Last episode of mine, in part I, I looked at five of the guards on the list of the best players that never made an All-Star team. This segment is going to focus on the rest of the guards from my part of the list (Kevin Connors has the other half!).
“The Microwave” played an instrumental role off the bench for the Bad Boys Pistons back in the 80s and early 90s. What’s funny, is that the nickname “microwave” always made me think of food as a kid, and I always thought Vinnie would appear fat when I saw him. But he wasn’t. Built in the stocky chiseled frame of what we see in Ben Gordon, Johnson played a similar role: He came in off the bench and heated it up.
When the Pistons offense stagnated, they could count on Johnson to come in and fire up some shots. Good for Johnson and the Pistons, he hit them at a 46.4 percent clip over his career. His highest per-game average was 15.7 points per game in the 1986-87 season, a year in which he saw nearly 28 minutes per game. He was also a work horse. He played all 82 games seven times in his career and has similar win shares to Michael Cooper, Nate McMillan, and another guy we’re about to feature in this, Muggsy Bogues.
Kenny “the Jet” Smith is now best known for the role he plays on Inside the NBA with Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith, and Shaq. But he could play some serious ball in his day. Smith was also a dual threat of sorts, as he competed in the slam dunk contest and the three point contest. His dunk where he bounced the ball backwards through his legs facing away from the hoop and then turned around for a tough dunk became one of my favorites to try to emulate as a kid.
Smith won two titles with Hakeem Olajuwon on the Rockets and was one of many key role players on that squad. His best season came in 1990-91 when he averaged 17.7 points per game and 7.1 assists per contest.
Listen to Kenny Smith hyping dunks, and pay special attention to the No. 10 dunk on his list!
Eddie Johnson had a long and high scoring career in the NBA. He came in the league in 1981-82 and played almost until the turn of the century, retiring after the 1998-99 season. Over that span he put up 11 seasons with 16-plus points per game, including three seasons over 20 points per game. Yet, he never made an All-Star team.
He did win Sixth Man of the Year in 1988-89 and ranks 45th all-time on the NBA scoring list. A consummate role player, he has similar win shares as other great role players, such as Robert Horry, Antonio Davis, Juwan Howard, and Maurice Lucas.
Anyone who watched basketball in the 90s was hard pressed not to like Muggsy Bogues. The shortest player in NBA history at only 5’3″, Bogues was one that teams just could not take advantage of. His lower body strength and speed made him difficult to post up, no matter how often teams thought they could and would take advantage of his diminutive body.
Bogues will be best remembered for his role with the expansion Hornets squads, as he and the duo of Larry Johnson and Alonzo Mourning garnered that young Hornets squad a lot of attention as they upset the Celtics in the 1993 NBA Playoffs. Bogues has a place in the heart of all undersized ballers, as he showed that size is never a reason not to play basketball.
There were basically two versions of Nick Anderson: Anderson the young stud in the early expansion days of the Orlando Magic organization, and Nick Anderson the role player in the Shaq era.
Anderson came into the league as a pure slasher, a guy who couldn’t shoot the ball much at all. By his second season in the league, he’d added a jumper. As time when on, that shot just got better and better, and by the time Shaq arrived, Anderson was a bonafide gunner. On April 23, 1993, Anderson scored 50 points off the bench. He’s career highlight came in the 1995 Eastern Conference Finals when he stole the ball from Michael Jordan and threw it ahead to Penny who launched it to Horace Grant for a series-clinching breakaway dunk.
Many Magic fans feel his number should be hanging in the rafters, as the first true star of the Orlando Magic organization, and the only star that spent his entire career in Orlando (save a bizarre stint following a backstabbing late career trade that sent him to Sacramento).