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Layups: Book of Basketball Painting

Posted by Neil Paine on December 14, 2010

This is pretty sweet... It's a PDF version of the Book of Basketball painting ESPN commissioned John Alexander to create, featuring all of the players the top 50 players in Bill Simmons' Hall of Fame pantheon-pyramid.

(Btw, somebody should make a Sporcle quiz where you identify the players from their depiction in the picture.)

26 Responses to “Layups: Book of Basketball Painting”

  1. Corey Says:

    I don't think it's EVERY player in the pantheon - just the top 50?

  2. Neil Paine Says:

    Good catch, I fixed the post. I guess 84x120 in. wasn't enough for everyone!

  3. AYC Says:

    Did they have to put Hakeem in those awful pinstripes? I will always blame thaat uniform change for preventing a Bulls-Rockets finals....

  4. Neil Paine Says:

    Yet they put Drexler in the classic Rockets uni, which he wore for all of 57 games.

  5. dbm Says:

    Ah, the book of basketball. Interesting reading. Did you ever do a blog post here where readers got to discuss the book and its contents, etc.?

  6. Sean Says:

    haha Barkley looks confused as usual

  7. Sean Says:

    surprised that Sam Jones found his way on the top 50?

  8. AYC Says:

    Nah, he's a celt, and Simmons is from Boston. His advanced stats are pretty good too

    Love that they put Shaq in a superman jersey. He really is a man without a team; has there ever been a player that great who bounced around so much?

  9. Sean Says:

    Moses Malone is the only other player in the painting who's even close, he played for the Rockets, Sixers, Bullets, Hawks, Bucks, Sixers again and Spurs, plus the Buffalo Braves (Clippers) for two games, plus two ABA teams.

  10. Sean Says:

    Oscar and LeBron are the best painted imo

  11. Corey Says:

    The worst is Jordan. I had no idea. I honestly thought, "Funny. They totally forgot Jordan."

  12. Rob Says:

    Gary Payton's face is ridiculous.

    It seems like they randomly placed guys. I like a lot of the pairings, though: Malone/Stockton, Pippen/Jordan, Magic/Kareem, etc. Sorta makes me wonder why Robinson/Duncan, McHale/Bird, etc. are far apart. And how come Kidd is next to Dirk instead of Steve Nash?

    Does the new edition include an updated version of the pyramid? Any idea if there are significant shifts?

  13. Corey V. Says:

    There are some considerable changes, but no new players. Kobe launched into the top level (note: this first Pantheon was made before the back-to-back titles) and, with that, the top level was expanded to 13.

    Ray Allen rightfully leapfrogged Reggie Miller, Paul Pierce moved up a bit - as did Dwight Howard, Dwayne Wade and Lebron James.

    I can't remember the rest, but the major shift was Kobe.

  14. Neil Paine Says:

    Yeah, it was a shame TBOB came out right as a lot of important historical stuff was happening -- Kobe's 4th & 5th rings, LeBron's MVPs and subsequent "Decision", etc. Glad to see he was able to account for the new developments in the paperback version.

    Re: #5 - We never posted an out-and-out review of the book, but we've touched on it a number of times over the past year:


  15. Rob Says:

    Do you know if anything happened with Chris Paul and Tracy McGrady? McGrady has played in only 65 games since the last edition. I remember Bill James' Abstract (obviously more formulaic than Simmons) ranked a few active players based on potential. (I'm sure Nomar wouldn't rank as high among SS this time.) I'm curious if Simmons ranked McGrady where he did under the assumption that he'd make some kind of recovery.

    Thanks Corey V!

  16. Jason J Says:

    Who's the guy in yellow next to Karl Malone - above Iceman - below Admiral?

  17. Sean Says:

    that's Nate Thurmond

  18. Jay Says:

    You can actually look at simmons' current rankings here:

    I tend to agree with most of what he writes in his columns, but when I was flipping through the book at barnes and noble, I came across a lot of things that bothered me. I didn't end up buying it. Then again, in a 700 page book, you're bound to found things you disagree with. I just think he can be stubbornly opinionated at times, and that came across in the book. It was certainly a great effort on his part.

  19. Mike Tussey Says:

    Is there a key for the Haines paintings of BB greats?

  20. dbm Says:

    Yeah, I agree. I read the copy at my local library.
    Incredible effort from Simmons, but a little much on the Celtic bias. He argues so hard at times for Russell over Chamberlain that it almost looks like he doesn't believe it in his heart. For instance, he does not argue nearly as hard for Magic over Bird. Reason: He really believes it.
    Other stuff: '86 Celtics number one? I think not. The 1996 Bulls should have been number one...the fact that the 1997 team was so dominant clinched it for me. Not having the ;97 Bulls in the top 5 (because of no two teams in the top 5 rule he just made up?) comical.
    I thought he did bring up an interesting point about the 2001 Lakers. My brother and I talk hoops all the time, and we both always thought that those Lakers would have been a tough out for the 90's Bulls because of Shaq. I do have to again disagree with Simmons though on saying the '86 Celtics would "handle" or take apart or whatever the 2001 Lakers. He based that on McHale and Chief. The problem is, in real life 2001, Shaq smashed the Spurs in the postseason, sweeping them. The Spurs had Duncan and Robinson. Robinson was a little older, but still very solid on D. As a defensive duo, give me Duncan and Robinson over Parrish and McHale any day. Now, the Lakers might have had trouble with Bird, but the Celtics would have had similar trouble with Kobe. It is one of those things: Those Lakers did not accomplish enough to merit the top ranking, but match-up wise, I think they would give a lot of the other great teams trouble.

  21. James B Says:

    Kobe is the one that really smashed the Spurs in '01, and I agree that the '86 Boston team against Kobe and Shaq in '01 would have been seriously challenged. In 2 series they (Lakers) completely dismantled the league's best offense defense.

  22. Rob Says:

    Thanks so much, Jay!

    Mike Tussey -- I don't think there's a key out there. We could probably put one together quickly.

  23. Sean Says:

    I think people are underrating the 86 Celtics' chemistry in areas that don't show up as much in the statistics. I did not live through that era but from the (relatively little compared with living through the 2001 Lakers era) footage that I've seen, they were a ridiculously good passing team and frequently toyed with opponents just by passing the ball around until a player had a wide open shot. Most of the time that beats having a super dominant player. Besides, don't forget that the Celtics had Bill Walton on the bench to slow Shaq if Parish struggled. Dennis Johnson could do a good defensive job on Kobe. Who did the Lakers have on the bench to help on Bird? Also, the Celtics were unbeatable at home, then again the Lakers were an impressive road team at the time so if any team would be able to come away with a win in the Garden it would be them. All that said, da 96 Bulls should have still been tops.

  24. AYC Says:

    With the obvious exception of the 2 spot, where MJ played, the 86 Celts have the advantage over the 96 Bulls at every starting spot: Parish over Longley, Mchale over Rodman, Bird over Pippen, DJ (or Ainge) over Harper. Off the bench, Walton was better than Longley too. I think Simmons is kind of a jerk, but I wouldn't dismiss his Boston homerism in this case.

  25. AYC Says:

    PS The 87 Lakers could probably beat the 96 Bulls too

  26. Nick Says:

    Who's the guy under Naismith in blue?? Bugging the heck out of me! Only guy I can't name...