The NBA released its full list of the 75 greatest players in its history. We will focus on the ten who matter most - those who played or coached for the Golden State Warriors’ franchise. The list contains some of the greatest players in Warriors history, as well as a few players who were great well before or well after they got involved with the Warriors. We will of course claim bragging rights for all of them, no matter what they did for the Dubs.
But who was the greatest Warrior of the NBA 75 ten? That’s why we’re here. To rank these things.
1. Steph Curry: Curry is a two-time MVP, a three-time NBA champion, and the greatest shooter in NBA history. It’s not an exaggeration to say that the Chase Center probably wouldn’t exist had the Warriors not drafted Curry in 2009. He’s first in the franchise’s all-time scoring list, second in the all-time three-pointers list (and bearing down on Ray Allen for the top spot), and the only member of the NBA 75 list to host a successful miniature golf game show.
2. Wilt Chamberlain: Wilt the Stilt spent the first six years of his career with the Philadelphia and then San Francisco Warriors, putting up spectacular numbers and winning both Rookie of the Year and the first of his four MVP awards his first season. For his Warriors career, Chamberlain averaged 41.5 points and 25.1 rebounds. In the 1961-62 season, Wilt had a 100-point game, scored 50.4 points per game, and even averaged more than 48 minutes a game for the season. He’s also the sole member of the NBA 20,000 list.
3. Rick Barry: Hall of Famer Rick Barry had two stints with the Warriors. At the age of 22, Barry led the league in scoring and took the Warriors to the Finals. Then he jumped to the ABA, won a title with the Oakland Oaks, and returned to the Warriors in 1972. Three years later, he was Finals MVP when the Warriors won the 1975 title. Barry made eight All-Star teams with Golden State (and four in the ABA) and later heroically defended Joe Lacob during Chris Mullin’s jersey retirement ceremony.
4. Paul Arizin: Hall of Famer Paul Arizin played his entire career with the Philadelphia Warriors, making the All-Star team in all ten of his seasons. “Pitchin’ Paul” led the league in scoring in the 1951-52 and won MVP at the All-Star Game. After two years in the Marine Corps, Arizin returned and won a title in 1955-56. He was still an excellent player in his final season, averaging 21.9 points per game, but he retired rather than follow the Warriors when they moved to San Francisco.
5. Nate Thurmond: The Warriors drafted Hall of Famer Nate Thurmond in 1963, and the team went to the Finals his rookie year. And when Wilt Chamberlain was traded the next season, Thurmond became a dominant rebounder (nicknamed “Chairman of the Boards”) and made the first of his seven All-Star teams. Both Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said Thurmond was their toughest center to play against. He also set the NBA record with 18 rebounds in a quarter, achieved the NBA’s first quadruple-double in 1974, and later started Big Nate’s BBQ, his own chain of restaurants.
6. Kevin Durant: KD was a Warrior for just three seasons, but those teams were some of the greatest in NBA history. Durant teamed with the rest of the “Hamptons Five” to roll through the playoffs in 2017, when Durant won Finals MVP, and then scratch and claw their way through the playoffs in 2018, when Durant won Finals MVP again. He was on track to three-peat along with his team before an Achilles injury took him out, but his heroic comeback effort in Game 5 will never be forgotten by Dubs fans.
7. Bill Sharman: Bill Sharman, a Hall of Famer as both a player and a coach, spent just two seasons coaching the Warriors, but they were memorable ones. He led the Warriors to the Finals in 1966-67 and the conference finals the next year. But he also changed NBA coaching forever with the Warriors when he invented the morning shootaround. He also won four rings as a player, one as a coach, and five as a Lakers executive, but none of those happened with the Warriors so they don’t count.
8. Jerry Lucas: Most of the reasons Jerry Lucas made the NBA 75 list happened before or after he joined the Warriors, in a trade with Cincinnati in 1969. Lucas was good enough to make his 7th All-Star team in 1970-71, and averaged 17.5 points and 15.2 rebounds for his brief Warriors career. Then he won a title with the Knicks after the Warriors traded him for Cazzie Russell, whose departure for the Lakers in free agency got the Warriors the draft pick who became the next player on this list.
9. Robert Parish: Robert “The Chief” Parish started his 21-year career with the Warriors in 1976, a career that included nine All-Star appearances and four championships. Unfortunately, that all happened after Golden State traded Parish and a draft pick that became Kevin McHale to Boston for No. 1 pick Joe Barry Carroll. Parish averaged a pedestrian 13.8 points and 9.5 rebounds for the Warriors, who were declining from the lofty heights of the ‘75 title, but it still stings that Parish said he went “from the penitentiary to the penthouse.” Not that he was wrong.
10. Dave Cowens: Dave Cowens was an MVP and a two-time NBA champion as a player for the Celtics, but as a Warriors coach, he didn’t sniff that level of success. Cowens presided over the 2000-01 Warriors and went 17-65, which is the most losses in franchise history. He was fired 23 games into the 2001-2 season and never worked as an NBA head coach again.