I’ve seen all sorts of lists and rankings from every sport in an effort to save us from complete boredom during this pandemic. Mount Rushmore always seems to be an interesting topic of conversation, so I wanted to create my own Mount Rushmore of players I’ve personally had to the privilege of watching in my lifetime. To keep it simple, I’ll pick from players around from 2000 and on.
Just a kid from Akron. Lebron’s name could be heard uttered in school hallways even when I was just a little kid. My brother, who was four years older than me, knew everything there was to know about Lebron before he’d even step foot on an NBA floor. I immediately became a Lebron fan as he took the NBA by storm in his rookie season. I spent my 14th birthday in Cleveland and was able to watch Lebron hit a game-winning layup against the Wizards. That’s just my personal anecdote. I don’t feel like I necessarily need to explain why he’d be on Mount Rushmore as it’s pretty obvious.
My very first organized (I wouldn’t necessarily consider it organized) basketball experience was with Upward Sports when I was in 1st grade. One thing I made sure of was that I was #8. Kobe is an all-time great in the basketball world. Growing up, I remember watching him win championships with Shaq and Pau. I remember my grandpa, always known for telling white lies, telling me that Kobe scored 81 points against the Raptors. I laughed and shrugged it off thinking it was just another joke. It wasn’t. It was Kobe being Kobe. His skills, mindset, and heart put him in a league of his own.
I always had a dislike for Kobe as an avid Lebron supporter and defender throughout high school and college. Where I grew up, there were two sides to the coin. Lebron or Kobe. You picked a side and spent most of your free time arguing over who was better. Regardless of your side, there was never any denying that both were legends.
The old saying, “You never know what you have until it’s gone”, could not be more true. As many know, Kobe passed away on January 26 of this year. It still doesn’t feel as if it is a real thing. Kobe left behind a legacy of being one of the greatest players of all time. However, when he left the game of basketball, he didn’t stop building that legacy. He was more than just a basketball player. He was a father, a husband, a coach, a mentor, and much more. Rest in peace, Mamba.
Being a 4’13” Freshman in high school who weighed about a 95 pounds soaking wet, I had to rely on other things to even be competitive. One of those things is the fundamentals of the game. There was no one better at them than The Big Fundamental himself, Tim Duncan. Of course, his living was made in the post. During my childhood, the Spurs were always top of the league and that is largely because of Tim Duncan. Whether it was being a great rim protector or his silky smooth face-up mid-range bank shots, Timmy D always found a way to get it done. It was tough to decide between Shaq or Duncan. Duncan’s greatness oftentimes gets overlooked in these situations because his game wasn’t overly flashy. He was just consistent night in and night out on both ends of the floor. He did it with one team his entire career that never possessed the superstar sidekick that Shaq was granted in Kobe and Wade. Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu were a trio that caused the NBA problems for a decade and much of that success comes on the back of Duncan. 15 All-Star appearances and a full hand worth of rings cement his face in my Mt. Rushmore.
This last spot was incredibly tough to fill. There are so many names that could be plugged and warranted. It all depends on preference. Shaq, Curry, Durant, Melo, KG, Wade, and so on… It’s tough to pick one, so I went with someone who started my love of basketball at a young age.
The fourth and final face is going to be none other than The Answer. Allen Iverson. Every kid growing up wanted the headband, the finger bands, and the ability to handle the rock like AI. With no sports on right now, I’d recommend hopping on YouTube and checking out some vintage AI highlights. The man was so incredibly fun to watch. His obvious knock against him was that he never got that elusive ring that everyone chases. However, he is arguably the pound for pound greatest to ever play the game. He will cap off the list!
Tougher Than It Looks
This list was a lot tougher than I thought. One and two were pretty darn easy, but three and four were difficult to place. Iverson will likely be the most controversial, but growing up as an undersized point guard, Iverson always held a special place in my heart. Let me know what your Mt. Rushmore looks like!