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Old 02-18-07, 08:10 AM
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Mike Monroe: Who's the best?

http://www.mysanantonio.com/sports/b...e.19c1258.html

Mike Monroe: Who's the best?

Web Posted: 02/18/2007 04:37 AM CST

San Antonio Express-News

LAS VEGAS — The best players in the NBA have been in Las Vegas all weekend, so the question seems a natural: Which player is the best of the best, the best player in the world?
I have been thinking about this since Bulls coach Scott Skiles, never shy about stating precisely what he believes, declared Steve Nash "the best player on the face of the Earth."

In case anyone thought Skiles was insincere, he added that he didn't think there was another player even close to being as good as Nash.

I have asked most of the basketball experts whose opinions I value this very question. The responses seem to fall along two distinct lines of reasoning: One that puts a premium on physical talent, both size and athleticism, and another that values understanding of how to play the game while recognizing the physical gifts that separate the very best athletes from those more pedestrian.

The first school of thought favors players such as Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. The second prefers players such as Nash, Tim Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki.

I have also asked some of the players whose names are in this subjective conversation whom they believed should be part of the discussion.

The smartest of them deflect direct response, and that includes Nash.

What was Nash's reaction when he heard what Skiles had said about him?

"Other than he's the smartest man I've ever met in my life, not much," Nash said.

"It's very flattering. It's such a subjective thing I would never claim that it would be me. Not only that, but it's very difficult to discern who would be. I probably wouldn't put myself in the top two or three players."

Nash, always self-effacing, said the players he regards as the best in the game — Duncan, Bryant, Wade, James and Nowitzki — "do things I can't dream of doing."

Aren't there things he does that those players can't dream of doing?

"Probably," Nash said. "But it's not a conversation I really like to have. The competitor in you thinks, yeah, I belong in the conversation. I wouldn't necessarily think someone was wrong to have me in the conversation, but I wouldn't think someone was wrong if they didn't."

When I asked Bryant if Nash should be part of such a conversation, his initial response was a good laugh.

"In my opinion he's definitely one of the best," Bryant said. "He's easily the most overlooked. I do a lot of clinics where I talk with kids, high school kids, top basketball players. Players they want to talk about are the Wades and LeBrons. They forget about Steve Nash and what a great basketball player he is and what he does for his team. He can score the ball and shoot and pass and facilitate. So I would say yes, he should be included in that conversation.

"Wade, LeBron and don't write off Tim Duncan, just for his responsibilities and what he does, and also Nash. But that's about it."

Let the record show: Bryant agreed to list the players he believed should be on the list only after first removing himself from the discussion, saying he would leave that to others. He also made a point of mentioning, relative to Nash's inclusion on his short list, that he thought the best player in the game typically has been one who works both ends of the court.

Suns coach Mike D'Antoni admits his bias in discussing Nash, his back-to-back MVP point guard, but Skiles' assertion gave him a convenient entry point for agreement. He also countered Bryant's subtle criticism of Nash's lack of defensive impact.

"Scott Skiles said something like 'it's not even close,'" D'Antoni said, "and I agree. First of all, his defense has improved, and that's something most people have not seen. One of the reasons we're a lot better defensively is that he's a lot better. We, as a team, lead the league in charges taken, and he leads our team in charges taken. You have shot blockers. Well, he takes charges.

"He's the best shooter in the league, I think. You might make a case for Michael Redd or Ray Allen, but of the guys you think of as the best players, he's the best shooter, by far, the best passer, by far."

D'Antoni thinks the best player conversation is brief: Nash, Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki and Bryant, as long as Bryant continues to demonstrate he is more of a team player now than in previous seasons.

I tried Friday to draw Duncan, the only player other than Nash on D'Antoni's short list who also is a two-time MVP, into the discussion. It hardly was shocking when he demurred.

After all this discussion and consideration, I have come to my own conclusion: Skiles is right, on one hand, wrong on another. Nash is the best player on the planet, but it is close.

I am certain many who read this will disagree, some vehemently. Unfortunately, most basketball fans place more value on a spectacular dunk than a subtle pass that leads to a dunk. They don't know what it means to be a good player, let alone a great one. You're a good player when you're engaged totally and you're in every play and making the right decisions and you're there every day. There are no dead spots in a great player's game.

On All-Star Sunday, 2007, Steve Nash is the best of the best.



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"We would have two less championships here if it wasn't for Manu Ginobili," Popovich said. "In my book, Manu Ginobili is the stud of the world.
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Old 02-18-07, 09:50 AM
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Of course Nash is the best. That's why he has all those championships!
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Old 02-18-07, 10:09 AM
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I think Nash is a great player but not the best

