…dribbling the basketball? In almost six decades of watching basketball, I have not seen anyone that makes dribbling the ball look so easy and so natural as the Bearded One. And then those one handed 40 feet long deadeye passes!
Here is hoping that he brings Joe Johnson that elusive ring.
Kyrie Irving has the best handle in the game in my opinion. Other guys to throw in the discussion are Maravich, classic Isaiah Thomas, Steph Curry, and Rod Strickland. Ex-players frequently bring up Rod Strickland as one of the best dribblers of all time.
Dribbling is a lost art, especially in the NBA. Bounce it once and take 3 strides and you’ve eaten up a half court. Walking and palming the ball are no longer violations. The NBA is a different game today. It is played in the air, not on the bounce. The passing of LaBron James is incredible.
Good question . . . after thinking about it for a few minutes, I’ll submit the name of Nate “Tiny” Archibald. He’s one of the great NBA players not that many know of today. Once lead the NBA is scoring (34.0) AND assists (11.4) per game in the same season, the ONLY player to do so (The great Oscar Robertson, in 1967-68, had more assists on the year than anyone else - but he did not lead in assists per game; Robertson’s numbers that year were 29.2 points and 9.7 rebounds per game). Compare Archibald’s season to Russell Westbrook’s MVP numbers last year of 31.6 points and 10.7 assists per game to see just how dominant “Tiny” was. And, keep in mind that the bulk of his scoring was before the NBA had the 3 point line; he was much more of a pure point guard later in his career when he played for Boston (who needs to shoot outside when you can pass the ball to Larry Bird?).
At about 5’11" (believe it or not, I have stood next to him on a basketball court; he attended UTEP a couple of years ahead of me) he would fearlessly drive to the basket and score/drop a dime around/under/beside men a foot taller than himself. He handled the ball like it was a yo-yo. Miraculously, he almost never got his shot blocked.
He won his only NBA title later in his career, playing point for the 1981 Celtics. Tiny was awarded the MVP award for his career season in 1973, and he was named to the NBA’s 50 year All-star squad.
Yes, he did, and he took a lot of shots from what would be 3-point range now. No, let’s amend that. He took a lot of shots from everywhere. Pete averaged 38 shots a game in his LSU varsity career (freshmen wouldn’t become eligible for a few years after Pete left college). He shot .438 from the field for his career. Of course it helps when Dad is the head coach, although I can’t imagine any coach now who would let his own son shoot 38 times a game, even a son as talented as Pete clearly was.
By comparison, Virginia’s entire TEAM averaged 55 shots per game this year. We averaged a little over 60.