They Made The Game

By Tony McClean
Updated: February 16, 2008
NEW HAVEN, Ct. — Long before the combo of Shaq and Kobe, there was the Hall of Fame backcourt of Walt “Clyde” Frazier and Earl “The Pearl” Monroe. Before “Mr. Fundamental”, there were guys like Gus “The Wizard” Williams, “D.T.” (aka David Thompson), and “The Greyhound”, Walter Davis.

As we prepare for Sunday’s NBA All-Star Game in New Orleans and honor the best players in the league, we also take the time to look back on the players and pioneers that truly “made the game”.

For all basketball fans young and old, the history of hoops can mean different things to different folks. No matter if you think Jordan or Chamberlain is the greatest ever, one thing is certain — basketball has always held a unique hold on the sports world.

Growing up a Knick fan as a youngster, I remember the epic postseason battles between New York and the then-Baltimore Bullets. This was a time when Kareem-Abdul Jabbar had a full head of hair and went by the name of Lew Alcindor.

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It was the era when arenas like the Boston Garden, the Aud in Buffalo, the Cobo Arena in Detroit, and Chicago Stadium hosted NBA and NHL games. Not to mention the “Fabulous” Forum in L.A., the Summitt in Houston, or the Cow Palace in San Francisco.

We were told that the “other league” with that ridiculous red, white, and blue basketball was just a minor league compared to the NBA. The media propoganda against the ABA was so bad that we thought Julius “Dr. J.” Erving was a nice Jewish gentleman instead the future of the game.

For the “Legends of Basketball”, this weekend in New Orleans and the coming months will give them and basketball fans young and old a chance to share some memories and possibly make new ones.

Founded in 1992 by ex-NBA players Dave DeBusschere, Dave Bing, Archie Clark, Dave Cowens and Oscar Robertson, the “Legends of Basketball”, also known as the National Basketball Retired Players Association, works in direct partnerships with the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association.

The organization is comprised of former professional basketball players committed to developing and utilizing their community stature to support and participate in socially responsible global initiatives that focus on, but not limited to, education, health and children’s causes.

This weekend in New Orleans is a perfect example of what the “Legends” are all about. The NBRPA launched an official Legends community outreach initiative, Project Smile, a program that aims to boost the spirits, bring hope, and deliver smiles to the hundreds of men, women and children in the post-Katrina communities.

From a grocery distribution, to a motivational assembly for student-athletes, and a kids basketball clinic, hundreds of Legends will make their presence felt throughout New Orleans from during All-Star Weekend.

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One other major project will have the “Legends” becoming a part of BASN Radio programming. From a “Where Are They Now” segment as well as a scheduled talk show program, the “Legends” will become a via part of BASN’s talk show format which began in earnest this month.

“We’ve finalized talks with (President) Len Elmore and Talia Bargil (Director of Communications)”, said BASN CEO Roland Rogers. “This will give us a head start in planning our launch strategy and segments over the next few months.”