By Jason Brubaker
June 14th, 2006
Basketball: Top 10 All-Time NBA Players
The NBA landscape is populated with representatives from
the elite of college basketball, including the likes of North Carolina,
Duke, UConn and Arizona. One name absent from that list is
Kentucky. Despite their rich basketball tradition,
and with Rajon Rondo’s NBA stock changing daily, the next NBA superstar from
UK may well be the first. Here’s a look at the top 10 pro players to come
out of UK.
10). Tony Delk- A member of the 1996 national champions,
Delk has been known as bench scorer in the NBA, despite having bounced
around to numerous teams. As a member of the Phoenix Suns, he torched the
Kings for a career-high 53 points in a 2001 contest. He now is in the hunt
for his first NBA championship as a member of the Detroit Pistons.
9). Kenny Walker – Still one of the more popular players
in UK history, and still with close ties to the program as an analyst,
Walker’s NBA career was shortened due to injuries. Although he never
averaged more than 10 points per game, he was a fan favorite for his
exploits to the basket. He also took home the 1989 Slam Dunk Championship.
8). Rex Chapman – Another UK fan favorite, Rex carved out
his niche in the NBA with his scoring and toughness. He is perhaps best
known for the prayer of a three-pointer against Seattle in the 1997
playoffs, heaving a fall-away three from well-beyond the line to win the
game. He also boats a career scoring average of nearly 15 points per game,
including a career high 18.2 points per game in 1993-94 with Washington.
7). Tayshaun Prince – With arms and legs that seemingly
go on forever, Prince has been a key cog for a Pistons squad that has one
championship, and is looking for another. Not a flashy scorer, Prince is
known for doing a little bit of everything on the floor, including stifling
defense on the some of the game’s best stars. His come-from-behind block of
a Reggie Miller lay-up in the 2004 playoffs propelled the Pistons to the NBA
finals, where they eventually knocked off the Lakers. At only 26, Prince
may have many more championships in his future.
6). Louie Dampier – One of the famed Rupp’s Runts,
Dampier was a seven-time All-Star in the now defunct ABA. He won an ABA
championship in 1975, teaming with another UK legend, Dan Issel. Dampier
would leave the ABA as number one in scoring, assists and minutes played. He
would eventually join the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA, as a role player
behind George Gervin.
5). Kevin Grevey – A starter on the 1978 NBA champion
Washington Bullets, Grevey averaged better than 15 points per game between
1977-82, including the 1980 playoffs, where he averaged better than 20
points per game. Known as an excellent shooter, Grevey finished his career
at better than 80 percent from the free-thrown line.
4). Cliff Hagan – After helping to lead UK to a
championship in 1951, Hagan found great success in the NBA. A five-time
All-Star from 1958-1962, Hagan also helped lead the St. Louis Hawks to the
1958 championship. Hagan also was the first player to become an All-Star in
both the NBA and ABA. He finished his career with just under 15,000 points.
3). Dan Issel – Having left his name all over the UK
record book, Issel won a championship in 1975 with the ABA’s Kentucky
Colonels before moving onto the Denver Nuggets. Issel would go on to score
more than 25,000 points in his career, good for over 20 points per game. He
would later coach the Nuggets to a first round upset of the top-seeded
Seattle Sonics in 1994.
2). Antoine Walker – Behind a barrage of three-pointers
and the occasional shimmy, Walker has become known as one of the best
offensive players in the league, if his shot is falling. A three-time
All-Star, Walker has also logged numerous play-off minutes, with the Boston
Celtics, Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat. Although his shooting percentages
and shot selection have driven coaches crazy, he has proved to be dangerous
when he gets going. He holds an NBA record with six three-pointers in the
second quarter of a game against Philadelphia in the 2001 playoffs.
1). Jamal Mashburn – One of the most popular players in
UK history, Mashburn was limited late in his career by injuries, but still
finished his career averaging better than 19 points per game. A member of
the All-Rookie team in 1993, Mashburn helped to lead the Dallas Mavericks to
respectability with the help of Jason Kidd and Jim Jackson. He would become
an All-Star in 2003 with the Miami Heat. With a pair of 50-point games under
his belt, Mashburn officially retired in 2006, after knee surgery. He boast
a career scoring average of better than 19 points per game.