Monday, 3 February 2014
WHO'S COOKING?-THE TOP 60 "MICROWAVE" PLAYERS OF ALL TIME
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
Gone in 60 Seconds, 6 seconds, 0.6. It only takes a minute, a second or even a tenth of one to make a difference in this game. So think for one and tell me, what makes a player hot? Is it the statistics? The sneakers? The status? The All-Stars? Or is it just in any given moment when the games on the line those players who can be charged to come in and step it up to light the scoreboard up? You see for every LeBron and Kobe there's a guy on the bench whose name you don't know, but will do when his streaking surge of plays clutch on to the highlight reel of every household. The type of plays that spark-plug lulls in dull quarters and pay off by illuminating the final buzzer beating box score with a win. The type of individuals that show this game isn't just about the superstars, its all about the team. The good guy of the Bad Boy Detroit Pistons Vinnie Johnson was that type of player. A guy who could come in cold off the bench in pressure cooker situations and get hot quick. So much they nicknamed him 'The Microwave'. It's about to get real radioactive because it only takes a minute or less to be done in this game. So shut the door and push the button because here's 60 seconds of the 60 greatest "microwave" players of all-time to rotate with. Is Vinnie the truest to his name or does someone else rule these moments in the game? Seconds out...
60. Nick Young-It really is frustrating out there in La, La Laker land, when the point production of a team lacking an injured Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and on and off Pau Gasol relies on the streaking (at times super and others slumping) of a guy who calls himself Swaggy P. Still, there's more to Nick Young than big hair and bright sneakers. A 'Sixth Man Of The Year' award this year may show that but more likely the maturing of Young over the seasons will. Despite those off target shots and those ones that rattle all around world of the rim before going in when Nick's on time it looks like he could hit anything fading as far as his back'fro. Besides Kobe shot air balls in his first year.
59. Troy Hudson-In the dominant decade of the wild west in the new millennium it was all about which King or Trail Blazer could keep up with the Spurs or Lakers until Kevin Garnett overcame all that playoff, Tracy McGrady like heartbreak and got the team he deserved before bolting for Boston. Before Pierce and Ray Allen, one of the best big threes of the 'Big Ticket', Latrell Sprewell and Sam Cassell was seemingly all Minnesota needed to almost best the Lakers and them all. Still, it was a great bench featuring the underrated spark-plug Hudson and the new Steve Kerr Fred Hoidberg (who deserves an honourable mention) that kept them going. On stormy waters Hudson played like a God send and that's what made Troy such a blessing.
58. Chris Anderson-Sometimes being a microwave spark-plug bench player isn't always about cooking up some offence, even though this guy can dunk to the bird call. This same vertical makes this leaper one of the best blockers in the game. Chris Anderson's swats into the stands are as bold and colourful as his tattoos and as big and crazy as the parrot hair gelled on his head and the big beard hair on his chinny, chin, chin. His huffing and puffing celebrations come with him blowing his opponents house down as his house and its crowd roars.
57. Kerry Kittles-This guy could pop points like Skittles. His offensive range was just that sweet and colourful. Taste the rainbow of the arc of his shot at your underrating peril as the kid Kerry showed his almost champion New Jersey Net team where more than Brooklyn coach Jason Kidd and his twin alley catches of Richard Jefferson and Kenyon Martin's dominating dunks (let's give an honourable facetime mention to the phantom scoring of Lucious Harris in that face-mask) . With high socks and even higher hops he may have been skinny but he ran the break off the bench like a gazelle.
56. Byron Russell-Byron Russell isn't just the guy that Michael Jordan hit his "last" shot over, he was also a key contributor to the Karl Malone pick and John Stockton roll of a Utah Jazz team that at least deserved a championship. A much greater defender then that shot proved, Byron played out his career behind Jordan in Washington and with Kobe as a Laker but the swingman still proved he could come off the bench and play with the best, somewhat like them.
