Undoubtedly, the best way to show your love for a player is to wear their jersey. Many players have infamous jerseys just due to their names. Others simply have the best play available and draw a large enough fan base. Either way, these are the five players that, in ten years, everybody will be itching to wear. Two rules; no already huge players (everybody is going to want a LeBron for the rest of time), and no REALLY old players (if they aren't already popular now, that's probably not going to change).
5. LARRY SANDERS BUCKS JERSEY
A bit of an odd start, but hear me out on this one. Larry Sanders had the second most blocks per game in the league. Who is more exciting that somebody who can send guys away from the basket almost three times per game? The only guy that had more last season was Serge Ibaka, and, quite frankly, Sanders just seems to have more curb appeal than Ibaka. Sure, the name Ibaka looks a lot more distinctive on a jersey, but the problem is he doesn't really have the chance to be the best player on that Thunder team, and Sanders CERTAINLY has the chance to be the best on the Bucks. The Bucks probably aren't going anywhere fast, and Larry Sanders will probably look very good because of that. I doubt he will be an NBA star, but I bet his jersey will be out there for the looking.
4. BEN MCLEMORE KINGS JERSEY
Ok, this one might be a bit of a wing and a prayer, but McLemore just seems like the kind of player that would have a very cool jersey. Personally, I think he was the most talented player to come out of the 2013 draft class, and I believe he holds a very strong future. Will he be LeBron James or Kobe Bryant? Probably not, but could he be one of the 15 best players in the league? Absolutely. McLemore's jersey could be one of those ones that many people look for after he retires, as well. In any case, McLemore has the talent to have a top selling jersey
3. KEVIN GARNETT TIMBERWOLVES JERSEY
This jersey is a bit backwards compared to the first two, but it fits the criteria. Garnett will probably be more remembered by many for his days in Boston, going to two NBA Finals and taking home one Larry O'Brien Trophy in the process with the help of Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, thought to be the "Big 3." However, Kevin Garnett is still the most important player in Minnesota Timberwolves history. Garnett still leads the team in points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks. But that doesn't answer the question, why will this jersey be so cool in 10 years? Well, by that time, Garnett will be retired and this jersey will probably be a Hardwood Classic. By that time, people will realize that, not only is this jersey ridiculously cool looking, but also that Kevin Garnett will forever be one of the top three Minnesota Timberwolves ever. The only reason I don't rank him higher is that his career in the land of a thousand lakes is overshadowed by his championship in Boston much of the time. In any case, his Wolves jersey won't soon be forgotten.
2. JASON KIDD NETS JERSEY
Kidd's reasoning is pretty similar to Garnett's. Kidd was one of the most dominant players in the league at certain points in his career, many of them coming during his stint with New Jersey. He was tall, quick, a fantastic shooter, and had great passing. In all of Nets history, he leads in 3 pointers, assists, and steals. So, sure, some could debate he's not the best player in Net history. However, for this list, it honestly doesn't matter. Kidd will be the first coach since 1980 to play and coach for the same team. That's one giant piece of NBA history in one simple jersey. 10 years may seem long for a coaching position, but Kidd is a player's coach. He hasn't spent one year out of the league, he still knows how things work. If he sticks his position in Brooklyn, Kidd's Net jersey will be an unprecedented amount of awesome in 10 years, especially for any Net's fans out there.
A notable mention goes out to the "Fro Kobe" number 8 jersey for the Lakers. I think this could easily be number 1, but I feel like it's already a little bit too well known and already looked for to be on the list. However, it still stands as pretty nice jersey of the NBA's past. It also holds a nice homage to the Shaq-Kobe days in Los Angeles, and I know everybody in that city wishes they could have lasted a little longer.
