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The NBA playoffs are in full swing, so SI's Jack McCallum asked Red Auerbach, who has won 16 NBA titles with the Celtics, to name the 10 players whom he would most want in the playoffs. Said Auerbach, "Look, I had 12 players when I coached. The hell with 10." So departing from our standard list of 10, here are Red's 12 (in no particular order, he stresses).
1. Bill Russell. The most influential player of his era, maybe of all time. By innovating the art of shot-blocking, he totally dictated tempo.
2. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Perhaps the single most potent offensive weapon ever. A durable player, a clutch player.
3. Larry Bird. Plays all parts of the game better than anyone who ever lived.
4. Magic Johnson. The most potent point guard ever.
5. John Havlicek. The ultimate professional. Superb condition, superb attitude, superb defender, superb versatility.
6. Michael Jordan. He's just everywhere. He could do anything.
8. Jerry West. A very underrated defensive player. And a pressure performer.
9. Oscar Robertson. Like Bird, he did so much. He could rebound, shoot, play defense, and he was strong-willed.