55. Jeremy Lin-Okay so the worldwide Linsanity of his 15 minutes and four quarters of fame may be over and all those tourist stores in New York may have sold off all that merchandise in a clear out way before he left the Knicks but that's not it. Now in Houston he brings more to the rising history of the Rockets than the Asian market exposure that the Yao Ming dynasty did. The 'Sixth Man Of The Year' potential frontrunner brings dominant scoring off the bench when the beard of Harden or the smile of Howard can't get it done.
54. Tyreke Evans-Who knows if the first guy to be dubbed the next LeBron in this, the era of the king will live up to his 'Rookie Of The Year' hype as a King in Sacramento. If not the injury-riddled talent who now gives the spotlight to DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay will still make it as one of the best Sixth Men this game has today. Expect more awards with his name on to come.
53. Dana Barros-Meeting Dana Barros at a recent pregame autograph signing in Boston was something else. The former Celtic and Boston born, college raised Sonic draftee was honestly humble but also couldn't help flash his gold bling ring. Who could blame him though? He earned it! There was just something about the way he played. Savvy yet slick, skillful and sick, you had to love it! Detroit and Philly also used the services of both a 'Most Improved Player' and All-Star, but his two stints in his native Boston defined him. Still his 50 point career high and 89 consecutive game record made threes (broken only recently by Kyle Korver) showed he could have been more of a full cooked player than a quick microwave meal ticket.
52. Rafer Alston-One of the best playground players of all time and a Basketball legend in modern times may not have been that big in the NBA (maybe the referees didn't like all those playground game antics) but between contracts, free agency 'and 1' he still survived and thrived as a revived veteran. Now that change up of the game shows there was more skill to this guys set then through the legs and behind the back. He had more tricks coming off the bench too. In the NBA his next basket won.
51. Leandro Barbosa-In his prime there wasn't many guys out there as quick as Leandro. Rising the Suns out of the burnt ashes of a Steve Nash injury like a true Phoenix. When it was Barbosas ship this guy looked like a John Wall cheetah out there. With Brazilian soccer skill fans are just glad he plays with the palm of his hands and not the soles of his feet.
50. Aaron McKie-The almost champion 2001 Philadelphia 76ers was more than just Allen Iverson or the offensive answer of Dikeme Mutombo. Off the bench 'Sixth Man' of that year Aaron Mckie did more than let it rain. He let it snow like his teammate Eric. A points machine he may have lost to the Lakers and eventually retire with them while barely logging a quarter worth of minutes, but when it came to each period of the game and his career not even the best could keep up with his point production.
49. Nate Robinson-'Dyno-Nate', Mr. Robinson started his career with many years in New York as a Knick, but over the last half decade has become a journeyman who recently joked (we think) that he'd like to play for all 30 teams. A fair few to go, but for the record if he leaves Denver anyone who gets him will receive anything but 'Kryptonate'. A great locker room presence and Mark Madsen/Rony Turaif like bench celebratory passion is even more loud off the pine. The consecutive record breaking dunk champ can leap and block like the son of Spud Webb (he can jump over him...and Superman Dwight too), don't forget about those shots too that streak and heat on any given moment.
48. Earl Boykins-Like small starting Point Guard's Muggsy Bouges and Spudd Webb before him, Boykins played so much higher than his 5 feet and spare change. Most P.G's look like kids when playing alongside the Shaq's and Ming's of the league, but this tiny Archibald like skillful point made it all child's play. Never to be underestimated he could bench press with the Ben Wallace's of them and in this league they thought size did matter.
47. J.R. Smith-Despite the troubles last years 'Sixth Man Of The Year' can heat up his unlucky Knicks team and hard-pressed New York City crowd like a legend of the Rucker. More than his no contest dunks like his Josh second namesake, the new Stephen Jackson shows more passion behind those problems. A part of the Knicks tape with a "whoo" like sound and following, D.J's and coaches alike want to spin him again.
46. B.J. Armstrong-Not to be confused with Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong, it was a great day when this B.J. was the small, dynamic Point Guard off the bench hitting threes for Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls dynasty before the great Steve Kerr. Backing up John Paxson in Jordan's early days, his strong arm from way downtown made Benjamin Joe a first three-peat champ and an All-Star, as well as part of Golden State, Charlotte and Orlando before closing out his career with Chicago again before becoming a G.M, only to be subbed in and replaced by...John Paxson.
