You Are Here > Basketball-Reference.com > BBR Blog > NBA and College Basketball Analysis

SITE NEWS: We are moving all of our site and company news into a single blog for Sports-Reference.com. We'll tag all Basketball-Reference content, so you can quickly and easily find the content you want.

Also, our existing Basketball-Reference blog rss feed will be redirected to the new site's feed.

Basketball-Reference.com // Sports Reference

For more from Neil, check out his new work at BasketballProspectus.com.

Inner-Circle Hall of Famers: 1980s

Posted by Neil Paine on December 28, 2009

Required reading material:

Who Are the “Inner-Circle” Hall of Famers? (Part I – Intro to Method)
Inner-Circle Hall of Famers: 1950s/1960s
Inner-Circle Hall of Famers: 1970s

1980s

Charles Barkley ("Sir Charles")

Position: Forward
Height: 6-6 Weight: 252 lbs.
Born: February 20, 1963 in Leeds, Alabama
High School: Leeds in Leeds, Alabama
College: Auburn University

Year Age Team MediaPts Rank StatsPts Rank Composite %Possible Rank
1985 21 PHI 145.0 176 285.5 35.5 203.5 63.6% 41.5
1986 22 PHI 316.0 10 322.5 3.5 319.2 98.2% 7
1987 23 PHI 329.0 7 331.0 5 330.0 98.5% 6.5
1988 24 PHI 329.0 4 331.0 2 330.0 99.4% 3
1989 25 PHI 349.0 5 352.0 2 350.5 99.3% 3
1990 26 PHI 380.0 2 380.0 2 380.0 99.7% 1
1991 27 PHI 384.0 4 383.0 5 383.5 99.1% 5
1992 28 PHI 377.0 10 381.5 5.5 379.2 98.2% 7
1993 29 PHO 390.0 1 387.0 4 388.5 99.6% 3
1994 30 PHO 395.0 9 393.0 11 394.0 97.8% 8
1995 31 PHO 401.0 7 400.5 7.5 400.7 98.5% 6
1996 32 PHO 418.0 12 423.5 6.5 420.7 98.1% 9
1997 33 HOU 424.0 18 417.5 24.5 420.7 95.4% 17
1998 34 HOU 206.0 234 417.0 23 293.1 66.8% 35
1999 35 HOU 208.0 233 426.5 14.5 297.8 67.7% 27
2000 36 HOU 206.5 233.5 253.5 186.5 228.8 52.1% 186.5

The other player I alluded to last week when I said I had to push someone from the 90s into the 80s. Nowadays, I feel like Chuck's outspoken, comedic persona (especially since he's been on Inside the NBA) has unfairly overshadowed his immense playing ability, which is a shame because CB in his prime was a beast. Undersized for a PF at somewhere between 6'4" and 6'6", Barkley put together a handful of MVP-caliber seasons in Philadelphia (including 1990, when he was the game's best player according to the metric outlined above), but the team could never get over the hump because he was surrounded by mediocre talent like Mike Gminski, Johnny Dawkins, Ron Anderson, Rick Mahorn, and Derek Smith. In 1993, Charles led a more gifted (but hardly Jordan-Bulls-caliber) Suns team to within two wins of a championship, winning the MVP for his efforts. Moving to Houston late in his career, he arrived after the Rockets' window had closed and finished up on an aging roster alongside past-their-prime versions of Hakeem Olajuwon and Scottie Pippen. In other words, Barkley never won a ring not because of some personal failing, but instead because his timing was terrible -- had he been surrounded in 1990 with the talent he had in '93, Philly could have won a ring... Had the Suns peaked in '94, they could have easily won a ring... Had Barkley joined the Rockets two years earlier, he would have won a ring, or if he been fortunate enough to play with legends like Hakeem, Pippen, & Clyde Drexler in their respective primes instead of the twilight of their careers... You get the idea. Instead, Charles is remembered primarily for not being a role model and as comic relief on a cable basketball show. But make no mistake, he deserves inner-circle recognition for his accomplishments, because few in the game's history have played as well as Barkley did at his peak.

