SECAUCUS, NJ, Dec. 5, 2007 -- BIG EAST Commissioner Mike Trangehese oversaw a conference realignment in 2003 that resulted in Boston College, Virginia Tech and Miami bolting for the Atlantic Coast Conference and Louisville, Cincinnati, South Florida, Marquette and DePaul joining the fold from Conference USA. Little did he know the impact it would have four years later on NBA.com.
Today we reveal the current All-NBA BIG EAST team that features a starting two guard that never played a BIG EAST conference game. How is that so? The two guard happens to be Dwyane Wade and even though Marquette didn't join the conference until after Flash's days were over as a Golden Eagle, the starting spot is a residual effect of the deal.
Marquette's move to the toughest conference in the country (and that's not just my Syracuse BIG EAST bias talking - the 16-team conference is the largest in the country and accounts for 40 Final Four appearances and 10 National Championships) comes with the up-hill battle of being one of the six or seven schools max from the conference fortunate to receive a NCAA tournament bid every year, but the upside is that its alumni get to challenge for cool lists like this one.
With Georgetown playing tonight on ESPN vs. Alabama in the 2007 Pizza Hut Big East/SEC Invitational at 7 p.m. ET followed by the BIG EAST Allen Iverson-Carmelo Anthony duo led Denver Nuggets playing the L.A. Lakers at 9 p.m. ET, what better time than now to debut the best of the BIG EAST in the NBA?
This isn't the all-time BIG EAST in the NBA squad, so don't expect to see Jerry West, Dave Bing, Chris Mullin or Patrick Ewing (except as an assistant coach) below. And this isn't a celebration of the biggest names from the BIG EAST currently in the league (otherwise Alonzo Mourning and Dikembe Mutombo would be starters instead of on the Inactive List). This is the list of the five starters and seven bench players I would want on the court today if ACC Commissioner John Swofford called up Trangehese and said, "Hey Mike, let's go with my best guys against your best guys. Meet you in the park in an hour."
We'll continue this series in January once conference play begins with the ACC, Big Ten, Pac-10 and more.
Résumé: NBA Most Valuable Player (2001), Rookie of the Year (1997), 4 scoring titles, 8-time NBA All-Star
From a close-cut fade on his head, lone bulldog tattoo on his bicep and Air Jordan XI's on his feet in D.C., to cornrows, more ink than skin and Reeboks in Denver, Allen Iverson has been not just a prolific scorer, but an icon. He has the third highest scoring average in league history and is a battle-tested former MVP.
Résumé: NBA Finals MVP (2006), 2-time NBA All-Star
Dwyane Wade might not have played in the BIG EAST, but Marquette is in the conference now so get over it, Ray Allen fans, and accept D-Wade into the starting lineup with open arms. Can you imagine a team with the ball-handling, passing and scoring combination of two guys like Wade and Iverson in the backcourt? Oh, I guess if you watched the 2006 NBA All-Star game you could.
Résumé: 2007 NBA All-Star
After leading Syracuse to the National Championship in 2003 while having arguably the best freshman season in NCAA history, Melo has only built upon that success in the league. At Cuse he was relied upon for post scoring and rebounding, but in the NBA he has developed into an adroit perimeter shooter and owns one of the deadliest jab step/take-to-the-hole skill sets in the pros. His ascension to stardom has been infused by his experiences as a part of USA Basketball.
Résumé: NBA Defensive Player of the Year (2004), 2004 NBA All-Star
While not a prototypical power forward, the versatility that Ron Ron brings to the game combined with his lockdown defense makes him a perfect fit for the starting lineup. His New York brand of toughness gives the diminutive Iverson a bodyguard out on the court and his bruising style of play embodies what the BIG EAST was built on in the early '80s.
Résumé: Rookie of the Year (2005)
When you have scorers like Iverson, Wade and Anthony already on the court, it's good to have a guy who doesn't need touches to make an impact on the game down low. Okafor will clean the glass and plug up the middle with his shot-blocking ability. Not to mention, UConn has more NBA players than any other BIG EAST school (13) so it's only fair to give the Huskies a representative in the starting lineup.
Head Coach Doc Rivers, Marquette -- Boston Celtics
Career coaching record -- 287-314 (.478)
Résumé: NBA Coach of the Year (2000)
There are two head coaches with BIG EAST bloodlines currently roaming the sidelines in the NBA and Rivers edges Eddie Jordan of the Wizards because he's coached more games (601 to 459), he has a better winning percentage (.478 to .440), he has showed he can manage superstars (Boston is 14-2 with its Big Three while Jordan's best record in Washington was 45-37 in 2005-06 with Gilbert Arenas, Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler) and on top of all that, he was the better NBA player (career averages of 10.9 points and 5.7 assists vs. Jordan's 8.1 points and 3.8 assists).
It's not just BIG EAST players who have made an impact on the NBA. Commissioner David Stern is a 1963 graduate of Rutgers University, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban spent his freshman year at the University of Pittsburgh before transferring and Marv Albert, voice of one of the NBA's all-time signature calls, "A spectacular move by Michael Jordan. Yessss!", went to Syracuse University.
There are 16 schools that participate in BIG EAST Basketball: Cincinnati, Connecticut, DePaul, Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Providence, Rutgers, Seton Hall, St. John's, South Florida, Syracuse, Villanova and West Virginia.
There are 53 players hailing from BIG EAST schools in the NBA.
There are two head coaches (Doc Rivers, Eddie Jordan) and nine assistant coaches from the BIG EAST in the NBA. BIG EAST school(s) with the most NBA players – University of Connecticut (13) BIG EAST school(s) with the least NBA players – West Virginia University (0) NBA team(s) with the most BIG EAST players – Denver (5), Memphis, Miami (4) NBA team(s) with the least BIG EAST players – Atlanta, Dallas, L.A. Lakers, Phoenix, Portland, San Antonio, Toronto (0) BIG EAST schools ranked by number of NBA players – Connecticut - 13, Syracuse - 6, DePaul - 5, Georgetown - 5, Notre Dame - 4, Villanova - 4, Cincinnati - 3, Marquette - 3, Providence - 3, Pittsburgh - 2, Seton Hall - 2, Louisville - 1, Rutgers - 1, St. John's - 1, South Florida - 1, West Virginia - 0