50. Bob Cousy
Accolades: 6x NBA Champion, 1x MVP, 13x All-Star selection, 12x All-NBA selection
The game’s first great point guard, Bob Cousy was an electric dribbler who loved to dish the rock. Cousy was an innovator in a time where the sport was just beginning to take shape. Unlike many of his peers, Cousy thought outside of the box and created new ways to make defenders look silly. The Houdini of the Hardwood’ was named an All-Star in each of the 13 seasons he spent in Boston. Younger fans of the game may not appreciate his impact, but Cousy is undeniable one of the most influential figures in the history of basketball.
49. Bob McAdoo
Accolades: 1x MVP, 2x NBA Champion, 5x All-Star, 2x All-NBA, 3x Scoring Champion
Chris Paul, Kawhi Leonard, and Blake Griffin are great, but Bob McAdoo is the leading candidate for greatest player in Clippers’ (formerly Braves) franchise history. The 1975 NBA MVP was one of the best bigs of the decade. McAdoo dominated the game down low — erasing shots, cleaning the glass, and controlling the paint. In his epic MVP campaign, McAdoo won the scoring title (34.5 PPG) while also being one of the top defenders in the league (14.1 RPG and 2.1 BPG). After 14 successful years in the league, McAdoo continued his playing career in Italy (where he collected two EuroLeague titles).
48. George Gervin
Accolades: 12x All-Star, 7x All-NBA, 2x All-ABA, 4x Scoring Champion
Gervin was simply one of the top scorers ever. Despite the NBA making it easier to score with each passing year, Gervin remains atop the league’s all-time PPG leaders (12th). It wasn’t just how many points he scored, it was the manner in which Gervin could fill it up. The “Iceman” was smooth as silk, equipped with a wide array of floaters, runners, and finger rolls which regularly garnered “oohs” and “ahhs” from the crowd in attendance. Gervin served as a pioneer for all of the offensive-minded wings that came after him.
47. Gary Payton
Accolades: 1x NBA Champion, 9x All-Star, 9x All-NBA, 9x All-Defensive, 1x DPoy, 1x Steals leader
“The Glove” made defense fun. Arguably the greatest defensive point guard of all-time, Payton was a savant on that end of the floor. He never backed down from a challenge, and showed the ability to defend multiple positions. In his most famed performance, Payton was integral in slowing down Michael Jordan in the 1996 NBA Finals — a series narrowly lost by the Sonics. While Payton never won a championship as the top player in Seattle, he managed to capture that elusive title in his later years as a member of the Miami Heat in 2006.
46. Clyde Drexler
Accolades: 10x All-Star, 5x All-NBA, 1x NBA Champion
Drexler was a marvel in the air, earning him the nickname “The Glide” for his leaping ability. A 10-time All-Star and five-time All-NBA selection, Drexler is one of the best shooting guards in league history. He began his career in Portland, developing into one of the league’s top all-around threats. The 6-foot-7 guard averaged over six assists per game during his prime, and routinely was among the league leaders in steals. After failing to win a title in Portland, Drexler signed on with the Houston Rockets towards the end of his career. He eventually helped the team win the 1995 NBA Finals.
45. Anthony Davis
Accolades: 1x NBA Champion, 9x All-Star, 4x All-NBA, 4x All-Defensive, 3x Blocks leader
The “Brow” is slowly — but surely — climbing up the ranks of this list. It’s fair to say we haven’t seen a player quite like Davis before he joined the league. A former point guard in high school, the near 7-foot Davis is an exceptional ball handler and shooter for a player his size. Additionally, Davis isn’t just a gifted perimeter player. He’s led the league in blocks three times in his career, and is regularly in the discussion for Defensive Player of the Year.