Larry Bird ("The Legend")

Position: Forward
Height: 6-9 Weight: 220 lbs.
Born: December 7, 1956 in West Baden, Indiana
High School: Springs Valley in French Lick, Indiana
College: Indiana State University

Year Age Team MediaPts Rank StatsPts Rank Composite %Possible Rank
1980 23 BOS 284.0 4 281.5 6.5 282.7 98.5% 4
1981 24 BOS 303.0 2 298.0 7 300.5 98.8% 4
1982 25 BOS 315.0 2 311.0 6 313.0 99.0% 3
1983 26 BOS 315.0 2 315.0 2 315.0 99.7% 2
1984 27 BOS 310.0 1 309.0 2 309.5 99.8% 1
1985 28 BOS 320.0 1 320.0 1 320.0 100.0% 1
1986 29 BOS 325.0 1 325.0 1 325.0 100.0% 1
1987 30 BOS 333.0 3 333.0 3 333.0 99.4% 3
1988 31 BOS 331.0 2 330.0 3 330.5 99.5% 2
1989 32 BOS 163.0 191 138.5 215.5 150.3 42.6% 215.5
1990 33 BOS 373.0 9 370.0 12 371.5 97.5% 10
1991 34 BOS 372.5 15.5 359.5 28.5 365.9 94.6% 19
1992 35 BOS 372.0 15 342.0 45 356.7 92.4% 23

Is Larry Bird the most skilled player of all time? Not necessarily the best overall player (though you could certainly make the case), but the one with the best basketball skills? Obviously there's no way to definitively prove this one way or another, but think about what Bird didn't have compared to other contemporary superstars: he didn't have blazing speed, he wasn't a great leaper, his body broke down in the latter stages of his career (a career that was hardly Kareem-esque in length to begin with)... And yet he was the game's greatest player in the mid-1980s, never ranking outside the Top 4 from his rookie season of 1980 through 1988. How much skill does a player with Bird's basic physical tools need in order to accomplish that feat? You could never begin to quantify it, but it's still interesting to think about. Anyway, I don't know what else there is to say about Larry Legend that hasn't already been said, so here are some videos:

Earvin Johnson Jr. ("Magic")

Position: Guard-Forward
Height: 6-8 Weight: 215 lbs.
Born: August 14, 1959 in Lansing, Michigan
High School: Everett in Lansing, Michigan
College: Michigan State University

Year Age Team MediaPts Rank StatsPts Rank Composite %Possible Rank
1980 20 LAL 270.5 17.5 276.5 11.5 273.5 95.3% 11
1981 21 LAL 281.0 24 279.0 26 280.0 92.1% 19
1982 22 LAL 309.0 8 314.0 3 311.5 98.6% 4
1983 23 LAL 314.0 3 313.5 3.5 313.7 99.3% 3
1984 24 LAL 308.0 3 302.0 9 305.0 98.4% 6
1985 25 LAL 319.0 2 316.0 5 317.5 99.2% 3
1986 26 LAL 323.0 3 321.0 5 322.0 99.1% 3
1987 27 LAL 335.0 1 334.0 2 334.5 99.9% 1.5
1988 28 LAL 330.0 3 325.5 7.5 327.7 98.7% 5
1989 29 LAL 353.0 1 351.0 3 352.0 99.7% 2
1990 30 LAL 381.0 1 379.0 3 380.0 99.7% 2.5
1991 31 LAL 386.0 2 384.0 4 385.0 99.5% 3
1996 36 LAL 405.0 25 297.0 133 346.8 80.8% 26

The interesting thing about this system, which combines media and statistical accomplishments into a single ranking, is that Magic only appears as the game's best player once, when he tied Michael Jordan for the honor in 1987. Why? Well, even in his MVP seasons, the stats always seemed to dig somebody else more -- specifically, Jordan in '87 and both MJ and Barkley in 1989 and 1990. And earlier in his career, when he would have a nice stat season (say, 1982 ), L.A.'s MVP voting was split between him and Kareem, so he didn't get the necessary media love to rank highly. Even so, Magic's run from 1982-91 has to go down as one of the best 10-year stretches by an individual in NBA history. And just like with Larry, we're going to watch some videos now:

Moses Malone ("The Chairman")

