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NBA / Nov 4, 2011 / 1:30 pm

The Forgotten: 5 Players The NBA Needs To Bring Back

Rex Chapman

Dwight Howard hears your concerns, especially you Magic fans out there. He appreciates the Stay Dwight campaign, and doesn’t seem like he really wants to leave. It’s as if he’s slowly being pulled away towards the big city – L.A. or New York. He wants to show he cares. So come Nov. 13, he’ll be throwing his own charity game, which has so many former or current Magic players, we might as well just call it a preseason scrimmage. Everyone from DeShawn Stevenson to Ryan Anderson will be in the house, but the one guy I want to see – no, must see – is Steve Francis. Stevie Franchise… or whatever’s left of him.

Talking with some of the D.C. area’s most famed playground coaches over this summer, they kept telling me the same stories: Francis was the truth… he was the most exciting player ever… he did things no one in this area ever could. He was like some mythological figure, Brad Pitt playing Achilles playing a guy in a basketball uniform. When he made it, it was “a dream” that came true. Penny Hardaway will be in Dwight’s house as well nine days from now. But I really want to see what Francis has left. The last we heard of him, he was over in China checking into games with ice packs strapped to his ankle. That’s not exactly the best way to go out. As fast as he gained his hops in high school, he left the game just as quickly. With Howard’s celebrity game coming up, I’m hoping it’ll be good to see him.

Here are four other players I wish I could still see play.

Steve Smith
Along with Glen Rice, he’s one of my favorite shooters ever. There was just something about the way he let it fly that was dope. It was swag in a nutshell. Later in his career, Smith also had a nice little post-up game, hitting turnarounds and fadeaways all day on younger cats, and I’ll always love guards who can post on the block. He also starred on one of the most exciting/most infuriating teams ever, the 2000 Blazers. If I made a list of the 10 most enjoyable teams to watch (purely from an entertainment perspective), they’d probably make it.

Rex Chapman
It’s kind of sad that the only thing I really remember about one of Kentucky’s finest is the wild three he hit against Seattle in the playoffs. Any man who can turn the term “Gunner” into a positive is a friend of mine. He also was a solid player on one of the most overlooked fun teams ever: the 40-42 1996-97 Suns. That team had eight guys throughout the year average double-digit points for them, had Kevin Johnson, Jason Kidd, Steve Nash and Sam Cassell all suit up at some point throughout the season, had Hot Rod Williams (one of the best nicknames ever) and then in the playoffs played a back-and-forth series with Seattle where Rex was their best player. Too many white guys get pigeonholed into one specific thing. Rex could just hoop.

Jason Williams
I think I’ve gone over my prescribed limit for “longest time without ever mentioning J-Will.” Why isn’t he in this Orlando game? He played there. He dropped some dimes there. It’s a colossal failure that his prime arrived just before the era of YouTube and summer charity games. We would’ve had behind-the-back passes (with three of five ending up hitting some kid in the face in the front row), 50-foot threes (with three of five being way off) and probably something even better than an off-the-elbow pass.

Mookie Blaylock
Once upon a time, Stuart Scott was cool. When he used to cite rap lyrics on SportsCenter, he had me nodding my head, earning him some extra points. Back when Mario Elie was cooking for Houston – and Biggie was still spitting – Scott would go hard with “Mario, Mario, Mario, Mario, all your threes just hypnotize me!” Somewhere along the line, he switched up his style and started saying things like “redunkulous!” as if he thought that was what the kids were saying on the street. But I still have to hold some things he used to say close at heart. We’ve heard all of the Pearl Jam stories, but Stu Scott always made the most out of Blaylock’s name. His greatest voiceover ever came courtesy of perhaps the best NBA name ever. Ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-Mookie! Loved that, mostly because it’s fun to say and because Mookie was one of the smoothest point guards of that generation. He would routinely give you 15, 7 and two or three pick-pockets a night, and did it all for the very good team that nobody ever cared about, Atlanta.

Which players do you wish were still in the league? Who would you love to see play today?

Follow Sean on Twitter at @SEANesweeney.

