Top 10 players who changed the NBA!

Ever since mankind has existed, there has always been one goal or one purpose that everyone has. To leave an indelible mark in history. To have an impact so great, it will be spoken about for generations. In sports, only a few can achieve this feat. This feat separates the truly great from the ‘almost great’. These players are universally accepted as ‘legends’. Even if you support another team, you simply cannot hate them. Today, I am going to give my take on the 10 players who changed the game of basketball. This does not imply that these are the top 10 greatest players to play basketball. This list strictly talks about those players who have changed basketball. This is not a countdown; I will talk about players according to the era they played in. I will talk only about players who have played in the shot clock era post 1954.

Basketball Players Leaping for Ball
Bill Russell blocking Wilt Chamberlain’s shot

Any list which talks about great players, cannot start without Bill Russell. Why? The winner of the coveted Most Valuable Player of the NBA finals is presented with the Bill Russell trophy. Yes, the finals MVP trophy is named after him. He has won the championship 11 times – including his first year in the league and his last year in the league and 9 in between. And we won all these rings in just 13 seasons – which means that he won the NBA 85% of the time he played. He was an excellent rebounder, and a shot blocker. Blocks were not recorded during his time, but if they were, he would certainly be right up there. He was enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame and in 2011, was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by the then President Barack Obama. Many Hall of Famers have subsequently, chosen Bill to be on the stage with them when being inducted in the Hall of Fame, including a passionate vote of thanks by Shaquille O’Neal during his induction. The man who played basketball, while battling racism and who took the Celtics from an average team to multiple NBA champions, is right up there at the top of any list. Bill’s mentality can be seen by his quote – “The idea isn’t to block every shot, it is to make the opponent believe that you can block every shot.” Bill makes this list as he single-handedly turned around the Celtics franchise.

Wilt
Wilt after his 100 point game

After talking about Bill, another name which automatically pops up is Bill’s rival-turned-friend Wilt Chamberlain.  Wilt is the only man in NBA history to score 100 points in a single game. Nowadays, a team scoring 100 points is a pretty decent performance. Even the 2016-17 Warriors averaged 118 points per game. The most fascinating thing about that record is not the sheer number that he put up, but that he did that without scoring a single 3pt shot. He also holds the record for the most rebounds in a single game with 55. Wilt Chamberlain was the most dominant player to ever play this game. Not Shaq, but Wilt. Not Bill, but Wilt. Not Kareem Abdul Jabbar, but Wilt. You get the idea. He was such an unstoppable force that opposition players would hesitate before taking a shot when he would defend them. Wilt is the only player, because of whom the NBA had to change three rules. Wilt was such a bad free throw shooter (Yes, big men being bad at free throws is not a modern thing!), that during a free throw, he would throw the ball off the blackboard and jump to catch it himself and dunk it. This was unfair to all the other players, so the NBA made a new rule stating that the FT shooter cannot cross the foul line immediately after releasing the ball. Due to his physical dominance, the Philadelphia Warriors would often during a baseline out-of-bounds play would fling the ball over the blackboard and Wilt could catch the alley-oop and dunk it. This was subsequently banned by the NBA. The lane was widened from 12ft to 16ft, primarily to counter Wilt’s dominance. When the NBA makes three new rules to counter your dominance, you know you are the most dominant player. His later demise and predicaments, allegations and rumors aside, Wilt was a force to be reckoned with. Wilt changed the NBA and had three new rules made because of him.

Jabbar
Kareem Abdul Jabbar

Now is the time to talk about the all time leading scorer in the NBA. Kareem Abdul Jabbar. 38,387 points scored, 1560 games played, 57,446 minutes played, 15,837 field goals made, 28,307 field goal attempts, 3189 blocks, 9394 defensive rebounds, 1074 career wins and 4657 personal fouls. There have been so many legends that have played this game, including Michael Jordan, and Kareem Abdul Jabbar has outscored everyone. When playing college basketball, he would dunk the ball so often that NCAA forbid dunking in college basketball. He then developed the skyhook shot, and used this in the NBA so effectively to score. Never had anyone used the hook shot to such effect. After him, the hook shot is the most used shot by centers till date. If this is not changing the NBA, I don’t know what is!  And yes, he has also received the President’s Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor.

