The NBA’s unveiling of its 75 greatest players headlined the league’s opening week festivities. All 76 names have been revealed following a three-day rollout, leading to plenty of debate about who got in … and who missed the cut.
Dwight Howard has become the most discussed snub following the list’s arrival. The Los Angeles Lakers center failed to make the prestigious group, outraging many fans and experts of the game. But along with Dwight, another 7-footer who donned the Purple and Gold is hardly being mentioned as a snub, let alone an embarrassing omission from the NBA’s diamond anniversary team.
Dwight Howard was left off of the 75 greatest players list
Some of the most decorated players left off the 75th-anniversary list include Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady, Kyrie Irving, and Klay Thompson. But none have the number of accolades Howard has compiled since he entered the NBA in 2004.
D12 is an eight-time All-NBA selection, more than any other player left off the list. Compared to some included players, his eight are as many as Dave DeBusschere, Kevin McHale, Earl Monroe, Dennis Rodman, Nate Thurmond, Wes Unseld, Lenny Wilkens, and James Worthy had combined. The former Orlando Magic superstar also has eight All-Star appearances, all coming from 2007 through 2014.
Over his action-packed career, Howard is a three-time Defensive Player of the Year, making him one of just four players to win the award three times or more. He has also been named first-team All-Defensive four times, led the league in rebounds five times, led in blocks twice, and was the MVP runner-up in 2011. Plus, Superman finally got his elusive championship as a member of the 2019-20 Lakers.
Howard kept his reaction to being left off the team brief. In a response to Bleacher Report’s Instagram post about the list’s biggest snubs, Dwight simply commented “disrespectful.”
The disrespect also goes beyond Howard. Particularly for one recently retired Lakers legend.
Pau Gasol is a glaring omission from the NBA 75
You’d be hard-pressed to find a player in the last 20 years more underrated than Pau Gasol. So his exclusion from the list of 75 shouldn’t be too surprising. But one brief look into his career makes him a stunning player to leave behind.
Pau was a well-rounded scorer immediately upon entering the league, averaging 17.6 points for the Memphis Grizzlies and winning the 2001-02 Rookie of the Year award. After 6.5 solid seasons with Memphis, Gasol became a household name with the Lakers. With Gasol, LA went from a middling team to three-time NBA finalists, two of which resulted in a championship.
Gasol is 39th in NBA history with 20,894 career points. That puts him ahead of Hall of Famers and 75th-anniversary selections Bob Pettit, David Robinson, and George Gervin. The Spaniard is also 28th in rebounds and 21st in blocks. On top of that, the 41-year-old ended his phenomenal career with six All-Star appearances with three different teams and four All-NBA selections.
Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol were an all-time great Los Angeles Lakers duo
Gasol was the biggest reason for LA’s turnaround in the post-Shaq years. The Lakers failed to win a playoff series in three seasons during which Bryant was the lone All-Star. But once Pau replaced Kwame Brown and became Kobe’s running mate, the duo won at least 57 games in four straight seasons. In their run to three straight Finals, Gasol was the perfect player alongside Bryant, with the two adding banners 15 and 16.
While the 75 list may have forgotten about him, the Los Angeles Lakers have not. Upon hearing of Gasol’s retirement, LA’s owner Jeanie Buss confirmed the team’s plans to retire his #16 jersey.
“Pau Gasol brought hope and talent to the Lakers,” former head coach Phil Jackson said in a statement. “The effect was immediate. His game put LA back into championship contention. He was also a gentleman and generous hero.”
If Gasol is worthy of having his jersey retired by arguably the most prestigious franchise in the NBA, he deserves heavy consideration as one of the NBA’s 75 greatest players. His omission, along with Dwight Howard’s, calls the validity of the whole list into question.
All statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference.