10. Avery Johnson, Southern University

“As a high school senior in 1983, Johnson led New Orleans’ St. Augustine High School to a 35–0 record and the Class 4A Louisiana State Championship. Johnson matriculated at New Mexico Junior College before moving on to Cameron University, and finally Southern University, with whom in his senior season in 1988 he led the NCAA with 13.3 assists per game, a senior and all-time record that still stands. Upon graduation in 1988 Johnson was not selected in the NBA Draft. After a summer season with the USBL’s Palm Beach Stingrays, however, Johnson was signed by the Seattle SuperSonics and managed to spend the next 16 years playing in the NBA, including stints with the Denver Nuggets, Houston Rockets, Golden State Warriors, and Dallas Mavericks. A true journeyman as a player, occasionally being traded, or even waived, mid-season, Johnson is best known for his time with the San Antonio Spurs (1991, 1992–1993, 1994–2001), particularly his integral role on the 1999 Spurs team that won the NBA championship against the New York Knicks in which he hit the championship-winning shot in Game 5. The San Antonio Spurs retired Johnson’s number 6 on December 22, 2007 in a home game against the Los Angeles Clippers. He was also inducted into the “San Antonio Sports Hall of Fame” on February 20, 2009.”

9. Pee Wee Kirkland Norfolk State University

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“He played varsity basketball at Charles Evans Hughes High School and was made an All-City guard. He was awarded a scholarship and attended Kittrell College and was on the basketball team averaging 41 PPG. He then attended Norfolk State University and played on the basketball team, teaming up with later NBA star Bob Dandridge. His teams had phenomenal years. The Spartans won the CIAA title in 1968 with a 25-2 record; they lost in the second round of the NCAA Division II Men’s Tournament. The next year their record was 21-4 and they lost in the first round of the D-II tournament. In 1969 he was drafted by the Chicago Bulls with the fourth pick in the thirteenth round. It is speculated that he turned the offer down, because he was making more money being a drugdealer. At the time, the opportunities offered to him outside of the NBA were far more lucrative, in terms of financial gain and public recognition.Kirkland then got caught up in street life activities and eventually landed in prison, first in 1971 in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.”

8. Earl Lloyd, West Va. St

“Nicknamed “The Big Cat”, Lloyd was one of three African-Americans to enter the NBA at the same time. It was only because of the order in which the teams’ season openers fell that Lloyd was the first to actually play in a game in the NBA. The date was October 31, 1950, one day ahead of Cooper of the Boston Celticsand four days before Nat “Sweetwater” Clifton of the New York Knicks. Lloyd played in over 560 games in nine seasons, the 6-foot-5, 225-pound forward averaged 8.4 points and 6.4 rebounds per game. Lloyd played in only seven games for the Washington Capitols before the team folded on January 9, 1951. He then went into the U.S. Army at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, before the Syracuse Nationals picked him up on waivers. He spent six seasons with Syracuse and two with the Detroit Pistons before retiring in 1960.

Lloyd retired ranked 43rd in career scoring with 4,682 points. His best year was 1955, when he averaged 10.2 points and 7.7 rebounds for Syracuse, which beat theFort Wayne Pistons 4-3 for the NBA title. Lloyd and Jim Tucker were the first African-Americans to play on an NBA championship team. Lloyd once said; “In 1950, basketball was like a babe in the woods; it didn’t enjoy the notoriety that baseball enjoyed.” Like Lloyd, Clifton and Cooper had solid but not spectacular careers.

According to Detroit News sportswriter Jerry Green, in 1965 Detroit Pistons General Manager Don Wattrick wanted to hire Lloyd as the team’s head coach. It would have made Lloyd the first African-American head coach in American pro sports. Dave DeBusschere was instead named Pistons player–coach. From 1972 to 1973, Lloyd did coach the Pistons and was a scout for five seasons.”