1. VINCE CARTER RAPTORS JERSEY
I feel sort of bad putting this one over Garnett and Kidd, but this a list of jerseys, not players. Carter doesn't have the records that Garnett and Kidd have, but he did play six seasons with the Raptors, and still leads the team in Player Usage Rating and (believe it or not) Player Efficiency Rating. Carter was probably still the biggest offensive weapon the Raptors have ever had (sorry Chris Bosh). Carter was certainly the best dunk contest participant ever, no questions asked. He wasn't exactly the greatest ever, but that doesn't mean his jersey won't be highly sought after. For starters, when he was at his peak, people debated between Kobe and Vince. In fact, many scouts said that Vince Carter was supposed to be the next Michael Jordan, however, his work ethic simply wasn't there. Ultimately, Carter will get into the Hall of Fame, averaging 20.8 points per game with 5.0 rebounds, 3.8 assists, and 1.1 steals per game to contribute as well. Oh, did I mention he was an 8 time All-Star, 1999 Rookie of the Year, and an Olympic Gold Medal in 2000? Vince is going into his contract year in Dallas, and I anticipate that he will opt to retire after the season. Vince has said that he isn't ready to retirebut sometimes, you have to listen to your body. Anyway, he will retire, wait 5 years for his eligibility, and eventually make it into the hall. For him to do it in 10 years means he will have to get in on his fourth ballot, putting him in a category with somebody like James Worthy. While that's probably not going to happen, people will be seeing his name on ballots, the NBA will realize how sweet that Raptor jersey is, and it will become a Hardwood Classic. So, maybe Vince Carter wasn't the best player, but he might have been the most electric. There's one thing nobody can deny; Vince Carter was a giant badass, and people tend to like jerseys of very cool players.
Anybody who claims to have enjoyed basketball in the early 2000's is aware of the success and dominance of the Western Conference. Jordan's reign had passed, and the Western Conference was finally able to compete again, and compete they did. The west only lost one NBA Finals between 1999 and 2005. This success was shared between the Los Angeles Lakers and the San Antonio Spurs, winning three titles each during that time period. However, they weren't the only teams in the west that many thought were deserving of an NBA Title. The Sacramento Kings had just recently come off of a rebuilding project and were ready to challenge the league's bests.
Prior to the 1999 NBA season, the Kings had been considered too young and inexperienced to play and contend for a title. However, with the drafting of point guard Jason Williams, the acquisition of Vlade Divac, and the scoring ability of Peja Stojakavic, the Kings were now a threat. The Kings also traded to get shooting guard Doug Christie in order to add a key defender. However, Williams proved to be a bit too erratic to make a run for the title, and he was traded to the Grizzlies for young gun and effective scorer, Mike Bibby. A lineup of Bibby, Christie, Stojakavic, Webber, and Divac showed no weaknesses offensively and was a force to be reckoned with. The Kings would go on to hold the NBA's best record that season, and would go on in the playoffs to face the Los Angeles Lakers. This would be known as one of the best (and most controversial) playoff series of all times. For the sake of the article, we won't go into the details of Game 6, which is widely considered to have been "fixed" by officials due to several poor officiating calls, including some forcing Kings big man, Vlade Divac, to foul out.
Editor's Note: For the record, I have watched the entire game and can personally attest to the poor refereeing in the game. However, it's safe to say the game was not "fixed."
Whether or not the game was unfairly altered by the officiating is beyond any of us, so it would be more logical to focus on the King's team and prior success in order to answer the question at hand, should the Kings have won an NBA Title? In all reality, possibly.
The 2002 Sacramento Kings supplied a team that was able to amaze everyone and anyone that watched them play basketball. They were quick, energetic, and they shot the lights out. They had one of the best overall teams in basketball history, including some very key bench players, such as fan favorite, Bobby Jackson, play maker Hedo Turkoglu, and dunk contest participant, Gerald Wallace. However, some questioned who really had the role of being the leader. Chris Webber was indefinitely the best player on the team, but he wasn't necessarily the most dangerous or most influential to the game. This was one key detriment and attribute with the Kings in this time period. On the negative side, they didn't exactly know who would get that last shot to win the game. On the positive side, the opposing team didn't exactly know who would get the last shot to win the game. This team was unique in the sense that they had an extreme element of surprise. Every single man in their starting five had the ability to hit a three pointer with even the most minute amount of consistency. They spread the floor, forcing the team to be on their toes and unable to preset a plan to force a bad shot from one player. If Webber got double-covered in the post, he was one easy pass away from hitting Mike Bibby on the outside for the game winner. Unfortunately, they simply didn't have that one player that popped. When you ask somebody about the early 2000's Lakers, they will say something like, "Shaq and Kobe were one of the greatest combos ever." If you ask somebody about the early 2000's Spurs, you'll likely hear, "Tim Duncan was one of the best centerpieces in basketball." If you ask somebody about the Kings from the same time, you'll probably hear something like, "That was a great team. They