Posted on: March 18, 2009 11:48 pm

NBA's Greatest Defenders in History

Here is my list of the Top 10 Greatest Defenders in NBA History:

 1) Bill Russell - This only needs one explanation: 11 championship rings. It was his defense that anchored every last one of those 11 titles he won with the Boston Celtics. They didn't keep track of blocks, steals, or even All NBA Defensive teams in his days, until the end of his career where he was on the very first NBA All Defensive First Team in history. He is the proof that defense is what wins championships, and he will always be remembered for that. He will go down as the greatest defender in history.

2) Hakeem Olajuwon
- "The Dream" was so good on offense that it made you forget how great his defense was. He was such a good offensive player that people tend to forget the best part of his game was his defense. He was the most athletic center in NBA history and used this too his advantage; most notably being one of only 4 players to record a quadruple-double. He is the 7th all time leader in steals, the highest of any center in history. His defense contributed to two titles for the Rockets. He won the DPOY twice, made 5 NBA All Defensive First teams, and is the only player in history to make the Top 10 in blocks, steals, rebounds, and scoring.

3) Ben Wallace - There has never been a better reason to "Fear the Fro" when Big B was anchoring the great Pistons defense. He made everyone fear coming into the lane and trying to score. He was small in height (6'7"-6'9" not counting the fro), but made up for it with his athleticism and leaping ability. He is probably the 2nd most athletic center in history behind the Dream. He made it to 6 All-NBA Defensive Teams, and won 4 DPOYs (should have been 5, he was robbed by Ron Artest), tied for the most in NBA history. His great defense allowed the Pistons to make 5 straight ECFs, 2 straight NBA Finals, and winning the NBA title in 2004. His defense presence made the Pistons D the best in the league (one of the best all time defense). He is the only player in NBA history to record 1,000 rebounds, 100 blocks, and 100 steals in 4 consecutive seasons. He is also the only player to be able to slow down the great Shaquille O'Neal on a regular basis. If you need proof: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fWo-VA1mf6Y

4) Michael Jordan - MJ was not just one of the great scorers of all time; his defense is what made him into the greatest player of all time. We all see the highlights on ESPN of his great dunks, his flashy layups, his great jump shooting, etc., but what you never see is his great defense. For awhile, his haters tried to say he was only a scorer and not a good defender. What does his Airness do in response? Goes and wins the 1988 DPOY that's what. He has made 9 NBA All-Defensive Teams over his career. If you know you're history, the Bulls great defense was their main contribution to their 6 titles and you know MJ was their leader on D as well as on offense.

5) Tim Duncan - Timmy D is truly one of the best post players we've ever seen. His inside presence in the post is not only seen on offense, but on defense as well. He has anchored 4 championship teams now with the Spurs and his post defense is every much a part of it as anything. He doesn't have to put up the flashy defensive stats that many other good defenders do, but if you ever have seen the great defense the Spurs play you will see that it all comes down to Timmy's D. Without him down low, their defense wouldn't be special at all. He has made 11 All-Defensive Teams. The Big Fundamental is a perfect nickname for him because he is better at the fundamentals of basketball than anyone.

6) Dennis Rodman - The dude may have been crazy, possibly even needing to be institutionalized, off the court, but on the court he was one of the greatest defenders this league has ever seen. He started out on the great defensive Detroit Pistons "Bad Boys." He won both is DPOYs with them and helped them achieve two NBA titles with his great defense. He also won 3 titles with Chicago Bulls (along side MJ) playing a huge part in their strong defense. He became known over the entire league as a great defense player, and some even said he "could shut down any opposing player, from point guard to center." He wasn't very tall, but made up for that with athleticism, strength, and leaping ability. For his size, he is one of the best rebounders in history. He was able to average over 18 rpg in back to back season (91-92 to 92-93) as well as averaging over 17 rpg the following year. He finished with 13.1 rpg over his entire career which puts him in the Top 10 all time rebounders per average. He may have been a psycho, but he was a great NBA defensive psycho.

7) Kevin Garnett - KG is the perfect player you'd want to anchor your defense. This wasn't as evident when he was on the Timberwolves (although he was great with them as well), but became even more noticeable when he joined the Boston Celtics last year. Their defense went from an average (middle of the league) defense to the NBA's best defense in 2007-2008. He is such an athletic player that he can be everywhere in the paint playing help defense as well as stopping the toughest post threat for his opponents. His leadership is the key to his game because he is able to motivate and lead his teammates to play much better defense than they would without him. He has so much passion and love for this game, and uses that to motivate himself and his team on defense (as well as offense). He has made 5 All-NBA-Defensive Teams as well as winning his first and only DPOY last season.

8) Kareem Abul-Jabbar - Like Jordan, he is known for being one of the greatest scorers in history, but also like Mike his defense was just as important in helping his team succeed. His made his presence felt in the post on defense making it very hard for teams to get points at the rim. He knew how to use his size to his advantage by using his height and long arms to keep a hand in players’ faces and swat their shot if they dared going up against him. His defense was more noticeable when he was younger (with the Milwaukee Bucks), but he still maintained his great D for his entire career helping to be the anchor of 6 NBA titles. He made 11 NBA All-Defensive First Teams over his career.