7. Darrell Armstrong, Fayetteville St.

“Armstrong first signed with the NBA as a free agent for the Orlando Magic in late 1994–95, playing just 3 games with 10 points and 8 minutes of action. In 95–96 he played just 13 games in 41 minutes, scoring 42 points total. He saw 67 games in his first full season on the roster in 1997–98, averaging 6 points per game in 15 minutes per game off the bench. Armstrong won the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award and the NBA Most Improved Player Award in 1999, thus becoming the first player in NBA history to win both awards simultaneously. In a 1999 game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Armstrong stole an inbounds pass and streaked to the other end of the court for a game winning layup as time expired. He subsequently became the starting point guard for the Magic. His career year was in 1999-00, averaging 16.2 ppg in 31 mpg. During his nine years in Orlando, the team never posted a losing record, making the post-season seven times. Armstrong was released by the Pacers on October 1, 2007, and signed with the New Jersey Nets after clearing waivers. He appeared in 50 games in 2007–08, averaging 2.5ppg in 11.0 minutes, and buried three 3-pointers in his final appearance of the season. After retiring, Armstrong re-joined the Mavs, as an assistant coach.”


6. Rick Mahorn, Hampton 

Derrick (Rick) Allen Mahorn (born September 21, 1958 in Hartford, Connecticut) is a retired American NBA basketball player who, at 6’10”, played power forwardand center. He is currently a radio analyst for the Detroit Pistons.Mahorn was dubbed by Piston announcer George Blaha the “Baddest Bad Boy of them all.” Mahorn gained a reputation for physical play, which he used to compensate for his relatively limited leaping ability. He served as a team leader of the Detroit Bad Boys teams of the late 1980s.

 

5. Ben Wallace, Virginia Union 

As an undrafted player, he was signed as a rookie free agent by the Washington Bullets on October 2, 1996 after playing in Italy. In 1999, Wallace was traded to theOrlando Magic along with Tim Legler, Terry Davis, and Jeff McInnis for Ike Austin.On August 3, 2000, he was traded along with Chucky Atkins to the Detroit Pistons for Grant Hill, in what was at the time considered a one-sided trade; Hill had planned to sign with Orlando as an unrestricted free agent, but the sign and trade deal allowed Hill to receive a slightly more lucrative contract while Detroit received at least some compensation for losing its marquee player. Since the trade, Wallace won the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2001–02, 2002–03, 2004–05, and 2005–06 seasons, and was selected to six All-Defensive teams. In the 2001–02 and 2002–03 seasons, he led the league in both rebounds and blocked shots, the first to do so since Hakeem Olajuwon. In 2003, he was voted by fans to the first of his four NBA All-Star Game appearances as a center for the Eastern Conference.

4. Charles Oakley, Virginia Union

Oakley was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and attended Virginia Union University. He placed in the top ten in rebounds per game five times between 1987 and 1994 (second in 1987 and 1988). In all but one of these seasons he played the full complement of 82 games. Due to his durability he actually placed in the top ten in total rebounds 6 times and led the league in total rebounds twice (1987 and 1988). In 1994, he became an NBA All-Star and was chosen to the league’s All-Defense 1st team. Drafted in 1985 by the Cleveland Cavaliers, Oakley’s draft rights were traded to the Chicago Bulls. Oakley provided another scoring option and steady offensive and defensive performances to an up-and-coming Bulls squad led by Michael Jordan. He earned All-Rookie Team honors in 1986. In 1998, Oakley was traded by New York to the Toronto Raptors for blossoming star Marcus Camby. For the Raptors, he provided a veteran presence to a young team that included Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady. Oakley, in his final three seasons, played for the Bulls again, followed by the Washington Wizards and theHouston Rockets. For the Rockets, he was briefly reunited with former Knicks personnel Mark Jackson, who was the veteran point guard behind Steve Francis;Patrick Ewing, who was an assistant coach with the Rockets; and head coach Jeff Van Gundy, former head coach in Oakley’s days in New York City. As recently as 2007, it was publicized that Oakley, at age 44, wanted to make an NBA comeback. He claimed Dallas, Miami, Cleveland and New York were interested but said he would “not back cheap”.He was hired as assistant coach of the Charlotte Bobcats on December 23, 2010. Oakley currently ranks 14th all-time in NBA games played with 1,282 games.

