This year’s NBA 2K includes 10 all-time college teams from some of the biggest programs in the nation. SB Nation revealed screenshots of the rosters, which after a quick glance are quite clearly not actually the all-time rosters of these programs.
There are omissions all over the place. To 2K’s credit, clearly they needed contractual agreements from every player (or family if deceased) that appears in the game. This limited the ability to make the genuine all-time rosters for the 10 schools featured in the game mode. Illinois’ roster in particular omitted several players that were deserving of making the cut. Let’s take a look at what Illinois’ roster should’ve looked like:
***Since other programs featured as many as 13 players, this list will total the roster limit of 13***
Luther Head is the biggest omission on the list for any Illini fan. He’s not the best Illinois player that didn’t make the team, or the best NBA player that didn’t make the list that went to Illinois, but he’s the biggest name that was left off.
The 2005 Fighting Illini are the holy grail when talking about Illinois basketball. The team, which was led by Deron Williams and Dee Brown, lost in the national championship game, but they also mounted one of the greatest comebacks in sports history in the Elite Eight. That Illinois team went 37-2 and is widely considered the greatest team in NCAA history to not win the championship.
Head was an integral part of that squad. He averaged 15.9 points, four rebounds and 3.8 assists per game and made 116 3-pointers (by far a school record) at a 41 percent clip. He was also drafted 24th overall by the Houston Rockets in 2005 and went on to have a stellar sophomore season when he made 177 three-pointers at a 44.1 percent clip. He fell off considerably from that point, but he still deserved a spot on this team.
Eddie Johnson had one of the most successful NBA careers ever for an Illini. Per Basketball-Reference, Johnson’s three NBA seasons of averaging at least 20 points per game is the most in Illinois history. He has three of the seven total seasons all to himself. Johnson averaged a career-best 22.9 points per game during 1984-85 with the Kansas City Kings.
He also ranks seventh all-time in points scored at Illinois. Any all-time Illini team, especially with an NBA focus, should include Johnson.
This name might surprise even the most dedicated Illinois fans, but Tal Brody deserves a place on this team even though he never played a game in the NBA. That’s because Brody is one of the greatest international basketball players ever.
Brody was drafted 12th overall in the 1965 NBA Draft by the Baltimore Bullets after completing his illustrious career at Illinois. Brody replaced Jerry Colangelo, yes that Jerry Colangelo, as Illinois’ starting point guard and flourished. He led Illinois to a No. 3 national ranking, was named an All-American and placed First-Team All-Big Ten. Instead of pursuing an NBA career, Brody put Israeli basketball on the map.
He led Maccabi Tel Aviv to the European championship in 1977, upsetting European giant CSKA Moscow in the semifinals. Tel Aviv is now a European powerhouse, having won the third most Euroleague titles in history. Brody is an ambassador for Israeli basketball and has influenced the likes of Dragan Bender and now Amar’e Stoudemire to play there.
He’s an all-time great, not just for Illinois.
Johnny “Red” Kerr
Missing Johnny “Red” Kerr on an NBA list including former Illini is a travesty. Kerr played 12 seasons of 70 or more games played in the NBA, ranking second all-time among former Illini (Johnson is first with 13). Deron Williams, who’s widely considered the best NBA player ever to wear an Illinois jersey, has only totaled five such seasons.
Kerr was a three-time All-Star and even won an NBA championship during his rookie season with the Syracuse Nationals in 1954-55. He averaged 13.8 points and 11.2 rebounds per game in 12 NBA seasons and finished with the NBA record for consecutive games played at the time (844). He coached the Chicago Bulls in their inaugural season upon retiring and was awarded Coach of the Year.
Most NBA fans know Kerr for his many years as a color commentator for the Chicago Bulls. Kerr is more than deserving of being on this list.
THE FINAL LIST
1.) Deron Williams
2.) Kendall Gill
3.) Nick Anderson
4.) Brian Cook
5.) *Meyers Leonard
6.) Dee Brown
7.) Derek Harper
8.) Kenny Battle
9.) *Stephen Bardo
10.) Luther Head
11.) Eddie Johnson
12.) Tal Brody
13.) Johnny Kerr
…Apologies to George Bon Salle
*Meyers Leonard and Stephen Bardo probably don’t belong on the list, but since Leonard is currently an NBA player and Bardo was a huge part of the Flying Illini (Illinois’ 1989 Final Four team), they deserve a pass.