9) David Robinson - The Admiral was truly a force to be reckoned with on defense. He was a dominating presence in the post making it very difficult for opposing teams to scoring in the paint. He was great at all aspects of defense: rebounding, blocking, stealing, post defense, etc. You name it, Robinson could do it all. His great defensive efforts won him 8 All-NBA-Defensive Teams, a DPOY, and 2 NBA championships. He wasn't flashy or super athletic, but he commanded respect in the post, and lead his team on defense.

10) Nate Thurmond - The famous "Wilt Stopper" was known throughout history as a great defender. Anyone that could stop the dominating force known as Wilt Chamberlain had to be great. He was tall and used his height advantage over many smaller players to become a great rebounder and defender. Again, most of his career he played in the times before blocks and steals so who knows how many of those he had, but later in his career they counted the stats and he averaged 2.1 bpg in his final 6 seasons. He never won championships or tons of awards (always being left as the odd guy out behind Russell and Wilt), but he was still a great defender that was able to do toe-to-toe with two of the greatest big men the NBA has ever seen.

Honorable Mention: Dikembe Mutombo, Alonzo Mourning, and Sidney Moncreif

Feel free to comment and even make your own list if you wish.


Posted on: August 4, 2008 2:07 pm
Edited on: August 4, 2008 2:08 pm

All Time NBA Defensive Teams: 2nd Team

I decided that it would interested to gather up the greatest defenders in history and make teams of them like they do each year for the best players in the NBA. So I will find the greatest defenders at put them at their respective positions. Forgive me though, if I don't put them at their primary position, but there is too many great defenders that played center, and I couldn't fit them all onto 3 teams (I'm only going to a 1st team, 2nd team, and 3rd team). So you will some a PF instead of center. Also, players that played multiple positions will be put at whatever position I feel like. If you don't like it, than too bad.

2nd All Time NBA Defensive Team:

PG- Maurice Cheeks

4 All NBA Defensive 1st team selections and 1 All NBA 2nd team selection

Mo was one of the greatest PG defenders and is only rivaled by Gary Payton IMO. He wasn't big and strong, but he was very speedy and quick. He had quick hands and knew how to stay in front of his man and keep him from doing damage. He was a big part of the 76ers success in his career, most notably the 1983 NBA Championship he won with teammates Moses Malone and Julius Erving. He isn't given as much credit because he was overshadowed by the two stars Malone and Dr. J, but he has contributed just as much as they did. He never put up amazing numbers outside of steals, but he was one amazing and underrated player.

SG- Sidney Moncrief

2 Defensive Player of the Years 4 All NBA Defensive 1st team selections and 1 All NBA 2nd team selection

He won the very first (and second) Defensive Player of the Year award. Moncrief was a defensive specialist that was underrated on the offensive end. He was overshadowed by the dominating Lakers and Celtics during the 80s, but his Bucks had the 3rd best winning percentage behind those 2 teams over the decade and he definitely was a huge part of that. He was possibly the best on ball defender in history. Michael was quoted saying about him: "When you play against Moncrief, you're in for a night of all-around basketball. He'll hound you everywhere you go, both ends of the court. You just expect it." If a player like MJ respects your defensive skills that much, you know you were one of the best.

SF- Scottie Pippen

8 All NBA Defensive 1st team selections and 2 All NBA Defensive 2nd team selections

Pippen, along with his Bulls teammates MJ and Rodman, was a defensive beast. Everyone knows how great the Bulls offense was, but it was their great defense that won them their championships. Pippen was known as one of the best defenders in his era, and he played in one of the best (if not the best) eras in basketball. He was selected to 10 total All NBA Defensive Teams which is 1 shy of the record. He could play great man defense, rebound, and had some quick hands as well.

PF- Alonzo Mourning

2 Defensive Player of the Years and 2 All NBA Defensive 1st team selections

Zo was a beast of a defender, but didn't put up great numbers over his entire career due to the fact that he had some bad injuries. Still, when he was healthy in his prime he was a monster on the boards and in the post on defense and played against some of the game's greatest centers like Shaq, Hakeem, The Admiral, Ewing, etc. He was very athletic and versatile for a big guy as well, and he used it to his advantage when defending his opponent. Zo would make it very difficult for anyone to score in the paint and get rebounds.

C- Dikembe Mutombo

4 Defensive Player of the Years 3 All NBA Defensive 1st team selections and 3 All NBA Defensive 2nd team selections

Mutombo was one of the greatest defenders in his prime. He won 4 DPOYs which tied with Ben Wallace for the record. He could go toe to toe with the best centers as well and was an amazing shot blocker and rebounder. He is 2nd on all-time in blocks with 3,256 over his career. His famous finger wag made him popular with fans but not with the officials. He was a monster and 7'2" 260 lbs that would lock down the paint and make it nearly impossible to score at times.