Position: Center-Forward
Height: 6-10 Weight: 215 lbs.
Born: March 23, 1955 in Petersburg, Virginia
High School: Petersburg in Petersburg, Virginia

Year Age Team MediaPts Rank StatsPts Rank Composite %Possible Rank
1975 19 UTS 328.5 31.5 341.0 19 334.7 93.2% 19
1976 20 SSL 143.5 202 149.0 196 146.2 42.5% 198
1977 21 TOT 269.0 27 279.5 16.5 274.2 92.9% 19
1978 22 HOU 267.0 19 241.0 45 253.7 89.0% 21
1979 23 HOU 280.0 1 279.0 2 279.5 99.8% 1
1980 24 HOU 281.0 7 285.0 3 283.0 98.6% 3
1981 25 HOU 299.0 6 303.5 1.5 301.2 99.1% 3
1982 26 HOU 316.0 1 316.0 1 316.0 100.0% 1
1983 27 PHI 316.0 1 316.0 1 316.0 100.0% 1
1984 28 PHI 302.0 9 297.0 14 299.5 96.6% 10
1985 29 PHI 318.0 3 317.0 4 317.5 99.2% 2
1986 30 PHI 315.0 11 306.5 19.5 310.7 95.6% 14
1987 31 WSB 327.0 9 320.5 15.5 323.7 96.6% 9
1988 32 WSB 312.5 20.5 318.5 14.5 315.5 95.0% 14
1989 33 ATL 337.0 17 343.5 10.5 340.2 96.4% 14
1990 34 ATL 178.0 204 347.0 35 248.5 65.2% 41
1991 35 ATL 180.0 208 324.0 64 241.5 62.4% 67.5
1992 36 MIL 179.0 208 354.5 32.5 251.9 65.3% 39.5
1993 37 MIL 181.5 210 93.0 298 129.9 33.3% 298
1994 38 PHI 188.0 216 155.5 248.5 171.0 42.4% 248.5
1995 39 SAS 189.5 219 92.0 316 132.0 32.4% 316

With a career that took place in 3 different decades, Moses embodies the basketball lifer; his long basketball journey took him to Salt Lake City, St. Louis, Buffalo, Houston, Philadelphia, Washington, Atlanta, Milwaukee, and San Antonio, with a second tour of duty in Philly thrown in for good measure. Has any other great player suited up in as many uniforms as Malone did? Here are the players to play for 8 or more organizations (Moses played for 9):

There are a few all-stars on that list, but it's really no contest that Malone is the best player to travel that often. What does that say about him as a player? I'm not sure; some are obviously explained by the jump straight from high school to the pros (unheard of in the 70s), and his subsequent stint in the ABA during its last days. But prior to the salary cap era, since when did the league's #1 player swap teams during the offseason? (Hint: it was Wilt.) Even in the the salary cap era, when has that happened? And yet Moses was without a doubt one of the dominant forces of the 1980s, a rebounding machine who propelled Philly to its 1983 championship and put up 20-10 seasons like they were child's play. For these reasons, Mo's place in the Inner Circle is well-earned and unquestionable, a testament to his brilliant rebounding, his epic durability, and his intense work ethic.

On the outside looking in: Dominique Wilkins, Isiah Thomas, Robert Parish, Alex English, Adrian Dantley

Inner Circle according to HoF Probability: Bird, Johnson, Moses, Barkley

ShareThis

45 Responses to “Inner-Circle Hall of Famers: 1980s”

  1. Downpuppy Says:

    Hard to say anything more about these guys, other than it's looking like 4 of your top 20 alltimers were born in 1963. (Barkley, K Malone, Jordan, Hakeem - the only real doubt there is Hakeem's birthday, not whether you pick them)

  2. mrparker Says:

    Its amazing to see how fast Sir Charles was at that size.

    Make me blind and change Bird's accent and I would be convinced he was an inner city kid.

    Someone should show the tape of Magic playing Center to Lebron James.

    SOrry, but all I can ever think about when it comes to Malone is fo fo fo.

  3. mrparker Says:

    Also, I'm thinking the decade could be cut off by what year you were 18. For instance Barkeley was 18 in 1981. While all the other guys were 18 in the 70s. Shouldn't he be in the 90s. I know that probably cause a doubter to end up in the inner circle though.

