The role of small forward has evolved over the decades but certain characteristics remain the same. A great small forward always is one of the leading scorers for the team, can run the fast break and is one of the top defenders for the team. Arguably there are more "legends" of basketball at this position than any other. Narrowing the list down to twelve, here are the picks along with a few comments.
Bernard King -One of the few players ever to score 60 points in a game, he was at one time one of the NBA's leading scorers until a blown knee cause early retirement. At his peak he was considered one of the most explosive players in basketball on the fast break.
Alex English -One of several players on our list who has racked up more trophies and awards than we can name. He is the 12th leading scorer in NBA history and shot a staggering 83.2% from the free throw line.
Adrian Dantley -Came in as Rookie of the Year and never slowed down. Had a silky smooth jump shot, shooting 54% from the field.
Scottie Pippen -If you were choosing a pick up game this would be the guy you would want to play with you and not against you. Voted 7 times to the All NBA team, among his many career highlights is an average of 2 steals per game. Always when his team was playing a super shooting guard, Scottie was the one called upon to shut him down.
Dominique Wilkins -Everyone called him the "human highlight film" for his spectacular moves and dunks. Many times you watched him match shot for shot as he traded baskets with some of the greatest shooters to play the game. One of a small elite list of players to score 50 or more points in a playoff game.
James Worthy -Known as "Big Game" James, he always managed to show up big when the season counted and the championship game was on the line. He averaged 76.9 from the free throw line.
Elgin Baylor -The second on our list among players who have scored 50 or more points in a playoff game, the very name Elgin speaks of rock solid performance. Fast, powerful and a terrific shooter, Elgin once averaged 38 points a game for an entire season, a standard only surpassed by Wilt Chamberlain.
Julius "Doctor J" Erving -I personally count "Dr. J" as one of the three most athletic players to ever play the game. He is the fifth highest scorer in NBA history and is known for having transformed the game. His move called "the slam dunk" is now standard basketball parlance. He was also known for his legendary "baseline move."
Rick Barry -Came in as "rookie of the year" and was soon nicknamed "The Greyhound" for his incredible speed to the basket. Clearly one of the greatest players ever he shot 90% from the free throw line, averaged 23.2 points a game, 6.5 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals a game for his career. He is also the third player on our list to score 50 or more points in a playoff game.
Paul Pierce -The first of our "big three" ranking as the 3rd all time leading scorer with the Celtics. He already is a 9 time All Star and a 4 time All NBA Team member. No less than LeBron James called him the best at his position among contemporary players.
John Havlicek -Famous for several big games including game 5 of the 1976 NBA championships which is now known as "The Greatest Game Ever Played." He is a 13 time NBA All Star and is rated the 17th best player of all time. A member of the Basketball Hall of Fame is the only other player on our list to score 50 or more points in a playoff game.
Larry Bird -The last of our three all time leading scorers for the Celtics, Larry is considered by many to be one of the five greatest players in NBA history. As an example of this consider that the year before the Celtics drafted Larry their record was 29-53. After Larry their record went to 61-21. Voted a member of the NBA 50th Anniversary All-Time Team, he has won several MVP awards including the NBA All Star Game MVP.