Magic
Magic Johnson playing against Jordan

Onto the next one. Magic Johnson. His real name was Earvin Johnson II but is known as Magic Johnson. Yes, his nickname is Magic. He is an integral part of the NBA. He was nicknamed Magic after a game in which he scored 36 points, 16 rebounds and 16 assists. All this in a single game. And the crowd was so stunned by the man’s game, that they didn’t know how to react. They were just speechless. It was as if they had seen Magic. Hence the name. 3 months after he announced that he would be retiring after the season because he had contracted AIDS, he played in an All-Star game which changed the NBA. It went down in history as the only basketball game to be called because of hugs. At the 1992 NBA All-Star Game, with 14 seconds remaining and the shot clock winding down, Earvin “Magic” Johnson hit a three-pointer to give the West a 153-113 lead over the East. Never was a basket more meaningless — and meaningful. Magic, playing in the home of the Magic (Orlando Magic), lit up the arena with his smile, both teams rushed to embrace him at half-court, and no one argued when the game ended with time left on the clock. “Ladies and gentlemen, you just can’t orchestrate it better than that,” announcer Dick Enberg said as his voice swelled, “but when you’re great, you deliver on cue.” 1992 was the year the USA had their ‘Dream Team’. And all those stars were playing in the same game. Drexler, Bird, Tim Hardaway, Chris Mullin, Michael Jordan, Isiah Thomas, Charles Barkley amongst others were the players on court. When you have a lineup like that, and when you see these guys racing to hug Johnson, you know that he has earned the nickname Magic. He used his ‘Magic’ and changed the Lakers franchise and the NBA as a whole.

Bird
Larry Bird

Nobody that is mentioned above had a flair for shooting. They weren’t labelled as great shooters. This label was attached to Larry Bird. He brought shooting to the next level. A sharpshooter, by all standards. He was a member of the coveted 50-40-90 club which indicates 50% Field goal conversion, 40% 3pt conversion and 90% free throw conversion. He didn’t have his unique shot, didn’t have any other dominant aspect but could shoot the ball better than anyone. This really changed the dynamic of the teams that he played in and the NBA.

MJ
Michael Jordan flying through the air!

Now is the time to talk about the Greatest Ever to play this game. Michael Jordan. He was not just a player, he was a revolution. The only reason the NBA is so popular right now is Michael Jordan. He changed not just the NBA, but the basketball game as a whole. He did things that were deemed impossible. Before Mike, dunking was just a way to score points and assert dominance. But he made dunking an art form. A thing of seamless beauty. He could do everything. His technique was flawless, his game did not lack anything in any aspect. You name it – and Jordan is right up at the top of that list. Jordan was the human manifestation of winning. From winning two separate three-peats (winning the NBA championship for a consecutive three years), finishing with all the moves that existed, creating unique moves for himself, to flying in the air to dunk, to playing with a flu and outscoring opponents and just winning at whatever he did. He is the reason you watch basketball, he is the reason I watch basketball. Some people claim he is not human – and I support that claim. If I keep talking about him, I could easily fill 10 separate blogs. His mindset can be understood when, after the Bulls were missing shots, NJ took over and single handedly won the game. After the game, his coach told him “There is no I in teamwork”. Jordan replied with “There is an I in win”. This says everything about mike – Not that he wasn’t a team player, in fact one of the best passers, but his winning mentality is to be focused on here. As Allen Iverson so eloquently put during his Hall of Fame induction speech – “There would be no Hall of Famer Allen Iverson without this man. I wanted to be fast like Isiah, to be able to shoot like Bird, rebound like Barkley, pass like Magic, be dominant like Shaq, but man, I wanted to be like Mike.” Here, see for yourself.

And the huge ovation to that statement including Shaq’s grin told that everybody in the room had that feeling. And the crowd comprised of all the legends of basketball. When everyone that plays the game wants to be like you, you realize that you have changed not just the NBA, but the entire game of basketball. I just kept on writing. Bow down to His Airness!!

