Looking for a list of the top 10 NBA Players of all time? In all honesty, it can be quite hard to compile a list of the best players ever, simply because there have been so many legends it can hard to keep track! However, we can narrow down the discussion to ten players, with a few honorable mentions. From number ten to number one, the list would have to include Oscar Robertson, Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal¸ Wilt Chamberlain, Larry Bird, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Russell, Magic Johnson, and Michael Jordan.
10. Oscar Robertson, or “The Big O” is a legend in the basketball community. The lead shooting guard and point guard of the Cincinnati Royals and the Milwaukee Bucks, Robertson was an active player in the National Basketball Association from 1960-1974, a total of fourteen years. In that time, he won champion in 197, Most Valuable Player Award in 1964, 12x All-Star, 3x All-Star Game MVP, Rookie of the Year, and a host of other awards and recognitions for his play.
Robertson is famously regarded as one of the best players in the history of the National Basketball Association, largely due to him being a player that could score from any position and maintained an incredibly high scoring average throughout his entire career.
9. Tim Duncan was a late-comer to the basketball scene, but arrived with a bang like no other. At age 37, he is currently a power forward and center for the San Antonio Spurs and was born n the U.S. Virgin Islands. At nearly 7 feet tall, Duncan is a legend for his skill at acting as a starting forward and has, in his 16 year career, won champion four times, Finals MVP three times, Most Valuable Player two times, is a fourteen-time All-Star, and has a host of other awards and records that are too numerous to count.
8. Kobe Bryant could be ranked higher on this list, but he is down at number eight of all time for the simple reason that he has still got more years in him to continue dominating the sport of basketball. As a successful basketball player at his local high school, Bryant found himself entering the NBA professionally right out of high school. Chosen to play for the Charlotte Hornets, Bryant was quickly traded to the Los Angeles Lakers. Having played since 1996, Bryant’s seventeen year career has netted him the title of Champion 5 times, Finals MVP twice, MVP once, a jaw-dropping fifteen All-Star titles, as well as leading the overall scoring from 2005 to 2007. Bryant is an athlete that, despite his torn ACL just a few months prior, continues to lead the industry as one of the greatest players ever to play the game.
7. Shaquille O'Neal clocks in at number seven in our list of the top 10 greatest NBA players of all time. Shaq stand at seven feet, one inch, and is considered one the best players of all time. Having played for an astounding nineteen years, Shaq began his pro career with the Orlando Magic in 1992 as the first draft pick. Playing as a center, Shaq rapidly rose to the ranks of dominant players, known for his ability to use his incredible size and height to overpower and roll over his rivals. Eventually signing with the Lakers, he experienced a healthy rivalry with superstar Kobe Bryant before eventually being traded with the Heat in 2004, then the Phoenix Suns in 2007. He gave the Cavaliers one season in 2009-2010, and finished his career with a last seasons in 2010-2011 with the Boston Celtics before retiring at the age of 39 with 19 seasons under his belt.
6. If Shaq used his size and bulk to dominate his opponents, so did Wilt Chamberlain. The over seven foot tall man, who eventually weighed over three hundred pounds at the height of his professional career, played for fourteen years from 1959-1973 and is most famous for his scoring of 100 points in a game between the Warriors and the Knicks. Though no video exists from that game, Chamberlain holds the record as the highest scoring individual of all time in a game of professional basketball.
His legacy is mixed—he held records as the highest score, top rebounder, and maintained a high three point shooting average, but failed often as free throws, netting barely over 50% over a lifetime of success. In the end, Chamberlain is a remarkable player that will go down in history as a top American athlete.
5. Number five on our list is Larry Bird, the forward for the Boston Celtics from 1979 to 1992. Ranked 30th in ESPN”s list of the 50 greatest athletes of all time, Bird is considered by many to be the best basketball player of all time. He is known primarily for his buzzer-beating shots, his ability to read the minds of his opponents, and the capacity to understand and adjust team strategies in real-time while on the court. Likewise, Bird is famous for his ability to perform excellently at blocking and defending aggressive moves by other players, and his tendency to get involved in trash-talking on the court.
His list of accomplishments include the National Basketball Association’s champion aware in 1981, 1984, and 1986, as well as Finals MVP twice, three times MVP, 12 times All-Star, and numerous other player of the year awards. Bird is truly one of the greatest players ever to play the game.
4. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar ranks fourth on the list. Acquired by the Lakers in 1975, Abdul-Jabbar had a great first season, quickly establishing himself as a dominant player in the league and one of the best centers around. As one of the best centers of all time, he still holds the scoring record of professional basketball, which stands at 38,387 points. He holds six championship rings and his achievements are too numerous to count. Suffice it to say that Abdul-Jabbar ranks as one of the best ever for the sole reason that he was largely considered to be unstoppable at offense, and even the league’s best defense would prove hopeless at stopping his famous “Skyhook” maneuver, a trademark Abdul-Jabbar move that would help him retain his incredible scoring rates up until his retirement.
3. Bill Russell is well-deserving of the number three spot on this list. As the number three NBA player of all time, Russell was a center for the Boston Celtics and is famous for his ability to offer effective defense to any one coming across his path. Never a dedicated offensive player, Russell’s fame originates from his strength as a defensive athlete that is known for his incredibly level of defensive play and the ability to provide effective man to man defense that functioned to allow Russell the chance to block opposing shots and otherwise become a star defensive player. On the offense, Russell was more limited, but he still helped to score quite often adnw as hardly irrelevant on the offensive scene. He would rank as an average scorer offensively, and is widely regarded as one of the best defensive players in the league ever.
2. Earvin “Magic” Johnson is ranked two, and for good reason. As the Lakers number one point guard, Johnson had an impressive rivalry with the Boston Celtics and their chief player, Larry Bird. The tension between Johnson and Bird is reflective of other important rivalries such as the Lakers-Celtics rivalry, racial tension in the United States, and many others. Famous for his skill on the court, he also received discussion regarding his battle with HIV/AIDS, which became public in 1991. Despite his immediate retirement, Johnson would eventually return to the game and began a comeback for the 1992 Olympics, as well as an NBA restart later in the season. Though his second attempt at a career would be less successfully, Johnson would go down in history as one of the best players in the history of the game, rivaling only Michael Jordan for the position of best ever.
1. There can be no disputing the fact that Michael Jordan belongs at the top of this list. Jordan, having played college basketball at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, joined the Bulls in 1984 and would begin a career that would dominate the NBA until his retirement in 2003. Jordan was named the greatest athlete in North America by the ESPN in 1999, and is famous for his skill even from a young age. Jordan would lead the league in overall scoring for a shocking ten seasons, and exuded a confidence and skill that allowed him to take charge whenever the game was in peril. Third on the overall list of scorers, Jordan’s skill was in his flexibility, his aggressive scoring, his excellent defense, and his incredibly strong fundamentals. Jordan would remain a powerful player late into his career, developing his famous fade-away shot which was nearly impossible for defenders to block. In the end, Jordan is widely considered to be the best of all time, and is a legendary offensive player, though his defense is arguably his most important contribution to the game.