  4. AYC Says:

    If Barkley is counted in the 80's I'm not sure who the 4th player for the 90's is; MJ, Malone and Hakeem are locks, but then who? Either David Robinson or Shaq would be my guess. If you count Shaq in the 90's, the 00's should feature TD, KG, Kobe and Lebron. But why 4 players and not 5?

    PS My choice for most skilled player is Steve Nash; has there ever been a player who could shoot, dribble and pass the ball so well? Bird at least had some height; Nash is slow AND short.

  5. Jason J Says:

    I like this group. Charles was a force of nature in the late 80s. He didn't really have a position. He'd dominate the boards, defend the 3, and act as the primary playmaker when Johnny Dawkins got his inevitable injury. I'm reading "When the Game Was Ours" the Bird - Magic rivalry, and it is bringing back just how phenomenal those two were in their primes. They controlled games completely. I only remember Moses past his prime, but even with the Hawks and Bucks he was tough.

  6. wise_drunker Says:

    the 90s will be Jordan Olajuwon Malone and the 4th i think it should be Scottie Pippen. I think Thomas should had been over Barkley..

    Shaq should be on the 00s along with Bryant, Garnett and Duncan..

    James will lead the 10s group

  7. Luke Says:

    No complaints at all over these four.

  8. Jared Ras Says:

    Where are the "Outside Looking In" and HOF Probability ranks? I won't argue the players, but I would have liked to see who they edged out.

  9. Downpuppy Says:

    It's been 35 years since Moses went straight from high school to the ABA, & announcers still don't get it. During the Clippers-Celtics game they were talking about Telfair, & how he'd have been a better player had he gone to college. There's probably 9,891,146 layers of stupid in that, but to start with Garnett & Perkins were on the floor at the time, & Telfair is just not very good.

  10. kevin Says:

    I would replace Barkley with Stockton. Stockton was a better player.

  11. P Middy Says:

    Really tough to compare Barkley to Stockton and definitively point to who is better. They did tremendously different things. If we're going to pick a Jazz to pit against Chuck, we should go with Mailman.

    I love so many things about Barkley. His raw athleticism in the 80s was akin to LeBron's now. He was a merciless beast when properly motivated (pizza, and the promise of more pizza to come). And, if my memory serves me, they used to put Chuck on David Robinson to match his speed. And, if my memory serves me, Chuck abused the hell out of him. He developed his jumper. He became a real leader. And he and Suns took Jordan and the Bulls to the limit, well almost the limit. Closer than anyone else, I'd say.

    And how can we forget the Olympics where Chuck shot 71 (what?) SEVENTY ONE percent.

    Hail Barkley!

  12. Anthony Coleman Says:

    Wait a second Neil: why did you totally omit the SG spot, and by extension Michael Jordan? Come on we all know that he is going to be in the 90s class, but you should circumvent the rules and put the man in the 80s inner-circle too (especially seeing that his career in the 80s overlapped Barkley's in the same time period and he was a better too.) Jordan was almost certainly a top 5 player in his rookie season, arguably the best player in 87, and definitely the top spot in 88 and and 89 (he was robbed of the MVP award that year).

  13. Jason J Says:

    You can make the argument that Stockton was better than Chuck in the '90s. I don't think it's even a legit discussion in the '80s. John was a sub playing less than 24 minutes per game before 1988. Charles was a beast right out of the gate, jumped up to 20 points and 13 boards a game his second season and led the league in rebounding while scoring 23 a game his third season. All that while Stockton was riding pine most of the game. Then Chuck became a legit man-monster in 88 and 89 when he bumped his scoring up over 25 / game while pulling down 12 boards and shooting an ungodly 57% from the field.

  14. AYC Says:

    Stockton doesn't fit ANY of Neil's criteria for this list; he never had a PER in the top-5, he won 1st team All-NBA honors just twice, and he was never the best player on a finalist.

    Barkley had top-5 PER 9 times, 1st team All-NBA 5 times, MVP and best player on a finalist in '93.

