Great one by USA Today. Didn't find this until long after balloting had ended and then didn't blog it immediately after finding it because the time factor had passed and Ron Artest was ruling everyone's world, but it's good debate and perfect offseason fun.
Team by team, unique perspective by unique perspective, USA Today took votes on the five greatest players in the history of each franchise and came up with a starting five. So what that it's not always an actual lineup, with some tallies understandably finishing with two players at the same position, and it's not always a consensus as votes from an insider, fans and a panel from the newspaper are polled in separate tabulations. It's not always a perfect arrangement either -- Clyde Drexler is the expert opinion for the Houston Rockets and no way he was going to pick himself even though the other sets of constituents did. (He chose Rudy Tomjanovich instead, along with Elvin Hayes, Moses Malone, Calvin Murphy and Hakeem Olajuwon.)
No great surprises with the Rochester Royals / Cincinnati Royals / Kansas City-Omaha Kings / Sacramento Kings. At least maybe not. The check marks do not match the votes indicated by the comments from Jerry Reynolds, the expert insider, because Reynolds absolutely knows Oscar Robertson is one of the five best players in franchise history. He says so below.
It seems to be a technical glitch with the online graphic that has his Robertson comments in the box for Jerry Lucas, his Mitch Richmond vote comment in the box for Wayne Embry and maybe even his Lucas comments in the box for Bob Davies. That last interpretation is a tough one, but if Reynolds is praising a tremendous rebounder, Lucas rates ahead of Davies. The same had better be the case with the 10-member USA Today panel appearing to not throw its support behind Robertson. The Big O drives through your city, he becomes one of the greatest ever there.
So it takes some deciphering with the Kings / Royals. But after switching the Reynolds votes, with evidence he chose Robertson and Richmond, but not switching the USA Today vote because it's tough to determine if the graphic was bad or everyone there got dropped on their heads at a young age, the votes are in.
The top five from readers, in alphabetical order: Nate Archibald, Jerry Lucas, Richmond, Robertson, Chris Webber.
The top five from the USA Today group of editors, writers, Hall of Fame coach Jack Ramsay and longtime assistant and former Timberwolves coach Dwane Casey: Archibald, Davies, Lucas, Jack Twyman, Webber.
The top five from Reynolds: Archibald ("He led the league in assists and scoring at the same time. That was a miraculous feat at a time when there just weren't that many small people scoring a lot."); Lucas ("He was a tremendous rebounder, passer and outside shooter -- a big man ahead of his time."); Richmond ("He was Sacramento's first legitimate all-star. He carried the team on his back and as great a scorer as he was, he was just as good defensively as he was at the offensive end."); Robertson ("You can make the case that he was the best basketball player ever. Period."); Webber ("The best power forward in the Sacramento Kings era, by far. He led the team that was a title contender for a number of seasons and a team that won a lot of games.")
(Update: Spoke with Jerry a little while ago and he confirmed that the votes were, as suspected, placed incorrectly online. His choices are the choices listed in the preceding paragraph. Tiny Archibald, Lucas, Richmond, Oscar and C-Webb.)
Get into the Celtics and Lakers and suddenly Hall of Famers don't come close to making the cut. No such problem for the Kings, so it's hard to argue with the choices.