NBA
Updated March 26, 2024
BY Cian Murray

The 50 Best NBA Players of All Time

The NBA announced in 2021 the top 75 players in league history for the league's 75-year anniversary. While there were plenty of controversial selections and omissions — such as Golden State Warriors' Klay Thompson and Lakers' Dwight Howard — we're here to make some even tougher cuts as we've ranked the 50 best NBA players ever.

Check out every matchup of the NBA schedule for the 2024 season. 

The 5 best NBA players of all time

There have been many great players in the history of the NBA who have made significant contributions to the game and achieved a high level of success – from world champs to NBA division winners. Some of the players who are often considered among the greatest of all time include:

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Michael Jordan

Jordan is widely considered the greatest NBA player of all time. He played for the Chicago Bulls and Washington Wizards and is known for his incredible scoring ability and clutch performances. Jordan won six NBA championships and was the NBA Finals MVP in each of those years. He was also a five-time NBA MVP and a 14-time NBA All-Star.

LeBron James

James is a small forward who has played for the Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat, and Los Angeles Lakers. He is a four-time NBA champion and a four-time NBA Finals MVP. He is also a 16-time NBA All-Star and has won four NBA MVP awards.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Abdul-Jabbar is a center who played for the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers. He is the NBA's all-time leading scorer and won six NBA championships. He was a 19-time NBA All-Star and was named the NBA MVP a record six times.

Magic Johnson

Johnson was a point guard who played for the Los Angeles Lakers. He is known for his leadership, passing ability, and championship success, as he won five NBA championships and was named the NBA Finals MVP three times. He was also a three-time NBA MVP and a 12-time NBA All-Star.

Bill Russell

Russell was a center who played for the Boston Celtics. He is the most decorated player in NBA history, having won 11 NBA championships as a player and two more as a coach. He was also a five-time NBA MVP and a 12-time NBA All-Star. 

Of course, everyone wants to know if LeBron James has surpassed Michael Jordan, but those aren't the only tough decisions we had to make. Is Lakers legend Kobe Bryant a top-10 player ever? Where do the current greats like Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant rank? 

Related: Check out the best NBA picks from Lines.com.

Top 50 NBA Players - Ranked

50. Luka Dončić

‘Luka Magic’ is more than just a catchphrase. He is an influential player and one of the fastest-rising stars in the NBA.

A team leader, Luka Doncic began his pro-basketball career in Europe, playing for Union Olympia and later on for basketball powerhouse, Real Madrid. In 2013, Luka Doncic was drafted to the Atlanta Hawks, who later traded him to the Dallas Mavericks on the same day.

For quite a long time, the Dallas Mavericks had had their eyes on a young Luka Doncic and did not hesitate to sign him when the opportunity presented itself on draft day.

His insane dribbling skills, flashy passes and impressive court vision, have seen him transcend into one of the biggest stars in the NBA in recent years.

Despite being in the league for only 6 years, Doncic’s career has been full of record-breaking performances and it’s clear to see why he is considered by many to be one of the best players of all time.

For instance, in 2023 Doncic became the first player in the history of the game to score more than 60 points and 20 rebounds.

Doncic also holds the record for the youngest player in the league to record a triple-double in a playoff game. He also became the first teenager ever to hit a 30-point triple-double (35 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists) as well as the first player to hit 250+ points, 70+ rebounds, and 70+ assists through his first eight playoff games.

That being said, there are very few players in the league who have Luka’s potential for greatness and by the time he sets off to the sunset, he will definitely be way higher on this list.

49. Dennis Rodman

Dennis Rodman’s wild personal life sometimes outshines his outstanding playing career, but that shouldn’t be the case. A defensive juggernaut, Rodman was a crucial building block for two of the biggest basketball franchises in the early 90s, Chuck Daly’s Detroit Piston and Phil Jackson’s Chicago Bulls.

In retrospect, Rodman’s NBA career is nothing short of stellar, all thanks to his insane athleticism, willingness to put his body on the line and never give up mentality.

By the end of his illustrious NBA career, Dennis Rodman had won 5 NBA championships, 2 NBA Defensive Player of the Year awards and 7 All-NBA defensive titles.

Rodman averaged 13.1 rebounds per game over a thirteen-season NBA career, which is pretty impressive in itself. During the 1991-92 season, he averaged an amazing 18.7 rebounds for Detroit. Now, that is dominant defending.

