In a win-obsessed culture, apparently there isn’t much interest in debating a bronze medal.
During the Miami Heat’s destruction of the L.A. Lakers on Christmas Day, ABC/ESPN announcer and former NBA point guard Mark Jackson said he believes Dwyane Wade is the third-best shooting guard of all-time. That bold statement has so far flown under the radar — I imagine because Jackson didn’t declare Wade the best two-guard, and we only care about debates involving No. 1, the gold medalists.
Or maybe it’s because we’ve been so busy trying to define Kobe Bryant‘s legacy over the last five years that we haven’t given much thought to the legacies of his active rivals. Is D-Wade one of the all-time greats? Is Manu Ginobili a future Hall of Famer? Is Vince Carter headed for the Hall? Will Joe Johnson be known as good or great? Will Ray Allen be known as the best shooter of all-time? Is Brandon Roy headed for a Wade-like rise to prominence, or a Penny Hardaway-style fall short of his potential?
While trying to find Wade’s place in history, I knocked out this list of my 10 favorite — not best — shooting guards of the past 25 years. Again, “favorite.” Remember that when you see the placement of a certain G.O.A.T.
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10. Tyreke Evans & Eric Gordon (tie) — Because I watched and chronicled both of them growing up. In my first few months as a full-time pro sportswriter, I penned a Dime cover story on Tyreke, his first national cover, and a feature on Gordon. Both were in high school at the time. I met them and spoke to their families and learned their backgrounds and rooted for them to make it. Now that they have, they are headed toward the top of the list to succeed Kobe as the NBA’s top two-guard when Mamba slithers from the spotlight.
9. Ray Allen –For almost five years he was the best player on my Seattle Supersonics, though the fact that he was the centerpiece of the Gary Payton trade probably kept me from truly embracing him. But no matter what team he’s on, Ray’s Spartan work ethic and textbook jumper make him a marvel to watch.
8. Dwyane Wade — For the record, I’d put Wade fifth on the all-time list of best two-guards: Jordan, Kobe, Jerry West, Iverson, Wade.
7. Kobe Bryant – The first time I saw Kobe play in person, it was like discovering a new player. And this was after he’d already won three championships and was arguably the most popular player in the NBA. His knowledge of the game, feel for angles, scoring/passing instincts and clutch ability make him the closest thing to Jordan most of us will ever see.
6. Vince Carter – I became more of a fan after his aerial antics had calmed down a bit. When Vince did what every high-flying guard is supposed to do and altered his game to be more efficient without relying purely on his athleticism, he surprisingly was met with backlash that he was afraid to attack the rim. Fortunately, he lets people know every now and then that’s far from the case.