44. Walt Frazier
Accolades: 2x NBA Champion, 7x All-Star, 6x All-NBA, 7x All-Defensive
The famed Knicks broadcaster was also a pretty good player in his day. Frazier played for the Knickerbockers from ’68-’77. During that time, “Clyde” was named an All-Star seven times. Frazier was a member of each of the only two Knicks’ championship winning teams. In ’70, a 24-year-old Frazier poured in 36 points and 19 assists in a Game 7 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers to win the title. Three years later, Frazier and the Knicks toppled the Lakers in the Finals again. Frazier was the quintessential point guard. The crafty playmaker dazzled crowds with pinpoint passes on an nightly basis.
43. George Mikan
Accolades: 5x NBA Champion, 4x All-Star, 6x All-NBA, 3x Scoring Champion
Before Wilt, Kareem, Shaq, Pau, and Davis, there was Mikan. The Lakers have been known (among other things) as the NBA’s Hall of Fame big man factory. Mikan was the one who really started it all for the then-Minneapolis Lakers. A winner of five titles, the four-time All-Star was one of the game’s best big men. Mikan prided himself on being able to finish with both hands. His hook shot was the trademark move for Mikan (who paved the way for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to create the skyhook).
42. Willis Reed
Accolades: 2x NBA Champion, 1x MVP, 7x All-Star, 5x All-NBA, 1x All-Defensive
To this day, Reed remains an icon within the rich history of the New York Knicks franchise. A center from Louisiana, Reed took to the bright lights of the apple quite well. The 7-time All-Star helped in leading the Knicks to two NBA Championships. He was the MVP of both those Finals’ runs. A rock-solid performer, Reed averaged 18.7 PPG, 12.9 RPG, and 1.1 BPG.
41. Dominique Wilkins
Accolades: 9x All-Star, 7x All-NBA, 1x Scoring Champion
Wilkins was ahead of his time when it came to violently attacking the rim. A dynamic athlete at about 6-feet-8, Wilkins made nine All-Star appearances throughout his illustrious career. To this day, there’s a real case to be made that he is still the best player to ever wear a Hawks’ uniform. Wilkins shot high percentages from both the floor and the free-throw line. He loved to get out in transition — where he’d often terrorize opposing defenders. Wilkins was even a gifted defender. He averaged 1.3 SPG for his career. He’s only one of eight players to have averaged at least 25 PPG for 10-straight seasons.
40. Russell Westbrook
Accolades: 9x All-Star, 9x All-NBA, 1x MVP, 2x Scoring Champion, 2x Assists leader, All-Time Triple-Double leader
Few have been as polarizing as Russell Westbrook. Analytics enthusiasts do not love his game. They view him through the prism as a guy who turns the ball over way too much — with poor shooting percentages and inconsistent defensive metrics. One could opt to look at Westbrook that way. However, he’s also a player who plays harder than anyone. His disposition on the court is beyond fierce, and he plays the game with unparalleled passion. Oh — and he’s averaged a triple-double on three separate occasions (including being the NBA’s all-time leader in triple-doubles accrued). From an athletic standpoint, Westbrook is arguably the pound-for-pound best athlete to ever play professional basketball.
39. Patrick Ewing
Accolades: 11x All-Star, 7x All-NBA, 3x All-Defensive
The former ‘savior’ of the New York Knicks franchise certainly lived up to the hype he brought from his college days at Georgetown. A former soccer player in his native Jamaica, it enabled Ewing to display terrific footwork around the rim. He could finish with either hand, and had a myriad of moves he’d utilize against the game’s best. An 11-time All-Star, Ewing averaged a stellar 2.5 blocks per contest during his playing days (which also led to him being a 7-time all-league defender). For as good as Ewing was, he weirdly still feels a bit overshadowed both historically and for his era.
38. Steve Nash
Accolades: 2x MVP, 8x All-Star, 7x All-NBA, 5x Assists leader
Nash is the perfect example of a player who relied on his brains rather than his athletic ability. In the process, the two-time MVP was as clever with the ball as practically any point guard. Nash was a true orchestrator — the type of guy who was far more willing to set up a teammate rather than settling for a long jumper. Exquisitely skilled as both a shooter and ballhandler, he was the maestro behind the Phoenix Suns’ ‘seven seconds or less’ squad. This team transformed the way the NBA is played today, and Nash is a gigantic reason for why that’s the case.