  15. Luke Says:

    Yeah, Barkley over Stockton is pretty much a no-brainer. (Although the Chuckster was my favorite player growing up, so I may be more than a little biased there.) Barkley vs. Karl Malone though would be a very tough debate. But Malone will be in this for the 90's, so luckily we don't really have to worry about it, as far as Hall-worthiness is concerned.

    I really don't think you can argue that Jordan and Malone belong in the 90's though (with Hakeem, and I would guess Shaq probably).
    In the 90's they had:
    Jordan - 6 titles, 15,261 points, 4 MVP's (in really only six and a half seasons)
    Malone - 18,830 points (the most in the 90's) and 2 MVP's
    I think their best seasons were definitely in the 90's, Hakeem was definitely a 90's guy too, and I would guess Shaq would get moved into the 90's even though his best seasons were in the 00's just to free up another slot for someone else in the 00's

  16. P Middy Says:

    MJ, Malone, Keem, and Shaqtus in the 90s me thinks. Shaq's numbers in the 90 were gaudy, ridiculous, disparaging even.

  17. kevin Says:

    PER is an unbelievably crappy statistic. And if the Jazz had defeated the Bulls in the '97 Finals, it would have been Stockton, and not Malone, who would have gotten MVP. Heck, you could make an argument Stockton outplayed Jordan in that series, so the argument he was never the best player on a finalist is a bogus one.

    Barkley had the same problem that plagued Wilt. The team he was on had to revolve around him, for better or ill. He didn't integrate into a team concept so well. Erving was quoted as saying he never could figure out how to play with Charles. Meanwhile, Malone is nearly brought to tears of joy when he reminisces about Stockton.

    Stockton was better.

  18. Romain Says:

    Kevin said about the 1997 Finals "Heck, you could make an argument Stockton outplayed Jordan in that series".

    Now that's a good one!!

    You mean like in Game 1 when Jordan had 31 pts - 8 assists & the buzzer-beating winning shot while Stockton had 16 pts - 12 assists ?
    Or like in Game 2 when Jordan had 38 pts - 13 rbs - 9 assists while Stockton had 14 pts on 4/12 and 7 assists ?

    Or how about Games 5 and 6 when Jordan had a combined 77 pts - 18 rbs - 9 assists compared to Stockton's combined 26 pts - 9 rbs - 10 assists ?

    True, Jordan had two subpar games in G3 and G4 but I wouldn't say Stockton outplayed him based on his 17 pts - 12 assits efforts in those games

  19. Zach Says:

    Well, the question is where does Shaq fall 'cause he put ridiculous numbers in the 90's but all his championships are afterwards. If Shaq is not in the 90's then I think it'll be Jordan, Malone, Hakeem, and Robinson... but that really puts a logjam into the next decade with Shaq, Duncan, Garnett, Kobe, LeBron, and perennially underrated Nowitzki (whose been in the top 3 in win shares 7 of the last 10 years, and top 10 the other 3 years.) The problem is that a player's dominance usually doesn't last a decade, more like 6-8 years. I'm really interested to see how this plays out.

  20. kevin Says:

    "Or how about Games 5 and 6 when Jordan had a combined 77 pts - 18 rbs - 9 assists compared to Stockton's combined 26 pts - 9 rbs - 10 assists ?"

    How about thinking about Jordan taking 158 FG attempts vs Stockton's 62?
    How about Jordan shooting .456/.320/.764 vs Stockton's .500/.400/.846? How about that?

  21. P Middy Says:

    Look, Stockton is one of my favorites. And I HATE MJ. But it's utterly ridiculous to say he was outplayed in the Finals. By anyone. In any six of those finals. Maybe, MAYBE on handicap Stockton was better. He elevated himself further from his baseline than Jordan did. Maybe. But Jordan dominated each and every Finals he appeared in. He willed his team to 6 rings in 6 tries. (not including the comeback season). He's the reason Barkley, Stockton, Malone, Ewing, Miller, Kemp, and a plethora of other all time greats have ZERO rings to their credit.

  22. kevin Says:

    That's a nice rant but it doesn't address the stastical disparity between Stockton and Jordan, shooting-wise.

