What are some of the biggest myths in NBA history?

There’s quite a few I want to debunk..

Myth #1: Russell/Wilt played against short white plumbers

The average height of NBA players back then was only 1 inch shorter. Every team had a center that was 6′9 or taller. And yes some worked part time jobs because they weren’t paid enough by the NBA back then. But it’s false that they played against weak competition. In the center position alone, Wilt not only played Bill Russell but also HOFers Walt Bellamy, Nate Thurmond, Zelmo Beaty, Willis Reed, Dave Cowens, Bob Lanier, Wes Unseld, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. That’s some competition right there!

Myth #2: Russell played with better teammates than Wilt Chamberlain

This myth isn’t true. Russell played with a bunch of HoFers yes – Bill Sharman, Bob Cousy, Tom Heinsohn, John Havlicek, Frank Ramsey, Sam Jones, KC Jones, Bailey Howell. That’s a lot. But.. so did Wilt.
Wilt played with HoFers in Paul Arizin, Tom Gola and Guy Rodgers at the beginning of his career with the Philly Warriors, then with Nate Thurmond on the GS Warriors, then with Hal Greer, Billy Cunningham, Chet Walker on the 76ers, then with Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, Gail Goodrich on the Lakers. That’s a total of 10 Hall of Famers he played with, more than Russell.
Also, the Celtics didn’t win anything before Russell arrived despite having Cousy, Sharman and Ed Macauley, and didn’t win anything for 4 years after Russell retired despite Havlicek leading the team. So clearly Russell was the heart and soul of that Celtics team.

Myth #3: Wilt’s scoring decreased in the playoffs because he was a choker

Actually, Wilt’s averages in the playoffs for his first 6 playoffs reads: 33 PPG, 37 PPG, 35 PPG, 35 PPG, 29 PPG, 28 PPG. The reason why his playoffs scoring average is so much lower at 22 PPG is because his teams got better later in his career and he focused more on defense than offense, so his playoffs PPG is skewed towards the years when his team didn’t need him to score as much.

Myth #4: Pistol Pete would be an all time great player if he didn’t get injured or if he had a better team

Pistol Pete in his prime played with Walt Bellamy and Lou Hudson on the Hawks and never made it past the first round. He played with Gail Goodrich and Truck Robinson on the Jazz and never made the playoffs. Pistol Pete for his entire career was a glorified shot chucker who provided good entertainment but was never a winner, just look at his records in college and the NBA. Guy averaged 44 PPG in college and never won anything. Just a prime example that big numbers does not equal winning.

Myth #5: George McGinnis was a playoff choker and was the most turnover prone superstar ever

I think this myth was perpetuated by Bill Simmons who for some reason had something against McGinnis. Yes McGinnis didn’t have a great playoffs with the 76ers in 1977 when they went to the Finals. But, he was a dominant playoff player with the ABA Pacers. He won a Finals MVP with the Pacers in his second year in the league! You don’t win FMVP if you are a playoff choker. And in 1975 he carried the Pacers to the Finals averaging 32/16/8 with Roger Brown and Mel Daniels both being shells of themselves at that point. That’s not choking. And he’s #15 in the ABA all time turnovers. So how the heck is he the most turnover prone superstar if he’s not even in the top 10 in the ABA let alone combined NBA/ABA??

Myth #6: Oscar Robertson was a better player than Jerry West

Oscar is often ranked ahead of West on all time lists, and it’s a travesty. West went to the Finals 9 times in his career, Oscar twice. West’s playoffs PPG went up to 29 PPG from the regular season. Oscar’s dropped to 22 PPG. West is also the superior shooter and superior defender and superior clutch player. West is also by all accounts the better teammate. So I don’t really understand why Oscar is always ahead of West on all time lists.

Myth #7: ABA was weaker than NBA in talent

It is true from 1967–1972, but after 1972 the ABA was by all accounts on par with the NBA in terms of talent. In fact the 1975 Kentucky Colonels (the ABA champs) challenged the 1975 Warriors (the NBA champs) to an exhibition game and the NBA refused the match, likely because they knew the Colonels had a good chance of beating the Warriors at that time. After the ABA-NBA merger in 1976, the 1977 Finals featured two teams that had ABA all stars Dr J, George McGinnis and Maurice Lucas in it, showing how much talent there was. Also, while it is true that early ABA stars (Connie Hawkins, Spencer Haywood, Charlie Scott, Billy Cunningham, Zelmo Beaty) put up massive numbers or won MVP in the ABA that came down to earth when they went back to the NBA, that was during the 1967–1972 era when the ABA was weaker. After 1972, the ABA stars that came to the NBA after the merger (Artis Gilmore, Dan Issel, David Thompson, Moses Malone, George Gervin, George McGinnis) kept their production, with the sole exception being Dr J whose numbers only dropped because he had to share the ball with McGinnis. In the 1977 NBA playoffs, Dr J still put up great numbers as he did in the ABA.