37. Kawhi Leonard
Accolades: 5x NBA Champion, 2x Finals MVP, 6x All-Star, 5x All-NBA, 7x All-Defensive, 2x DPoY
Leonard’s raw numbers don’t stack up with a lot of the other all-time greats. Selected 15th overall in the 2011 NBA Draft, Leonard settled into his role on a stacked Spurs team as one of the league’s premier 3-and-D threats. In ’13 and ’14, Leonard helped guide the Spurs to the NBA Finals — winning his first championship and Finals MVP. As San Antonio’s stable of stars aged, Leonard’s role grew larger. By ’16, there was no doubt he was one of the very best players in the league. Leonard was eventually traded to Toronto and led the team to their first and only title in franchise history. He’s now trying to accomplish the same feat with the Clippers.
36. Allen Iverson
Accolades: 11x All-Star, 7x All-NBA, 1x MVP, 4x Scoring Champion, 3x Steals leader
Iverson is one of the most unique players the NBA has ever seen. Generously listed at 6-feet tall, the diminutive guard had the heart of a lion, and the testicular fortitude of an elephant. He was able to wiggle his way to the rim whenever he wanted. Iverson scored over bigger players with ease, and shook them with his patented crossover dribble. His impact on the game certainly goes beyond the statistical output he cultivated over his career. Iverson brought joy to the court whenever he played, and captivated the audience equally as much. We may never seen another Allen Iverson ever again.
35. James Harden
Accolades: 1x MVP, 10x All-Star, 7x All-NBA, 3x Scoring Champion, 2x Assists leader
You may be surprised to see Harden rank so highly on the all-time list. However, the Los Angeles native has more than proven his worth as one of the best individual scorers the game has seen to date. Rarely do you see such a powerful athlete possess his levels of intelligence, creativity, and inventiveness. Harden can literally score in any situation — whether bullying smaller players in the post, taking you off the dribble, pulling up for three, or creating space via his ballhandling. While he has yet to capture that elusive NBA title, Harden’s individual accolades speak for themselves.
34. Chris Paul
Accolades: 12x All-Star, 11x All-NBA, 9x All-Defensive selection, 4x Assists leader, 6x Steals leader
When ranking point guards based upon their play on both sides of the court, Chris Paul stands out as a true force. Paul is highly efficient on the offensive end and grades out tremendously in nearly every advanced metric. Defensively, he’s been a seven-time All-Defensive First Team selection. While no one questions Paul’s leadership or competitiveness on the floor, his lack of postseason success limits his relative ranking when compared to his peers.
33. Scottie Pippen
Accolades: 6x NBA Champion, 7x All-Star, 7x All-NBA, 10x All-Defensive, 1995 Steals leader
Every great player needs the “Robin” to his “Batman.” Fortunately for Michael Jordan, his “Robin” also happens to be one of the greatest players to ever play the game. Pippen was a monster on the defensive end. He possessed ability to guard multiple positions effectively. His unselfishness on offense also complemented Jordan well. Pippen mostly played within the flow of the offense. Rarely did you see him force anything on that side of the court. With that said, Pippen could score the basketball when called upon to do so.
32. Rick Barry
Accolades: 1x NBA Champion, 1x NBA Finals MVP, 8x All-Star, 6x All-NBA, 1x Scoring Champion, 1x Steals leader
Rick Barry played during an era in which three-pointers weren’t recorded. Had he played with a three-point line, Barry likely would be the owner of many records from behind the arc. The former University of Miami star was a complete offensive player. While Barry’s prowess from the perimeter is universally lauded, he also was excellent as a playmaker. To this day, Barry holds records for the highest career average in the Finals (36.3 PPG) and field goals made in a single Finals game (22).
