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Wednesday, February 01, 2012

McDonald's Selects 35th Anniversary All American Team

In honor of the upcoming 35th anniversary of the McDonald's All American High School Boys Basketball Game, the McDonald's All American Games Selection Committee created a list of the 35 greatest McDonald's All Americans. More than 800 players have been honored as McDonald's All Americans, so the 35 players on this list are the elite of the elite. According to the press release from the Selection Committee, each player was chosen "based on his high school career and performance in the McDonald’s All American Games, success at the collegiate and professional level, and post-career accomplishments." The press release adds that each of the 35 players listed below "will receive a custom-designed basketball, produced by Anaconda Sports® The Rock®":

Earvin "Magic" Johnson (McDonald’s All American class of 1977)
Clark Kellogg (1979)
Ralph Sampson (1979)
Isiah Thomas (1979)
Dominique Wilkins (1979)
James Worthy (1979)
Sam Perkins (1980)
Glenn "Doc" Rivers (1980)
Patrick Ewing (1981)
Michael Jordan (1981)
Chris Mullin (1981)
Kenny Smith (1983)
Danny Manning (1984)
Larry Johnson (1987)
Christian Laettner (1988)
Alonzo Mourning (1988)
Bobby Hurley (1989)
Shaquille O’Neal (1989)
Grant Hill (1990)
Glenn Robinson (1991)
Jason Kidd (1992)
Jerry Stackhouse (1993)
Vince Carter (1995)
Kevin Garnett (1995)
Paul Pierce (1995)
Kobe Bryant (1996)
Jay Williams (1999)
Carmelo Anthony (2002)
Amare Stoudemire (2002)
LeBron James (2003)
Chris Paul (2003)
Dwight Howard (2004)
Tyler Hansbrough (2005)
Kevin Durant (2006)
Derrick Rose (2007)

The list includes numerous current and future Hall of Famers, NBA MVPs, NBA Rookies of the Year and NBA scoring champions. It is interesting to note that three of the players on the list who attended Duke had their NBA careers either ended or curtailed by serious leg injuries: Bobby Hurley (who almost died in a car accident), Jay Williams (whose promising NBA career was ended by a motorcycle accident) and Grant Hill, an All-NBA First Team performer whose career was altered by a severe ankle injury that required multiple surgeries and extensive rehabilitation. Two of the regular members of TNT's NBA studio show are on the list: Kenny Smith and Shaquille O'Neal.

The 1979 class leads the way with five honorees, three of whom are Hall of Famers (Isiah Thomas, James Worthy and Dominique Wilkins) and two of whom are included on the NBA's 50 Greatest Players List (Thomas and Worthy). One memory that stands out for me from McDonald's All American history is a two handed dunk thrown down in the 1979 game not by renowned high flyers Wilkins or Worthy but by 6-2 John Paxson, who played his high school ball in my hometown of Dayton, Ohio before starring at Notre Dame and winning three championships with the 1991-93 Chicago Bulls teams headlined by Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. Steve Kerr succeeded Paxson in the role as Chicago's designated sharpshooter and won three rings during the second Jordan-Pippen "three-peat." Casual fans may assume that Paxson and Kerr were similar players cut from the same stereotypical mold: non-athletic white guys who can really shoot. Nothing could be further from the truth, as Kerr told me a few years ago when I interviewed him for an article about how to define athletic ability and I mentioned Paxson's McDonald's dunk; Kerr replied that Paxson had a lot of "junk" (i.e., explosiveness) in his game, a marked contrast to the ground bound Kerr (Kerr was one of the few NBA players of his era who could not dunk and possibly the only one in that small group who is a legit 6-3). I did not include Kerr's comment about Paxson in my athleticism article (it did not really fit with the overall theme of the piece) but seeing the 1979 alumni dominate the McDonald's list reminded me about the time that a player from my home town had a highlight moment long before his clutch fourth quarter shooting in the clinching game of the 1991 NBA Finals helped Michael Jordan to capture the first of his six NBA titles.

Here is a special video featuring the members of the 35th Anniversary McDonald's All-American team:

Kobe Bryant is now the elder statesman among the NBA's elite players but 16 years ago he was a high school phenomenon:

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posted by David Friedman @ 12:05 AM



At Wednesday, February 01, 2012 10:18:00 AM, Anonymous khandor said...


A quick explanation as to why Larry Bird is not on the list might be helpful to others. Cheers :-)

At Wednesday, February 01, 2012 3:11:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


The McDonald's All American Game did not exist when Bird was a high school player.

At Wednesday, February 01, 2012 5:55:00 PM, Blogger Matt said...

First time I paid attention to the McDonald's All Americans was in SLAM 19 ( http://www.slamonline.com/online/the-magazine/2011/06/slam-cover-archives-1-25/#23 )but no one from the class of 1997 (Tracy McGrady, Lamar Odom, etc.) made the cut.

At Wednesday, February 01, 2012 10:11:00 PM, Anonymous DanielSong39 said...

Steve Kerr may not have been able to dunk but the guy could really shoot... doesn't he hold the all-time record for three point percentage in both college and the pros?

At Thursday, February 02, 2012 6:32:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Daniel Song 39:

Steve Kerr does indeed rank first in ABA/NBA regular season career three point field goal percentage. He is not the career NCAA leader in that category but he does hold the NCAA records for best single season three point field goal percentage (minimum 100 3FGM) and for most consecutive games with at least one three point field goal made in the same season (38).


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