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'We want Pete!'

Your Take: Who should have made the Top Eight?

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Posted: Tuesday March 30, 1999 12:22 PM

  Duke's Christian Laettner received the most support (outside of Maravich) to crack the Century's Best Top Eight list. Phil Sears/Allsport

After reading through more than 500 of your responses, two themes are crystal clear. First, where's Pistol Pete Maravich? And second, what's the deal with Michael Jordan?

Many of you wrote in support of Pete Maravich. The very same name was batted around our office before Century's Best was launched. In defense of Alex Wolff's Top Eight list, Pete Maravich was his No. 9.

Who knows, maybe Maravich will sneak in as a wild card in the Round of 16. Keep your eyes peeled.

Several of you also lamented Michael Jordan's success in the college basketball bracket. Many suggested replacements, several of which appear in the list below.

The bottom line: No one in the NBA was ever able to stop Michael Jordan -- but you can. Want to stop MJ? Just don't vote for him!

Here's a smattering of your responses...

What about...
Elgin Baylor
Len Bias
Larry Bird
Bill Bradley
Marcus Camby
Austin Carr
Julius Erving
Patrick Ewing
Hank Gathers
Grant Hill
Dan Issel
Allen Iverson
Larry Johnson
Magic Jonhson
Christian Laettner
Jerry Lucas
Hakeem Olajuwon
Glenn Robinson
Ralph Sampson
Jerry West
Dominique Wilkins
Corliss Williamson

I think you guys totally missed the boat by not including Pete Maravich in your Final Eight. As a college player, his accomplishments far exceed those of Michael Jordan. While he never hit a championship winning shot, he averaged close to 44 points a game for his college career, and was by far the most exciting player ever to grace an NCAA court!! Come on CNN/SI, where's "The Pistol?" -- Bruce Rainnie, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada

Though I have difficulty arguing with the eight that were chosen, I think that one more name should be mentioned -- Christian Laettner. He may not have been the most skilled or talented, but he is the most successful player in NCAA tourney history, and he always had a flair for the dramatic. Who could forget the shot as a freshman to put Duke over UConn and into the Final Four, and do I need to mention the "greatest game ever played." 1994 vs. Kentucky. He nailed that shot too. At least give Mr. Laettner honorable mention -- Daniel A. May, Barrington, MA

I don't think that Michael Jordan should have been included as one of the Top Eight greatest College basketball players of all time. Although he is almost certainly the greatest basketball player ever, there are other athletes with more distinguished College basketball careers than Jordan. Christian Laettner and Patrick Ewing immediately come to mind (although I am not a fan of either). -- Rollo Toomassie, Detroit, MI

Danny Manning single handedly won the NCAA championship, after it expanded to a field of 64. Micheal Jordan had both James Worthy and Sam Perkins when he won it. The UCLA teams were so dominating they may have won without Alcindor and Walton. Manning's tournament run was impressive enough to me that he had to be considered in the Top Eight. If Jordan didn't turn out to be the best player ever he wouldn't have made the list. -- Matt Meyer, Cincinnati, OH

Does everybody know this is COLLEGE basketball? Michael Jordan even being in the Top Eight is ridiculous, and so many kids who only know him as a professional are going to vote him as the winner over much more deserving players. In fact, as I write this, he has won over Oscar Robertson and is defeating Lew Alcindor. CNN/SI should have known better than to think that some people could differentiate between Jordan's pro and college careers. Yes, Jordan turned out to be the best player in history, but when you take the COLLEGE careers strictly into account, he shouldn't even be in the Top 20. Where are Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Pete Maravich, Patrick Ewing, and many others who were dominant forces in the college ranks? What criteria did CNN/SI use to select the eight? I think it should be stats and awards while playing those four years alone, in which case neither Jordan nor Luisetti should have made it. -- Bill Vogt, Wanaque, NJ

I think that Ralph Sampson should have been included in your Top Eight college basketball players. Sampson won the National Player of the Year in back-to-back years, and led Virginia to the final four once. Sampson single handedly turned UVA into a national powerhouse. -- Mike Orr, Durham, NC

Allen Iverson played only two years at Georgetown, but totally dominated the NCAA. Georgetown could not recover after he left, which caused one of the greatest coaches, John Thompson, to quit because Iverson had set the standards too high -- Allen Glover, Princeton, NJ

Two individuals that were left off the list for which I can not fathom are Elvin Hayes and Patrick Ewing. In addition to being an unbelievable talent, Elvin Hayes slew the giant in the form of UCLA at a time when the media and public felt that UCLA was unbeatable. I certainly have memories of Elvin Hayes when asked of college hoops greats before I would envision David Thompson. In addition, I feel Patrick Ewing continued the college basketball revival that Magic Johnson and Larry Bird began back in 1979. -- Patrick Lindsey, Lakewood, CA

