On a panel discussion, former UNC star and current TV analyst Kenny Smith identified who he thinks the most unique NBA player of all time. His choice?
Former Virginia star Ralph Sampson.
We disagree, but he has a point.
Before injuries wrecked his career, Sampson could do just about anything in basketball. At 7-4, he mused about playing point. This would have been years ahead of positionless basketball and even today, a 7-4 guy is more useful near the basket than he is away from it.
Could he have done it?
But he thought he could and he could do a ton of things that most big guys couldn’t do then and not many, if any, can do now.
So he’s right that healthy Sampson would have had a long-term impact.
Still not our choice.
We’d go with Muggsy Bogues.
Does anyone doubt that we will see a 7+ guy who has guard skills again? Chet Holmgren basically has better skills today than Sampson ever did. He’s not 7-4 but it won’t stop with him.
The odds of ever seeing a 5-3 guy who can a) strip Michael Jordan, b) block Patrick Ewing and c) jumped high enough to dunk (he didn’t because his hands were too small but he could get high enough to do it).
Since Smith played against Bogues in college and the NBA, we’d have thought he might have picked him.
Then again, he did go to college in Chapel Hill.