45. Tracy Murray-How this guy wasn't an All-Star is crazy, because in the golden era of the league he was one of the best scorers, especially when he came off the bench and into his own. The underestimated usually become the underrated and that was something Murray could use to his offensive advantage for the journey worth of teams this man hit the road with. Up North in Toronto Tracy even hit career highs, leading the team like McGrady never got to. Those who freeze this Canadian side out are just cold to the game and how hot this guy was not only off the bench but as a star in his own right and record.
44. Mike Miller-Former 'Rookie Of The Year' and 'Sixth Man Of The Year', the kid with the buck-teeth may look different these days with all that hair and tattoos but behind the headband is a reputation inked over the years for coming in and being automatic from three. Like a Swiss watch always on Reggie Miller like time this guy has been clutch from Orlando to Miami, even when Kings taking the crown weren't.
43. Ben Gordon-Now he's been a starter people are more used to just what he could do, but remember that clutch baby-hook in the mecca of Madison Square Garden before he was a Knick? He was guarding the post-Jordan baby Bulls before the blooming of Derrick Rose and in the clutch this playground concrete player never cracked.
42. Rodney Rodgers-Before tragedy struck Rodney Rogers so cruelly this star NBA player worked hard for his community despite his millions. Millions he earned beforehand in the Association of National Basketball by playing so brilliantly for the NBA teams he came in for and heated up the points part of the box score for. Before the big three Pierce, Garnett and Allen years as a Celtic behind the duo of the truth and Antoine Walker he shimmied alongside other hot bench players like Walt McCarty to shoot down an upset Allen Iverson Philadelphia 76ers team in the new Boston Garden. Just one game on a national spotlight blowout that showed just what he did every night in his hard-working career. Now paralysed from the neck down, this warrior Rodney not only deserved more from the league, he deserves more from life.
41. Danny Manning-Manning the role of the first Clippers all-star, the other side of L.A. owes a lot to this man. It may be all good and even better in Lakertown for the Clippers now but through all those bad luck and joked about years there was old Danny boy. Watching Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan dunk the lob city passes off Chris Paul is the man who did it all by himself back in the bad ole days.
40. Anthony Mason-Mase was as New York as they came and this B.I.G. big man did more than just provide the muscle that could throw people out of LL Cool J's parties. Mama said change the game and 'Tone knocked them out by revolutionising the point forward position. A guy that could muscle up with Charles Oakley in practice and still flow down the floor like Starks. Only in the Mecca could someone show the blacktop grit and grind and playground flair and finesse of N.Y.C. all at the same time. Fresh, but able to fight you to the rotten core all at the same time. That's what the Big Apple is like when it takes a bite out of you.
39. Cliff Robinson-Even though he looked like an ageing big-man substitute this Power Forward moved like a young guard all the way to the three point line and all the way to the end of his career. His jersey may not be in the rafters but his name is in the Sixth Man history books and those who know this game, know he revolutionised big men extending their range beyond the paint before everyone thought it came from Europe and belonged to guys with names like Dirk and Pau.
38. Dell Curry-Currently in the Curry house Dell couldn't be prouder of his sons. There's Seth Curry who this year inked his first year contract in the NBA and then there's this big brother called Stephen whose apparently got a pretty good shot on him?! It must be the genes not the shoes however as Dell was so hot from the three-point line all the teams he played for could guarantee pure point production off the bench. Sure the son will best the father here, but its clear Dell paved the way for this kid of the iPad generation in more ways than one.
37. Chuck Person-Back in the later days of his career Chuck was signed by the Lakers as an extra person on their roster, but he never made it to training camp. Now he works for the Lake Show as a coach and who else but to teach the likes of this great three point shooting team exactly how to do it? In his prime during prime time only his brother Wesley (honourable mention maybe the siblings should share this spot) was more accurate from around the arc. When it came to threes there was no need for good luck with this Chuck.
