To celebrate its 75th anniversary, NBA honored the greatest basketball players of all time by announcing a list of 76 players who would make it into its all-time dream team. The legendary collection of basketball talents spanning eight decades of NBA excellence was honored during half-time of the league’s annual All-Star game.
Held on Sunday, the game honored its 76 greatest players, who consisted of MVPs, Finals MVPs, All-Stars, and champions. In a nostalgic and heartwarming event, Michael Jordan, LeBron James, and Kobe Bryant in memoriam received the longest applause and loudest cheers. Big names such as Bill Russell, Larry Bird, Karl Malone, Tim Duncan, Russell Westbrook, and Steve Nash were not in attendance, but the likes of Dennis Rodman, Dwyane Wade, and Shaquille O’ Neal were there to bring a party atmosphere to the proceedings.
Per USA Today, the NBA’s first MVP Bob Pettit was honored at the event, and he relished the opportunity to catch up with some of the old-timers he used to play against. Pettit explained, “It’s a great honor. I’m very appreciative of the fact that I am included. Anybody who says it isn’t to be included is lying. It means a lot to me, and it means a lot to my family. It reminds me that I was pretty good after all.”
Known to students of the games as one of the greatest scorers and rebounders of all time, Elvin Hayes is one of the lesser-known of the 76 players to the public at large, and he welcomed the recognition. He explained, “To be a part of the 50, you’re thinking, ‘Wow, that’s really a special situation,’ but 75 comes along and you have all the great players you played against and you didn’t play against. Hey, you really have arrived.”
In total, 45 of the 76 players were present. Per NBA, Former All-Star Shawn Marion, who now sits on the NBRPA “Legends” Board of Directors, explained that the popularity and public’s reception of the event was a true testament to NBA’s longevity and basketball’s evolution. He said, “Over the course of the league, first 25 years, then 50, now to 75, I feel like we’re watching history and making history at the same time. And we’re a part of both, man.”
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver revealed to reporters that he’s still pleasantly surprised at just how young the league is compared to others and how so many players are still around to share their stories and tell their tales. He said, “I think of the fact that I always say our equivalent of Babe Ruth is Bill Russell to me and is someone that I can still speak to on the phone and be around, and is in position to pass down sort of NBA lore to many generations of players.”