When you hear the phrase “generational talent” you think of players who dominate an era with such elite skill and ability that their counterparts can’t help but acknowledge the talent supremacy.
The all-encompassing package of talent, charisma and originality that they bring to the game inspires and influences generations of male and female hoops lovers in a transformative way.
Here are the Top 5 Generational Talents out of the 75 players chosen for the NBA 75th Anniversary Team.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, aka “Sky Hook,” was a prodigy standing 7 feet 2 with an unprecedented set of elite skills at the center position. His basketball résumé speaks volumes.
— NBA (@NBA) October 19, 2021
He won six NBA championships, one in Milwaukee and five in L.A. He has two more MVPs (6) than LeBron James, he’s a 19-time All-Star, 15-time All-NBA selection and 11-time All-Defensive selection.
52 YEARS AGO TODAY
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had 29 PTS, 12 REB, 6 AST, 4 STL, 3 BLK in his NBA debut.
28.8 PTS & 14.5 REB
Rookie Of The Year
All-NBA 2nd team
All-Defensive 2nd team
3rd in MVP Voting
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) October 18, 2021
Abdul-Jabbar was an impenetrable force dating back to his legendary days at the now-defunct basketball power Power Memorial in New York. He played 171 games in high school and college (UCLA) and lost just four times.
His most vaunted accolade is his all-time scoring record. Say what you want about all of these scorers in today’s game, but they still haven’t caught Kareem. You do the math.
2. Air Jordan
Michael Jeffery Jordan is the “GOAT,” and for great reason. He proved he has ice in his veins before he stepped foot in an NBA arena, hitting the game-winning shot for UNC in the 1982 national championship game as a true freshman.
MJ took the NBA by storm and became the athletic kingpin of a cultural revolution. He won six NBA championships and was named NBA Finals MVP each time.
His multiple Slam Dunk championships also provided the NBA with a platform to personally promote its most captivating star. Help grow the legend.
His Chicago Bulls went 6-0 in the Finals, and if not for the murder of his dad, it was highly plausible that Jordan would have won eight straight.
The numbers are just insane, five-time MVP, NBA DPOY, nine-time NBA All-Defensive First Team, 14-time All-Star, 10-time scoring champion, 10 first team All-NBA selections.
It was MJ’s total package — the obsession with winning, tongue wagging, aerial exploits, Jordan sneaker movement, his iconic bald head and exquisite fashion sense — that set him apart.
He was a walking endorsement during his playing days, from Nike to Gatorade to Hanes to Wheaties to McDonald’s.
MJ just had the juice and he carried the league for years. He’s now the only Black owner (Charlotte Hornets) in the NBA.
Earvin “Magic” Johnson was a smooth 6-foot-9 fast-break leading point guard who had just led the Michigan State Spartans to the 1979 NCAA title.
He was drafted by the Lakers. An aging Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was their franchise player. The franchise was very competitive, but the arrival of Magic sparked the inception of Lakers Showtime basketball.
Magic showed why he was a generational talent in his rookie year.
Who can forget his 42 points and 15 rebounds playing center against the Sixers in Game 6 of the 1980 NBA Finals to clinch the title when an injury sidelined Kareem?
From that point on it was Magic’s team out with the “Lakeshow,” and everyone knew it including Jabbar. Magic’s arrival allowed Jabbar to extend his career and play for two decades.
Magic is and forever will be the greatest point guard to grace an NBA court. His clutch vision, incomparable passing, leadership and flamboyance led to five NBA titles and five MVPs.
4. King James
LeBron Raymone James has been a basketball savant since his high school days in Akron, Ohio. He was selling out NBA arenas and playing on ESPN as a junior in high school, ushering a new age of corporate-infused prep basketball.
The pressure to be great never really seemed to bother him much. Bron’s exceeded lofty expectations since the day the Cleveland Cavaliers chose him No.1 overall in the 2003 NBA draft.
An extremely athletic 6 feet 8 and 240 pounds coming out of high school, he was always called a more athletic version of Magic Johnson, with stronger scoring abilities.
There’s a chance the 37-year-old James will surpass Kareem on the all-time scorers list.
Everywhere he’s played, his team has gotten better. Cleveland, Miami and Lakers, all winning titles on his watch.
He’s a walking billboard for Black empowerment, athletic excellence, entrepreneurial grit, social justice and philanthropy.
5. Chef Curry
Steph Curry takes the fifth spot for how he’s changed the game of basketball with his unlimited shooting range and ability to knock in low-percentage shots at a high clip. Some may not consider him generational, but he’s that and a whole lot more.
His brand of basketball has forever changed the game from a coach, player and analytical approach.
Curry owns three NBA titles, two MVPs (only unanimous MVP in league history) and is close to passing Ray Allen for the most 3-pointers made in league history and in much less time.
James Harden has passed Kyle Korver to No. 4 on the NBA all-time 3-PT list 👌
1️⃣ Ray Allen — 2,973
2️⃣ Stephen Curry — 2,842+
3️⃣ Reggie Miller — 2,560
4️⃣ James Harden — 2,451+
5️⃣ Kyle Korver — 2,450 pic.twitter.com/wdtq5oHMXx
— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) October 23, 2021
That’s a sign of how today’s game is about pace and space, and seeing how many threes a team can get up. It’s made for a small-ball era where sometimes the biggest player on the floor for either team could be 6 feet 7 at best. That’s the “Curry Effect.” It’s put a real
emphasis on shooting and floor spacing. Curry is iconic.
You can’t tell the NBA’s history without highlighting these generational talents. They’ve meant entirely too much to the league and it’s history.