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The biggest snubs from the NBA 75th Anniversary Team

(AP Photo / David Zalubowski)

Whenever an anniversary team comes out, the focus always shifts to the players who aren’t on it.

The NFL went through the same thing when it released the “NFL 100 All-Time Team” for its 100th season, and football fans decided to celebrate those who didn’t make it over those whose achievements earned them a spot on the list.

>>RELATED: A century-long debate: The biggest snubs from the NFL 100 All-Time Team

So, when the NBA announced it would be releasing the “NBA 75th Anniversary Team” around the start of the 2021-2022 season, basketball fans knew that it was time to dust off their debating skills.

Alas, the 75th Anniversary Team came out in full on October 21, 2021, including a who’s who of the league’s legends in a celebration of the sport’s greatest of all time.

While the “roster” was initially supposed to include 75 players to celebrate the NBA’s 75th anniversary, a tie during the voting process added an extra player to the bunch to make it a team of 76.

Each of the players from the league’s 50th Anniversary Team in 1996 made the cut on the 75th Anniversary installment, meaning that there were realistically only 25 (or, because of the tie, 26) new spots up for grabs when 2021 rolled around.

A whopping 11 of those 26 new spots went to players who are still active in the NBA, including:

  • Giannis Antetokounmpo
  • Carmelo Anthony
  • Stephen Curry
  • Anthony Davis
  • Kevin Durant
  • James Harden
  • LeBron James
  • Kawhi Leonard
  • Damian Lillard
  • Chris Paul
  • Russell Westbrook

Most of those names were easy additions to the team, with names like Kevin Durant, LeBron James, and Stephen Curry standing out as shoe-ins in comparison to the rest of the bunch.

Some, like Damian Lillard and Russell Westbrook, stand out due to their lack of titles, but Lillard’s scoring prowess and Westbrook’s triple-doubles give each of them solid cases for spots on the list, as well.

Those types of fringe players paved the way for the debate about the 75th Anniversary Team’s biggest snubs, which gained steam as active players around the league expressed their opinions.

>>RELATED: Giannis Antetokounmpo’s loyalty paid off. Will other NBA stars follow suit?

Golden State Warriors star and Curry’s fellow “Splash Brother” Klay Thompson wasn’t shy about sharing his thoughts, discussing the omission on a few different occasions after the final team was announced.

“Maybe I’m just naive in my ability to play basketball, but in my head, I’m top 75 all-time,” the three-time NBA champion wrote on Instagram.

A day later, his anger lingered.

“Woke up this AM, still pissed about this stupid ass list,” Thompson said. “Ga damn I can’t wait to hoop again. Sick of the disrespect. Winning isn’t everything to some people like it is to me I guess.”

Thompson’s teammate Draymond Green was also omitted from the “roster,” but didn’t garner fans’ attention as one of the big snubs as much as his Warriors co-star did.

“I’m more frustrated for Klay than I am for myself,” Green said. “There’s not many people can do what Klay does with the basketball.”

That frustration from Green quickly turned into a lighthearted mood, as he and his Warriors teammates gifted Thompson with a No. 77 jersey at practice, indicating that Thompson was the 77th-best player of all time.

“Get the new jersey!” Curry said in a video. “New jersey alert!”

Another active NBA veteran didn’t garner enough top-75 (or top-76) votes, but gained enough support to be considered a snub was Dwight Howard.

Howard took over as one of the sport’s best big men in the 2000s, earning eight All-Star appearances, making eight All-NBA team appearances, and winning Defensive Player of the Year on three separate occasions.

>>RELATED: NBA All-Star Weekend: Assembling the all-time Slam Dunk Contest, 3-Point Contest, and Skills Challenge

He made it to multiple NBA Finals with different teams, eventually winning with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2020. Add in the fact that he finished as a top-five MVP candidate on a handful of occasions, and his omission could definitely be considered one of the ones that sticks out the most.

“Disrespectful,” Howard said in response to a post about him not making the team.

Speaking of other all-time big men, the inclusion of Anthony Davis over superstars like Pau Gasol didn’t sit well with some NBA fans.

Gasol’s two NBA titles top Davis’ one, and they each had a major impact on championship runs for the Lakers. Gasol earned All-NBA honors four times, All-Star honors six times, and even had a Rookie of the Year trophy from 2002 on his resume.

Davis’ accolades could very well turn out to be better than Gasol’s in the long run, but Gasol’s resume could have easily gotten the nod at the time voting occurred.

Other early-2000s superstars, like San Antonio Spurs teammates Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, also stood out, considering the immense success the Spurs dynasty had from 2003 through 2014.

Parker and Ginobili won four NBA titles with 75th Anniversary Team member Tim Duncan, and Parker even added NBA Finals MVP honors in 2007. Parker made six All-Star teams and four All-NBA teams, while Ginobili made two All-Star and two All-NBA appearances of his own.

Elsewhere, Derrick Rose and Nikola Jokic are the lone two league MVP winners to not make the 75th Anniversary Team. Jokic’s 2020-2021 MVP campaign is obviously much more recent and his rise in the league is still ongoing, so he could easily become a 100th Anniversary Team member when that installment rolls around.

>>RELATED: NBA All-Star Game: All-Time Draft

Rose’s case is much more difficult to discuss, however. Had injuries not derailed his career with the Chicago Bulls, Rose could’ve gone down as one of the sport’s greats. He earned Rookie of the Year honors in 2009, MVP and All-NBA First Team honors in 2011, and was an NBA All-Star each year from 2010 through 2012.

Considering Rose a snub in comparison to players who won titles or had more consistent success throughout their careers is tough, but he could easily be considered the biggest “What if?” candidate on the list.

No matter where you look or who you ask, you’ll probably find a candidate that could be considered a snub as it relates to the NBA’s 75th Anniversary Team.

There will always be debates or arguments about whether or not a certain superstar is deserving of a spot they currently hold on a list, or if a separate player did/has done enough in their career to supplant them on the team.

But, even if a player like Klay Thompson, Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol, or Tony Parker doesn’t make the team, they can take pride in the fact that fans around the world believe they were worthy of being named one of the 75 (or 76) best NBA players of all time.

Who do you think the biggest snub was? Let us know by following @SOTSports on Twitter or by liking our Facebook page!

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