31. Jason Kidd
Accolades: 1x NBA Champion, 10xAll-Star, 6x All-NBA, 9x All-Defensive, 5x Assists leader
He wasn’t the star he once was when he finally captured the ever-elusive NBA championship in 2011, but Kidd still found ways to contribute. Kidd’s longevity and ability to stay relevant despite his waning athleticism is a key reason he will be remembered as an all-time great. Few who played the game evolved as well as Kidd did throughout his career. In his heyday, Kidd could run and gun with the best of them. He was an all-time great passer, as well as an elite defender and rebounder at the point guard position.
30. Nikola Jokic
Accolades: 1x NBA Champion, 1x Finals MVP, 2x MVP, 6x All-Star selection, 5x All-NBA selection
In one of the most unlikely ascensions into superstardom, Nikola Jokic — the 41st overall pick in 2014 — has emerged as an all-time great. Jokic cemented himself as the best player in the game currently with a dominant run during the 2023 NBA Playoffs — capped off with NBA Finals MVP. The two-time league MVP is already regarded as the greatest passing big man of all-time, though the other facets of his game are exceptional as well. He’s constantly cleaning up the glass, and can seemingly put up 30 points a night whenever he pleases. Jokic will assuredly climb this list even further as his career moves forward.
29. Giannis Antetokounmpo
Accolades: 2x MVP, 7x All-Star, 7x All-NBA, 5x All-Defensive, 1x DPoY
Hailing from Athens, Antetokounmpo already has eight All-Star appearances, two regular season MVP’s, and an NBA Championship under his belt. A freak in the best sense of the term, you rarely see players at 6-foot-11 who can guard every single position on the floor at an all-league level. Antetokounmpo has guard skills, bounce off the dribble, and virtually every skill you’d want. The only remaining factor to improve upon is his shooting from both three and the free throw line. Once that happens, you’re looking at a virtually unstoppable player.
28. Bob Pettit
Accolades: 1x NBA Champion, 2x MVP, 11x All-Star, 11x All-NBA, 2x Scoring Champion
The original “Stretch-4,” Pettit transformed the way teams scout big men. Had he been born a couple of decades later, Pettit could have been one of the most productive three-point shooting big men of all-time. He wasn’t just a shooter, though. Standing at 6-foot-9, Pettit averaged more than 16 rebounds a game in his career. His career accolades also included being an 11-time All-Star, a 10-time All-NBA First Team member, a four-time All-Star Game MVP, and a two-time league MVP. Simply put, Pettit was ahead of his time.
27. Kevin Garnett
Accolades: 1x NBA Champion, 1x MVP, 15x All-Star, 9x All-NBA, 1x Defensive Player of the Year, 12x All-Defensive, 4x Rebounds leader
Pure, raw intensity is the only way to accurately describe Kevin Garnett. He made a career off of playing with a fiery passion. Of course at 6-foot-11, it also helped that Garnett moved like a guard on the floor. Garnett had a smooth stroke from mid-range, and was the key component of the great Boston defenses of the late 2000s. Had he been able to escape Minnesota a few years earlier, there’s no telling how much damage KG could have done. He’ll go down as one of the best two-way players — regardless of position — in NBA history.
26. Kevin McHale
Accolades: 3x NBA Champion, 7x All-Star, 6x All-Defensive, 2x Sixth Man of the Year
A major piece to the great Boston teams of the 80s, Kevin McHale made his name through his excellent post game. McHale could score in an unlimited amount of ways on the block, and was near impossible to stop with his back to the basket. Though not overly explosive, McHale epitomized the prototypical ‘crafty’ basketball player. The three-time NBA Champion was also a seven-time All Star, and a six-time All-Defensive team selection. When Charles Barkley says that you are the toughest player he’s ever guarded, you’re doing something right.