36. Darrell Armstrong-The skinny on this lithe player was more than just spark-plug shots for an Orlando Magic team that seriously needed to lick their wounds of an injured Grant Hill and his potentially game changing duo with Tracy McGrady. The guy was barely six foot but could touch the rim way into his later playing years, which meant he could catch the odd dunk but more than his fair share of his opponents. He was a blocking machine. A microwave for his team that could burn his opponents overcooked food.
35. Jimmy Jackson-Jimmy Jackson could score with the best of them and like a Jalen Rose, Chris Webber and Juwan Howard 'Fab Five' out of Michigan he formed the three J's with Jamal Mashburn and Jason Kidd who he could share the ball, but not Toni Braxton with. If more didn't happen more could have happened there and the somewhat outside star faded to the bench in his later career where he became a different type of Kendall Gill like contributor who could score.
34. Cedric Ceballos-In one Slam Dunk Contest Ced Ceballos sensationally strapped a blindfold over his eyes and dunked his way to victory. In games the Phoenix/Lakers star could see his fair share of dunks and plenty of points too. Like 'NBA Live' he was the perfect video game player who could light the scoreboard up like the best of them in the golden era. He was also part of that '96 Vlade Divac, Eddie Jones, Elden Campbell and Nick Van Exel forum of Lakers players who were about to meet one big guy and some high school kid.
33. Corliss Williamson-Corliss was another big guy who could run and score anybody out of the gym. Sure he couldn't really guard guys like Shaq...but who could? Williamson could fill the lane a different way and his Detroit Pistons beat Shaq's Lakers in the NBA Finals anyway.
32. Walter McCarty-Now a coach of the same Boston Celtics he changed games and plays for this R&B singer took the town up the charts when he hit the high notes in this jazz like game. Utah, the team in New Orleans, or anyone could hear the cheers when he let his big game James/big shot Horry like plays sink through the nets and the hearts of those who underestimated him.
31. Antawn Jamison-The current Clipper may have not had as great a time on the other side of L.A. as he did when he was leading the Cleveland Cavalier, but the current reserve has tweened between being a franchise player and a point producer off the bench. Either way the ever underrated one of the greats has been a star and a scorer no matter the time or shine.
30. Jamal Crawford-To begin is career Jamal Crawford was given the ball to lead. Now he follows off the bench to be an even better player than he ever was. A veteran in his prime he becomes a whole new other weapon off the bench these days. A guy who could and should start but elects not to so he can be the closer. Like Robert Horry and others once said (and I'm paraphrasing somewhat but it all means the same) "its not who starts games, but who finishes them".
29. Lamar Odom-It may be hard for fans to keep up with the Kardashian tabloid drama of Lamar these days but the Los Angeles son who has been cursed as a Clipper gifted the Lakers with their most productive player in their most recent championship years...a team led by a certain guy called Kobe..
28. Glen Rice-Forget what they said about his wife or Sarah Pailin, the father of one of the latest crop of Rookies past something down a generation to Glen Rice Jr, like Tim Hardaway has to his junior namesake. From Miami to New York he was hot from downtown like South Beach still past ten or Manhattan in the A.M. in July but the purity became more potent under the sun of a solo stint in Los Angeles. As a third option off the bench between the Shaq and Kobe Laker duo he hit the big threes before Horry's closers on the way to the first chip of the champions three-peat.
27. Ron Harper-Those who never saw this guy before he blew out his knee wouldn't believe he was a former Slam Dunk champ and next Jordan like player leading the orange of Cleveland (damn that 'Kenan & Kel' soda...I don't love it) decades before they saw wine and gold again with the 23 of LeBron James. Still Phil Jackson knew what he was dealing with when coaching the guy who successfully changed and revolutionised his own game post-injury before Grant Hill to the more defensive dominant side. Still able to rack up a three and even the odd dunk alongside all those rings he backed up Michael Jordan and was credited at mentoring Kobe Bryant by the air apparent himself. Bridging the gap there's the connection that needs no more introduction or conviction.
26. Jason Terry-Kenny Smith may have been the original 'Jet', but even the postgame retired broadcasters know J.T continues this flightplan for every team that's cleared him for take-off off the pine to the hardwood.