AI
That moment when Allen Iverson crossed Michael Jordan over

After quoting Iverson, it is time to talk about him. Allen ‘The Crossover’ Iverson. The crossover which is the move used the most in basketball, was made popular. He came from a neighborhood where most of the kids were addicted to drugs. He was saved from that life by his mentor. Iverson was originally a great American football player, but once he stepped onto the basketball court, there was no turning back. He would stay glued to his TV as a kid watching Michael Jordan dismantle entire teams. He worked hard, overcame his temptation to hang out with the wrong kids, and grinded his way to the NBA. He is the only player in NBA history to cross Michael Jordan over and drop a jumpshot on him. So, from watching MJ on TV to Crossing him over, Iverson’s journey has been amazing. He made all the kids in bad conditions, neighborhoods and circumstances believe in themselves. His greatest gift to the game was the crossover. That move changed the NBA and now, the crossover is used in almost every play by everyone.

Shaq
Shaquille O’Neal dunking hard

Until this point, all the centers had the same physique as Wilt Chamberlain – Thin, Wiry and Tall. Shaquille O’Neal came and destroyed this traditional image. Here was a guy who was more than 7ft tall, not thin, but huge weighing 320pounds and was as successful as the other legendary centers, if not more. He is the second most dominant player to play the game, after Wilt. He built the entire Lakers dynasty with Kobe and took them to new heights. Years after the showtime Lakers, the franchise was winning NBA titles again. After he was traded to Miami, he won another championship there. He changed the perception of being a center. His dunks in college and NBA were so ferocious, that the glass backboard broke multiple times. They had to change the glass material so that it didn’t break when Shaq dunked. He is the only player who has ‘Broken Backboards’ as a part of his stat line.

LeBron
LeBron James

The ninth player to change the league is The King. LeBron James. LeBron is in my opinion easily in the top 5 of the greatest ever players to play the game. He excels in every category. He has been consistently the greatest player on the planet for the last decade. At the rate he is going, he will break many records including the highest scorer of all time. His style of play is so hard to defend. When teams play against him, they have to make alternate plans to defend LeBron. He can dunk emphatically, lay it up, score mid-rangers and also shoot threes and has a long range and he does the chase down block so often and effectively that players are afraid to lay it up when LeBron is chasing them. He truly has changed the way people play the NBA and also how people plan to defend him. He is a beast in all categories. The nickname of being The King is as fitting as it could be.

Stephen Curry
Stephen Curry

Last but not the least is a player who has an amazing rivalry with the King. He has had the most effect on the NBA. Yes, I am talking about Wardell ‘Steph’ Stephen Curry II or most popularly known as Steph Curry. He is nowhere near the traditional NBA player physically. He was a 6’3’’ scrawny kid in college but had a unique style of play. After he exploded onto the NBA stage, he has changed the way everyone plays basketball. His ability to splash the net from anywhere on the court is something beautiful to witness. Nowadays, layups and threes are the only way people score. Midrange jumpshots look weird nowadays. Even kids in high schools practice only their three point shooting. Its like a wave has swept over the entire game. All the other NBA teams are taking nearly four times the 3pt attempts that they previously took. Steph is the poster boy of this revolution. I won’t go into how great he is in this article. I have already written another blog about him. But he has had the most change in the NBA. What an amazing player!

So, this closes my list of the top 10 people who changed the NBA. Again, this is not a chronological list (I don’t mean that the first is better than the second and so on), but a list of players who changed the game placed according to the era they played in from the oldest to the most recent.

Here are a few honorable mentions to the players who did change the NBA but didn’t make this top 10 list. Julius ‘Dr. J’ Irving, Patrick Ewing, David Robinson, Dennis Rodman,  Charles Barkley, Reggie Miller, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Dwayne Wade, John Stockton, Karl Malone and Kevin Durant. Most of you would be wondering why Kobe Bryant is not in this list and is not even in the mentions. This is because he did not CHANGE the league. Kobe is the second greatest player of all time to play this game after Michael Jordan. He is better than LeBron in my opinion (In the words of MJ himself, “There is something about five rings that beats three rings”). But he didn’t change the league. He was an re-incarnation of Jordan. Seeing him play rendered people speechless. But he did not have any original tricks up his sleeve. He did what MJ did. If you electronically alter the uniforms on MJ’s and Kobe’s tapes, you would not know who is who. Kobe was great, no doubt. But we had seen it before. We had seen a better version of it – It was called Michael Jordan. But it has been an honour and a privilege to have seen Kobe play for so many years. Here is a video which shows the similarity between Kobe and Jordan:

As a bonus, here is the video of the Hall of Fame enshrinement of the 1992 USA Dream team. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

Top 10 players who changed the NBA!