25. David Robinson
Accolades: 2x NBA Champion, 1x MVP, 10x All-Star, 10x All-NBA, 1x Defensive Player of the Year, 8x All-Defensive, 1x Scoring Champion, 1x Rebounds leader, 1x Blocks leader
Due to obligations to the Naval Academy, it took Robinson a few years after he was drafted to make his much-awaited debut with the Spurs. The wait was well worth it, as Robinson helped the Spurs to two titles during his 14 years with the team. ‘The Admiral’ played a traditional style, but his enormous upper body helped him dominate other centers around the league. Robinson attacked the basket with real aggression, and protected the paint on defense as well as anybody that has played the position.
24. John Stockton
Accolades: 10x All-Star, 11x All-NBA, 9x Assists leader, 2x Steals leader
As tenacious as they come, John Stockton made a career off of intelligent and unselfish play. An all-time great distributor and defender, Stockton did whatever his team needed of him. Sure, playing with Karl Malone makes life a lot easier, but the Mailman can greatly attribute his spot on the all-time scoring list to Stockton. The pick-and-roll connection between the two iconic players is widely regarded as one of the most lethal pairings in league history. Stockton also was a player that truly extracted out every ounce of ability he had.
23. Elgin Baylor
Accolades: 11x All-Star, 10x All-NBA, 1959 Rookie of the Year
Baylor was the original slashing forward — frequently playing above the rim and finishing with both finesse and power. An equally prolific scorer and rebounder, Baylor is in strong consideration as the best player in NBA history to never win an MVP award. Many actually feel that Baylor is one of — if not the most underrated player of all-time.
22. Jerry West
Accolades: 1x NBA Champion, 1x NBA Finals MVP, 14x All-Star, 12x All-NBA, 5x All-Defensive, 1x Scoring Champion, 1x Assists leader
‘Mr. Clutch’ earned his nickname through magical postseason performances. From his 60-foot buzzer beater in the Finals, to his 40-point per game average in the 1965 playoffs, West always saved his best performances for the bright lights. West was a graceful player on the court. Possessing an abnormally long wingspan, he terrorized the opposition on both ends of the floor. West was both a lethal scorer and a tremendous facilitator of the basketball. There’s a reason why West’s silhouette plays host as the logo of the league.
21. Charles Barkley
Accolades: 1x MVP, 11x All-Star, 11x All-NBA, 1x Rebounds leader
Standing at only 6-foot-6, Barkley used his incredible lower body strength to become one of the best rebounders in league history. Don’t let the weight and the Krispy Kreme doughnuts fool you though, Charles was a force in the open court in his prime. He could finish with authority or use his impressive vision to find his teammates. Call him ‘Sir Charles,’ ‘The Round Mound of Rebound’ or any other name you like, but one thing remains unchanged: Charles Barkley could flat-out play.
20. Isiah Thomas
Accolades: 2x NBA Champion, 1x NBA Finals MVP, 12x All-Star, 5x All-NBA, 1x Assists leader
The leader of the Bad Boys, Isiah Thomas constantly played with a chip on his shoulder. Thomas was lightning quick with the ball and was a very good shooter from the outside. However, what he will be most remembered for is his tremendous ability as a leader. One of the original floor generals, Thomas had an innate ability of knowing when to get the ball to his teammates versus getting himself going offensively.
19. Karl Malone
Accolades: 2x MVP, 14x All-Star, 14x All-NBA, 4x All-Defensive
‘The Mailman’ recorded 36,928 points and 14,968 rebounds over his illustrious 20-year career. Malone was a match-up nightmare for any player that had the displeasure of having to defend him. He was one of the strongest players of all-time, but could run in transition with the very best. His money mid-range game set him over the top as an unstoppable offensive force. Though Malone doesn’t represent the current NBA power forward, he was the archetype during his era.
