skiles said: Nash was "the best player on the face of the Earth." but he's not a great defensive player, and his team has never won anything. Dirk Nowitzki came very close to winning a title, and he's as difficult a matchup as anyone in the league, but the best player in the NBA? Anyway, I had to give him something:

Top Cinq:

  1. Steve Nash
  2. Dirk Nowitzki
  3. Dwyane Wade
  4. Kobe Bryant
  5. Kevin Garnett

I also wrote:

  • Tim Duncan
  • Tracy McGrady
  • LeBron James

I went with Nash because he's shooting 50 percent from the floor as a point guard who takes a lot of threes, and he gets 11 apg. That's unique in today's NBA. Dirk shoots a lower percentage from the floor despite being 7-foot, and he doesn't run the offense. Wade was third because he's Kobe without the attitude. Garnett was fifth because of his versatility and length. But Duncan, LeBron and McGrady (who is as dangerous offensively as Wade or Kobe and probably a better passer than either and is carrying the Rockets) have to be in the conversation. And Yao and Amare Stoudemire aren't too far off. They'd round out my top-10.



Posted by Chris Liss at 2/19/2007 5:20:00 PM

Comments (3)

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