Monday, October 2, 2023
Michael Stone Online

The Only One From NBA 25 on the NBA 75 Stage

For me, the most exciting part of the 2022 NBA All-Star Weekend — far more exciting than the defense-less games and the yawn-fest dunk contest — was seeing members of NBA 75 at center court.

Many athletic greats from my youth together in one place. Rodman being Rodman. The roar in honor of Kobe. Kareem gesturing a hook shot. The best (Jordan) being saved for last.

The list seems to be weighted by recency bias, but it does include several names from the league’s earlier seasons. As I saw these older men, I wondered: Were any also a member of NBA 25, and if so, did any of these appear in person in Cleveland?

The single answer in a moment — and your guess is wrong. But first, the 10-member NBA 25 team (which didn’t allow active players like the 35, 50, and 75 teams did).

  • F Paul Arizin (1928–2006): 25, 50, 75
  • G Bob Cousy (1928– ): 25, 35, 50, 75
  • G Bob Davies (1920–1990): 25
  • F Joe Fulks (1921–1976): 25
  • G Sam Jones (1933–2021): 25, 50, 75
  • C George Mikan (1924–2005): 25, 35, 50, 75
  • F Bob Pettit (1932– ): 25, 35, 50, 75
  • C Bill Russell (1934– ): 25, 35, 50, 75
  • F Dolph Schayes (1928–2015): 25, 50, 75
  • G Bill Sharman (1926–2013): 25, 50, 75

Davies and Fulks on the 25 list only? See, no respect for the old guard.

But for real, from that list, we see a few interesting things. All but the two one-offs were voted onto the 25, 50, and 75 lists, and four players made it onto all four. They are: Cousy, Mikan, Pettit, and Russell — and three of those are still with us!

Now, if you didn’t watch, I figure you guessed Russell. He and Cousy did appear at the NBA 75 ceremony, only they were pre-filmed, waving and peace-signing to a pretend crowd in a studio setting.

But hey, who can blame the 88- and 93-year-old, respectively, for not wanting to travel to Cleveland to awkwardly stand on a circular platform before thousands for 20 minutes?

But one 89-year old did, and that was legendary forward Bob Pettit, an 11-time all-star, a two-time league MVP, and a 1958 NBA champion for the St. Louis Hawks. Cane in hand, he was between a pre-filmed Karl Malone and granny shot master Rick Barry.

Major props to Pettit for attending. Even if subconsciously, it might have been his cane that prompted me to research the above.

Isn’t it crazy the legends of the 1940s — i.e., World War II vets — and ’50s who are still with us? As we know, we have to appreciate them in whatever way we can now…