If you love basketball, you’ve probably wondered who the top 10 greatest players in NBA history are. Even if you have no interest in basketball, it’s still hard to avoid hearing about the great players of the past and present, which makes it even harder to know exactly who are the best NBA players ever? Since this debate is likely to rage on as long as there’s an NBA, we decided to take on the challenge of finding out who are the best NBA players ever.
1) Michael Jordan
Every kid growing up in America played basketball and wanted to be like Mike. He is not only one of, if not, THE greatest player ever but he also was one heck of a great entertainer. He won multiple Championships including six consecutive titles (1991-1993; 1996-1998) with three different teams: Chicago Bulls, Washington Wizards and a first retirement stint with the Bulls
2) Wilt Chamberlain
Wilt Chamberlain is often considered to be one of, if not, the greatest basketball player in history. The 7’1 center was a dominant force in every aspect of his game, especially defensively. In fact, he has often been credited with ushering in a new era in defense because so few players could challenge him.
3) Magic Johnson
He is a 13x NBA All-Star, 3x NBA Champion and 4x Finals MVP who led his team to an 80–10 record in a single season and was responsible for one of the most memorable moments in basketball history. Magic Johnson revolutionized basketball as we know it and is forever etched into our memories.
4) Larry Bird
The Boston Celtics great was an 11-time All-Star and three-time league MVP. His 84 Draft is considered one of best in history, with four players—Bird, Magic Johnson, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish—all making multiple All-Star games. Despite a career plagued by back injuries, Bird averaged 24.3 points, 10 rebounds and 6.3 assists per game over 13 seasons.
5) Bill Russell
With 11 championship rings, he’s clearly one of—if not the—best player in league history. In addition to his talents on offense and defense, he was also a rebounder and great leader. He was named Finals MVP a total of 12 times, which is more than any other player in NBA history.
6) Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Abdul-Jabbar was named to 19 All-Star teams, an astounding number for a center, and won six MVP awards. He led his team to an incredible five championships in six years in a legendary series with Magic Johnson and co. during what’s come to be known as The Showtime Era of Lakers basketball. Abdul-Jabbar is also second all time in points scored, behind Karl Malone at 38,387 points.
7) Kobe Bryant
I’m a big fan, says Sports Illustrated writer Chris Ballard. The 6’6 guard has a number of accolades under his belt, including being named to The 50 Greatest Players in NBA History. As one of only three players to ever score more than 30,000 points (along with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Karl Malone), Bryant is clearly one of today’s greatest basketball players.
8) Shaquille O’Neal
With an intimidating, seven-foot frame and nearly 350 pounds of muscle, Shaquille O’Neal was an imposing force on a basketball court. Considered one of the most dominant centers to ever play in the NBA, O’Neal won four straight league championships with Miami Heat teams from 2000 to 2002. In fact, he led his team to win three consecutive finals MVP awards during that time period—the only player in history to accomplish such a feat.
9) Tim Duncan
Tim Duncan is a player who doesn’t get enough credit for his skills. While many people tend to lean towards Lebron James, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal when asked who they think is one of, if not THE greatest players in history, Tim Duncan shouldn’t be overlooked. From leading his teams to multiple championships including five with San Antonio Spurs and a legendary college career at Wake Forest University, Tim Duncan leaves no stone unturned when it comes to teamwork.
10) LeBron James
LeBron James has won four MVP awards and two Olympic gold medals. He was born in Akron, Ohio and was a high school basketball star at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron before he joined the Cleveland Cavaliers for his first National Basketball Association (NBA) season in 2003–04. In his second season, James became one of only four players to average at least 20 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists per game during a season since these averages were made official by starting with 1974–75 statistics.