Thursday, January 18, 2018
Sports

Who's on your pro basketball Mount Rushmore?

LeBron James stirred the pot last week when he said he hoped someday to be considered a part of an NBA Mount Rushmore — that is, one of the four best players of all time. I have news for you, LeBron. You're already on the NBA Mount Rushmore. James said his Mount Rushmore for now was Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and, probably, Oscar Robertson. Hard to argue with any of those choices, though as great as Bird was, I'm not sure he changed the game. He wasn't really a transformative figure the way Johnson was. Magic changed the game by being a 6-foot-9 point guard. Jordan, of course, belongs on any best-ever list of players. So if Johnson, Jordan and James are on Mount Rushmore, who would be the fourth? Yes, you can make strong arguments for Bird and Robertson, who once averaged a triple double for an entire season. That's remarkable.

Then you have big men Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain and, if you want to go really old school, George Mikan, basketball's first great big man.

But I will go with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Why? Easy. He is still the league's all-time leading scorer. Plus, he was a six-time MVP, a 19-time All-Star, a two-time NBA Finals MVP and a six-time champion.

Perhaps you have a beef with two players (Magic and Kareem) from, essentially, the same team being on a Mount Rushmore, but everybody who is great plays with other great players.

There are more candidates than spots available on a Mount Rushmore. I'll take Magic, Kareem, MJ and LeBron and be perfectly satisfied.

Best wishes

Condolences to the family of Jim Fregosi, who passed away early Friday morning after a stroke. He was 71.

Perhaps best known for managing the 1993 Phillies into the World Series, Fregosi was actually a really good player, spending most of his 18 seasons as a shortstop for the Angels. He was a six-time All-Star and won a Gold Glove.

But better than that, Fregosi was a heck of a nice guy. Always quick with a smile and a story, Fregosi lived in Tarpon Springs and spent much of his summer at Tropicana Field. He will be missed.

Biggest mouth

Richard Petty certainly is entitled to say whatever he wants about anything he wants, no matter how stupid and mean it makes him look. His comments about Danica Patrick — that she would win only if every other driver didn't show up — just seemed mean-spirited. Funny, I don't ever remember him saying anything similar about his son Kyle, who had very little success over his 30-plus years in auto racing. Even Patrick's fellow competitors came to her defense. Dale Earnhardt Jr. said he thought Petty was "a little rough'' on Patrick.

In addition, it's hard to take anything Petty, 76, says seriously about Patrick since this knucklehead once said, "I just don't think it's a sport for women.''

Hey, Richard, the 1950s called. They want their opinions back.

Now go back to your cave.

Three things that popped into my head

1. Do not be shocked if the NHL does not go to the 2018 Olympics, especially because the games will be in a country without NHL ties — South Korea. A decision is expected in six months, and let's hope the league keeps going. It's a terrific tournament with NHL players.

2. This says a lot: Even those who hate the Yankees don't hate Derek Jeter (above). Let's hope he stays healthy enough for him and all of us to enjoy his final big-league season.

3. Best moment of the Olympics so far: American and 31-year-old mother of two, Noelle Pikus-Pace, coming out of retirement and back from injury and a miscarriage to win the silver medal in the skeleton. "As good as gold,'' she said, proving that second place is not always a bad thing.

tom jones' two cents

 
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