Sept. 15, 2004
Over the years, I've been so blessed to call games involving the best of the best, the cream of the crop in college basketball. It has been a real thrill covering 25 seasons of college basketball, starting with my first game when DePaul met Wisconsin in December 1979.
Working 25 years for ESPN -- ESPN celebrated its 25th anniversary on Sept. 7 -- I've seen so many talented players. Picking the best ones is a difficult task, but I've done just that by choosing my top three teams of the past 25 years ... my All-Time Gold, Silver and Bronze Teams of the ESPN Era.
Here are my choices for the Super Seven Gold Team, the Elite Eight Silver Team and the 10-member Bronze Team (I restricted my choices to guys who spent at least three years in college):
Gold Team: ESPN Era
Steve Alford | Indiana, 1984-87
Patrick Ewing | Georgetown, 1982-85
Michael Jordan | North Carolina, 1982-84
Christian Laettner | Duke, 1989-92
Danny Manning | Kansas, 1985-88
Chris Mullin | St. John's, 1982-85
David Robinson | Navy, 1984-87
Jordan has to go down as the best college player I've covered in my 25 years at ESPN. There have been so many special players and great performances, but Michael the Magnificent was in a class by himself.
Alford and Mullin were such tremendous shooters. Laettner was a tremendous, consummate college player. He hit big shots often -- just ask Kentucky and Connecticut!
Who will ever forget Danny and the Miracles in 1988? Kansas stunned Oklahoma to cut down the nets as national champion.
Ewing was as big a defensive force in the middle as anyone. He changed opponents' shots and he changed games for the Hoyas. The Ewing-Ralph Sampson showdown certainly drew a lot of national attention.
I remember giving Robinson a standing ovation when he played against Kentucky. He was brilliant on both ends of the court that night vs. the Wildcats. The Admiral came to Navy as a skinny 6-foot-6 kid. Then he grew to become a 7-footer and made himself into a superstar.
Silver Team: ESPN Era
Len Bias | Maryland, 1983-86
Tim Duncan | Wake Forest, 1994-97
Darrell Griffith | Louisville, 1977-80
Grant Hill | Duke, 1991-94
Hakeem Olajuwon | Houston, 1982-84
Ralph Sampson | Virginia, 1980-83
Jay Williams | Duke, 2000-02
James Worthy | North Carolina, 1980-82
This group could score, rebound, block shots and flat-out do it all, baby! Some national championship PTPers are on this team. There are great dunkers like Griffith and Bias, great defenders like Olajuwon and Duncan. Wow ... next up is my Gold team, the top players over the past 25 years.
Bronze Team: ESPN Era
Ray Allen | Connecticut, 1994-96
Shane Battier | Duke, 1998-2001
Johnny Dawkins | Duke, 1983-86
Juan Dixon | Maryland, 1999-2002
Sean Elliott | Arizona, 1986-89
Danny Ferry | Duke, 1986-89
Bobby Hurley | Duke, 1990-93
Antawn Jamison | North Carolina, 1996-98
Alonzo Mourning | Georgetown, 1989-92
Pearl Washington | Syracuse, 1984-86
There are so many talented players in this group, guys who played well at both ends of the floor. Again, some of these guys won national championships and made Final Fours. I think I could win coaching this team, baby!
Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in December 1979. Send him a question for possible use on ESPNEWS.