This list generates a lot of debates when this is brought up into the discussion.
The top 10 greatest players of the NBA all-time.
There are a lot of great, legendary players out there that would easily make the top 50 all-time list and in order to come up with this list, we separated the bests from the rests, and the greatest from the best. This list contains the names of the legends that transpired and revolutionized not just basketball in America, but in the whole world.
These names inspired us – the kids of the future that grew up watching these guys play – to work hard to do our best and respect the game that we all love, that is basketball. These names have an extraordinary passion for the game and each of these names carried the game to a whole new level.
These names are legendary.
Here’s my list of the NBA’s Top 10 greatest players all-time.
Let’s start with the…
George Mikan – The first “superstar” in the NBA. A center for the Minneapolis Lakers, he transcended the game and popularized the game throughout the USA. He may not have the talent that molds a legendary player but his contributions won’t be ignored.
Karl Malone – One of the 50 greatest players all time and with that outstanding ability to rebound for the ball and that soft touch on the post makes him unstoppable to guard. Don’t forget he’s the 2nd all-time scoring leader behind Kareem.
Charles Barkley – He’s a really really good player in his playing career that’s why his part of this list. Chuck can rebound with all-out hustle and blast you off on the break and dunk over you with ferociousness until you realize he has 35 points & 12 rebounds over you.
Julius Erving – A champion, a slam dunk champion and a pioneer of the acrobatic hang-time moves that we see now in the NBA. Not to mention he is the idol of Michael Jordan. Enough said.
Isaiah Thomas – 2-time champion with the Detroit Pistons, Isaiah has the ability to blow right past you in a blink of an eye. He’s an amazing floor general for the Pistons. A great leader wouldn’t be great if he don’t have a big heart, and that’s what Isaiah have. Tough as a nail, he won’t let you lose even if he sprained his ankle on the championship game, limping on the floor and grimacing in pain, he will still deliver a championship for you.
Hakeem Olajuwon – The dream, what more to say? With his smooth moves on the post that would fake you off your feet, Hakeem lead his Houston Rockets to NBA glory. Twice. He’s incredibly quick and talented on the post and with the ability to change his opponents shots and block them makes him a great all around center. He’s a top 10 player, no doubt, but in my list he’s high as #11.
Jerry West – No doubt he should be part of this list, some would argue he should be in the top 10 but it’s safe to say his inside the top 20 or even the top 15. Mr. Clutch, the names says it all. Hitting game winners and buzzer beaters with an effortless manner is unfair. He won a championship with the Lakers. Oh yeah, he is the NBA’s logo.
Bob Petit – Once averaged 29.2 points per game and 20.3 rebounds per game, Bob Petit really is one of the greatest in the sport. He led the Hawks to a championship, defeating the Bill Russel lead Boston Celtics. That’s a hard task to do back then, even the mighty Lakers didn’t beat the Celtics in the NBA’s early years.
Scottie Pippen – If Jordan was Batman, Pippen would be Robin. 6-time world champion with the Bulls. One reason for the Bulls’ dynasty in the 90’s is Pippen, without him, Michael Jordan will have a really hard time to get six rings. They compliment each other that is why they’re so successful, and maybe we could say, without Scottie, the Chicago would win as many as three instead of six.
10. Tim Duncan
Tim “The Big Fundamental” Duncan. His name says it all.
This guy is the greatest power forward to ever play the game. A great winner, he led the San Antonio Spurs to 4 championships. He is a great post players with a soft touch around the rim. He will give you double-double numbers each and every night.
4-time world champion, 3-time Finals MVP, NBA Season MVP.
9. Bill Russel
The man behind the Boston Celtics’ legacy.
This man is a living legend. One of the first greats of the NBA, Bill Russel lead the Boston Celtics to the league’s first dynasty. All in all Bill Russel has 11 NBA championship rings, a record that still stands today.
5 MVPs and 12 all-star games.
Have I told you he has 11 NBA rings?
8. Oscar Robertson
Oscar “The Big O” Robertson is a great all-around player. Perhaps the greatest all-around player we have ever seen. Oscar was a twelve-time all-star, eleven-time member of the All-NBA team, and one-time winner of the MVP award.
This man is the only player in NBA history to average a triple-double in a season.
