|#1 Ray Allen – (1993-1996)
by Meghan Bard
Listen, I love me some Shabazz Napier. Shabazz? Amazing name. Shabizness? Possibly the best nickname ever. He was on that 2011-2012 team we all love, and there’s no denying that without him, they don’t win 20 games this season. That kid’s got heart like nobody’s business.
But, c’mon, people. We’re talking about Ray freakin’ Allen here. Ray Allen will go down in history as the best pure shooter ever to play the game. His talent is second to none. That man’s jump shot is one of the most beautiful things in all of sports. Poetry in motion is a cliche for a reason, and that reason is to describe Ray Allen.
Ray Allen is one of those players who shouldn’t exist. There shouldn’t be a human being with as much drive and work ethic as Ray Allen. This is a guy who has more three-point field goals than anyone ever in the NBA, and he still shows up hours early to take a jillion shots before ever game. Who does that? Ray Allen does that.
While we only had him for three years, they were three pretty amazing years. In 1996, his final year, Allen was the Big East Player of the Year, a First-Team All American and the UPI National Player of the Year. Allen’s teams made the Sweet Sixteen every year he played for UConn, and made the Elite Eight in 1995. The Huskies also won the Big East Regular Season Title all three years, and, of course, they won the Big East Tournament in 1996 against Georgetown and Allen Iverson. You remember; Ray did this.
Allen was among the original group of players inducted into the Huskies of Honors. Oh, and he also has an Olympic Gold Medal and an NBA Championship ring.
Also, and this cannot be understated, dude was Jesus Shuttlesworth. That’s at least as cool as being Shabazz Napier.
Career Points: 1922
Career Rebounds: 601
Career Assists: 105
Career Steals: 159
Career Blocks: 41
|#5 Shabazz Napier – (2010- )
by Peter Bard
OK, so I know this is a tough sell. I know that very few of you will be voting for Shabazz Napier over Ray Allen, future NBA Hall of Famer. I understand how you feel; Ray sure is great. I’m not going to dispute that. However, there are some things that you need to consider:
1) Names – Ray Allen? BORING! And Ray is actually his middle name; he was born Walter Ray Allen? Who names their kid Walter? Do you want him to be a nerd? Shabazz Napier, on the other hand, is fantastic. For one, it’s literally the blackest name I’ve ever heard, with the possible exception of former Providence center Karim Shabazz, whom you’ll notice also has Shabazz in his name. So, Shabazz is clearly a great name filled with tradition and grandeur. Furthermore, it lends itself well to great nicknames, like Shabizness, or Shabadass. Advantage: Napier
2) National Championships – it should be noted that Shabazz has an NCAA championship ring, while Ray does not. I know what you’re saying: Ray has an NBA championship ring, and Shabazz didn’t even start on that 2010-2011 team. Those are both good points, but let me respond by saying this: shut up. Shabazz was a key cog on the underdoggiest (note: may not be a word) team in UConn history, and without his clutchitudinousness (note: also may not be a word), UConn certainly doesn’t win an NCAA title in 2011.
3) Chutzpah – Ray was a tremendously talented player who leveraged that talent into tremendous production and performance. He clearly had NBA size and athleticism, and is literally the best jump shooter ever. Shabazz Napier is less talented than Ray Allen, and while you might be thinking “that’s a stupid reason to vote for him,” again, I’d like to point out that you should shut up and let me explain. As I explained previously, I knew very quickly that I was going to love Napier, but also hate him sometimes, much like a physically fit Khalid El-Amin. He’s going to make bad decisions sometimes, but sometimes those decisions will win basketball games, and you’ll be glad you watched.
4) Loyalty – This one can’t be understated. Without Shabazz Napier staying to keep the program respectable this year, I can’t even begin to know what happens to the future of UConn. Does Kevin Ollie get an extension? It’s not as easy to go out and get elite coaching talent as it used to be; Shaka Smart appears to have pre-emptively turned down UCLA to stay at VCU. Without Napier, the team probably would have struggled to finish .500, and certainly wouldn’t have had high-profile wins against Michigan State and Syracuse, among other teams.
In conclusion, if you’re just voting for the best player, fine. Vote for Ray Allen. We don’t want your kind here. But if you like to vote for the better story, a story filled with intrigue and charm, then I think you know what time it is.
It’s Shabizness Time.
Career Points: 1239
Career Rebounds: 342
Career Assists: 451
Career Steals: 178
Career Blocks: 17
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