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  • http://www.zwani.com/graphics/funny_pictures/images/88funny-pictures128.jpg JAY

    Damon Stoudamire (Raptors version), the kid was electric.

    Drazen Petrovic, what can I say? His star went out before it had a chance to really shine. RIP

  • TJ 2

    Ron Harper (Cavs version), heard he was a beast.

    Gerald Green….TOO much potential!

  • Detroit Dave

    Latrell Sprewell

  • kim

    JR RIDER

  • Bballeducator

    Glen Rice

  • jayb

    penny 94-95 and penny 95-96…he was beasting!!! period!!!

  • TEAM JORDAN

    PENNY, MASHBURN, JIM JACKSON, JASON WILLIAMS, MARBURY, STEVE FRANCIS, GERALD GREEN, JR. RIDER, STACKHOUSE & RASHEED WALLACE

  • TEAM JORDAN

    Oh Yeah…lol, DAMON STOUDAMIRE, TERELL BRANDON, ROD STRICKLAND, ED COTA, LARRY JOHNSON & BIG DOG.

  • ball in my hand

    what about bringing back “the killer crossover” tim hardaway

  • jzsmoove

    i have to agree, recently it would have to be Gerald Green. boy was smooth. i remember catching some Boston games and his J was smooth and his form was tight. I guess just didnt have the IQ to get it done. opposite spectrum would be Robert Horry. Highest underappreciated IQ ever. Slick and knows how to get it done.

  • http://www.facebook.com/?sk=app_2915120374#!/profile.php?id=1182655601&sk=info webbdog

    JR Rider, Larry Johnson, Kenny Anderson, Sean Higgins and Drazen Petrovic, Gerald Green, Jerod Ward

  • BiGShoTBoB

    You know who I would love a “where are they now” piece done on – J.R. Reid. You know the ugly mf that played power foward for the Spurs. This cat was a serious role player before the arrival of Duncan.

  • bigghass

    one name… Sedale Threatt

  • TL

    JWill needed to be in NBA 2k12 as well. Damnit.

  • http://www.staceygoods.com staceygoods

    Kellly Tripucka

  • http://www.google.co.uk Big Snacks

    Well, I got a few.

    Dale Ellis…loved that J off the pin down
    Charles Oakley…cuz he just smacked MFs around
    Domnique Wilkins…explosive
    Bill Laimbeer…cuz he just smacked MFs around

    Damn, I’m outta snacks…

  • trollne1

    Nick van Exel

  • http://brokejumper.com/ brokejumper.com

    Vinnie Johnson, Sarunas Marciulionis, Matt Maloney

  • silky

    steve smiths lil shoulder rock to fake the spin was so nice. he could pull that move in slo mo and still get the d to bite on it

  • AFCA

    Reggie Lewis,
    Mark Price,
    Chris Jackson (Mahmud Abdul Rauf)
    Vernon Maxwell
    Harold Miner

  • Buckets

    The Cavs Ron Harper was serious.

  • http://dime hmmm

    Past: Isiah Thomas & Joe D backcourt. Houston Sam Cassel.
    Toni Kukoc. Kenny Anderson,Petrovic & DC. Jamal Mashburn & Cyber Toine.

    Currently the league needs A.I.,Mal Tinsley,Rafer Alston back in the league. They are too good not to be playing in the N.B.A. Also Juan Carlos Navarrro could & should start for any team in the league.

  • the truth

    @hmmm, i like navarro a ton, but he def couldn’t start for every team in the league…not even close. Plays absolutely no defense. Coming off the bench as a scoring spark, now that’s another story. Can straight get buckets

  • dlight

    What about C-Webb, dude was a monster in DC, G-state and Sactown, my heart dropped in Dallas as his knee crumbled. What unrealized potential early on if he had a decent coach from draft night. Even if you didn’t like him you had to admire his game, his hands, his smile, his power. Even his comeback attempt was mischaracterized. Adelman should not have inserted him into the starting lineup, Kings were on a roll pre-playoff.

  • Stilts

    ^^^ I second that dlight – 2000 Sactown was the shiznit. I would have loved to have seen Kemp in his Reign Man days in Seattle and McDyess in his Nuggets days…