NBA Ultimate Team

Putting together the perfect team is no small task. Finding the right talent, skill sets and personalities to blend together to form a formidable unit is a challenge that for many GMs seems impossible. Every once in a while though, a GM will tinker just enough and land on the winning formula. When this happens we see dynasties like Jordan’s Bulls in the 90s and Duncan’s Spurs throughout the 2000s. Any basketball fan that is as passionate about the sport as I am has at one point or another played GM in their head and dreamt up their own dream team. Imagining what it would be like to see them tear up a league full of other legendary teams to crown themselves the best of all time.  In making this team I not only factored in the measurable statistics but also the intangibles, the abilities we can’t see but that often times are the difference between champions and runners up. So without further ado here is the team that I would go to war with no matter who the opponent. Starting Lineup:

Point Guard-Magic Johnson
Shooting Guard-Russell Westbrook
Small Forward-Michael Jordan
Power Forward-Tim Duncan
Center-Shaquille O’neal

A team’s point guard is supposed to be their leader on the floor, often known as the floor general, running the offense and making sure everyone is doing their job. Magic is in my opinion the undisputed best point guard basketball has ever seen. At 6’9” he has uncommon size for a point guard that allows him to guard multiple positions on defense if needed. He has valuable postseason experience with his five championships and three finals MVPs that provides confidence for the rest of the team in following his lead on the court. He also has experience playing with other big time players, like Kareem Abdul Jabbar and James Worthy, so massaging egos won’t be an issue for him in handling is teammates. He is so silky smooth with the ball in his hands and has hawk-like vision, to me there is no other point guard to even consider for an all time team.
Russell Westbrook’s role on this team is as much about his drive and passion as it is his freak like athleticism. Russ is gifted with athleticism that is unmatched by any guard to come before him, even Jordan. He has a bounce to his step like I’ve never seen and he puts it to good use taking off from anywhere trying outrageous dunk attempts over anyone standing in his way. He has the speed to take an inbound pass and outrun the entire defense coast to coast for a slam, as he has done on multiple occasions. But the most likable thing about Westbrook which is also his greatest value to this team is his attitude and work ethic. The kid plays balls to the wall all game. He never takes a play off and he has that look in his eye at all times like he’s coming for blood. He’s not afraid to make the gritty hustle plays either. What he lacks in efficiency he more than makes up for in effort and thats why he lands the starting two spot on my team.
At small forward I have the GOAT, Air Jordan. No all time team is complete without the all time gamer, the all time hustler, and the all time king of the clutch. Michael Jordan is all of that rolled into one. He’s hit more clutch shots in big games than anyone. Most memorably his game winning step back jumper in Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals against the Utah Jazz over Byron Russell. His resume speaks for itself. He is a six time NBA champion(undefeated in the finals), six time finals MVP, five time NBA MVP, and nine time All NBA Defensive First Team. We’ve all heard the stories about Jordan’s competitiveness, about how he was obsessed with being the best at everything, not just basketball. At halftime of an exhibition game with the Indiana Pacers, Reggie Miller was outscoring MJ 10-4 and proceeded to talk smack to Michael. Jordan came out in the second half and outscored Reggie 40-2, finishing the individual head to head matchup with a score of 44-12. This is Michael Jordan in a nutshell. He’s the ultimate smack talker and can dissect a player on defense with his physical ability and his power to get in your head. If you ever try to talk back, prepare yourself for annihilation. Jordan isn’t just on this team, he makes the team.
The big men on this team are both big time winners. Their results on the court individually and with their respective teams are legendary, but their personalities couldn’t be more different. Which is exactly why they work so well together for my team. Tim Duncan’s dynasty on the Spurs led by Coach Poppovich at the helm is the prime example of sustained long term success in the league today. He has five rings and three finals MVPs to go with eight All NBA Defensive First Team appearances and two league MVPs. He is a master of his craft, serving as a silent assassin with his quiet personality. Everyone knows his signature plays, like the midrange bank shot, but they can’t stop it. His reserved character allows him to gel with his teammates on this team. The Spurs are known for their ball movement, using their game planning to take down the toughest of foes like Lebron James, twice. And that’s Timmy’s greatest importance on this team, instilling and upholding the value of game prep and ball movement.
Last but not least we have the Diesel, Superman, Cake, the Big Aristotle, Mr. Shaquille O’neal. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Shaq myself when I was younger and if it’s not blatantly obvious already, he is one BIG man. When Shaq posts up in the paint good luck stopping him. He will bulldoze or drop step (“black tornado” as he likes to call it) his way to the hoop everytime. There are certainly craftier, more skilled, and better free throw shooting centers out there than Shaq. But, when it comes to sheer dominance over his opponents I’m not sure there is anyone on his level. Exemplified by his ranking on the all time scorers list (6th all time) and the all time rebounding list (14th all time). He his one of the funniest players to come through the league and he is not afraid to show it. He is a fun guy who adds some playfulness to this lineup of serious gamers.
My lineup may not be the best statistical lineup out there. It may not be comprised of the best players all time at each position. But their combination of skills and personalities make them more lethal as a group than any other team I can think of. If you feel differently make your case, just know I’ll fight you to the death about it just like these guys fight to the death on the court when winning is on the line.

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