Three former LA Clippers made the cut in the first installment of ESPN’s new ranking of the top 74 players in NBA history.
In celebration of the NBA’s 74th season (and to help provide fans with content while that season is on hold) ESPN began rolling out a list of their top 74 players in the history of the league. The media giant conducted voting by their “NBA expert panel” to rank the top players based on their total career value as well as their peak level of performance.
The first installment of their list was released today, naming the players ranked 74 through 41. Three former LA Clippers made the cut so far. Unfortunately, none of the three are known primarily for their time with the team.
The first former Clipper to make the cut is Paul Pierce at number 54. Pierce spent the final two seasons of his 19-year career with the Clippers, mostly coming off the bench in the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons. Pierce scored 6.1 and 3.2 points per game in 18.1 and 11.1 minutes per game in what was by far the least two productive seasons of what will certainly be a Hall-of-Fame career.
Pierce will go down as one of the greatest Boston Celtics of all time. His ten All-Star game appearances and four All-NBA nods all came as a member of the Celtics. He also lead the team to the NBA championship in 2007-08, being named Finals MVP for his efforts in the series against the Lakers.
Bill Walton, another NBA legend with a forgettable stint with the Clippers comes in at number 48 on the list. The Hall-of-Famer had an injury-plagued career that peaked in Portland with his MVP season in 1977-78 and resurged in Boston as the 1985-86 Sixth Man of the Year. In between, he spent six years with the Clippers, two of which were completely lost to injury. He was able to play 67 games in 1984-85, his final year with the team, averaging 10.1 points and 9.0 rebounds per game in 24.4 minutes per night. Walton left for Boston, where he would win his second career NBA title the following season.
Two spots later, ESPN names Dominique Wilkins the 46th greatest player in NBA history. The Human Highlight Film is known for his high-flying years with the Atlanta Hawks, but did spend 25 games with the Clippers in the 1993-94 season after being acquired by the team in a trade that sent Danny Manning to Atlanta. Wilkins put up huge numbers with the team, scoring 29.1 points per game and grabbing 7.0 rebounds in 37.9 minutes per game before leaving the team via free agency to sign with the Boston Celtics.
ESPN will continue to count down their list of top players in NBA history, and there should be some Clippers with more memorable stints in Los Angeles yet to come.