Swastika: The highly misunderstood symbol

Last time, we saw the importance and the significance of the Shiva Lingam! This time, we are going to talk about another Hindu symbol which is as popular as the Shiva Lingam, if not more. Even European nations have adopted this symbol. It is the symbol which has the most controversy surrounding it. It is loved as much as it is hated. The Swastika.

The Swastika is not a random picture created out of shapes placed together. Neither is it an Aryan symbol. It is a pure Hindu religious symbol which was created during the Vedic times. There has been a big controversy regarding the origin of the Swastika. There have been claims that the Swastika originated in Buddhism or Jainism. There have been claims that it is an Aryan origin symbol. There have been some claims regarding its Western origin and that the Swastika is a variation of the Christian cross. However, Swastika predates all these cultures and religions by thousands of years and Hinduism is the only religion in the world to use the Swastika for 4000 to 5000 straight years. It found its way into Buddhism and Jainism and its importance started spreading around the world. Swastika is not just a symbol, it is an important concept in Hinduism. The name Swastika is derived from two Sanskrit words – ‘Su’, meaning ‘Good’ or ‘Well’ and ‘Asti’ meaning ‘Being’. So, the combination of Su and Asti gives Swasti and adding the causative noun ‘ka’ making it a whole word or phrase, gives us ‘Swastika’. So, Swastika literally means ‘Well Being’ and is used to evoke purity and auspiciousness at any religious festival. The story of Swastika is a unique one. It went from the most respected symbols to the most hated symbol in the blink of an eye.

swastika
The swastika used in temples thousands of years ago

Swastika was used by Hindu priests and people as a mark of fortune and well being for millennials. It is still visible on the premises of almost every temple, laid in intricate carvings, forged in metal or just drawn besides the temple as a form of ‘Rangoli’. It was the symbol that every child had learned to respect in India. And then the day dawned that changed everything. Heinrich Schliemann, a German who was looking for remnants of the fabled Troy, during his excavations in the Aryan sites, unearthed this symbol. He found it so many times during excavation that he concluded this must be the symbol of the Aryans. In the same period, Adolf Hitler came to power and all hell broke loose. To solidify his Nazi party, Hitler wanted to create a new flag which showcased the racial superiority of the Germans. He wanted a symbol that most defined the Aryans – the ancestors of the Germans who passed on their ‘racially superior and pure’ blood to the Germans. In line with Schliemann’s findings, Hitler decided to adopt the Swastika as the flag of the Nazis. He respected the original Swastika so much, that he rotated the Swastika and formed a ‘corollary’ of the original Swastika so that it would be distinct from the real one. But due to the horrors perpetrated by him, the world branded his flag and the Swastika in a negative tone and it has not changed ever since. A symbol which epitomized hope and happiness was reduced to a hated ‘Nazi logo’.

The law of duality caught up with the symbol. Everything that exists, must have an opposite dual, otherwise it ceases to exist. Everything has a dual. Creation-Destruction, Good-Bad, Light-Darkness, Heaven-Hell, Positive-Negative. Even Gods have Devils as their dual. For the good of the Swastika to exist, there always was the negativity which Hitler enhanced and brought to the forefront. The duals are always equal in magnitude so that they square each other off. Whatever is good must have bad in the same proportion. Such great was the positivity of the Swastika, that the negativity is still lasting, decades after Hitler was assassinated. In my opinion, it is time we took back our symbol and re-brandished it in it’s original glory.

The Swastika is not just a religious symbol. It has a lot of scientific base and importance. The symbol that we see today is a modification of the original symbol. Back in the day, the arms of the Swastika were not as straight, they had a curve as shown below.

