Tuesday, 23 August 2011


I read an interesting online debate earlier today. Someone was trying to convince people that Jason Kidd is a better passer than John Stockton (even though Kidd has less career assists and averages fewer assists per game). The argument was based around the fact that Kidd's passes are more flashy and that, if Kidd played his entire career next to someone like Karl Malone, he'd have just as many assists as Stockton.

It's a slightly flawed argument since it shouldn't really matter how flashy a pass is as long as it finds its target and leads to a basket.

However, it got me thinking about who I'd choose if I was selecting the flashiest passers of all-time at each position (no easy task, especially selecting a point guard from a long list of worthy candidates). Eventually, after hours of YouTube-induced nostalgia, I narrowed down my short list to the following starting five...

All-Time Flashiest Passers - The Starting Five

--- Arvydas Sabonis ---
In 1998, while discussing the best teenagers he'd ever seen play basketball, Bill Walton had this to say about Sabonis: "When he was a 19-year-old, before the injuries, and before he put on the weight, he was a seven-foot-three Larry Bird who could do everything". Even after the injuries and the weight gain, Sabonis' passing ability still shone through.

Power Forward
--- Chris Webber ---
There have been numerous players throughout NBA history who failed to live up to expectations, but Chris Webber's unfulfilled potential is perhaps the most perplexing. The man was a wizard with the basketball. The highlights below not only demonstrate Webber's incredible court awareness and passing ability, but also his defense and athleticism. He had a nice career... but it should have been oh so much nicer.

Small Forward
--- Larry Bird ---
An easy choice and, for my money, the best passer ever irrespective of position. Magic Johnson is a close second - and was certainly better at leading the fast break and generally running point duties - but, in a half-court offense, nobody was better than Bird. He could plot the movement of every player on the court and, before anyone even knew about it, he'd somehow put the ball in the hands of a teammate in a position to score. Uncanny.

Shooting Guard
--- Pete Maravich ---
"Maravich was unbelievable. I think he was, like, sort of ahead of his time in the things he did", said Magic Johnson. "He could do things with a basketball I've never seen anybody do", concurred Rick Barry. Just imagine if YouTube existed when Pistol Pete was running the show.

Point Guard
--- Jason Williams ---
Magic Johnson. Steve Nash. Bob Cousy. Jason Kidd. John Stockton. All would have been fine choices at point guard for the All-Time Best Passers Starting Five, but how could I resist White Chocolate? Williams' off-the-elbow pass in the 2000 Rookie All-Star Game is still the best I've ever seen. Forget about the woeful shooting percentages and suspect defense. Just enjoy Jason Williams for what he was - the flashiest passer in NBA history.


  1. Can't believe Magic Johnson was not mentioned. He had more style than any of these guys. What an insult to the game.

  2. I stand corrected Larry Bird is definitely in the conversation

  3. Great list. It's a shame Sabonis took so long to come to the NBA. How close is Ricky Rubio to a spot on this list now?