NBA legend Julius Erving is in the news after disclosing his top 10 players in NBA history. Some names are surely deserving of being mentioned, but Los Angeles Lakers icons Kobe Bryant and LeBron James are two of the notable omissions from his list.
Dr. J gave his top 10 players all time (no order) 👀
You rocking with his list?
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) July 30, 2023
A quick look at the choices shows that Erving didn’t include any active players, with Michael Jordan and Karl Malone being the youngest on the list at 60 years old each.
Video of him explaining why LeBron & Steph aren’t on the list.
I would like to hear him explain why retired greats like Shaq, Duncan & Kobe didn’t make it. Or why Karl over Hakeem or former teammate Moses & Barkley. We know the answer to Bird. pic.twitter.com/7gZid6Xzmv
— David Astramskas (@redapples) July 30, 2023
“Let ’em get finished,” he said of the idea that he should include active players on his list.
Still, it’s a bit perplexing that he wouldn’t show love to Bryant or James, who many fans even consider to be among the five best players ever. Moreover, there are probably not a lot of people who would agree that Tiny Archibald was better than Bryant or James.
In defense of Archibald, the point guard was the first to lead the league in total scoring and assists during the same season. For decades, the six-time All-Star was the only player to have achieved the feat, with Trae Young joining him in the record books in the 2021-22 season.
However, Archibald likely wouldn’t have been an NBA champion if he hadn’t been traded to the Boston Celtics in 1978. At that time, he was already past his prime and was helped to the 1981 title by Larry Bird, who Erving also excluded from his list.
Elgin Baylor and Malone also seem to be questionable selections, as neither of those two Hall of Famers ever got rings. Baylor nearly earned one, but he retired months before the Lakers took home the championship trophy in 1972. As for Malone, Jordan stood in his way twice when he was still with the Utah Jazz, and his ring-chasing Lakers stint in the 2003-04 season didn’t end the way he would have liked.
Of course, Erving deserves to have his opinion, even if some folks disagree with it. As a consolation for Lakers fans, more than half of the players on the list suited up for the Purple and Gold, like Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Baylor and Malone.