Myth #8: Adrian Dantley was a toxic ball hog who couldn’t win

When Dantley joined the Pistons in 1987, they improved from 46 to 52 wins and went from a first round exit to the ECF where they were one game away from the Finals. Then in 1988 they went to the Finals with Dantley being the Pistons’ leading scorer. They were a ‘phantom foul’ away from winning the championship. Dantley was then traded and Mark Aguirre brought in and the Pistons won 2 straight after that. This led to people saying that Aguirre was a better fit for the Pistons and more of a winner. Which isn’t really fair to Dantley because Dantley clearly improved the Pistons and came very close to winning it all with them.

Myth #9: Michael Jordan was rusty in 1995 and that’s why he lost to the Magic

No, he wasn’t rusty. He averaged 31.5/7/6 on 48% shooting in the 1995 playoffs. These are better numbers than what he averaged in the 1996 playoffs. The reason why the Bulls lost to the Magic was due to the loss of both Bill Cartwright and Horace Grant (who ironically joined the Magic) giving the Bulls no answer for Shaq + Grant in the interior. The next year, they got Rodman and the Bulls swept the Magic. It wasn’t from Jordan magically improving himself in the offseason like people think.

Myth #10: Tracy McGrady would have been an all time great winner if not for injuries

Just like Pistol Pete. T-mac never got out of the first round in his prime. He would disappear in elimination games and when the games got tight. Put up nice big numbers, but never led to any winning. The Rockets arguably took a step back when they traded Steve Francis for him. The Francis-Yao duo actually had decent chemistry but Tmac and Yao never worked out. With T-mac out in the 2009 playoffs, the Rockets actually did better and went to the 2nd round and took Kobe’s Lakers to 7 games led by Yao Ming. So Yao, Battier, Aaron Brooks, Luis Scola and Metta World Peace took a team with Kobe and Gasol to 7 games. So that’s the funny thing, I think T-mac’s presence actually made the Rockets worse and disrupted their offense.

Myth #11: Shaq needed Kobe to win. Kobe beat the most 50+ win teams all by himself. Kobe won 2 rings by himself. Kobe played with the shittiest team ever when he had Kwame/Smush. Kobe destroyed Duncan in the playoffs. Kobe was robbed of multiple MVPs. Kobe bled purple and gold. Kobe would have won multiple rings if the CP3 trade went through, Payton/Nash/Malone/Dwight were all past their prime when they played with Kobe, NBA players all say Kobe is better than Lebron etc

All these Kobe myths are false.
-The Lakers had a better record with Shaq alone in the lineup than with Shaq + Kobe in the lineup
-The 50+ win teams Kobe beat in the playoffs were either when he wasn’t the main player (Shaq was) or when those teams were barely on the verge of 50 wins
-Kobe’s record vs Duncan in the playoffs is 18–12, Kobe averaged 28 PPG vs Duncan’s 25 PPG so it’s not exactly ‘destroyed’, Duncan did fairly well but yes Kobe had the better record.
-Kobe didn’t get past the first round until he got Pau Gasol so saying he won 2 rings by himself is ridiculous
-Kobe’s team not only consisted of Kwame Brown and Smush Parker but he also had this pretty good teammate called Lamar Odom, who although inconsistent would give you about 15–25pts a game in addition to 8–15 rebounds a game and 3–6 assists a game. He was one of the greatest players to never be an all-star.
-Kobe was not robbed of any MVPs, in fact he was top 2 in MVP voting only twice. He was 4th place in MVP voting in 2006 the year when Kobe fans say Nash ‘robbed’ him. The irony is Kobe lost to Nash in the playoffs despite being up 3–1 against the Suns with the Suns missing Stoudemire for the series and Lamar Odom playing very well against them. Kobe was outscored 3 times that series by Marion, Odom and Leandro Barbossa in the Game 7. Kobe literally choked to the guy who supposedly ‘robbed’ him.
-Kobe begged to be traded during the 2007 and 2008 seasons before the Lakers got him Gasol.
-Kobe has never been proven to win with any perimeter star. Not with Eddie Jones, not with Gary Payton, not with Steve Nash, not with Jeremy Lin. Kobe fans say there’s asterisks with all these, but the point still remains.. he’s never won without a star big man on his team. Why would CP3 be any different? Especially when the Lakers lose Gasol and Odom in the trade, and now has to face Big 3 OKC and the Big 3 Heat?
-Payton and Nash were literally all-stars the year before they joined the Lakers. Did they suddenly age when they played with Kobe then? hmm. Dwight Howard was All-NBA and led the league in rebounds when he played with Kobe. Karl Malone averaged more for the Lakers than Chris Bosh did for the Heat.
-ALL sports analysts/publications and most NBA players actually say Lebron is better than Kobe. Kobe fans usually just take some old ass quote like the 2012 Larry Bird one and then use it out of context as ‘evidence’ that Kobe is better. Take any recent quote or poll of NBA players.. Lebron is always ahead of Kobe.
-Also take note that Kobe fans will give him a pass for losing to the 2004 Pistons but then when Lebron beat the 2007 Pistons they will say that’s not the same team even tho the 2007 team technically had more all-stars that year (2 in 2007 vs 1 in 2005), they will give Kobe a pass for getting swept by the 2011 Mavs but then make fun of Lebron for losing against the same team, they will praise Kobe for beating the 2010 Celtics ‘superteam’ but then say nothing about Lebron beating that same team in 2011 etc

Myth #12: Lebron choked in the 2007 Finals. Lebron choked in the 2011 Finals. Lebron’s fault he didn’t face Kobe in the Finals. Lebron jumps teams all the time, handpicks teammates to create superteams, trades teammates, then leaves the franchise in ruins and makes players around him worse and stat pads, Lebron got outplayed by Jason Terry and JJ Barea, Lebron is a loser most Finals losses etc

All these myths are also false.