In his rookie season he averaged 30.5 points per game. If his first five seasons are strung together, Robertson averaged a triple-double over these 400+ games, averaging an incredible 30.3 points, 10.4 rebounds and 10.6 assists. He ended his career with 26,710 points (25.7 per game, ninth-highest all time), 9,887 assists (9.5 per game) and 7,804 rebounds (7.5 per game).
7. Larry Bird
Another name that says it all.
Larry Bird, with his rivalry with Magic Johnson since their college years, revolutionized basketball in the 80’s. He’s one of the reasons why the 80’s was called the “Golden Years of Basketball”. He is clutch. If you’re his defender and you are guarding Larry, he will tell you that he will shoot right over you leaving no time left, even before the play starts.
3-time NBA Champion. 3-time NBA Season MVP. 12 NBA All-Star Game appearances. 2-time Finals MVP. 9-time All-NBA First team. 3-time All-NBA Defensive team. NBA Rookie of the year. 3-time Three Point Shootout Champion. 1998 NBA Coach of the year.
Considered as one of the prolific shooters in NBA history, Larry Bird will shoot over anybody even though he is having a slump. His confidence never fades and he will shoot right over you until he makes it. Do not forget how good of a passer he is, with his no look passes, he can dish out 7-13 assists in a game.
That’s how good Larry Bird is.
6. Shaquille O’neal
Shaq. The Diesel. Superman. Shaq-Fu. The Man of Steel. The Black Tornado. The Big Daddy. Wilt Chamberneezy. Shaqovic. The Big Agave. The Big Cactus. The Big Shaqtus. The Big Galactus. The Big Baryshnikov. The Real Deal. Dr. Shaq. The Big Shamrock. The Big Aristotle. The Big Leprechaun.
These nicknames explain Shaq’s colorful and well-traveled career.
Shaq is a #1 overall pick by the Magic, won three championships with the Lakers, won another with the Heat, went to the Suns to get back on track, went to the Cavaliers to come up short for another ring and ended it all in a Celtic uniform.
4-time NBA Champion. 1-time NBA Season MVP.
Shaq, in his prime, is an unstoppable, dominant force inside the paint. He has an incredible combination of size, power and quickness that would tear a defender or two apart. O’neal’s highest average scoring output in a season was 29.7 points per game, in 2000. Shaq is the reason why some of the rules in the NBA were changed. Shaq is the main-man in the Lakers’ three-peat alongside another great, Kobe Bryant.
5. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar played 20 years in the NBA, the longest tenure so far for any player in NBA history. Kareem played for two teams in his career with both teams having another legend to partner with him, and both have won the NBA crown, the Milwaukee Bucks with Oscar Robertson and the Los Angeles Lakers with Magic Johnson. Kareem won the championship once with the Bucks and five times with the Lakers.
Kareem’s signature shot, the “Sky Hook” cannot be defended by any defender in the league back then, and maybe until now. It is the most unstoppable shot ever in the NBA. The sky hook made Kareem the NBA’s all-time leading scorer with 38,387 points.
6-time NBA Champion. 2-time Finals MVP. 6-time Season MVP. Rookie of the year.
4. Wilt Chamberlain
Wilt Chamberlain, arguably the most dominant big man in NBA history.
He scored 100 points in a single game.
He is also the only player to average over 50 points in a single season. That’s how dominant he was. He would score over any defender on the land. Wilt will score anytime, anywhere, just not on the free throw line. He even scored 100 without any three points shot, imagine how exhausting that might have been for him. Despite the lack of talent in the NBA back in those years, he is still one of the greatest players ever to play in the NBA. He played for the Philadelphia 76ers and for the Los Angeles Lakers, wearing number 13. Who said the number 13 was bad luck?
2-time NBA Champion. 4-time NBA Season MVP. 1-time Finals MVP. 7-time All-NBA First Team. 3-time All-NBA Defensive Team. 1-time All-Star Game MVP. 13 NBA All-Star Games. 7-time NBA Scoring Champion. 11-time NBA Rebounding NBA Champion. NBA Rookie of The Year.
What bad luck?
3. Kobe Bryant
The first guard to be drafted straight from high school. Kobe since his rookie year in the league, took on the challenges that laid on his way and made them inspirations to be the best that he could be. Kobe Bryant is a fierce competitor that has every qualities of a champion.
It is right to say that Kobe is the closest we have to MJ. But still, we shouldn’t really compare the two legends. They’re different players from different eras. Even if their game is almost perfectly the same with each other, they shouldn’t be compared. It’s sad how many people is trying to look and compare them and missing the fact that we have two legendary players who overlapped in their careers. Some of us are missing the chance to appreciate their talents just because they are comparing them with each other.
