Philadelphia’s no doubt one of the best sports towns in the country. In particular, Philadelphians love, respect and cherish the game of basketball. Over the years, some of the best coaches and players in the sport have honed their talents, skills and expertise in screechy gymnasiums and on shabby playgrounds in “The City of Brotherly Love.”
According to an ESPNRise.com report last year, there’ve been 71 ballplayers from the Philadelphia Public League, 25 from its Catholic League and six from its Inter-Academic League who have played in the NBA.
So without further ado, here’s my list of the Top 5 basketball players from Philadelphia who have had stellar careers in the NBA.
5). Rasheed Wallace (1995-present). At 6-foot-11, 230 pounds, the North Philadelphia native can control the paint defensively and kill you outside or inside offensively. The volatile Wallace is recognized as an excellent team player with a high basketball I.Q. He just gets way too many technical fouls for a player of his talents.
4). Guy Rodgers (1958-1970). The 6-foot essential playmaker was sometimes called “the second (Bob) Cousy” by sportswriters. Rodgers balled alongside many greats in the game like Cousy, Wilt Chamberlain and Oscar Robinson but was a star in his own right. The four-time NBA All-Star averaged 11.7 points, 7.8 assists a night over his career.
3). Earl Monroe (1967-1980). With cool nicknames like “The Pearl,” “Black Magic” and “Black Jesus,” the South Philadelphia playground legend set the stage for the showmanship you see in today’s game. It’s highly unlikely the NBA will ever see a backcourt tandem like Monroe and Walter Frazier, who led the New York Knicks to the championship in 1973.
2). Kobe Bryant (1996-present). Forget the Lower Merion Township nonsense. You’ll quickly recognize Kobe Bryant’s from Philadelphia by watching the fearlessness and relentlessness he displays in his game. The 12-time NBA All-Star has won four NBA championships, two scoring titles and one MVP honor, and he’s not even finished yet.
1). Wilt Chamberlain (1959-1974). Before big guys like Shaquille O’Neal and Dwight Howard came along in the league, there stood the 7-foot-1, 275-pound Chamberlain who simply dominated the game. The ex-Overbrook High star established NBA records, particularly 100 points in a game, which most likely will never be broken.
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