  23. P Middy Says:

    And that statistical disparity does not address the fact that Stockton and Malone were 0-2 against Jordan and Pippen in the NBA Finals. To be considered better than someone, you have to actually beat them.

  24. kevin Says:

    I never said Stockton was a better player than Jordan. I said you could make an argument that Stockton outplayed Jordan in 1997. That's not the same thing.

  25. AYC Says:

    More irrational Stockton worship... Better than Malone and Barkley? Outplayed MJ in the finals?! That's placing alot of stock in shooting percentages and assists; do you think Nash is better than all those guys too? What about Kevin Johnson? Hornacek also had great shooting %, I guess he's better than MJ too! Seriously, 13 ppg doesn't make you a great scorer, I don't care how great your tru shooting % is.

    The truth is, Stockton dominated in the statistical category (assists) that is most subjective; there is a very real possibility that his stats are inflated. Considering how gaudy his assist stats are, I think it's also fair to ask if his pursuit of assists was as selfish in its own way as Wilt's pursuit of points, or Rodman's pursuit of rebounds. Maybe if he had shot the ball more... BTW, the path to the title was wide open in 94 and 95 with MJ gone; Stockton and Malone couldn't get it done then either

  26. P Middy Says:

    I don't mean to be obtuse. I really don't see the difference. If you outplay someone, you are better than they. You defeat them. Stock was neither better than Jordan, nor the winner. If you mean Stock meant more to him team in losing, than Jordan did to his in winning, it's a tough argument to sell, because losing fng sucks. And losing, by definition, makes you worse than the winner.

  27. Romain Says:

    Okay, so Stockton had slightly better FG and FT % than MJ, and based on that you say "you could make an argument that Stockton outplayed Jordan in 1997".........

    Well of course he had better %, I mean Jordan had 158 FGA and 55 FTA in the 1997 Finals compared to 62 and 26 for Stockton!!
    Stockton had 10 FGA in game 1, then 12, 10, 11, 10 and 9, which means that he basically attempted the same number of shots regardless of how the game turned out. He could have a hot hand or not, it could be a close game or not, Malone could score 20 or 35 pts, it didn't matter to Stock because he would always end up with his 10 or so FGA, no matter what. He never seemed able to say: "wait a minute, I've just made 2 or 3 shots in a row, Karl is struggling down low (and god knows he did in those Finals), maybe I should take 15 or 20 shots today because it feels like my team really needs it".

    So please, don't bring the slight edge that Stock had over MJ in this department because it's just ridiculous (just as the whole Stockton outplayed MJ thing)

  28. kevin Says:

    "I don't mean to be obtuse. I really don't see the difference. If you outplay someone, you are better than they. You defeat them."

    How more obtuse do you want to get? Robert Reid outplayed Magic in the 1981 playoffs. That doesn't mean Reid was a better player than Magic. At that moment in time, in June of 1997, Stockton was playing the game about as well as Jordan. That doesn't mean he had as good a career as Jordan or he was as good as Jordan. But he was damned good, good enough to be the best player on a championship team. It didn't happen for him, just like it didn't happen for Baylor or Barkley or Malone or Ewing or a number of other really great players. But it could have, if his career happened at another time or Pippen got hurt or Utah peaked in the mid-nineties rather than the late nineties, or Stockton had been drafted by Boston or Houston rather than Utah or a whole host of other factors beyond Stockton's control.

  29. kevin Says:

    "So please, don't bring the slight edge that Stock had over MJ in this department because it's just ridiculous (just as the whole Stockton outplayed MJ thing)"

    It's not a slight edge. Those differences are big differences. And in the playoffs, 2 points one way or the other can mean the difference in a series. The Bulls outscored the Jazz in that series by a total of 4 points. That's all. 4 points. One more missed shot by the Bulls and it goes 7. 2 or 3 more and the Bulls end up losing.

    Chicago won because they had better team defense and a more diversified offense. Stockton kept them in that one, springing one average Jazz player after another for quality looks and being so good with the ball that the Bulls couldn't effectively pressure the Jazz into turnovers and had to play them straight up instead, away from their strength.

  30. P Middy Says:

    yeah, except as Romain pointed out, the numbers don't even come close to bearing out that argument.

