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All-time starting five: Who plays small forward?

Former Chicago Bulls guard BJ Armstrong joined Heatcheck regulars Ovie Soko and Mo Mooncey as they selected a small forward for their all-time NBA starting five.

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On the latest edition of Heatcheck, available to watch online now and broadcast on Sky Sports Arena on Wednesday at 8pm, the guys were tasked with selecting the game’s greatest small forward.

With Los Angeles Lakers star Lebron James already occupying his point guard slot, Mo turned to three-time NBA champion, 12-time All Star and Boston Celtics legend Larry Bird.

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“For this one, it was quite an easy decision for me,” said Mooncey. “The player I’m going to put at small forward, LeBron James himself said this guy could dominate in any era, this guy has zero flaws in his game. This is the guy Magic Johnson called the greatest basketball player of all time.

“It’s the one the only Mr Larry Bird. An unbelievable basketball talent. The man was unstoppable. He had three Championships and three Championships doesn’t sound like loads but they were arguably three of the most difficult Championships that any player has had to win because you look at the players and the teams that he was competing with in that era.

“Those three Championships and two Finals MVPs were huge and then he had three back-to-back-to-back MVP awards in the regular season, he was a 12-time All-Star despite only playing 13 seasons in his career.

“The biggest thing for me is, Larry Bird is the greatest trash talker of all-time. We’re talking about the guy that would tell the defender ‘I’m going to catch the ball here, shoot it over you here and win the game’, then go out and do exactly that.”

Heatcheck: Mo’s all-time starting five

  • Point guard: LeBron James
  • Shooting guard: Michael Jordan
  • Power forward: Kevin Garnett
  • Small forward: Larry Bird
  • Center: ?

Soko meanwhile made James his pick, citing his three Championships, four MVP awards, 16 All Star selections and his continued dominance at the age of 35.

“He’s won every major award there is to win as a basketball player and we’re looking at him literally change the game,” he said.

“What he’s doing at his age now and potentially what he’ll continue to do for another couple of years I think is just amazing. I think LeBron James matches up just fine.

“I think he can do many things I think a little bit better than Larry, he has a lot physical talents Larry doesn’t, but obviously Larry is a whole other level of animal too so I’m not going to get into the back and forth.”

Heatcheck: Ovie’s all-time starting five

  • Point guard: Magic Johnson
  • Shooting guard: Michael Jordan
  • Power forward: Kevin Durant
  • Small forward: LeBron James
  • Center: ?

Mooncey responded by questioning James’ numbers compared to those of Bird, particularly when it came to the post-season.

He continued: “LeBron is a strong shout, but if you take away his athleticism what is he better than Larry Bird at?

“If we look at both players and take Larry Bird aged 30 and LeBron James at 28, 29 or 30. Larry Bird is better than him in every statistical category and to add to that his numbers increased when he got to the playoffs and LeBron’s decreased.”

To which Soko replied: “You’re talking about taking away an aspect of Lebron James’ game that is literally a gift, it’s what makes him a whole other animal. It’s like saying ‘okay if Usain Bolt was a couple of inches short then he wouldn’t be as fast’.”

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Armstrong joined in the discussion as he recalled the respect his former teammate Michael Jordan had for Bird during his time in Chicago.

“Larry Bird is the only player that Michael Jordan wouldn’t talk trash to,” he said. “Larry was just a different player, he had this different look and I always give him the ultimate respect because he was something special.

“When I say a pressure player, he played in big moments, hit pressure shots and was one of the great players that I’ve ever seen in any era with just what he brought to the game.”

While Mooncey and Soko wait until next week to complete their all-time starting five, Armstrong had the chance to pick his in full.

Magic Johnson in action for the Los Angeles Lakers


Three-time NBA champion BJ Armstrong gives us his all-time starting five players in the NBA

“So first, I’ve got to have Kareem Abdul-Jabbar,” he said. “The guy scores 38,000 points, I’ve got to have him in the middle. My power forward is Tim Duncan without question because of his versatility, not only on the offensive end but defensively what he brings, he brings a level of physicality to the game that I truly love and he’s a great passer.

“I’m going to put in perhaps one of my favourite players that I ever played against which was Larry Bird. He’s got a little post game, a little three-point game, he can pass the ball, he compliments all the things that I love about the game of basketball.

Heatcheck: B.J. Armstrong’s all-time starting five

  • Point guard: Magic Johnson
  • Shooting guard: Michael Jordan
  • Power forward: Tim Duncan
  • Small forward: Larry Bird
  • Center: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

“At the two guard, I’ve got to go MJ. You’ve got to have that guy that can attack the basket, play inside, outside and do all of those things athletically that you’re going to need around the perimeter.

“Then because he is the most difficult player I have ever had to defend, I’ve got to have Magic Johnson as my lead guard.

“I can only imagine the alley-oop and things, the interchangeable parts.”

Tune into Sky Sports Arena from 8pm Wednesday as BJ Armstrong joins the Heatcheck team to talk Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls

Want to watch even more of the NBA but don’t have Sky Sports? Get the Sky Sports Action and Arena pack, click here

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