Your Ball: Favorite opposing player of all-time?

Jim Chones' broken foot before the Eastern Conference Finals cost the Cavaliers the 1975-76 NBA title, says Colton Jones.

Being from Northeast Ohio, I was raised a Cleveland Cavaliers fan.

Which, of course, meant I didn’t have a bunch of opportunities to watch my team in the playoffs during the days of my youth. Perhaps that’s why my team winning one playoff series, albeit it in incredibly unlikely and unforgettable fashion, has gone down in history as “The Miracle of Richfield.”

So yours truly, while remaining loyal to my team, found individuals involved in the playoffs to root for.

And that, basketball fans, brings us to our question — aside from the guys on your favorite team, who is your all-time favorite player and why?

Please take a moment or two and let us know your favorite team, along with your favorite player to not play for your team and why he is your choice. Post your thoughts in the comments section below and Sam and I will weigh in and have some back-and-forths with you.

For you younger fans, the Miracle of Richfield took part in the 1975-76 season, when the Cavaliers beat the star-studded Washington Bullets in a dramatic seven-game series to reach the Eastern Conference Finals, where they fell to eventual champion Boston in six games.

Those Cavs, by the way, had to play that series against the Celtics without leading scorer and rebounder Jim Chones, who broke his foot late in the final practice session leading up to that series. Many, to this day, believe those Cavaliers would have gone on to do what the Celtics did — defeat the Phoenix Suns in The Finals.

14 Comments on "Your Ball: Favorite opposing player of all-time?"

  1. Easy – Charles Barkley, those old 76ers teams were fun. But his run in Phoenix was magical…just ran into MJ in his prime!

    • Hey, Steve.. Chuck sure was a lot of fun to watch. I really liked watching him play with Doc when he first came into the league. As great a player as he is, he’s even better on Inside the NBA.

  2. It’s a tie between Pete Maravich and Dan Issel.
    The Pistol got so much attention in the 70’s and loved the flashy game.
    Issel was my favorite ABA player on my favorite ABA team and loved a power forward that could shoot!

    • Hola, Shawn… Wow, you have two great choices! Can you imagine what Maravich would’ve done in today’s NBA, when guys can’t be body-blocked when they are handling the rock? As for Issel, he, Artis Gilmore and Louie Dampier were a blast to watch for the Colonels. He was, I believe, perhaps the first true stretch-4 in professional basketball.

  3. Reggie Miller hands down what Indiana did to the big city New York gave hope to me as a Clevelander

    • Hi, George… that incredible takedown of the Knickerbockers (not to mention, rubbing it in the face of Spike Lee) was one of the greatest finishes these eyes have ever seen.

  4. Larry Bird would be my choice. All around game and clutch.

    • Hey, John… I was fortunate enough to cover Larry Bird’s last game, a Game 7 loss in the Eastern Conference semifinals to the Cavaliers at The Coliseum. I was also there when he led Boston past the Cavs in the first round of the playoffs in ’85. After Boston won the first two of the best-of-five at The Garden, the series shifted back to the Cleveland. Bird didn’t play in Game 3 and the sellout crowd at The Coliseum chanted, “We want Bird!” during the game’s final moments as the Cavaliers pulled away. In the postgame locker room, Bird’s response — “That just shows how stupid they are.” He then went out and scored 34 points (on 11-of-17 shooting from the floor and 12-of-14 from the line) and added 14 rebounds and 7 assists in 42 minutes to get Boston past upstart Cleveland, 117-115, and win the series, 3-1.

  5. Magic Johnson and the smile he brought with him. The NBA, it’s fannnnntastic!

    • Hi, Kenny… Magic and Bird certainly were saviors for the NBA. To think what might have happened toe the league if those two guys didn’t come along — especially when they did — is more than a bit worrisome. Magic’s game, not to mention his demeanor, certainly lit up not rooms, but arenas.

  6. Dan Majerle became my favorite player in the NBA while he was in Phoenix, but since he ended up playing in Cleveland briefly I suppose he technically doesn’t qualify.

    So I will give you my second thought: I was always awed by Hakeem Olajuwon and loved watching him play. The way he could control a game on both ends was incredible, and that graceful post game was so much fun to watch.

    • Good stuff Rob! I liked both of those players too. Especially Olajuwon in his first few seasons with the Rockets. (Then they played the Celtics in 1986 and I had to root against them.)

  7. Dirk, for so many reasons. My favorite moments were watching Dirk trailing in transition then receiving a quick pass on the top of the three point line and sharing the anticipation of the Dallas crowd as the ball is in the air and excitement when it touches nothing but net. Examples provided below.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QxjeljwQ-b4

    • Very well-written and fine examples via the video. Dirk was among my favorites as well! See you at BW3’s!!

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