18. Kevin Durant
Accolades: 2x NBA Champion, 2x NBA Finals MVP, 1x MVP, 14x All-Star, 10x All-NBA, 4x Scoring Champion
Never has the NBA seen a player like Kevin Durant. He’s uniquely phenomenal in a multitude of ways. Nearing the 7-foot mark, Durant has ball-handling capabilities and the shooting prowess of a guard. He can score from anywhere on the court — demonstrating skill only seen among the elite players in the league’s history. Additionally, Durant’s spider-like wingspan and rare athletic ability have helped him become an outstanding defensive player. Durant captured two NBA Titles with the Warriors and was on the cusp of winning a third before he tore his Achilles. Now a member of the Phoenix Suns, barring good heath, there’s a real chance he could finish as one of the 10 best players of all-time.
17. Dirk Nowitzki
Accolades: 1x NBA Champion, 1x NBA Finals MVP, 1x MVP, 14x All-Star, 12x All-NBA
The German sharpshooter solidified his place among the all-time greats with his epic stretch during the Mavs’ 2011 playoff run. Securing his first championship and bringing home a unanimous Finals MVP trophy, Nowitzki shook off all “soft” labels. Possessing a high-arching shot, Nowitzki made the famed one-footed fadeaway a staple for all young players to try and emulate. With his uncanny ability to make difficult shots, Dirk managed to play until he was 40. The German retired after 21 seasons with the Mavs.
16. Dwyane Wade
Accolades: 3x NBA Champion, 1x NBA Finals MVP, 13x All-Star, 8x All-NBA, 3x All-Defensive, 1x Scoring Champion
It’s difficult to overlook the impressive resume Wade accrued over his 16 years in the league. With three championships and the title of the best player in Miami Heat history, Wade proved that he could perform and win in a multitude of situations. In his athletic prime, Wade’s slashing ability bared a strong resemblance to a 6-foot-4 version of Michael Jordan. As he grew older, he adjusted his game to stay relevant — a prominent trait for an all-time great player.
15. Moses Malone
Accolades: 1x NBA Champion, 1x NBA Finals MVP, 3x MVP, 12x All-Star, 8x All-NBA, 2x All-Defensive, 6x Rebounds leader
Malone played for nine teams in his career in both the ABA and NBA, but found the most success when he teamed up with Dr. J on the Philadelphia 76ers. Ruthless on the boards and a terrific finisher around the rim, Moses was one of the very best players in the league during the early 80’s. Malone averaged a double-double for his career (20.6 PPG, 12.2 RPG) in addition to being an 8-time All-NBA selection, a 12-time All-Star, and a 3-time league MVP. There are few players possessing a resume as collectively impressive as Malone’s.
14. Julius Erving
Accolades: 1x NBA Champion, 1x MVP, 11x All-Star, 7x All-NBA
Dr. J might be remembered more for his nickname, but the 16-time ABA/NBA All-Star was also one of the best ball players in league history. He stuffed the stat sheet in all aspects. For his career, Erving averaged 24.2 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 4.2 assists per game. Dr. J also shot a fantastic 50.6-percent from the floor. A true entertainer, Erving accomplished everything with a flair the league had never seen before.
13. Stephen Curry
Accolades: 4x NBA Champion, 1x Finals MVP, 2x MVP, 10x All-Star, 9x All-NBA, 2x Scoring Champion, 1x Steals leader
Curry is an absolute anomaly of a player. With a thin frame and rather average athleticism, he isn’t supposed to be this good. The Golden State dynamo has two league MVP’s to his name and was the first player to ever be awarded MVP by unanimous vote (2016). Never has the game seen such a lethal perimeter shooter — whether it’s spotting up or shooting off the dribble. Curry’s uncanny ability to get separation from defenders is truly impressive. Even at 35 years old Curry remains one of the league’s most potent offensive threats.
