The Top 120 – New Basketball Roster Set Coming This Fall

 Top 120 Pro Basketball Players, All in One Set


By Glenn Guzzo


Pro basketball’s greatest players, from the 1950s through today, will be featured in a new 120-man computer roster available for pre-order from Strat-O-Matic this summer.


The set will be called The Top 120, and will feature basketball legends from George Mikan and Bob Cousy to Blake Griffin and Derrick Rose. The players were chosen by a panel of experts at Sports Illustrated based on each star’s best season. The set is expected to be available to gamers when Strat-O-Matic’s other new pro basketball products are released.


Here’s your chance to find out how LeBron James, Michael Jordan and Julius Erving compare. Here’s your chance to match Oscar Robertson at his triple-double best against the peak of Magic Johnson’s spectacular career.


Can Wilt Chamberlain (the one from 1961-62 who averaged 50 points and 25 rebounds) dominate Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O’Neal and Dwight Howard? Which point guard can shine brighter – Chris Paul or John Stockton? Was Jerry West really a better scoring guard than George Gervin or Dwyane Wade?


Soon you can give these and endless other possibilities a test drive to the hoop.


Strat-O-Matic Director of Development Bob Winberry informs gamers that this set “is its own universe” – designed for these players to compete only against each other, not other Strat-O basketball sets. This is due in significant part to re-creating players from so many eras of pro basketball, which has evolved through different styles of play and different demographics, too.


“Their statistics have been normalized against all-time totals and further normalized to account for the average NBA height and the integration of basketball over time,” Winberry explained. 


Remember, too, that while the teams you assemble might include a full lineup of 30-point scorers, there is still only one ball. Expect more realistic scores, not teams that average 160 points.


Similarly, Sports Illustrated has grouped the 120 players into 10 teams and distributed playing time for each position to account for a 12-man roster. So a team with Hakeem Olajuwon and Bob Lanier, for instance, is not going to have two 36-minute centers. Superstars in their day, some of these guys are going to be role players and even garbage-minute men on these teams. Their fatigue levels and the stats displayed with their ratings will reflect this adjusted playing time, Winberry said.


The players include five NBA stars whose best seasons were drawn from the defunct American Basketball Association: Erving’s 1975-76 season with the New York Nets, Spencer Haywood’s 1969-70 season with Denver, Connie Hawkins’ 1967-68 season with Pittsburgh, and two Kentucky Colonels from 1971-72 – Artis Gilmore and Dan Issel.


Three will be rated on their 2010-11 stats – Griffin, Rose and Kevin Love. The 120-player set will include nearly 30 other active players, based on earlier seasons.


The set’s grandpa will be Mikan, from the 1952-53 Minnesota Lakers. Others from the ‘50s are Cousy and Bill Sharman from the Boston Celtics and Dolph Schayes of the Syracuse Nationals.


All of the superstars from the 1960s Golden Era are included – Chamberlain, Bill Russell, West, Robertson, Bob Pettit, Elgin Baylor, Rick Barry, Willis Reed and more.


In addition to stars identified above, the 1970s will be well represented by Walt Frazier, John Havlicek, Elvin Hayes, Dave Cowens, Bill Walton, Bob McAdoo and David Thompson, among others.


The 1980s contribute such greats as Larry Bird, Moses Malone, Isiah Thomas, Dominique Wilkins, Kevin McHale and Sidney Moncrief.


The 1990s have Dream Teamers and more to offer – David Robinson, Clyde Drexler, John Stockton, Karl Malone, Patrick Ewing, Hakeem Olajuwon and Charles Barkley, for instance.


And the 21st Century will give us the likes of Jason Kidd, Deron Williams, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Steve Nash and Tim Duncan.


You could even build a team around an entire starting lineup from the New York Knicks’ champs of the early 1970s – Walt Frazier (‘69-70 Knicks), Earl Monroe (‘67-68 Bullets), Willis Reed (’68-69 Knicks), Dave DeBusschere (’67-68 Pistons) and Jerry Lucas (71-72 Knicks). Sorry, no Bill Bradley or Dick Barnett here.