  31. kevin Says:

    "The truth is, Stockton dominated in the statistical category (assists) that is most subjective; there is a very real possibility that his stats are inflated. Considering how gaudy his assist stats are, I think it's also fair to ask if his pursuit of assists was as selfish in its own way as Wilt's pursuit of points, or Rodman's pursuit of rebounds."

    I'm sorry, AYC, but this has to be one of the most asinine assertions I've ever read. So asinine it doesn't deserve a response.

  32. kevin Says:

    Wait, I'm sorry. I do want to respond to it. You might have a point there,
    AYC. Thinking about it a little more, there were more selfish players out there with gaudy statistics.

    For instance, all those blocked shots by Russell didn't have anything to do with a desire to win. He just like to inflate his blocked shots totals, another "subjective" statistic. And Calvin Murphy with his .958 free throw percentage. That was out of line with his career figures. He was just being selfish that year, making all those free throws, trying to draw attention to himself. If he were more unselfish, he should have taken one of the team and missed more of those freebies.

  33. Jason J Says:

    If Stockton had wound up in Houston or Boston, and his job was to walk the ball up court and drop it into Hakeem or McHale or pass it to Larry on the wing and let him run the half-court, he would likely have won a lot of titles and been considered a highly efficient role player, since the pick and roll assist gathering would not have been as prevalent in a post / iso system. It's so hard to have the perfect storm that allows a player with Stockton's unique combination of precision and restraint to amass stats and win, because the more talented his teammates are (the more likely to win rings), the less necessary his game management becomes. Best pure point guard of all time bar none.

    Don't think he outplayed Jordan in '97. In production and clutchness, MJ was better IMO.

  34. kevin Says:

    "It's so hard to have the perfect storm that allows a player with Stockton's unique combination of precision and restraint to amass stats and win, because the more talented his teammates are (the more likely to win rings), the less necessary his game management becomes."

    Isn't that true for everyone? I mean, Jordan's numbers descended as the Bulls ascended and acquired players who could shoulder more of the load.

    And if Stockton were on the Celtics, they would have adjusted the offense to take advantage of his ability to run the fastbreak and pick and roll. Bird and Parish used to run the pick an roll a lot so I can't imagine them not doing some of that with Stockton too.

  35. Josh Says:

    @25 BTW, the path to the title was wide open in 94 and 95 with MJ gone; Stockton and Malone couldn't get it done then either

    I'm not going to blame Stockton for the fact that the Jazz were playing Felton Spencer and then the dreaded James Donaldson/Antoine Carr duo against Hakeem (who was better than Stockton or Malone). And while I don't think Stockton outplayed Jordan in '97, he did outplay Malone in the '97 Playoffs, making him the best player on a team that rolled through a tough Western Conference and barely lost to one of the greatest teams ever.

    Also, Barkley was great, but I think it's worth remembering that before he got there, the Suns had won between 53 and 55 games each of the previous 4 seasons. That team was starting to come apart, but even without Barkley, I'm not convinced they were worse than the non-Stockton Jazz.

  36. Jason J Says:

    I only mean to say that for a point guard, where manufacturing points for lesser players like Bryon Russell or Greg Ostertag is one of the most beneficial things he brings to a team, giving him Bird and Parish in those spots makes his skills less obvious. A guy like Mike or Kobe, regardless of the talent around him, will always look talented. I was referring more to perception than reality.

    The Bird / McHale pick and roll was ridiculous. Teams were so afraid to give Larry and day light and Kevin would dive to the paint so quick and finished the overthetop passes without taking the ball down.

  37. AYC Says:

    You don't lead the league in assists 9 years in a row by accident; players set goals for themselves, and I have no doubt that Stockton had a personal goal of leading the league in assists every year. But leading the league in assists is NOT the same as doing whatever it takes to win; as #27 suggested, there were times when the Jazz might have been better served by Stockton shooting more.

    A great example is Wilt in '68; he set a personal goal of leading the league in assists, to prove he wasn't selfish; he achieved his goal, but the sixers failed to repeat as champs, in part because he wouldn't assert himself offensively when the team needed it.