12. Hakeem Olajuwon
Accolades: 2x NBA Champion, 2x NBA Finals MVP, 1x MVP, 12x All-Star, 12x All-NBA, 2x Defensive Player of the Year, 9x All-Defensive, 2x Rebounds leader, 3x Blocks leader
A common similarity with the players near the top of this list is their individual uniqueness. Hakeem Olajuwon was the “unicorn” of centers in the 80’s and 90’s. He could dribble the ball and move his feet like a guard, but coupled this gracefulness with the overwhelming size of a legitimate big man. Hakeem captured glory with back-to-back championships in Houston, blocked the most shots in NBA history (3,830), and his patented “Dream Shake” move is still used by players today.
11. Oscar Robertson
Accolades: 1x NBA Champion, 1x MVP, 12x All-Star, 11x All-NBA, 6x Assists leader
Prior to Russell Westbrook accomplishing the feat last year, Robertson had been the only player in NBA history to have averaged a triple-double through an entire season. This was a mark that lasted nearly 60 years before being broken by Westbrook in 2017. The 6’5″ guard was supremely gifted as a passer. In many ways, Robertson was transcendent based upon his height for the position. Duly, he was a highly efficient player — shooting 83.8-percent from the free-throw line and 48.5-percent from the field for his career. Robertson made the All-Star team in all but two years of his impressive 14-year career.
10. Larry Bird
Accolades: 3x NBA Champion, 2x NBA Finals MVP, 3x MVP, 12x All-Star, 10x All-NBA, 3x All-Defensive
Larry Bird — with the help of Magic Johnson — helped resurrect the game of basketball in the ’80s. As a player, Bird was an assassin. He was a terrific shooter, passer, and rebounder, and played his best in the biggest games. Bird led the Celtics to three titles. He also made 12 All-Star Game appearances, and was a 3-time league MVP. Bird’s overall level of competitiveness alone makes him an all-time great. Had it not been for chronic back issues later in his career, Bird could certainly have a case for a top-5 spot.
9. Bill Russell
Accolades: 11x NBA Champion, 5x MVP, 12x All-Star, 11x All-NBA, 1x All-Defensive, 4x Rebounds leader
As the defensive stalwart for the early Celtics teams, nobody experienced more success winning basketball games than Bill Russell. An 11-time champion and 5-time regular season MVP, Russell spent the majority of his career filling in his expansive trophy case. At the time, the league had never seen someone possessing Russell’s skill-set as a defensive player. The former University of San Francisco star had unbelievable timing when it came to blocking shots. Additionally, Russell used his long arms and elite athleticism to mop up misses at a high clip. These attributes led to Russell averaging 22.5 RPG for his career.
8. Tim Duncan
Accolades: 5x NBA Champion, 3x NBA Finals MVP, 2x MVP, 15x All-Star, 15x All-NBA, 15x All-Defensive
The Hall of Famer solidified his spot as the best power forward the game has seen. As such, he is easily deserving of a Top-10 spot. “The Big Fundamental” impacted the game on both ends of the floor from the moment he joined the Spurs. Duncan was excellent at utilizing his body to carve out space on the offensive end. He also brilliantly positioned himself to always act as a deterrent defensively. More than anything, Duncan will be remembered for his calm demeanor, silky bank shot, and a pedigree rooted in winning at the highest level.
7. Shaquille O’Neal
Accolades: 4x NBA Champion, 3x NBA Finals MVP, 1x MVP, 15x All-Star, 14x All-NBA, 3x All-Defensive, 2x Scoring Champion
When there’s a legitimate strategy teams implement to their game plan that is named after you, your spot on this list is certain. The “Hack-A-Shaq” was truly the only way you could slow down this monster. O’Neal was a powerhouse from the get-go, and it’s almost criminal that the most dominant big man of recent memory ended his career with only one MVP trophy — not to mention he should have been a unanimous pick the year he won. With three Finals MVP trophies though, I’m sure he sleeps just fine.