25. Norm Nixon-When Magic Johnson joined the Lakers it practically ended the show for their one-time leading point Norm Nixon in a Nikon like camera flash. I guess that's just the norm when it comes to the greatest playmaker of all time. Still this all lead to N.N. being a brilliant back-up for some time. The great player however deserved more from NBA Point Guard legend and Lakers lore, but sometimes people are just blinded by Magic.
24. Sam Cassell-"And y'all scared I can tell and I'ma get bucks like Milwaukee/'Cause like Sam I can sell". Some cruelly said he looked like an alien, but he was cool enough for a Jadakiss lyric so 'F that', 'Put Your Hands Up'! He came in off the bench for Kenny 'The Jet' Smith and clutched rings with Robert Horry off the bench in Houston. He then formed a big three in Milwaukee with Glen Robinson and Ray Allen, before teaming up for another one with Allen's big three partner Kevin Garnett in Minnesota. Then in his twilight years he reunited with both of them in Boston for some off the bench championship pedigree. Now 'Kiss The Game Goodbye'.
23. Cazzie Russell-You know this guys good when Pulitzer Prize winning legendary Times columnist and word of L.A. to Chick Hearn's voice, Jim Murray wrote about him. 'Mr. Two-Two-Two Points' as Murray dubbed was gold off the bench like the M.J. necklace he wore around his neck. When it came down to the clutch throat of games Cazzie would never choke. Russell collected up points like Celtic rival Bill did rings. I hope that does the late writer and his muse justice.
22. Byron Scott-Magic Johnson threw the no look passes and Byron Scott finished them when everyone in Hollywood was watching him sub in and finish the Showtime break like James Worthy and A.C. Green. Like those two maybe he would have been a bigger star if not surrounded by names like Earvin and Lew Alcindor who became Magic and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. I'm sure the Shannon Brown type Laker player who was dunking when that kid was in diapers is settled with all those championship rings though.
21. Steve Kerr-This TNT broadcaster looks like hasn't aged a day since his Chicago Bulls days, even if he did look like someone's dad. No joke here however as Steve Kerr wasn't picking up his kids from elementary but instead taking everyone to school with his behind the arc class. The type of pure shots that made him stand out even playing alongside the greatest and the rest of the Rodman like stars in Chicago. Put it this way in the 90's you could get his number 25 Bulls jersey in England, a country who then didn't care enough to televise NBA games in its golden era. Even pushing 40, he was still fresh from the microwave for three for a champion San Antonio known for their veteran presence. The best photobomber right now (look it up) used to drop dome shot bombs back when the cameras where actually on him...when he bombed the odd one from Mike that is.
20. John Starks-Unfairly Starks is known for choking in the playoffs, but did you see that dunk over Michael Jordan, defensive stopper Horace Grant and the rest of the Chicago Bulls. Starks was still one of N.Y.'S finest from the three and to the rim he could rack up the points. He lost to Chicago and ended up playing for them and Utah to close his career, but like the Jazz cafe he's New York through and through. Not only did he watch the game from the sidelines with the celebrities, he became a star in their eyes when he came off it to come into play.
19. James Harden-He may be a rising Rocket star now but before the beard grew and the Oklahoma Thunder stupidly let him go he was a 'Sixth Man Of The Year' who would score at his coaches will. At least Houston don't have a problem.
18. Bobby Jackson-He was the 'Sixth Man Of The Year' when being the first man off the bench was the new, cool thing. A Sacramento King who could take the throne by royal appointment, this game of thrones was a new battle with a guy who could take off his enemies heads with just one shot.
17. Eddie Johnson-Which Eddie Johnson of NBA history you say like some Jason Williams confusion! Well both Eddie's where some of the best players this league has ever seen but we're not talking about the 'Fast' Eddie of the Atlanta team of Hawks not falcons but the one born into a great career just four years later. Off the bench he took the Kings from Kansas City to Sacramento and promise and prosperity. He may not have been drafted as high as his 3rd pick namesake, but the NBA awarded this sharpshooting Johnson the 'Sixth Man Of The Year' and kicked the drug abusing other Eddie out the association...fast.
