Shaquille O’Neal has started quite a craze.
After saying the Los Angeles Lakers’ all-time starting five would beat the Chicago Bulls’ all-time starting five – by 50 points – sports media folks have been trying to determine the best starting five ever. While the Lakers, Bulls, Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers and others have the personnel to be in the discussion, let’s not forget about a marquee franchise down South.
“It’s a lot of greats that was in Atlanta,” Hawks legend and Hall of Famer Dominique Wilkins said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “I’m talking about Walt Bellamy, Dan Roundfield. From a power forward perspective, a lot of people don’t realize how good Danny Roundfield was. They didn’t call him ‘The Hammer’ for nothing. He was a physical specimen. Awesome, awesome rebounder. You got Lou Hudson. A lot of people forget about him, who in my opinion is a Hall of Famer. Pete Maravich, how about that name? Anybody ever heard of that guy? Bob Pettit. He’s one of the greatest power forwards to ever play. Lenny Wilkens.”
And, if you want an intimidating defender in the low post, how about Dikembe Mutombo?
“Again, you have a lot of great players to come through this organization,” Wilkins said, “so you’ve got some all-time greats there, no question about it.”
Wilkins was also asked about potential changes to the NBA’s playoff format. The league wants to make the selection process more equitable and is considering any and all possibilities to achieve that goal, including the possibility of a team winning its division but missing the playoffs if its record isn’t up to snuff.
“Well, I think for me, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it,” Wilkins said. “It’s been working pretty good since the inception of this league.”
Brandon Tierney disagrees. When you’ve got teams winning 50 games in one conference and missing the playoffs – but multiple sub-.500 teams in the other conference are getting in – you’ve got problems.
“Things are never going to be perfect in any sport,” Wilkins said. “And again, you tweak it, you do things to make it better. But radical change could be a problem, too. The league will do what’s best for the league. They’re always changing things that go on in our sport, so it is what it is.”
The Hawks didn’t have to worry about missing the playoffs this past season. They won 60 games and were the No. 1 seed in the East, advancing to the conference finals before losing to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Hawks figure to be among the East’s elite next season, but they’ll have to overcome the loss of DeMarre Carroll, who signed with Toronto.
“We’ll miss DeMarre Carroll because he was one of those glue guys defensively that brought some toughness, along with a guy who could knock down open shots,” Wilkins said. “So it changes a little bit, but we also helped ourselves. We got bigger in the offseason and we got some good young players. So the thing is building what you did last year, and I think we’ll do that. Coach Budenholzer has done a great job of getting the guys to buy into a system and a system that works. You always have to try to build on what you’ve done the previous year. Now we just have to build on some of the things we made mistakes on.”