In the playoffs: Spurs 4- Nash-0
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"We would have two less championships here if it wasn't for Manu Ginobili," Popovich said. "In my book, Manu Ginobili is the stud of the world.
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Old 02-18-07, 10:28 AM
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I just think that Nash's stamina and health are the main reasons his teams haven't won a title. He wore out in 05, 04, 03. And he will probably wear out this year also, if things don't change. I certainly think he's the best, let's face it, most people think Oscar Robertson is arguably the best player that ever played the game yet he won a title in his final years as a pro behind a young Jabber. As great as Oscar was he couldn't get his teams over the hump. I look at Nash the same way, without him all his teams floundered, including the Mavs when he was there. I've been following pro ball since the 60's and I'll be hard pressed to find someone who does the things that Nash does. I just think the guy is an incredible player and I love his game.
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Old 02-18-07, 11:41 AM
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i think nash has improved on his defense in terms of taking charges, but he's still at the mercy of his teammates to save him. easily one of the best offensive machines no doubt, but playing 1 side of the court? think about calling ben wallace one of the best players in the league, in his prime. does that make sense at all? though the point of b-ball is to score more than the other... still think the best play both sides of the floor.
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Old 02-18-07, 12:03 PM
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I never got to watch Wilt Chamberlain play, but I'm curious to see if how dominant he would be in today's game, compared to back when he played!
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Old 02-18-07, 05:05 PM
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Shouldn't you be able to at least play some defense. Nash doesn't play any. When they do the matchups he usually shouts "I got the guy on IR" And that guy scores on him!
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Old 02-18-07, 05:51 PM
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Is he even playing in the ASG tonight?
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Old 02-18-07, 07:28 PM
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The three best players in the league are Nash, Duncan, and Wade - and not necessarily in that order.

Wade took a mediocre team to a title last year, but that was only because the Spurs, with Duncan, were robbed against Dallas. The Spurs would have pummelled Miami in the Finals.

Nowitzki isn't in the same league as those three guys. Any team that loses to Miami can't be led by a top three guy. That fold against Miami was pathetic, and if Dirk was as good as people think he is, he would've singlehandedly wona nother game and closed it out.

Now, to Bryant. This guy is talented, but very overrated. Bryant hasn't made it past the first round without Shaq. Bryant remains the most overrated player in the league. He has three rings because of Shaq. And by the way, Derek Fisher has three rings as well, so call me when Bryant gets "his" team a championship.

To me, Bron is really good, but he's not in Wade's class because he can't take over games in the 4th quarter the way Wade can. Wade takes over games the way Jordan used to. An he did it against us last week with Bowen in his face. I don't see Bron doing that.

All that said, McGrady is one of the three best players in the league when he wants to be - trouble is, he is not consistently healthy or motivated.
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Old 02-18-07, 08:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by miguelito View Post
Nowitzki isn't in the same league as those three guys. Any team that loses to Miami can't be led by a top three guy. That fold against Miami was pathetic, and if Dirk was as good as people think he is, he would've singlehandedly wona nother game and closed it out.
The Spurs lost to the Mavs though. Does that mean that Tim isn't in Dirk's class?

Too many people too often go to the "what has he won card" when they want to discredit someone.
What a superstar does is also determined by what his teammates do. Any great player who has won anything has had to have help from teammates.
Bird had McHale and Parish, Michael had Scottie (or the other way around if you ask Scottie), Tim had Dave.
Dirk is great. He didn't step up in the finals and in some pressure situationis, but sometimes neither did David Robinson.
Dirk's in the top tier.
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Old 02-18-07, 10:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carnac The Magnificent View Post
The Spurs lost to the Mavs though. Does that mean that Tim isn't in Dirk's class?

Too many people too often go to the "what has he won card" when they want to discredit someone.
What a superstar does is also determined by what his teammates do. Any great player who has won anything has had to have help from teammates.
Bird had McHale and Parish, Michael had Scottie (or the other way around if you ask Scottie), Tim had Dave.
Dirk is great. He didn't step up in the finals and in some pressure situationis, but sometimes neither did David Robinson.
Dirk's in the top tier.
The elite players in the game step up and WILL their teams to victory. See Wade in the Finals last year. As for the other guys on Dallas not stepping up, Dirk is the leader and they have alot of young guys. If he would have pulled a Dwayne Wade like performance, you can bet that he would have lifted the rest of the guys confidence too. Thats what truly great players do. With that said, I think that Dirk will become that player and thought he was there last year when they knocked us out.
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Old 02-19-07, 01:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jerush View Post
The elite players in the game step up and WILL their teams to victory. See Wade in the Finals last year. As for the other guys on Dallas not stepping up, Dirk is the leader and they have alot of young guys. If he would have pulled a Dwayne Wade like performance, you can bet that he would have lifted the rest of the guys confidence too. Thats what truly great players do. With that said, I think that Dirk will become that player and thought he was there last year when they knocked us out.
There have been seasons where Tim did not WILL his team to victory. Dirk hasn't had the same opportunities that Tim has had because of a misguided front office.
Tim is a regular fixture in the conference and NBA finals. Because his front office was smart enough to put a team and concept around him that gave him the best chance to win. The Nellie's thought run-and-gun was the way to go. And it proved to be the wrong answer. Dirk's finally got a chance to start proving what he's made of, and it's not fair to judge him after one finals appearance.
He did WILL his team to victory in last season's TRUE NBA finals. That should count for something.
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Old 02-19-07, 02:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by miguelito View Post
Now, to Bryant. This guy is talented, but very overrated. Bryant hasn't made it past the first round without Shaq. Bryant remains the most overrated player in the league. He has three rings because of Shaq. And by the way, Derek Fisher has three rings as well, so call me when Bryant gets "his" team a championship.
Sorry buddy, you have zero credibility on this issue and anything you say on this topic is meaningless because it's well known you are the biggest Kobe hater on the planet. Do you really think anyone still takes your opinion seriously?

There are three things in life that are certain: death, taxes and an anti-Kobe rant from Miguelito in every Spurs Report thread possible.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jerush View Post
The elite players in the game step up and WILL their teams to victory. See Wade in the Finals last year.
It always helps when you have a little help from your friends in the zebra suits as well. No one since MJ has ever gotten as much help as Wade had in the finals.

Last edited by maldoror; 02-19-07 at 02:33 AM.
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