During an episode of the podcast “Playing with Science” from the Startalk Network, Rasheed Wallace was put on the spot by hosts Gary O’Reilly and Chuck Nice. They asked Wallace to pick an all-time starting five and a sixth man from the NBA. Wallace racked his brain and came up with a starting five that most people probably would not expect.
“My starting center gotta be the captain. My starting point I’d have to go with John Stockton. He plays D and gives up that ball. My two guard I would say would be between Mike and the Big O… The three for sure would be that gentleman over there, Dr. J. My four man would probably be Maurice Lucas. He was a hell of a defender, grabbed some rebounds, and was a bruiser, he didn’t take no crap.”
So, for those keeping score at home, Rasheed Wallace’s all-time starting five is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Maurice Lucas, Julius Erving, Michael Jordan/Oscar Robertson, and John Stockton. He failed to name the sixth man because he couldn’t think of a good one off of the top of his head, but for the sake of the question, we could always put Jordan or Robertson into that slot since he named both at the two guard.
Kareem, Jordan, and Robertson are three guys that aren’t too surprising to make into someone’s all-time starting five. Two guys who are arguably the greatest of all-time in Kareem and Jordan and the original king of triple-doubles in Robertson are reason enough to put them there. Now, the issue that a lot of people will raise is about Stockton, Lucas, and Erving. We’ll start with Erving. He is still considered one of the greatest small forwards to ever play the game. On top of that, he is credited with revolutionizing the game as well by living above the rim and inspiring guys such as Michael Jordan. Having Erving on an all-time starting five is not outrageous. However, that most likely means LeBron James is not in that same starting five like we see here with Wallace’s five. Some may say that the older players just haven’t given LeBron the respect he deserves, but I like to think these older players idolize and attribute much of their passion in the game to guys such as Erving. Sure, LeBron may deserve to be on there at this point in his career, but Erving has meant more to the older generations than LeBron.
Now, we start getting to the really interesting parts of Wallace’s five. As soon as he named Stockton as his starting point guard I had to rewind the episode to make sure I heard him clearly. Stockton is someone that never comes up in the best all-time point guard discussions let alone an all-time starting squad. Honestly, it still blows my mind that people look back and try to downplay Stockton’s body of work. People who were not around in that day make Stockton out to be a pedestrian plumber that had no business being in the NBA, yet he owns the career record in assists and is one of only three players to have 1000 points and 1000 assists in the same season. Players are probably the only ones who will pick Stockton in a starting five because they know he’ll share the ball more than others, but fans will never give him the light of day.
There hasn't been a single player to total 1K assists in a season since John Stockton in ‘94-95, and there have only been three players to do it since 1946-47.
(Stockton accomplished that feat seven times btw).
— Basketball Society (@BBallSociety_) May 3, 2018
Finally, we have Maurice Lucas which is where every single person probably had to check their screen to make sure we typed the correct name. Well, yes, the correct name is there. Lucas, for those that don’t know, played in the ABA and NBA for a total of 14 seasons from 1974 to 1987. He played for a number of NBA teams, but his best years came on the Portland Trail Blazers. For his career, he averaged 14.6 points and 9.1 rebounds per game, but during his three seasons with Portland, he put up averages of 19.1 points and 10.4 rebounds per game. Like Wallace said, he was a bruiser and he was aptly nicknamed “The Enforcer” when playing for Portland. In his first season with the Blazers, he joined forces with Bill Walton and went all the way to the NBA Finals. In Game 2 of those Finals, after Darryl Dawkins of the 76ers tried to punch one of Lucas’ teammates, Lucas met him at halfcourt with an elbow to the head. As you can see, Rasheed Wallace has respect for the greats but also wants some players that might be like him on the team. Ones that will never back down and fight back at any moment’s notice. That being said, while Lucas may not be “deserving” of the starting four spot in an all-time squad based on resume, but Wallace would welcome him any time.