Willis Reed - New York Knicks
During the first year which I followed the NBA (1969-70), Willis Reed did it all. He was the All-Star Game MVP, the Regular Season MVP, and the NBA Finals MVP. His inspired play and leadership led the New York Knicks to their first NBA Championship that season. Willis's heart and soul was demonstrated during Game 7 of the NBA Finals against the Lakers when he hobbled onto the court with a serious knee injury and electrified the Madison Square Garden crowd. He hit his first and only two jumpers over Wilt Chamberlain and the Knicks fed off of his heart and desire to trounce the Lakers.
David Thompson - N.C. State Wolfpack
As a native of Raleigh, NC, I was a rabid Wolfpack fan in the early and mid-70's. David Thompson led NC State to a 57-1 record and NCAA Championship over UCLA in 1974. There was no more exciting and electrifying player in college basketball in the 1970's. At 6'3" Thompson had dazzling moves, a textbook jumper, and superhuman hops. He ended UCLA's reign of 7 straight NCAA Championships with a spectacular double overtime victory over UCLA in the NCAA semifinals.
Julius Erving - New York Nets
The Doctor. Julius Erving defied description. He made the slam dunk what it is today. Huge afro, huge hands, and huge hops made him an imposing figure as he soared toward the hoop for a windmill jam. He single-handedly kept the ABA alive in the mid-seventies and paved the way for its merger with the NBA. Erving was spectacular in the ABA's Championship. He led the New York Nets to victory over the David Thompson-led Denver Nuggets in a fantastic series.