Wes Unseld, the undervalued NBA king of the ‘ 70s, has died: he invented the cross-court pass and put up the toughest barriers
2020 is a tough year for basketball. Five Hall of Fame members have already left this world: in January, Kobe Bryant and former NBA Commissioner David stern, and last month, two great coaches-Jerry Sloan, the Patriarch of Utah, and Eddie Sutton, a legend of College basketball. Today, Wes Unseld, NBA MVP in 1969 and a legend in Washington.
In the 63 years between 1956, when the NBA MVP award was established, and 2019, only two of the League’s most valuable players have died-wilt Chamberlain in 1999 and Moses Malone in 2015. This number has doubled this year. Just according to dry statistics, this leap year can already be recognized as the worst in the history of the NBA, even leaving aside the suspension of the season due to coronavirus.
The NBA Most valuable player award is arguably the top individual award in all of American sports, or even the world. See for yourself: the NFL awards too many trophies to the best players in different journalistic versions, in MLB, the National and American leagues-separate awards, and more than once they were awarded to random characters who then did not even come close to being included in the Hall of fame.
And the NBA MVP is the ultimate marker of a great athlete, a player who defined his era and made a contribution to the sport, who will not forget to mark the Naismith Hall of fame.
But, of course, there are different MVP’s in basketball, too.
When talking about the most valuable, the first to remember the greatest, multiple: Jordan and LeBron, magic and bird, Russell and Wilt, Abdul-Jabbar and other “alpha males” of the NBA. After this Pantheon of basketball gods-legends like Robinson, Garnett, Julius Irving. At the same time, they will remember the most recent MVP-Durant and Curry, Westbrook and Harden, and Yannis Adetokumbo.
Separately – the first two winners of the award, Bob Pettit and Bob Kusi, have been playing for too long for most people to know about their exploits.
But the most unnoticed will not be them, but the legends of the 70s. Willis reed and bill Walton are sometimes remembered when they are nostalgic for the Knicks ‘or Blazers’ only Championships. Dave Cowens is definitely familiar to anyone who has been interested in the history of the NBA’s most decorated team, the Celtics, but hardly to the General public. Bob McAdoo is the only MVP of the twentieth century, which did not find place in the list of the 50 best players in NBA history, compiled in 1996, but he was in the top 50 players in the history of the Euroleague.
The last one in the collective memory is likely to be Anseld.
And while this is the least high-profile of the NBA’s MVP names, Wes Anseld should be remembered more often in the rankings of the best players in basketball history.