Capture1
Modern Swastika (left) and the ancient Swastika (right)

The ancient Swastika had been a symbol with curved lines as shown. The geometric definition of this symbol is that it is a quartic plane curve representing the Cartesian equation y4 – x4 = xy. When it is plotted it looks something like this:

swastika graph
Plot of the Swastika

This graph has a special significance. It defines India. Just close your eyes for a moment and imagine a mountain where four rivers originate and flow outwards in four directions. How would that look like when viewed from the top? This exact curve. Consider the origin of the graph as the peak of the mountain where the rivers originate and flow outwards. India had four major rivers during Vedic times: Indus, Sutlej, Brahmaputra and Karnali. All of them originated from Kailash which was then within the Indian territory. This was the unique identity of India. And the Swastika symbol defines this very identity. This small symbol encompassed the entire identity of India. A lotus is drawn many times around the Swastika. This is because Kailash lies between six mountains, adorned by them as if it lies between six petals of the lotus. This lends further proof that the symbol relates to the Kailash. According to the Bible, the location of Eden is described in the Book of Genesis, chapter 2, verses 10–14: ‘A river flowed from Eden to water the garden, and from there it divided to make four streams’. Sound familiar? I do not need to describe what Eden refers to. The Swastika can also be interpreted as pointing to the Universe. 108 is the number that refers to the universe (I am going to focus on this in a future article). It is 1 symbol, which fits exactly in a circumcircle or a 0 and has 8 limbs.

If we draw a 3*3 magic square, all the rows and columns add to 15. That is the highest total that can be achieved. But if we add all the numbers in the 2 limbs of the superimposed Swastika, both the totals add up to 25.

swastika magic square
Magic square and the Swastika

The Swastika symbol is not random or chaotic, it is exactly the opposite. It is the symbol which forms order out of chaos. Ordo ab chao. Order out of chaos. A building in the US Navy HQ is built in shape of a Swastika because it is the most ordered form.

Swastika_bldg
US Navy Headquarters

Most of the words when translated in any other language, especially from Sanskrit lose the meaning as these languages are meant only for a two-dimensional space. One of the keys in the Vedas and Dhyan is the ability to explain and go to a fourth state, or the Chaturiya avastha (Fourth state). The fourth state is also known as the Turiya avastha. The fourth state is beyond waking, sleeping and dreaming. The symbol of the Swastika is that of a four-dimensional cube, and is used extensively in Vedic mathematics.

Capture
Four-dimensional Swastika cube

The arms of Swastika have been also interpreted in various ways. The four arms pay homage to the sun depicting the four directions in which it spans its light. They depict the four-armed wheel defines the altering nature of the Universe with a fixed and stable center as God. They explain the four eras i.e. Satya yuga, Treta yuga, Dwapara yuga and Kali yuga. They represent the four varnas – Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, and Shudras. They define the four basic aims of human pursuit or Purusharthas – dharma (righteousness), artha (prosperity), kama (passion) and moksha (salvation). They describe the four Vedas – Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda, and Atharva Veda. They depict the four faces and four hands of Lord Brahma. They depict the four stages of life – Brahmacharya (student life), Grihastha (Household life), Vanaprastha (Retired life) and Sanyasa (Renounced life).

It is surprising to see that a symbol which is used in all Indian weddings and rituals, can mean torture and death to Jews. It is disheartening to see a symbol of purity seen as a symbol of genocide by the world. It is the human nature to latch onto negativity as soon as possible and never let it go. Let’s make a conscious effort to restore the original meaning of the Swastika. It would be nice if people after seeing the Swastika recognized it as a holy Indian symbol of purity instead of a Nazi symbol. When that happens, finally we can say that Adolf Hitler is well and truly defeated.

स्वस्ति न इन्द्रो वृद्धश्रवाः (May God Indra of Great fame bless us)

स्वस्ति नः पूषा विश्ववेदाः (May the Omnicient Poosha bless us)

स्वस्ति नस्ताक्षर्यो अरिष्टनेमिः (May the Protector Garuda bless us)

स्वस्ति नो ब्रुहस्पतिर्दधातु (May Lord Brihaspati protect us)

ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः (Om, Peace, Peace, Peace)

卐卐卐

 

Swastika: The highly misunderstood symbol