3. Willis Reed, Grambling State 

In 1964 Reed was drafted 10th overall by the Knicks, where he quickly made a name as a fierce, dominating and physical force on both ends of the floor. Reed made an immediate impact with the Knicks. In March 1965 he scored 46 points against the Los Angeles Lakers, the second highest single-game total ever by a Knicks rookie. For the season, he ranked seventh in the NBA in scoring (19.5 points per game) and fifth in rebounding (14.7 rebounds per game). He also began his string of All-Star appearances and was named the NBA Rookie of the Year. Reed proved to be a clutch playoff performer throughout his career. He gave an early indication of this in 1966–67 when he bettered his regular-season average of 20.9 points per game by scoring 27.5 points per contest in the postseason. In his first seasons with the Knicks, he played power forward and later gained fame as the starting center. Despite his relatively average stature for a basketball player, he made up for his lack of height by playing a physical game, often ending seasons with respectable averages in blocking and rebounding. (He stood 6-foot-10 when contemporaries such as Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar stood 7-1 and 7–2, respectively.)

2. Earl “The Pearl” Monroe

From an early age, Monroe was a playground legend. His high school teammates at John Bartram High School called him “Thomas Edison” because of the many moves he invented.

Monroe rose to prominence at a national level while playing basketball at then Division II Winston-Salem State University, located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Under the coaching of Hall of Fame coach Clarence “Big House” Gaines, Monroe averaged 7.1 points his freshman year, 23.2 points as a sophomore, 29.8 points as a junior and an amazing 41.5 points his senior year. In 1967, he earned NCAA College Division Player of the Year honors and led the Rams to the NCAA College Division Championship.

In 1967, the two-time All-American was drafted by the Baltimore Bullets (now the Washington Wizards) in the first round of the NBA draft (2nd overall pick). He won the NBA Rookie of the Year Award in a season in which he averaged 24.3 points per game, and scored 56 points in a game against the Los Angeles Lakers. This still stands as the third-highest rookie total in NBA history. It was also a franchise record, later broken by Gilbert Arenas on December 17, 2006.

He and teammate Wes Unseld quickly became a formidable combination in Baltimore, and Monroe became a cult hero for his ability to run the fast break and for his circus-like shots. He said, “The thing is, I don’t know what I’m going to do with the ball, and if I don’t know, I’m quite sure the guy guarding me doesn’t know either. On February 6, 1970, he set an NBA record with 13 points in one overtime in a double-overtime victory over the Detroit Pistons (another mark since surpassed by Arenas).

1. Sam Jones, North Carolina Central University 

Jones spent all of his twelve seasons in the NBA with the Boston Celtics who drafted him in the first round in 1957. Jones was known as a clutch scorer, and scored over 15,000 points in his career. He participated in five All-Star Games, and is usually recognized as one of the best shooting guards of his generation.

Jones was named to the All-NBA Second Team three straight years (1965–67) and he played on ten championship teams (1959-66 and 1968-69) — a total exceeded only by teammate Bill Russell in NBA history. He was 6-foot-4 (1.93 m) and weighed 200 lb (97 kg). Jones was originally claimed by the Minneapolis Lakers, but returned to college upon completion of military service, and therefore voided NBA rules. Jones’ perfect form when shooting a jump shot, along with his great clutch shooting led opponents to nickname him “The Shooter”. He was particularly adept shooting the bank shot, where the shooter bounces the ball off the backboard en route to the basket. Many coaches including UCLA’s great John Wooden believe that when a shooter is at a 20 – 50 degree angle to the backboard and inside of 15 feet, a bank shot is always the preferred shot. At 6-foot-4, Jones was the prototype of the tall guard who could run the floor, bang the boards and had a rangy offensive game that gave opponents fits. One of the “Jones Boys” in Boston, Sam teamed with K. C. Jones in the Celtics’ backcourt to create havoc in NBA arenas around the country.

He led Boston in scoring in the 1962-63 NBA season (19.7 points per game), 1964-65 NBA season (25.9) and 1965-66 NBA season (23.5). He produced four consecutive seasons averaging 20 points or better (1965–68). He owns Boston’s fourth best single-game scoring output (51 points vs. Detroit Pistons on October 29, 1965). He scored 2,909 points in 154 playoff games , 15th best in history.