Thursday, May 16, 2013

Throwback Thursday: 1996 NBA Draft Class

The 2013 NBA Draft is set to take place in a matter of a month or so and it is chalk full of guys not much older or mature then myself. Not only that but it may be one of the weakest classes in years due to the fact that there is no clear consensus number one pick. I don’t like to focus on the negative though that’s not we do here a Tru School Sports but we will do is our Throwback Thursday and today the post is on arguably one of the best if not the Best draft classes in league history which  features the Players from the 1996 NBA draft. That Draft changed the whole dynamic of the league for better or worse bringing you some of the biggest names in basketball the last 25 years with players such as Allen Iverson and Kobe Bryant.

Flash,Flare,Practice, Championships and controversy are a few words to describe the two most noticeable faces from the 1996 class-Allen Iverson and Kobe Bryant. The 2 players are arguably the best players in the history of  2 of the NBA’s most iconic franchises in the Philadelphia 76ers and L.A  Lakers. Iverson and Bryant brought their own unique playing style and swagger to the League on and off the court. Kobe had an afro and was cold blooded gained a reputation as one of the leagues top clutch Performers. Iverson like his counterpart did the same but at a greater magnitude for many Sixers teams that lacked the talent the Lakers had.

In what is known among many People as the “Ankle Breaker” era of basketball (Early 2000’s) Iverson and Bryant were the leagues two most popular players and had a clear rivalry with each other. In 2000 the two franchise players met in the NBA Finals. The series provided one of he most memorable moments from that era of basketball when Allen Iverson crossed over Tyron Lue made him fall down , hit a Jumper and stepped right over him like only A.I could do. The Sixers came out swinging in game 1 beating the Lakers but in the end we were in the midst of what was going to become a dynasty and A.I just didn't have the help.

These guys though as great as they were still had controversy surrounding them. Allen Iverson Had his infamous “Practice” Interview/rant. Kobe Bryant had his feud with Shaq which ultimately ended the Laker Dynasty. Great Players who we love to talk about, who  also are some of the Highest Jersey sellers ever came from that 1996 draft class with 1st and 13th picks respectively.

Then there are the Guys who are the Best we have ever seen at a particular facet of a game
In the 5th in 15th picks of that Draft In Ray Allen and Steve Nash. Ray Allen is statistically and historically the greatest three point shooters and one of the greatest clutch shooters of all-time. Steve Nash for the better Part of His career made Pick and Rolls look illegal and is one of the very few people to win Back to Back MVP’s.

Ray Allen Has played on some great teams over the years. Whether is was with Sam Cassell, Glen Robinson, Rashard Lewis,Kevin Garnett or Lebron James he always found ways to become and stay the most feared shooter in the game. Very few people in even in today’s NBA can match the fitness level of Ray Allen even at 37 years old. It is this reason that He is the NBA’s All-time best three point shooter.

Steve Nash is the perfect example of how you make teammates better, If you look a numbers he averaged 11 assists four times in his career. If you Wan’t physical proof of how great Nash Is as a facilitator just look at what Amare Stoudemire’s Contract and what he hasn’t done without Nash, That speaks volumes to his greatness. The Phoenix Suns teams of the Mid 2000’s of Nash, Shawn Marion and Amare was some of the most exciting basketball I ever watched had they had some coaching on defense Nash might have a ring on his finger But for a guy who was once considered to slow in College and that he wouldn’t matchup well with athletes in NBA Not bad.

Then There are the guys who are All-Stars that never won anything but were very exciting to watch in their prime in 4th and 17th picks Jermaine O’Neal and Stephon Marbury.

Jermaine O’neal was once considered one of the best frontcourt players in his prime but for all the talent he possessed he is a great example of someone flaming out early in their career. Make no Mistake About it though when in his Prime Jermaine O’neal was a monster for the Indiana Pacers and and All-Star Year in and year out.

Stephon Marbury was a guy who was exciting to watch but at the end of the day wasn’t impacting winning. He had plenty seasons averaging 20 points but never took a team deep into the playoffs. Starbury was a tremendous talent anybody who gets traded for Jason Kidd has to be.

The Number two pick in 1996 draft happened to be one of the better defensive players of this era and that would be Marcus Camby. Although he was never turned into a star Camby has had a long productive career and won Defensive player of the year in 2006-2007. Wherever he has gone he has produced.

Sacramento just received word that Kings are not Moving and I’m sure if you ask Kings fans about the glory days of Webber/Bibby/Peja. They will all tell you about great it was to watch the  14th pick in the 96 draft play. He played on the best teams in that franchises history and was one of the deadliest shooters of his era and appeared in 3 All-Star Games for the Kings.

Other Players That Appeared in this draft are guys such as Antoine Walker, Derek Fisher, Kerry Kittles, Zydrunas Ilgauskas which are all guys who were Role Players on teams that won or made it to the NBA finals.

So All in all the 1996 Draft Class will go down in the books as one of the most influential and impacting drafts in NBA History but is it the best? In my opinion the answer is yes but some people may disagree but it definitely helped the NBA in finding stars for the league post Jordan era.

What do you think?

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