It’s a fun argument right? Let’s not pretend there aren’t two different categories of players. We have the high flying, lightning fast, athletically astounding plethora of athletes that fill up Sports Centers top 10 every night. Then we have the guys that generally are ducking out of the way or getting a mouth full of unmentionables in the path of destruction leading to the rim. Again, we could pretend there is only one category of player. We could pretend that every player has certain god given talents and it’s up to them to become great or not, but let’s face it, that’s just not the case.
I’ve been involved in many a battle. I’ve been “that guy” blowing up the Facebook feed and annoying the bejeezuz out of you, trying to prove that Lebron will never be Michael. These are enjoyable arguments. I enjoy a good ribbing and a well placed obscure stat that befuddles the competition and leaves me to gloat over my fresh social media victory like a 4 year old holding a used but dry pull up. This will not be one of those arguments. This is the argument most of us have never had, yet it’s compelling nonetheless.
Here’s the fun part. I came up with this idea and immediately a few players came to mind as I’m sure some names are popping up in your head. I’m going to propose something unorthodox here. STOP READING! Write down your top five white players and then go ask your buddies to do the same. I promise your answers will be different.
The nice part about reading anything I write, is that when it comes to seemingly pointless basketball opinions, you are dealing with the self titled “King”. That’s right, I’m like Lebron James, I pick my own GD nicknames. (You’ll notice a pattern of me harping on Lebron, get used to it, I can’t stand the guy) Now that your opinions are formed, and you’re ready to argue all night with your friends, let me save you some time and end the debate once and for all with a, drumroll please……“countdown of the best white guys since 2000”
5. Kevin Love
Since entering the league in 2008 Love has been probably the least talked about superstar. The only reason he isn’t listed higher on my list is his lack of time in the league. Love is very white, his beard is very full, his chest hair has obviously been manicured into obscurity, and he lived in a city that started with the word “Lake”. As if his looks didn’t define him enough lets read the scouting report on love coming into the league.
“For all his skill on the low block, Love does run into some problems in the post, specifically when he’s going up against a longer defender. He is prone to having his shot blocked, and has trouble trying to score over bigger defenders. He doesn’t show much in terms of vertical explosiveness, being a mostly under the rim player. To his credit, he does a great job pursuing his own misses, as his motor never stops, and he’s often able to convert on his second effort.”
- NCAA Weekly Performers–Freshman Edition, Part Two – 11/25/07
Let’s analyze that. Love is “prone to having his shot blocked” is a “mostly under the rim player” and “doesn’t show much in terms of vertical explosiveness”. If those aren’t acronymous phrases for “white guy” I don’t know what is. For all the lack of gifts, heres what Love has accomplished. First, he got un-fat. Love was a butterball at UCLA. Go back and watch the fat guy setting screens for Westbrook and Collison and you’ll see a different Love. Secondly, he extended his range. You can’t leave him open at any place on the court. Lastly, nobody rebounds with as much effort as Love. He’s like a hobo on a poo dollar….it doesn’t have to be pretty but a rebound’s a rebound. Love will most certainly climb this list as his career continues. Look for him to get more white as the years go on
4. Hedo Turkoglu
The white mamba before the black mamba. Let’s go ahead and start with his time “white-ing” up the court with Peja Stojakovic, Vlade Divac and Jason Williams in Sacramento. Nobody was comfortable seeing that much white on the floor. Hedo is a goof. He’s the player that you want to guard when you show up for a pickup game and then he lights you up for 40 and nobody will switch you guys. Hedo might be the most unassuming player of all time. (Sidenote: I didn’t have to look up Turkoglu’s last name to spell it correctly.) Hedo isn’t in great shape, he can’t jump, and if you saw him on an airplane you’d most likely text your family that you love them, just in case something happened. Yet, he’s been arguably the most important player on his team for much of his career. He was nearly impossible to stop down the stretch in any close game in his first Orlando stint. He was so good that most casual fans didn’t realize what a dickbag Dwight Howard was. Hedo hasn’t had the longevity of greatness that some players have had, but again, remember he is white. For a 5 year stretch from ‘04-’09 he might have been the deadliest closer in the game. I’ll always rank a player high on my list based on play in the clutch, which is why Hedo comes in at number 4.
3. Pau Gasol
I’m realizing that this list could also be submitted for “Ugliest Players Since 2000” and really hold it’s own. Pau would probably be the captain of this list. Pau looks like the Eiffel Tower when he shoots. I can’t remember a more robotic motion from feet to elbow. Once the ball is past the elbow however, it’s like Harry Potter casting a Patronous charm, simply magnificent. I can’t remember a player of any race with touch around the rim like Pau in his prime. Pau get’s a lot of credit for the turnaround in Lakerland and I still don’t think he gets enough. I have a sneaking suspicion that Pau keeps his “beard” simply to distract defenders long enough to get his shot off. Off the top of my head I can’t think of a superstar more willing to ditch the spotlight, take their place on the whipping post, and kiss the ass of another star player. I realize that sounds like me calling Pau a giant pussy, but that’s not the case. Pau Gasol is the guy you want your kid to play like. He works hard, he is consistent, he is the ultimate team player and he is coachable. Pau might be gross but I love him. Solid number 3 here.
2. Steve Nash
No two players have ever overcome worse rookie pictures than Steve Nash and Dirk Nowitzki (see first picture). As young Mavericks they formed an immediate friendship that I can only assume was solely based on being white and being terrible. Nash is slow. Nash is slow for a white guy. I think Nash grew up in a house with nothing but highlights from the 1950’s NBA. There is no other explanation for Nash’ borderline set shot. Fortunately the Nash family were soccer players, and they developed a hybrid basketball player that Teen Wolf would be proud of. Watch some Steve Nash highlights. He never shoots off the correct foot, takes one footed threes, and takes floaters you can’t recreate. During his MVP run in Phoenix the offense had one of two options. Option 1: Shoot the ball within 7 seconds Option 2: Let Nash dribble around in circles for 20 seconds until a defender gets dizzy and Nash passes it for the open 3. Nash was absurd, he was unstoppable. It didn’t matter who you put on him, he was so unconventional that all the years of defensive training go out the window. The only knock I have against Nash is the decision to split with Nowitzki and take the money in Phoenix. Imagine 10 years of Dirk and Nash at their best.
1. Dirk Nowitzki
I feel like I should mention now that I this decision is 100% biased. I love Dirk! It’s unnatural how much I love Dirk. If I ever have a child the name Dirk will be somewhere on the birth certificate, even if he has to replace my name as the father, it will be done. That being said, I dare you to argue this with me. The Dirk-Led Mavs were a shoe in for 10+ years to win 50 games every year. It’s easy to forget how good these Mavs teams have been. Dirk at his best (beating down Lebron in the 2011 Finals) is as good as any Finals MVP has ever been. You can’t find a player who made more tough shots in such small amount of time. Like Nash, there is no defense for Dirks unconventional offense. I was watching Kevin Durrant play three nights ago, watched him back down his defender, turn slightly towards the basket and then fade away off his back foot while he kicked his defender in the balls. I nearly shed a tear. Dirk changed the game forever. He’s 7 feet tall, he might be the best all around shooter of all time (find me a spot on the court he can’t shoot from) his shot originates somewhere near his shoulder blades and his release is behind his head. Yet, somehow, like a California sunset, it’s a thing of beauty. Take into account that Dirk is a great teammate, a quiet but effective leader, and he negotiates his own contracts (never takes a max deal) and when all is said and done Dirk rises like cream (because it’s white) and takes the mantle of not only the best white player since 2000, but of all time. Ya, I said it. Deal with it