Roundtable: Third best basketball player

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Assuming Michael Jordan and LeBron James are the top basketball players of all time, in no particular order, who is worthy to be named the third best player? There are UConn greats like Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi or NBA players such as Steph Curry and Giannis Antetokounmpo. Across all schools, the WNBA and the NBA, our team of writers have their No. 3 picks:  

Wilt Chamberlain 

Cole Stefan 
Staff Writer 
He/Him/His 
Cole.stefan@uconn.edu 

I could have put two responses here, Bill Russell or Wilt Chamberlain. Both were massive centers who led their teams to NBA championships while changing the game of basketball for the better. I went with Chamberlain for this one because of the numbers he put up. We’ve all heard of his 100-point outburst against the Knicks, but this is a guy who averaged over 30 points per game in each of his first seven seasons. The guy was averaging 50.4 PPG one year (1961-62) and always looked ready to drop over 20 points on your favorite team in the first half. This is also a guy who could grab boards as he collected over 20 boards a game in each of his first nine seasons. No one has the same pedigree of awards as Chamberlain does as he won 11 rebounding titles and seven scoring titles. Jordan and James are remarkable scorers and have earned the right to be called the GOAT, but Chamberlain paved the way for both of them to succeed. 

Kobe Bryant 

Jonathan Synott 
Sports Editor 
He/Him/His 
jonathan.synott@uconn.edu  

Could it truly be anyone else? I had to choose the Black Mamba here, as his impact and legacy on the game of basketball are only compared to the two guys above him. While Chamberlain may have put up 100 points in a game, Bryant lays claim to the second-highest point total in a single game with 81. His accolades are undisputable: 18 All-Star nods, five rings, 15 All-NBA teams and 12 All-Defensive Teams. He may have only won MVP once, but his production on both ends of the court continued the Lakers’ successes for two more decades. His legacy left before his tragic passing is also up there with the other two legends of the game. Many young players in the league model their game after Bryant and looked up to him while growing up. Bryant shaped a generation with his “Mamba Mentality.” 

Kareem Abdul-Jabaar 

Evan Rodriguez 
Staff Writer 
He/Him/His 
evan.2.rodriguez@uconn.edu 

Abdul-Jabaar is one of the few NBA players that checks off all the boxes as the potential greatest player of all time. He still stands as the all-time leading scorer of all time even after the career of Michael Jordan and the latter end of Lebron James’ career. Abdul-Jabaar stands as an eight-time NBA champion, with two NBA championships coming as an assistant coach during the final two championships of Kobe Bryant’s career. That’s all without mentioning his creation of one of the most unstoppable moves of all time, the skyhook. With the NBA’s modern day focus on guards and shooting, NBA fans will most likely never see a player like Abdul-Jabaar dominate the paint like he did. While I have the all-time great as third on my all-time list, there’s an easy argument as to why he may just be the greatest basketball player of all time.  

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