were very fun to watch.That was Bibby, right?" They just didn't have that one player that was separate from the rest. A modern day comparison would be the 2012-2013 Denver Nuggets. Their best player was arguably Andre Iguodala, but their leading points scorer was Ty Lawson. Many drew comparisons between the Nuggets and the '89-'90 Detroit Pistons, whose leading scorer was Isiah Thomas with 18.4 points per game. I feel that some of the same comparisons can be drawn to the '02 Kings (And yes, the Pistons did win the NBA Title.) Sure, you want the ball to be in Isiah's hands, but when he sees Bill Laimbeer wide open in the corner, you know where he's going. Most similarities can be drawn from player comparison. For example, they both have quick, elusive, shooting point guards with Bibby and Thomas, able shooting big men in Webber/Divac and Laimbeer, and good shooting defenders in Dumars and Christie (the same can be said for the Nuggets as well e.g. Bibby/Lawson, Christie/Iguodala.) In fact, some could even argue that the Kings supplied more weapons, with players like Stojakavic and Turkoglu. Well, if all of this is true, then the Kings most definitely should have won a championship. However, if that's the case, what stopped them (besides Shaq going 13 for 17 from the free throw line?) I believe they didn't have the tenacity. The '89-'90 Detroit Pistons team coined the nickname the "Bad Boys." They showed not just the league that they weren't going to sit down to competition, but also every single team they faced. Laimbeer was always there to throw some elbows and get the other team a little anxious and off their game. Nobody on the Kings (or the Nuggets for that matter) was like that. All three teams had similar chemistry, but none of that chemistry, aside from the Pistons, really affected other teams. If the "Bad Boys" weren't shooting particularly well, they always could try and rough up the other squad and bring them to their level. If the Kings were having an off night shooting, the other squad almost always would capitalize on that, especially if Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal are on that other team. It also doesn't help when you have the infamous flopper, Vlade Divac, who didn't exactly add anything to that "rough 'em up" environment. Now, there certainly are teams that haven't had that personality and won. However, their teams weren't as reliant on a team effort. For example, the 2011 Dallas Mavericks weren't exactly there to mess guys up, but they also weren't dependent on a massive team effort. Dirk Nowitzki was the best player on that team, and he showed it. He was able to take over the game in all respects. Nowitzki was a bit like Chris Webber, but with more big play potential. If a team like the Mavericks can take down one of most well crafted teams in the NBA today, I think the Kings could have taken down the Lakers, if they had that same big play guy.They didn't necessarily have that, and they suffered from it. So, should the 2002 Sacramento Kings have won an NBA Title? Probably. Were they robbed of it? Absolutely not. I think it would have been very exciting to see them in the Finals versus that New Jersey Nets team, and I think that they would have won highhandedly, but they simply couldn't get past the unstoppable force that was the Kobe-Shaq duo.
Let me give you a hint: it's not Luke. Kidding aside, if you even consider yourself a college basketball fan, you know the name Zeller. Three of them went through the NCAA, and, even though one was extremely mediocre, they certainly made their marks on the entire association. With the youngest Zeller commited to the NBA Draft, which one of them had the best college career?
First, let's just do a quick roll call of everybody eligible to picked. We have Luke, the flex center from Notre Dame, Tyler, the center from North Carolina (and currently playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers), and Cody, the power forward from Indiana. Needless to say, it's not Luke. While he played a key captain role at Notre Dame, his highest points per game average in four seasons was 4.9. I don't think I need to say much more. So, that leaves just Cody and Tyler. Both of them had eerily similar numbers in college. Tyler's numbers got progressively better in college, with his peak being 16.3 points per game, 9.7 rebounds per game, and a shooting percentage of over 55%. Cody played in only two seasons, compared to Tyler's four, but his numbers certainly weren't weak. Cody's numbers also progressed in his sophomore, and final, year, averaging 16.5 points per game, 8.1 rebounds per game, and a shooting percentage of 56.2 %. Cody shot even more consistently in his first season, shooting 62.3%. From an efficiency level, Cody has bit of an advantage just based on his shooting percentage, but ultimately, Tyler has the edge. He practically averaged a double-double, to go along with an already great shooting percentage. Oh, he also is the only brother to have an NCAA Championship under his belt. The debate for which will be best in the NBA will be up for debate soon, but for now it's stuck in the college game. Cody put up phenomenal numbers at Indiana. In fact, he very easily could have been considered the best college basketball player of the year. However, Tyler has him matched. Tyler was voted All-ACC first team in his senior, second team all American, and ACC player of the year. Tyler did have the ability to play with four time first team all American, Tyler Hansbrough, but Cody got to play aside Victor Oladipo, another first team all American. Plus, no matter what their teammates did, it doesn't take a accounting major to figure out which Zeller had the best stats. That title, along with the 2009 NCAA one, goes to Tyler, who will be remembered as the best Zeller kid to go through the NCAA, or at least until one of them has a seven foot kid.