48. Clyde Drexler

‘Clyde the Glide’, as he was affectionately known, was a seriously good baller and clearly one of the best NBA players of all time. With unbelievable athleticism, Drexler currently sits in the top ten list for assists and in the top 35 for both assists and scoring.

It’s hard to argue with those attacking figures. He also won an NBA Championship with Houston and was part of the 1992 ‘Dream Team’ that won an Olympic Gold Medal. It is hardly surprising that he is considered one of the greatest shooting guards of all time.

His best scoring season came in 1988-89 when he averaged 27.2 points per game. 

47. Paul Pierce

Only three players have scored more than 20,000 career points for the Boston Celtics.

Paul Pierce is one of them and the other two also feature on this list. In Boston’s 2008 Championship winning year, Pierce won the NBA Finals MVP.

He played for three other sides, but it was Boston that saw the best of Pierce. He holds a series of records for the franchise, including being the only Celtics player ever to lead the NBA in total points scored in a season.

That was when he scored 2,144 points in 2001–02.

 46. Gary Payton

Gary Payton also known as The Glove is arguably one of the best defensive point guards ever and the best player in the history of the Seattle Supersonics. Apart from his contributions on the defensive end, Gary Payton was also highly gifted on the offensive end, which saw him become an all-time leader in assists, points and steals for the Seattle Supersonics.

The Glove currently sits fourth on the most steals for the league. He also has a Defensive Player of the Year award in his name.

During his impressive NBA career, Gary Payton was selected on the NBA All-Defensive First Team nine times. The only other three players to do that feature higher up this list.

He finished his career with 21,813 points. 

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45. Reggie Miller

Reggie Miller was a lethal three-pointer shooter, before the age of three-pointer shooters. He played at a time when there was much less emphasis on the lower percentage shot.

Somehow, he is still ranked third in the list of players with the most three-pointers made in the NBA ever. He was also a player for the big occasion, regularly nailing high-pressure shots to snap victory from the jaws of defeat.

He was one of those rare players who spent their entire career with one franchise. In doing so, he finished his time playing in the league with an average of 18.2 points per game. Over 18 years, that is incredible consistency.

Related: Who has the most NBA rings

44. Anthony Davis

One of the best centers and shot blockers of the modern era, Anthony Davis popularly known as “The Brow” is one of the few big men who can easily dominate on both ends of the floor. Drafted by the New Orleans Pelicans as the number 1 overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft, Anthony Davis has lived up to the hype.

A Kentucky alumni, Anthony Davis settled in the NBA pretty quickly averaging 15.5 points per game and an impressive 8.2 rebounds per game in his rookie season. After a rather long stint with the New Orleans Pelicans, Anthony Davis would ultimately team up with Lebron James in 2019 to form one of the best duos in the NBA.

Under the guidance of Lebron James and the LA Lakers coaching staff, Anthony Davis ultimately transformed into a top 5 player in the NBA. In his first season with the LA Lakers, Davis would help lead the LA Lakers to its 17th NBA title, tying the Boston Celtics for the most-ever championships.

Despite being one of the best players of all time, Anthony Davis’s NBA career has consistently been plagued by a series of injuries.

43. Rick Barry

Barry is renowned for his performance in the 1975 Finals, where he won the MVP award. Perry’s career averaged 23.2 points, 6.5 rebounds and 5.1 assists in 794 regular-season games.

As an all-around player, Barry is probably best remembered for his unorthodox underhand free-throwing style.

Although not the prettiest way to score a basket, it was effective.

Barry is regarded by many as a Golden State Warriors legend and will go down as one of the greatest players to ever play the game. At 6’7”, he was more than capable of dribbling.

In fact, his game had a little bit of everything.

42. George Gervin

Nicknamed ‘The Iceman’, George Gervin was a player with immense style. His trademark move was the finger roll, and nobody did it better than Gervin. He is a nine times NBA All-Star and made the All-NBA First Team five times.

He is thought of so highly in San Antonio, that they even retired his No. 44 jersey. He averaged 26.2 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 791 regular-season games in the NBA.

41. Elvin Hayes

Elvin Hayes was built of much stronger stuff than most people. He seldom got injured in his NBA career, which lasted well beyond his 38th birthday.

He is celebrated for much more than just his longevity. Hayes was a beast, who was a regular All-Star and is just outside the top three in rebounds in the history of the league, with 16,279 for his NBA career.

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40. Russell Westbrook

One of the most criticized and polarizing stars in the NBA, Russel Westbrook is another player that definitely deserves a spot in our NBA top 50 list. In his prime, Russel Westbrook was a force to reckon with and is often referred to as the King of Triple Doubles.