A great scorer that is known as a high-flyer early in his career and soon improved on his shooting and post up game, Kobe is also one of the best defenders in the NBA today. His post game and foot work are excellent. Kobe has that killer instinct that would know when to finish his opponent. A great scoring ability combined with a great defense will make you the top 3 all-time greatest player in history.
He even showed the world his skills in the international level.
Kobe Bryant is a legend on his own. He recorded the 2nd highest point total in a single game which is 81 points. Kobe is the epitome of clutch. Many will say, instead of the other elite players in the NBA, they want Kobe to take the last shot for their team. As long as you have him on your team, you have a very big chance of winning. Even if Kobe has multiple injuries that would limit his game, he will still step up to the challenge and carry your team to a championship.
5-time NBA Champion. 2-time Finals MVP. 1-time Olympic Gold Medalist. 1-time NBA Season MVP. 2-time NBA Scoring Champion. 13-time All-NBA Team. 11-time All-NBA Defensive Team. 4-time All Star Game MVP. 13-time All-Star.
2. Magic Johnson
The maestro of the Showtime Lakers.
Magic Johnson, made an impact right from the start in his career. Magic was drafter 1st overall by the Lakers. In his rookie season Magic Johnson averaged 18.0 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 7.3 assists per game for the season. He was named in the rookie team and was named an all-star starter. The Lakers would eventually reach the Finals, and in game 6 of the series against the Sixers, Kareem won’t play because of an injured ankle. The rookie Magic Johnson would start at center and will play all five positions in the court.The Lakers would go on to win the 1980 championship and Magic leading the way with 42 points, 15 rebounds, 7 assists, and 3 steals.
That is just the start of Magic’s legendary career.
Magic and Bird’s rivalry will go on throughout the 80’s and they would revolutionize basketball. Because of Magic and Bird, the NBA was popular in the whole country and they’re just talking about two persons. Magic and Larry. They would form the greatest rivalry of any players ever.
Magic and Bird.
Celtics and Lakers.
Just the sound of those words would give you chills.
With his great passing ability and uncanny ability to make crucial shots, Magic is truly a legend of the sport. He and Larry were the faces of basketball in the “Golden Years”
Eventually, Magic will win 4 more rings in his career and 2 more than Larry Bird.
5-time NBA Champion. 3-time Finals MVP. 3-time NBA Season MVP. 9-time All-NBA First Team. 2-time All Star Game MVP. NBA Rookie of The Year. NCAA Champion.
1. Michael Jordan
His Airness, Michael Jordan.
The greatest ever to play the game.
No one could match what MJ did in his career. He achieved everything that anyone could possible achieve in basketball. Michael Jordan was the best no doubt. He is a great competitor, he doesn’t want to lose. He made every obstacle a motivation for him to succeed, to be the best, the greatest. He worked hard to be where he is today, at the top. No one can ever share a sentence with MJ, he can never be compared to another player. He didn’t win 6 championships for nothing. He worked hard for it, he did everything.
He paved the way for every player that comes after him. He’s the blueprint of every player that is planning to be the best. Michael Jordan revolutionized the sport in every way. Talent-wise and business-wise he transcended the sport and carried it to a whole new level. He a royal blood in basketball. When it comes to basketball, he is the man we all look up to.
Furthermore, MJ is a great scorer, a high-flyer with an amazing ability to hang in the air and change his shot in mid-air. Throughout his career, he developed and improved his shot. That’s why he averaged around 50% in the perimeter in his career. With his amazing post moves and turn around fade away jumpers he will carry his team to the top. Michael did everything for his team, if they need him to score, he will score. If they need him to defend, he will overwhelm his opponents wit outstanding defense. If they need him to get his teammates involved, he will make plays for them even if it means giving an extra pass for a potential game winner in a championship game.
6-time NBA Champion. 1 Olympic Gold Medal. 6-time Finals MVP. 5-time NBA Season MVP. 11-time All-NBA First Team. 9-time All-NBA Defensive Team. 14-time All Star. 3-time All Star Game MVP. 10-time NBA Scoring Champion. 2-time Slam Dunk Champion. Rookie of The Year.
He is the epitome of greatness.
Michael Jordan defines greatness.