  38. Jason J Says:

    Josh - remember that in 1993 the Suns lost Hornacek to pick up Barkley, Tom Chaimbers' decline continued, and Kevin Johnson was hurt playing only 46 games and averaging less than 34 minutes per game. It wasn't the same 50+ win team that he joined, and there's a reason he had to put up MVP numbers that season.

  39. Josh Says:

    @ Jason
    You're right, the rest of the team wasn't as good, although Ceballos turning into a good player, the addition of Danny Ainge, and the one good year from Dumas helped offset some of those losses. But, when KJ was healthy (which he was for the playoffs), it was still a good team (although probably closer to a 45 win team than a 55 win team).

  40. GURU Says:

    M Malone / Hakeem
    BArkley / K Mchale
    LBird / Dr J
    Jordan / Drexler
    Magic / J Stochkton

  41. Ferrel Says:

    barkley was a greater player than malone. the only thing malone has over barkley is longevity in that he remained injury free for his whole career. barkley suffered many injuries and his career was cut short because of it, as was his output in his last few seasons.

    barkley leads malone in every stat except scoring (if you look at it from a per game basis), and his shooting % was also significantly higher. take stockton out of the picture and barkley would have likely had a higher ppg average also.

    so barkley, who was 5" shorter, leads malone in rebounds, assists, steals, blocks and shooting %, but scored 3 pts less per game because he was never blessed to play with the greatest point guard in recent history. barkley was better in the paint and from the perimeter, he was more dynamic, more versatile and a much more spectacular and exciting player to watch.

    any one want to tell me how malone was better?

    for the record, i also think barkley was a better player than duncan, although u can't really argue with 4 rings. i guess that was chucks one flaw - he couldn't bring his team together to win the ultimate prize.

  42. J.T. Says:

    I gotta say I really don't understand this whole thing. Why are there only 4 players? Also, why is Barkley all-80s but not Jordan? They played the same amount during that decade didn't they? I mean Jordan had that one injured year, but still. I guess you're putting him in the 90s and only one decade per player?

    As for the Stockton argument, a couple of points. There is no way Stockton would be on the all-80s team. Stockton didn't become a star (or even a starter) until 87-88. However, it's absurd to not put him on the all 90s team. Maybe assists are subjective, but their clearly not given enough emphasis in the HOF monitor, as exemplified by there being only 1 point guard of the 8 all 80s all 90s team, and the one was a 20 point, 7 rebound pg who won 5 championships. As for the Stockton/Nash comparison, it doesn't work. Yes Nash is a better scorer, whose similarly ridiculous fg% for a pg reflects more shots taken. Nash doesn't have the assists that Stockton did, but no one does, and one could argue his superior scoring makes up for that. However, the defense is what separates them. Stockton is a 5 time all NBA defender whose Defensive rating was in the low 100s over his career, and who averaged 3+ steals on multiple occasions. Nash's defense is actually probably sub par. Yes, his amazing offensive abilities more than makes up for it, and still allows him to be one of the top 10 point guards of all time, no doubt. However, it separates him from Stockton. If Nash's offense is a 10, which it certainly is, Stockton is a 9, probably inferior, but still close. If Stockton's defense is a 9 (you could argue 8, but no lower), Nash's is a 5 at best. Stockton, therefore belongs in that top 5 that can only consist of Magic, Thomas, Robertson, Cousy, and himself, in no particular order. Nash can be up there with Frazier, Tiny, and the like, but cannot break the top 5, unless perhaps (though still unlikely) he wins a championship.

  43. David Fauber Says:

    The links to the other articles in the series are brokent, they need the '/blog' inserted into the url.

  44. Al Poe Says:

    I'm confused. In your intro, Neil wrote: "I used those numbers to form a career rankings list; to qualify for the Inner Circle list, a player must: A) have played 10 years professionally after 1951 in either the ABA or NBA; and B) have won at least 1 NBA Championship in their career." (Bad syntax, by the way.) Barkley never won an NBA championship. So why is he in?

  45. Neil Paine Says:

    There was quite a bit of protest about that requirement -- which surprised me, since I assumed the casual NBA fan was obsessed with championships to the exclusion of everything else. In the end, they convinced me to drop the championship requirement, which allowed Malone, Barkley, etc. to be recognized.