His hustle plays, iconic power dunks and incredible athleticism saw him become one of the most revered players in the NBA.

A one-time League MVP and a 2 times NBA scoring champion, Russel Westbrook was not only efficient but also got the job done, especially during his time with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

While he is not as efficient as he used to be, mainly due to age and other factors, Russel Westbrook is still as reliable as ever, especially after recently signing with the LA Clippers. With the Clippers, Westbrook plays with a renewed level of energy and appears to have found his love for the game once more.

From the look of things, Russel Westbrook is expected to finish his illustrious career with the LA Clippers alongside his former teammates, Paul George and James Harden.

39. Bob Cousy

Bob Cousy is yet another Boston Celtics legend to make the list.

Known as the "The Houdini of the Hardwood", Cousy finished his career with six NBA titles and a reputation for being one of the best playmakers the game has ever seen. During the 50s, he averaged 18.4 points per regular-season game.

Boston retired his No. 14 jersey and although he played in a different era, his name is still deeply respected by every Celtics fan today.

38. Bob Pettit

It would be a crime to leave the first-ever player to reach 20,000 career points out of our top 50 all-time NBA list. Pettit was a power forward who could do battle with the best of them, but he was also able to show guile and poise at the rim.

He was the NBA Finals MVP in 1958, notching up an amazing 50 points and 25 rebounds in the deciding game. When you are looking for big-game players, that is the sort of performance you want.

37. Patrick Ewing

Patrick Ewing’s blocking game was the stuff of legends.

Overall, he was a defensive dream to play with and his stats back that up. For instance, he is seventh on the list of players with the most blocks made in the history of the NBA. He also ranks in the top 25 for rebounds.

He was pretty good offensively too, ranking inside the top 25 for points scored in the history of the league. These skills were rewarded with seven All-NBA selections and 11 All-Stars.

Ewing finished his career averaging 21.0 points, 9.8 rebounds and 2.4 blocks in 1,183 regular-season games.

36. John Havlicek

The Celtics legend is one of just four players to have won the NBA Championship eight times. He holds an amazing resume, holding those titles, as well as one Finals MVP, 11 All-NBA selections, 13 All-Stars, and five All-Defensive 1st Team selections.

He is also one of just three players to hold an NBA Finals record of 8-0.

Essentially, if Havlicek was on your team, you knew you had a much better chance of lifting that trophy. His performance in the 1965 Eastern Finals is the stuff of legend, with the ‘Havlicek stole the ball’ moment etched in the history of the sport.

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35. George Mikan

George Mikan was one of the big men to take over a court during a game. He truly did rule the roost, winning five NBA titles and showing off sublime skill while doing so.

Those that saw him play said that his ability and skill truly defied his size and the fact that he made six All-NBA 1st Team selections and got four All-Stars shows what a great player he was. He averaged 23.1 points per game during the regular season at a time when 20+ games were rare for players.

34. Jason Kidd

It is hard to believe that Jason Kidd won only one championship in his illustrious career. That being said, it is clear that he is one of the greatest players of all time by looking at some of the other numbers associated with his career.

For instance, the former Suns and Nets player ranks 2nd in assists in league history with 12,091, has 10 All-Stars’ appearances and nine appeared on nine All-Defensive selections. You could argue that while playing, Kidd’s basketball IQ was amongst the very best in the history of the league.

That was further demonstrated by his adaptability in his later career, becoming a top-notch outside shooter.

33. Isiah Thomas

Isiah “Zeke” Thomas was not only controversial but also loved to get under his opponent’s skin. A crucial member and leader of the infamous Detroit Pistons “Bad Boys,” Thomas was exceptionally outstanding on both ends of the floor.

Despite being one of the smallest NBA players at the time, Thomas was a force to reckon with, winning two NBA titles and a finals MVP trophy.

At just over six feet, Thomas had to battle against the odds in the NBA. Thankfully, battling is what he does best. With that, he won two NBA titles, one Finals MVP, three All-NBA 1st Team selections, and 12 All-Stars.

The year he won the 1990 Finals MVP, he averaged an excellent 27.6 points, 7.0 assists, and 5.2 rebounds per game.

He also gained infamy in the recent "The Last Dance" documentary, but that’s a whole other story. 

32. Steve Nash

A two-time league MVP award winner, Steve Nash is widely remembered for his long stints with the Phoenix Suns and the Los Angeles Lakers.