-Lebron’s poor performance in the 2007 Finals is because the Spurs tripled and quadrupled him all series
-Lebron’s low PPG in the 2011 Finals is caused by the Mavs zone defense trapping him and blocking off his usual driving lanes. Lebron didn’t get many touches at all that series. That’s why he had a low PPG but a high FG% of 48%. You ever wonder how Lebron was choking while shooting so efficiently? How can you choke when you don’t even get the ball that much?
-Lebron’s played for 3 teams in 20 seasons. The same as Kevin Garnett. That’s not jumping teams all the time.
-Lebron can’t handpick teammates else he would have played with Curry and Giannis and KD long ago.
-Lebron isn’t the GM. Rob Pelinka and Jeanie Buss actually confirmed this to dispell the dumb rumors.
-Lebron can’t leave the franchise in ‘ruins’ when he’s brought every franchise a championship. Like it or not, most franchises can’t win championships and when the roster isn’t working then overhauling it into a championship roster is the right thing to do. No, I don’t think Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball would have been a dynasty at all.
-Kevin Love and Chris Bosh’s numbers dropped when they played with Lebron because they were third options. Every third option in NBA history has seen their numbers drop, see Wilt on the Lakers, see Ray Allen on the Celtics, James Worthy on the Lakers etc while second options like Kyrie, Wade and AD have mostly seen their numbers remain steady. So much for ‘making teammates worse’.
-Lebron can’t be stat-padding if he’s reached 10 Finals. You don’t stat pad your way to 10 Finals. Real stat-padders like Shareef Abdul-Rahim, Kevin Love on the Wolves and Demarcus Cousins don’t even make the playoffs.
-Lebron didn’t get outplayed by Terry or Barea. They base that on Terry outscoring Lebron by 0.2PPG and if that’s the definition of outplayed then even role players must have outplayed Ben Wallace who averaged 6 PPG for his career, or Andrew Toney outplayed Magic in the Finals, or Jalen Rose outplaying Kobe in the Finals etc it’s dumb to go based off of PPG and not look at any other stat. And Barea was averaging 9/3/2 on 37% shooting they are basing it off of a few possessions where Barea switched on Lebron. In any game you might have some role players that get switched on a star player and ‘outplay’ them. Happens all the time. There’s clips of Muggsey Bogues playing good defense on Jordan out there, does that mean he ‘outplayed’ Jordan?
-There’s more games played than just the Finals. casuals have to understand that. Lebron has the most playoff wins in NBA history.

Myth #13: Curry changed the game and caused the 3PT revolution to happen

He didn’t. He just accelerated an existing trend.

3PT attempts have been going up steadily for years before Curry. Curry just merely accelerated it. The Warriors in fact just took the playbook from the 2014 Spurs (who took a bit from the Nash Suns) and enhanced it.

Myth #14: 2011 Mavericks were a team full of senior citizens and it was the biggest upset in NBA history when they beat the Heat

First of all, it’s actually quite impressive the Big 3 Heat made the Finals in their first year together – I don’t think people understand how hard it is to build chemistry with a new roster and new coach and to make the Finals in their first year is an accomplishment. Secondly, that Mavs team destroyed their conference. Lamarcus and Roy gone in 6. Kobe/Gasol/Odom swept. KD/Westbrook/Harden gone in 5. So calling them ‘old’ is dumb when their actual production and performances were great, especially Dirk who was on fire that playoffs. Also, there’s been bigger upsets in NBA history.. 1969, 1975, 2004 were all big upsets in the Finals.

Myth #15: CP3 is overrated and a choker

CP3 doesn’t get enough respect. He took a Hornets team that had no business being in the playoffs to 7 games against the Spurs in 2008. His Clippers beat Curry’s Warriors in 2014.. the Clippers! His Rockets almost beat the Curry/KD Warriors superteam in 2018, then he took an OKC team that no business being in the playoffs to 7 games against Harden/Westbrook, then he takes a Suns team that was previously a lottery team to the Finals! He’s had numerous clutch performances too. Game 7 Buzzer beater vs the Spurs in 2015? or how about the 41pt performance to clinch the series vs the Clippers in 2021 to go to the Finals? How about the perfect 14/14 game vs the Pelicans in 2022 playoffs?

So yeah these are just some of the numerous myths I’ve seen casuals repeat over and over I want to debunk.


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