If you are going to make a list of great players you have to include George Mikan. The guy practically caused the shot clock to be invented. -- Jeremy Mangrum, Paragould, Arkansas

Larry Bird should have been included because he changed the world of basketball. He devoted himself to the team effort like no other player ever has or could possible do again. He took what he lacked in athletic ability and made up for it in desire. He made every player around him better. You never saw him out on the street doing anything wrong or setting a bad example. He was a family man and a great team basketball player. Anyone who could overlook him as one of the greatest ever, can't really be a basketball fan. -- Danny Kidd, Hopewell, VA

Living in ACC country, I am a little biased. But if you are talking just about college performance, I would have to say that Sam Perkins and James Worthy should have been on the list ahead of His Airness. As far as guards go, I believe Bobby Hurley was one of the greatest. He is the All-time NCAA assist leader. Hurley won two (almost three) NCAA championships. What about Lenny Bias -- probably the greatest college basketball player ever ? -- Chris Barnett, Raleigh, NC

The evening of January 20, 1968 alone should have earned Elvin Hayes a spot in your Top Eight. He outplayed Lew Alcindor (who scored a mere 15 points) and a stacked UCLA squad. Hayes scored 39 points with 15 rebounds, ending the Bruins' 47-game winning streak. Hayes made two Final Fours and totaled career averages of 31.0 ppg and 17.2 rpg. He also lead Houston to an 81-12 record. I do not see how CNN/SI can exclude one of the most gifted and ferocious competitors to ever have dropped a turn-around jumper. -- Matt Glavota, Windsor, Ontario Canada

Larry Johnson led the 1990 UNLV team to the Championship, coming out of the Big West. He led the only team to score over 100 points in a championship game. He was named the college basketball player of the year. He led the team and took them to the championship game the next year, also. He was the captain for one of the greatest college basketball teams in history. He did it all with poise -- a large task for a JC transfer going to Las Vegas. He was one of the few players not implicated in the scandal that ruined UNLV's basketball program. He was one of the last serious college basketball players to play the game. -- Richard Steph, Las Vegas, NV

Bill Bradley of Princeton in the mid-1960's was a brilliant player in all aspects of the game. Though he was not exceptionally gifted with talent he was able to take a non-scholarship Ivy League team to the Final Four. He was an outstanding shooter and student of the game. He could get open against much quicker players and played the game with the intelligence of Bill Walton who is on your list. Hard work and fundamental talent make him one of the best all-time college players. -- Don Carter, Susanville, CA

Grant Hill should have been on the list for a number of reasons. He led Duke to the championship game his senior season all by himself. What did Jordan do? Jordan won one championship and that was because he had great players around him. Sure Grant had great players around him for the first two championships, but remember in 1990 when UNLV beat Duke by 30 then all of the sudden Duke gets a freshman named Grant Hill and they manage to beat UNLV the very next year. What did Jordan do after Perkins and Worthy left? Well the answer is nothing. This is why Grant Hill should have made the list. -- Chad Pryor, Palm Springs, CA

Magic Johnson changed the definition of what a point guard should look like. The pre-Magic stereotype for point guard was a shorter "quick" ballplayer who distributed the ball around the perimeter and sometimes penetrated. For thousands of kids he created an appreciation for the beauty of an assist. -- Jeff Rogers, Bay City, MI

I commend you on your selections. Indeed the men you chose had an indelible impact on collegiate basketball during their tenure. However, if we simply consider the college careers of these men and not take into account their pro careers, then one name is conspicuously absent -- Ralph Sampson. There was no more dominating player in college basketball during his four years at Virginia than Ralph Sampson. He never won a National Championship, but who can recall any of the players who played along side him. His pro career was less than stellar, but in comparison to Michael Jordan, his college career was every bit as good and arguably better when you consider the talent that surrounded each of them. Unquestionably, Ralph Sampson deserves to mentioned in your top eight college ballplayers. -- Anthony Carter, Orlando, FL

The first great "big man" was Alex Groza from the University of Kentucky. He was a consensus All-American in the 1946-47 and 1948-49 seasons and NCAA Final Four Most outstanding player in 1947-48 and 1949-50 . -- Daniel J. Olexia, Weirton, West Virginia

Bob Cousy of Holy Cross (1947-50) led the Crusaders to the NCAA title and revolutionized the art of dribbling and passing. He was a three time All-American. He was only 6-foot-1, but even the biggest guys couldn't stop him. -- Ed O'Brien - Chattanooga, TN

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