Recently, ESPN has ranked its top ten basketball players on the NBA 75 list, and therefore of all time. The greatest of all time debate has started up again due to this, so this article will lay out my top ten players of all time.
A 5x champion and 2x MVP, Tim Duncan exemplified that the best players on the court do not have to be the flashiest. He was a technician in the post that nobody could handle, and one of the best defensive players in NBA history.
Shaq is larger than life itself. As well as being the biggest personality in all of sports (literally), O’Neal won four championships and an MVP while being a part of the greatest duo in NBA history with Kobe Bryant. At his peak there is nobody in NBA history that could guard him down low.
No name is in the record books more frequently than Wilt Chamberlain. His statistical performances are stuff of legend, most notably his 100 point game against the Knicks in 1962. He scored over 30,000 career points, the all-time career rebound leader, and a 4x MVP.
It would be a crime to leave out an 11x champion out of the top ten. Russell is one of the greatest defenders in NBA history as well, and the best at guarding previously mentioned Wilt Chamberlain. He also has five MVPs, one more than Wilt.
The greatest point guard in history, Magic Johnson was the face of the “Showtime” Lakers and won five championships in the 1980s. At six foot nine, he is a unicorn of a player, being able to guard and play positions one through five.
In his rookie season, Johnson closed out the NBA Finals by scoring 42 points at the center position with superstar and fellow NBA 75 member Kareem Abdul-Jabbar injured. Johnson was the ultimate leader, but just narrowly misses the top five.
The arch rival of previously ranked Magic, Larry Bird is one of the best offensive players to ever grace the hardwood. He finished his career a 3x champion and 3x MVP, winning all three MVPs consecutively from 1984-1986.
It shocks me to see Kobe Bryant ranked in the back end of the top ten of a lot of analysts lists. Bryant was one of the most clutch players of all-time, and the fourth all-time leading scorer.
On top of his incredible career stats, Bryant is a 5x champion and won MVP in 2008. Despite his tragic death in 2020, the “Mamba Mentality” lives on.
If one was to plainly look at career accomplishments, there is an argument for Kareem to be ranked first all-time. He is the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, a 6x champion and a 6x MVP.
His skyhook shot was the most unstoppable move in history, and was an integral piece to the dynastic Lakers teams of the 1980s. Of all the great centers in the game’s 75 year history, Jabbar stands alone as the best to ever do it.
And let the arguments begin! Yes, I have Lebron second all-time, despite many fans across America anointing the 19-year vet as the GOAT. He is the most complete NBA player in history, and will likely retire as the all-time leading scorer.
A 3x champion and 4x MVP, James has been the best player in the NBA for almost two decades, and has led teams with little talent all the way to the NBA Finals. He is the best player of the last 25 years of basketball, but not quite the best to ever do it (yet).
I mean, who else? Michael Jordan had a perfect NBA career, going 6-0 in the NBA Finals and a 5x MVP, along with being the most famous athlete in the history of American sports.
The all-time leader in points per game, it is tough to find anyone that would argue that there is a better scorer of the basketball than MJ. He is also among the best defenders in history, even winning a defensive player of the year in 1988.
The 75 year history of the NBA has featured some of the most incredible moments and athletes in all of sports. And throughout all that time, nobody has done it better than Chicago’s 23
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