Just to keep track of all the teams:

1st team:

PG- Gary Payton
SG- Michael Jordan
SF- Dennis Rodman
PF- Bill Russell
C- Hakeem Olajuwon

2nd Team:

PG- Mo Cheeks
SG- Sidney Moncrief
SF- Scottie Pippen
PF- Alonzo Mourning
C- Dikembe Mutombo

Coming up in a few days: 3rd All NBA Defensive Team
Posted on: May 11, 2008 12:16 am

NBA Coach Madness

Recently there has been alot of shaking up going on with coaches in the NBA. Coaches leaving and going to other teams, and other coaches finally getting a job again. Let's take a look at what has gone on so far:

Larry Brown to the Bobcats:

Larry Brown was hired to become the new coach in Charlotte. He is a highly prestige coach that has alot of experience and has been very successful; most recently winning the 2004 NBA Finals with the Detroit Pistons. He is a defensive minded coach which just adds to how valuable he is because of the importance defense has on being successful in the NBA. The Bobcats are a young team that has lots of young talent. If Brown can get these guys to play defense, and work together as a team like he always has been able to do, don't be surprised to see them in the playoffs next year. He was able to take the 76ers to the playoffs almost every year and all they had was Allen Iverson. He has Gerald Wallace, Jason Richardson, Emeka Okafor, and Raymond Felton to work with here. This was a very smart move by MJ, and should help the Bobcats to finally have some success

Rick Carlisle to Mavericks:

Mark Cuban decided to get rid of his young coach Avery Johnson because of their struggles in the playoffs recently. First he gets rid of Nelly, and now Avery? Does anyone see a pattern here? New coaches yet same old struggles? Maybe it's him and not the coaches that should be punished

Anyways their new coach, Carlisle, is also another experienced NBA coach. Won the COY with the Pistons in 2002 and led the Pacers to league leading 61 wins in 2004. He also took them all the way to the ECFs, but only to lose to the Pistons in their championship run. Is he the answer for the Mavericks? Probably not. The Jason Kidd trade destroyed the Mavs future, and next year will be their last to compete for the title for along time. It's probably only a matter of time before Cuban gets upset again and fires Carlisle.

Mike D'Antoni to the Knicks:

Oh boy this should be interesting. The Knicks finally decided to answer the pleas of their fans and finally get rid of Isiah. Now, with Walsh running the show, things have gotten interesting. Walsh has definitely going to go after one of these big name coaches from the beginning. When the "D'Antoni to the Bulls" rumors started, I thought for sure he was going there. When I saw today that Mike had decided to go the Knicks, I can't say I was completely shocked. It did take me by surprised, but it's kind of a perfect fit for him. D'Antoni has always been a guy that doesn't preach defense has a "short" bench. With the Knicks, he probably won't have to change much. They already don't play much any defense, and their bench just sucks anyways.

Can he turn them around? I'm sure they will improve from the pathetic year they have had this year, but don't expect him to have the same results, or anything close to it, that he had in Phoenix. He might be able to sneak them into the playoffs somehow with how well he can run the offense, but don't expect him to do wonders in New York.

Scott Skiles to the Bucks:

This is an "okay" sign by the Bucks. They have a playoff caliber team with guys like Michael Redd, Andrew Bogut, Mo Williams, and Ramon Sessions. Skiles was able to have some success with the Bulls, but the team gave up on him and fell apart this year. He may not be the best of coaches, but he is better than Larry Krystkowiak. He should be able to help Bucks improve from they way they have been playing recently. Will he get them to the playoffs? Who knows? Maybe, maybe not. We will see what happens. This isn't a huge sign for the Bucks, but it's not like Krystikowiak is going to do any better.

Erik Spoelstra to the Heat:

Pat Riley has called it quits again. He's going to step down from the coaching job and resume only his GM duties. The guy taking over the job is Erik Spoelstra. He has been a video coordinator for the Heat since 1995, and has become an assistant coach/video coordinator for the Heat. He is the youngest head coach in the league at 37, and has never been a head coach on any level besides the NBA Summer Leauge. He is inexperienced, and is taking over the league's worst team this year. Though it's not all bad. Dwyane Wade should be at full health again next year, they have acquired Shawn Marion in a trade with the Suns, and alot of the Heat players are confident in Spoelstra and believe in him.

Can he make the Heat bounce back next year? I think he can. He is inexperienced, but with the great players the Heat have, a high draft pick coming, and the confidence his team has him, I believe the Heat could be a back in the playoffs next year. Who knows, they might even be contenders again very soon.

There are still some coaches out there and teams that need one. The Bulls still need a new coach, and Avery Johnson still needs a job. Rumors of Avery becoming the Bulls new coach have come up. Rumors of college Michigan State Spartans head coach, Tom Izzo, taking over for the Bulls has also been talked about. Mark Jackson was rumored to be looking to head coach, and was at one thought to go to the Knicks, but that isn't happening anymore.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com