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Who's Better, Who's Best in Basketball?: Mr Stats Sets the Record Straight on the Top 50 NBA Players of All Time Paperback – November 19, 2003

3.3 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

..."a book that any hardcore basketball fan can savor."

.,."a book that any hardcore basketball fan can savor."

From the Back Cover

"Whatever the issue or debate in sports, 'Mr. Stats' has more than just the facts."
--Bob Costas

"For NBA fans, there is no one better at what he does than Elliott Kalb--he's simply the best."
--Bill Walton

Should Michael Jordan really be ranked #1? Is Dennis Rodman a Hall of Famer? Who's better--Kareem Abdul-Jabbar or Wilt Chamberlain? Who was the best point guard in NBA history: Cousy? Stockton? Kidd? How good was Julius Erving in the ABA? These are only a few of the questions that have launched a thousand heated debates among NBA fans--and you can find the answers here, from the one and only "Mr. Stats."

"No one is more qualified, more of an NBA historian, more opinionated than I am," writes Elliott Kalb in this tremendously satisfying book--and he's right. Known to TV viewers as "Mr. Stats," Kalb is the ultimate authority in armchair athletes' disputes. Here, he gathers together the informed opinions of coaches, players, broadcasters, and super-fans, interweaving numbers, facts, and anecdotes to flesh out the central question in basketball: Who's the best?

Along the way, Kalb revises the list of the fifty greatest players in NBA history, presents eye-opening essays on all-time greats, and puts today's stars in context with the legends. This ultimate behind-the-numbers story will provide powerful ammunition for your next debate--and who knows, in the end, Mr. Stats may even convince you that Jordan really isn't #1.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Education; 1 edition (November 19, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0071417885
  • ISBN-13: 978-0071417884
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #964,580 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Judd Vance on October 20, 2006
Format: Paperback
Too many reviews here are low because they hate Shaq or are mad that Jordan is #3.

I didn't have high expectations for this book. Mark Twain said there are 3 types of lies: lies, d@mn lies, and statistics, so calling himself "Mr. Stats" was not a selling point. However, I was pleasantly surprised. I decided I wouldn't rate the book based on how the list agrees with mine. If I was that much of an egomaniac, I would write my own book and give it more than the maximum rating. What I wanted was a well-thought out list with convincing arguments for each man's place. Even if I didn't buy the argument, because I have a different method of rating the players, I wanted to see someone who could hold up his criteria with consistency and passion. He does so. To prove that I don't like the book because he confirms everything I believe, here is how far apart we are on ranking the top 8 players:

Elliott Kalb's rankings: My rankings:

Shaquille O'Neal Wilt Chamberlain

Wilt Chamberlain Oscar Robertson

Michael Jordan Larry Bird

Bill Russell Magic Johnson

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Michael Jordan

Larry Bird Bill Russell

Magic Johnson Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Oscar Robertson Shaquille O'Neal

He lists his methods for ranking players in the introduction, using measuring sticks such as MVPs, Championships, All-Star appearances, first and second-team All-NBA honors, outside opinions, and to break ties, he takes big over small, new over old, and winners over losers. He also places heavy value on how well a player peaked versus how he played over the long run (which gives the nod to a guy like Bill Walton over Robert Parish).
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Format: Paperback
I bought this book on 2/25 and began reading it that night, but after 5 minutes I lost interest, although I will admit I am probably spoiled by the enjoyment and facts in Bill Simmon's 'The Book of Basketball.' Some comments:

a) Shaq is listed #1 of all time in the book, though I see no reference to the amazing number of times Shaq led teams were SWEPT in the playoffs or the fact that he played with complete dedication for a short number of years, and instead lost interest but gained weight. In general I (so far) do not see any evidence to a methodology using statistics to rank players. Mr. Kolb includes quotes and opinions from writers and former players and not surprisingly many of the older writers and players rank the older players better. My favorite example: Ernie Vandeweghe says it is "close" who was better: George Mikan or Shaq. Holy Toledo! Video inspection of Mikan shows he was a creature of his times: slow, white and lumbering. His teammates would wait for him to arrive down on the offensive end, where he might jump over a slice of bread to score a bucket. Mikan could not survive in the current NBA.

b) Oscar Robertson receives praise, but this is not tempered by key facts which are: 1) Robertson entered the league when the NBA was mainly white with roughly 25% of the players black. Examine the players he competed against during his first few years. The players are often a "Who's Who of Who are They?' In addition Robertson led teams failed to QUALIFY for the playoffs 4x during his stay with the Royals, even with Jerry Lucas; his sole NBA title came when he teamed with a far superior player: Jabbar. 2) Kolb says that the Olympic team with Robertson, Walt Bellamy, Jerry West and Jerry Lucas would have given the 1992 Dream team a game. Holy Toledo, part 2!
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By NBA LOGO on December 3, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Good book with a lot of statistical information, even though I don't agree with the rankings, even back then when the book was published in 2004. I believe the new 2013 book, NBA's 50 Greatest Basketball Players of All-Time is better in every respect - with descriptions of a players attributes & skill set, player comparisons throughout,factual and statistical information,and up to date accurate rankings with perhaps the possible exception of Kobe Bryant. But recently, Bill Simmons ranked Kobe in his hardcover, The Book of Basketball, 15th on his All-Time list and then shortly after 8th in his paperback - we will all just have to wait and see how Bryant's career finishes out. So for the reader's out there, I believe the current book as stated above, when its all said and done, will be the most accurate assessment of NBA greats of any recent basketball book published, even over Bill Simmons! The 2013 book has gotten some inaccurate reviews simply because of the fact the author does not have a credential as a sports writer like a lot of the prominent author's for basketball books. Keep in mind when you checkout or even purchase this latest book,there are many people out there who are as, or more knowledgeable and passionate than others (who are actually professionals), but who haven't caught a break particularly in the entertainment industry!
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Biased! Record book should dictate who is the best. Not how many championships were won. No one person wins a basketball championship. If that were the case, Bill Russell, No !, Sam Jones, #2,, Etc.
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