6. Kobe Bryant
Accolades: 5x NBA Champion, 2x NBA Finals MVP, 1x MVP, 18x All-Star, 15x All-NBA, 12x All-Defensive, 2x Scoring Champion
He wasn’t quite as athletically gifted as the other greats. He didn’t have the speed of Jordan, the size of Magic, or the strength of LeBron, but he made up for it by being the most skilled player in history. From immaculate footwork to impossible fadeaway jumpers, Kobe Bryant truly had every basketball skill you would want in a player. With the unlimited skill-set, hyper competitiveness, and a resume that includes five championship rings, it’s safe to say we will never see another player quite like Kobe. The Black Mamba officially entered the Hall of Fame in May 2021.
5. Wilt Chamberlain
Accolades: 2x NBA Champion, 1x NBA Finals MVP, 4x MVP, 13x All-Star, 10x All-NBA, 2x All-Defensive, 7x Scoring Champion, 11x Rebounds leader, 1x Assists leader
With a 100-point game on his resume, Wilt Chamberlain just barely edges out Shaq and Russell on the all-time list. Chamberlain was truly unstoppable on offense, scoring around the basket at will. He holds the record for most points (the aforementioned 100) and most rebounds (55) in a game, and has a season under his belt in which he averaged 50 points and 25 rebounds a night. Stat lines like these are truly “video game numbers.”
4. Magic Johnson
Accolades: 5x NBA Champion, 3x NBA Finals MVP, 3x MVP, 12x All-Star, 10x All-NBA, 4x Assists leader, 2x Steals leader
The most revolutionary player in the history of the sport, Magic Johnson’s uniqueness will have him at or near the top of these lists for decades to come. With size and vision that the game had never seen before, Johnson took the league by storm, heading the attack for the electric “Showtime” Lakers. Players like LeBron, Tracy McGrady, Penny Hardaway and most recently Giannis Antetokounmpo all resemble bits and pieces of Magic’s style, but the league may never see a floor general with Magic’s size and leadership again.
3. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Accolades: 6x NBA Champion, 2x NBA Finals MVP, 6x MVP, 19x All-Star, 15x All-NBA, 11x All-Defensive, 2x Scoring Champion, 1x Rebounds leader, 4x Blocks leader
Never has a player had a single move in their arsenal more dominant than Kareem’s patented sky-hook. The unorthodox shot helped “KAJ” win six NBA championships and a record six NBA regular season MVPs. Abdul-Jabbar transitioned effortlessly from an awe-inspiring athlete into a highly effective player reliant upon immense skill. One also has to praise Abdul-Jabbar for his overall level of durability. In 20 seasons, the former UCLA star failed to make the All-Star team only once. In a sport filled with giants, Kareem was the best big man of all-time.
2. LeBron James
Accolades: 4x NBA Champion, 4x NBA Finals MVP, 4x MVP, 20x All-Star, 19x All-NBA, 6x All-Defensive, 1x Scoring Champion, 1x Assists leader
Facing higher expectations than anybody that has played the game, LeBron James has delivered as well as anybody could have hoped. The versatile forward has done everything for the teams he has played for, and then some. His spotty record in the Finals will ultimately be his “downfall” in any sort of debate concerning his place among the all-time greats, but his impact on the court speaks for itself. LeBron led the Lakers to their NBA-leading 17th championship in 2020, and is once again primed to contend in 2021.
1. Michael Jordan
Accolades: 6x NBA Champion, 6x NBA Finals MVP, 5x MVP, 14x All-Star, 11x All-NBA, 1x Defensive Player of the Year, 9x All-Defensive selection, 10x Scoring Champion, 3x Steals leader
Were you expecting anything different? His Airness reigns supreme over the basketball world, and is in contention for the greatest athlete (across all sports) of all-time. Equally impressive on the offensive and defensive sides of the floor, Jordan’s sheer dominance throughout the 90s may never be seen again. With an unblemished 6-0 record in the Finals, it will take a Herculean effort to unseat the true King of the hardwood.