16. Fred (Downtown) Brown-With an Andre 3000 'Semi-Pro' ABA name like 'Downtown' Brown what do you think Fred was able to do when he came in off the bench? In those classic Seattle Sonic jerseys with those short shorts and big afro he couldn't look more like an ABA player if he tried, but still in the NBA he was such a great long range shooter when you gave him the ball it may as well have been blue, red and white.
15. Ricky Pierce-From Seattle to Milwaukee this Sonic Buck kepy every team he played for in greener pastures with his piercing plays. San Diego, Detroit, Indiana, Charlotte, Denver, Golden State all these teams where better off...when Ricky was playing for them of course.
14. Roy Tarpley-A true Maverick of Dallas, who spark-plugged the hole in the middle of the lane when both the Mavs power forwards and centres took a break from the four and five. He spent the majority of the end of his career between the USBL and the past prime NBA player wasteland of Greece. It was drug and alcohol abuse that gave him a one way ticket there and then the actual great talent level of Europe that was sobering for both him and the National Basketball Association.
13. Detlef Schrempf-When everyone was talking about the Windy Cities Toni Kukoc in the 90's foreign imported NBA there was one guy letting it rain in a city known for that type of weather. When Seattle where talking about Basketball they may have been shouting about the alley oops of the glove and the reignman but it wasn't just about Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp. In Frasier Crane's town people where still listening to the one who kind of appeared like the younger brother. Besides dig deep enough and you can find footage of Niles Crane in a Sonics jersey draining a shot from halfcourt.
12. Toni Kukoč-The 90's may have been about M.J., the king of pop or the king of hoops. Still Chicago basketball was more than just the greatest player to ever play the game in Michael Jordan. Or the sidekick that was Scottie Pippern or the sideshow that was the dyed hair and tattooed antics of Dennis Rodman. In this Bull ring there was more than just the Zen Master Phil Jackson, the threes of Steve Kerr and that guy in the middle Luc Longley too. Toni Kukoc could flat out play and score like a star too and the worldwide evolution of the game still mourning the loss of Drazen Petrovic the closest to Michael had a new hero who was literally even closer to him.
11. Billy Cunningham-'The Kangaroo Kid' came in off the bench in leaps and bounds for the Sixers before Sixth Man award was even invented and taken by a fellow Sixer great in the eighties. In fact as head coach of the Sixers in the 70's he brought that very player and the likes of Julius Erving, Moses Malone and Maurice Cheeks to the first dynasty in Philly since the one where he was able to jump high enough to snare some rebounds from his stilt of a teammate Wilt Chamberlain.
10. Frank Ramsey-Decades before the Sixth Man award was created in the eighties, the ultimate X and O's guy Red Auerbach birthed the idea with his utilisation of star player Frank Ramsey. You can begin to light the cigar on that one.
9. Bobby Jones-'Sports Illustrated' magazine said it best the first guy to win 'Sixth Man Of The Year' was a Sixer. You can't illustrate it better than that. When more was at stake in Philly when the good Doctor, Moses or the mound was in need of another name to back up their jerseys.
8. Bill Walton-The same father of Luke Walton you see and hear broadcasting was something else in his playing days. He looked like punk rocker with a hippy bandanna in his hair but was a million miles from Woodstock when he was on the court. He was a true Trailblazer in this league until injury cut down the Portland hipster. The blue jeans and checked shirt Springsteen American dream of this kid born in the U.S.A. was rebirthed in the eighties under Red Auerbach's legendary Celtics where Bill proved his Boston Irish roots laid further than his ginger locks. Off the bench he helped take his career and the Celtics to places they both thought where just about beyond them.
7. Kevin McHale-Even though Sam Malone wouldn't go in for him, raise a glass in 'Cheers' to the one guy who would go in for every Celtic in Boston's storied 80's times. It was just the norm. In the league of NBA is where everybody knows his name.
6. John Havlicek-"Who caught it"? Need we say anymore?
5. Michael Cooper-Behind every scene of Showtime was the show-stopper who did the best boy dirty work. A key grip on the Lakers D who could even stop Larry's legend. Now that's true magic in the Johnson/Bird era. Oh and he could dunk too...matter of fact, at almost 60 he still can.