Let's face it. Most casual NBA fans get their entertainment from watching show-stopping dunks and players scoring the ball at will.
Whatever happened to "Defense wins championships?"
All teams in the NBA have players that can put the ball in the bucket and get their team points. But all teams in the league need a balance of good offense and a brick-wall defense on the other end. The players that will give maximum intensity on any given night to stop the other team from potentially winning the game is what every team needs.
The likes of Bill Russell led the Boston Celtics to 11 NBA Championships due to his spectacular defensive abilities. His willingness to give 100% of his effort into stopping opponents from scoring resulted in titles for the franchise. The defensive duo of Tim Duncan and David Robinson kick-started a dynasty for the San Antonio Spurs. Speaking of duos, how about Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen? Their lockdown defense left offensive players scared to even dribble the ball against them. Jordan and Pippen led the Chicago Bulls to six NBA titles because of their defensive ways.
Sometimes the best offense is a great defense. Offenses pick up and score easy baskets when a ball is turned over because of an opposing player's ball-hawking ways. Many times we see a great defensive play turn into more exciting transition dunks. Defense is an often over-looked aspect of the NBA's past and today's league. The defense provides the heart and soul for any NBA team.
It is about time to recognize the players that led their teams in terms of great defense and effort every night on the NBA court. Some of these players were not the best in the league at the time, but were the best at what they do, which is defense.
15 LeBron James
14 Sidney Moncrief
13 Tim Duncan
12 Kevin Garnett
11 David Robinson
10 Bruce Bowen
9 Walt Frazier
8 Dennis Rodman
7 Michael Jordan
6 Ben Wallace
5 Scottie Pippen
4 Dikembe Mutombo
3 Gary Payton
2 Hakeem Olajuwon
We'll just let the numbers do the talking for this one.
As a two-time Defensive Player of the Year and a nine-time selection on the NBA All-Defensive teams, Hakeem "The Dream" Olajuwon was a force to be reckoned with. He is the all time leader in blocks in the history of the NBA with 3,830. Olajuwon also led the Houston Rockets to two NBA Championships. In three different seasons, "The Dream" averaged over four blocks per game. He also averaged near two steals per game with 1.7.
1 Bill Russell
Russel was an 11-time NBA Champion with the Boston Celtics. Bill Russell was the main reason for all of those titles and it was because of his defense. Throughout his career, Russell averaged over 20 rebounds per game at 22.5. We all know a defensive rebound is the last step to a good stop. During his time in the league, the NBA never recorded steals or blocks. So there is no record of how many blocked shots he did have. Also, they did not name NBA All-Defensive teams, so everything is left to the imagination in this case. People that have seen him play say he is the greatest defender ever and it isn't even close. The mystery is interesting. Bill Russell is the meaning behind the popular phrase in sports, "Defense wins championships." Just watch some tape, enjoy, and appreciate defensive greatness from the greatest defensive player to ever do it.
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