Boy, not putting Wilt Chamberlain on my greatest 1-on-1 players in NBA history caught me some flak.
Not putting the greatest of all time, Michael Jordan, atop that list caught me even more flak.
I’m trying to make you all think out the box a bit. So today, I’m talking about the guys who jump shot I envied. The guys who when they shot it, you thought it was going to go in 10 times out of 10 because it looked so good coming out of their hands.
Now before I go any further, these guys are not only list: Dennis Scott, Allan Houston, Rick Barry, Pistol Pete Maravich, Peja Stojakovic, Dirk Nowitzki, Paul Pierce, Stephen Curry, Wesley Person, George Gervin, Alex English, Hal Greer, Michael Redd, Michael Jordan or Chris Mullin.
Trust me, I want to put Mullin on this list. Sorry Chris.
Here we go.
10. Chuck Person. The Rifleman was lethal from deep, but what I loved about 6-foot-8 forward was he had a powerful body, highly aggressive and had that fire in the gut. Person shot at least 30 percent from 3-point range in his first 12 seasons in the NBA. Plus any guy who can go shot for shot with Larry Bird in a playoff series and say the famous line, “The Rifleman is coming and he’s going Bird Hunting” is enough to make the list.
9. Steve Kerr. Here’s what I loved about Steve Kerr. First, his form was flawless. Second, anyone who can tell Michael Jordan in a huddle, hey, kick me the ball and I’ll make the shot, in the NBA Finals and then deliver off a Jordan feed to lift the Bulls to its fifth NBA title gets my vote.
8. Glen Rice. Boy, you talk about a pretty shot. He was 6-foot-7 and would just rise up over defenders and launch it. When he was with the Los Angeles Lakers and they had Kobe and Shaq, that was just unfair having Rice as a third option. Rice did his best work in Miami and Charlotte. While with the Hornets, Rice shot a sizzling 47 percent from 3-point range. Crazy.
7. Craig Hodges. Like Steve Kerr, Hodges hit big shots for the Bulls to help them win titles. He was a guy who could knock it down from all areas of the 3-point line. Plus the guy won three straight NBA 3-point contest. Only Bird has that distinction so that’s all you need to know about Hodges. He had that elbow out a little from his face on the shot and was as Randy Moss would say, “Straight cash homey.”
6. Mark Price. Want to know how nice Price’s shot was? He’s now a renowned shooting coach in the NBA. What made Price’s shot sweet was he’d just pull up off the run and knock it down. Very quick release and always released it at the top of his jump. Price won back-to-back NBA 3-point contest titles, shot 40.7 for his 12-year career from 3, but to me, Price was one in first in the NBA to master the stop and pop.
5. Dale Ellis. D from 3. Wow. He always had the same look. Serious, but Ellis had that what I call a snap shot. His hand would snap so hard on his J. Like Rice, he was 6-7 and had eight seasons in which he shot at least 40 percent from 3-point range. Ellis won a NBA 3-point contest, but what I liked about him was he could take that off hand off the ball and still knock it down.
4. Jerry West. It’s always hard to take those old films seriously because at regular speed, they’re grainy and are going too fast. In slow motion, they look weird, but Jerry West’s shot looked great in black and white or color. Called ”Mr. Clutch,” West always leaned a bit on the shot. Had a bit of a fade-away J. He was so under control with the shot, but had the ability to rise above people.
3. Reggie Miller. Now the initiation of his shot wasn’t the prettiest, but by the time he released that over-the-head shot, it was perfect and it found the net quite often. Not only could Miller nail it from deep, but he mastered the pump fake, get free and score move. Add the fact that he was cocky as all get out and loved to stick it to teams made his shot even more deadly. Just ask the New York Knicks.
2. Larry Bird. Larry Legend didn’t need much time or room to get his shot off. Just a flick of the wrist and let it fly. He had the step back J down to perfection, but Bird’s shot was more than just pretty. Every time he took a shot, we all thought it was going in because he was such a great player. During his run of winning the NBA’s first 3-point shooting contests, Bird, wearing the warm-up Boston Celtics shirt, had the most famous walk-off 3-pointer to win the contest by putting the No. 1 finger up before the ball even went in. Larry Legend indeed.
1. Ray Allen. As much as I wanted to put Larry Bird in there, the one thing that kept me from doing so was this. Name anyone who came off a screen, squared up and knocked down a J with perfect form like Ray Allen. The uniqueness of Allen is he can be leaning one way or the other and still be square to the basket. Allen added a few years to his career by becoming more of a catch-and-shoot player. Allen, who won an NBA 3-point contest, is still one of the most feared shooters in the game. He’s a career 39.6 shooter from 3-point range.