NBA’s best in Texas


Now that the Dallas Mavericks have won a NBA title, a statistic that involves Texas teams and former Texas schoolboy star Shaquille O’Neal has been extended.

Either the Spurs, Rockets, Mavericks or a team with Shaq has won 11 of the last 18 NBA championships.

The 2003-04 champion Detroit Pistons have a Texas connection with Texas Tech’s and Saginaw’s Darvin Ham, but most might find it ridiculous to fashion a streak that includes Shaq and Ham. Unless you love the Red Raiders, and then you don’t.

And we’d have to go add Beaumont Ozen’s Kendrick Perkins and the 2007-08 Boston Celtics, and then we’re just getting silly.

What’s not crazy is taking a look at the Texas teams’ best of all-time now that each can call itself an NBA champion. Here’s one man’s opinion of each franchise’s best five, plus a super sub:

San Antonio Spurs

PG: Tony Parker may rub some the wrong way, but he’s faster and a better scorer than Avery Johnson.

SG: Manu Ginobili is the engine that drives the Spurs, no matter if he’s starting or coming off the bench.

C: David Robinson saved the Spurs and helped create the good-guy image still prevalent eight years after his retirement. And the Hall of Famer could play a little, too.

SF: George Gervin still leads the franchise in scoring — if you include ABA numbers — and his 26.3 points per game will go unchallenged for years.

PF: Tim Duncan has been called the best power forward ever. Four rings and a decade of dominance in the tough Western Conference do little to dispute that.

Sixth man: Sean Elliott has the ring and the Memorial Day Miracle that pushes him over the likes of Mike Mitchell, James Silas and Larry Kenon.

Dallas Mavericks

PG: Jason Kidd gets the nod over Derek Harper for nearly three more assists per game in a Dallas uniform and because a ring eases the sting of Harper dribbling out the clock in 1984.

SG: Rolando Blackman was Dallas’ career scoring before a 7-foot German came around.

C: Tyson Chandler may only play one year in Dallas, but he gave the Mavs a title and a difference-making inside presence lacking since Roy Tarpley was sober.

SF: Mark Aguirre had the good fortune of getting traded to the Pistons and winning two NBA titles. He’s still Dallas’ best in points per game at 24.6.

PF: Dirk Nowitzki has coach Rick Carlisle calling him one of the top 10 players ever and now the best on the planet. For sure he’s the best to ever play in Dallas.

Sixth man: It’s funny that this slot comes down to Michael Finley or Jason Terry, since they once shared an intimate moment. But Terry’s 3-point numbers are better and he has that ring.

Houston Rockets

PG: Calvin Murphy made the Hall of Fame after 1,002 games and 17,949 points in a Rockets uniform and no other.

SG: Kenny Smith only played six seasons in Houston, but winning two titles and hitting seven threes in one Finals game puts him here.

C: Hakeem Olajuwon tops Houston’s charts in every key statistic and Nowitzki wishes he had post moves like the “Dream.”

SF: Robert Reid went from Clemens and St. Mary’s to two NBA Finals. He ranks seventh and sixth on Houston’s points and rebounds charts.

PF: Moses Malone gets pushed over to forward by Olajuwon.

Sixth man: Rudy Tomjanovich is third and fourth on Houston’s scoring and rebounding lists, and then he went and coached the Rockets to two championships.

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