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Wrapping Up Guest Blogging

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The Oden saga overtook the end of Guest Blogging Week last week so we're going to start this week with the last of the guest posts, this one by our old friend Ken.  He writes:

Who Do You Love?

Anytime fans of a particular game congregate the talk will always turn to the "best ever".  Here on Blazersedge, we have bantered about the greatest team of all time, the greatest coach of all time, the greatest player of all time and the greatest Blazer of all time.  We've also had the opportunity to vote on our favorite Blazer of all time.

These arguments are always subjective since no two people will ever agree on lunch venues much less a "best" player, coach, etc...  However, arguments make the world go around and so I'd be remiss if I didn't do my best to start a whole new one.  So, here goes.

What I want to discuss is the player/coach/team/situation, whatever, responsible for bringing the most people to the game of basketball.  I'm going to name a few nominees and then I will name my own choice.  I then challenge all of you to vote for or name your favorite(s).

In the category of "having brought the most people into fandom of the game of basketball" I nominate:

Dr. James Naismith.  This is kind of a "duh" nomination, since the game would not exist without the good Doctor.  Speaking of doctors...

"Dr. J" Julius Erving.  Dr. J redefined the sport of basketball, bringing a sense of ballet to the game.  With his soaring dunks, he brought in legions of new fans.  Speaking of Ervings...

Earvin "Magic" Johnson.  Like Dr. J, Magic Johnson redefined his position and brought "Showtime" to the game.  If only he hadn't been a Laker.  Speaking of Lakers...

Jerry "The Logo" West.  Jerry West built a dynasty in Lakerland and, as hated as they might be in the Pacific Northwest, there is no doubt that the Lakers brought legions of fans into the game and helped put west coast basketball on the map.  Speaking of dynasties...

Michael Jordan.  Arguably the greatest player of all time, Michael became the face of basketball, both on the court and off.  With talent and drive unparalleled on the court and his talent for commercials off the court, Jordan undoubtedly made a whole generation want to "be like Mike".  Speaking of unparalleled talent...

Larry Bird.  The face of the Celtics for many years, Bird was the perfect counterpoint to both Magic and Jordan.  In an era where athleticism was key, Bird proved that basketball IQ and fierce competitiveness could win the day.  Speaking of Celtics...

Arnold Jacob "Red" Auerbach.  Red Auerbach created the first real basketball dynasty with the Boston Celtics.  Aside from Naismith himself, probably no one has done more to make basketball the event it has become.  Speaking of events...

March Madness.  Nothing screams basketball and hysteria more than March Madness, the annual countdown to college basketball's championship.  Lose and go home, win and go on.  This is what sports is all about and brings in more casual fans, at least temporarily, than perhaps any other sporting event.

So there you have it, my nominees, minus one, for the greatest draws in basketball history.  These people and events have been responsible for bringing in more fans to the game than any others, minus one.  Who or what is this phenomenon I speak of?  None other than...

George "Meadowlark" Lemon.  People of a certain age - let's say "mature" people - will remember a time not so long ago when every kid who thought he knew how to whistle was straining to perfect the strains of Sweet Georgia Brown.  Every kid with a basketball and a hoop wanted to perfect Meadowlark's hook shot.  Every little dribbler wanted to make Meadowlark's wrap-around pass for an easy slam dunk.  Meadowlark Lemon foreshadowed Magic's showiness and Bird's no look passing.  Was he a great basketball player or just a great showman?  He was both and more.  The "Clown Prince of Basketball" never had aspirations of the NBA.  From the time he first saw the Harlem Globetrotters play, Lemon wanted to be a Globetrotter, and he became the best ever.  Under Lemon's guidance, the Globetrotters played to the largest crowd ever assembled (to this day) for a basketball game.  They played on every continent in almost every nation.  Meadowlark Lemon played in more than 7500 straight games, creating the idea of "Showtime" which was later picked up so successfully by the NBA.  If the people listed above expanded the game of basketball in the US, Meadowlark took it to the world.

It might not have been pure basketball.  It might not have been fair basketball.  What it was, was pure entertainment with a basketball, and it sold.  It sold tickets and it sold basketball.  It is my assertion that basketball would not be the phenomenon worldwide it is today if it hadn't been for one Meadowlark Lemon.

What do you think?  Who or what has done more, in your opinion, to bring fans to the game of basketball?

Thanks to Ken and all of our entertaining and provocative guest bloggers over the past few days.  We are infested with great writers and thinkers and I'm loving every minute of it.

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)