Granted, not everyone agreed that he should have won those, but that doesn’t change the fact that he was an excellent player who could shoot with the best of them.

This is proven by the fact that he has the second-highest free throw percentage in the league, putting away 90.4 percent of them.

As one of the best players of his era, Nash showed the way forward to future players with his innovative style and technique. There is little doubt in the fact that he is a legend of the game.

31.  James Harden

Widely known for his iconic trademark step-back 3-pointers, The Beard is also another phenomenal player to make this list. Despite being in the NBA for 14 years, James Harden currently sits 3rd on the All-time 3-point scoring list behind Ray Allen and Stephen Curry.

At his prime, James Harden was considered by many people as the greatest scorer of all time. Despite playing at an all-star level for a bigger portion of his NBA career, James Harden has constantly drawn criticism to his game especially on how he consistently draws fouls and also his constant flopping.

Throughout his NBA career, James Harden has many times tried to not only force trades but also in other instances influence certain decisions by the front office.

When all is said and done, James Harden is still a solid player and the recent return to form has reminded us of just how good this MVP winner is. If any of you are surprised, well you shouldn’t be. In addition to his league MVP, Harden also has nine All-Stars and six All-NBA 1st team selections.

James Harden has also scored over 2,000 points in seven different NBA seasons.

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30. John Stockton

John Stockton’s consistency is the reason he regularly makes lists like this. Many people reckon that he was never the best point guard in the league, but despite that claim, it’s hard to look past his stats.

He has both the most assists and steals in NBA history. Perhaps he should be higher up our list for this alone. However, we are rewarding the greatest players in the history of the league, and we think listing him at No. 25 is about right.

Considering how many players have played in the NBA, that is still an amazing achievement. Upon his retirement, the Utah Jazz retired Stockton’s No. 14 jersey.

29. Chris Paul

Chris Paul has carved out an amazing career, despite the fact that he is yet to win a championship ring. The Golden State Warriors point guard does have two Olympic Gold medals and the complete respect of his peers, though.

He has also been selected in eleven NBA All-Star teams, ten All-NBA teams, and nine NBA All-Defensive teams. Not bad for the player, who is still playing excellent basketball. He has averaged 19.1 ppg for his career so far.

28. Allen Iverson

At just six feet, Iverson demonstrated an amazing basketball IQ throughout his career when battling with the NBA’s big men. He ranks in the top fifty for assists, steals and scoring. Oh yeah, his crossover is the stuff of legend.

He was one of the most difficult players to play against ever during the 2001 season, where he was justly awarded MVP for the season.

27. Dwyane Wade

Dwyane Wade owns almost every Miami Heat franchise record. Don’t believe us? Here’s a quick list. Wade has the most points, games, assists, steals, shots made, and shots taken.

He is a legend in Florida, where he guided the Heat to four consecutive Finals from 2011 to 2014, where he won back-to-back championships in 2012 and 2013.

That title in 2013 was his third with the Heat. A career return that anyone would be proud of.

26. Giannis Antetokounmpo

Giannis Antetokounmpo is one of the most powerful players playing in the league and when he is at his best, he is impossible to stop. With an NBA Championship and two MVPs already, the sky really is the limit for "The Greek Freak."

Giannis won the Defensive Player of the Year award and looks like a player who will be dominating the court for years to come.

In 2016–17 he became the first player in NBA history to finish a regular season in the top 20 in all five statistics of totals (points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks). If that doesn’t show all-around skills, then we don’t know what does.

His athleticism is truly crazy, but what sets him apart is his work ethic. Incredible skill, along with a never-say-die attitude has helped him turn into the best player playing in the league at the moment.

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25. Kawhi Leonard

With Kawhi Leonard on your team, you are more likely to win. That is simply a fact. As of the start of this season, he is the player with the best winning percentage in the history of the NBA’s regular season (minimum 250 games played).

Two NBA titles with two Finals MVPs made it impossible to leave Leonard off of this list. Along with two players (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and LeBron James) who are much higher up this list, Leonard is one of only three players to win Finals MVP with more than one team.

24. David Robinson

David was an incredible physical specimen who dominated on both sides of the court.

"The Admiral" picked up an MVP in 1995, but it wasn’t until the end of the decade that he won his first title. Nonetheless, there were few players to ever play the game that could deal with Robinson’s power and determination.

His 10 All-NBA selections, 10 All-Stars, and one Defensive Player of the Year award proved that. He also averaged 21.1 points, 10.6 rebounds, 3.0 blocks and 2.5 assists in 987 regular-season games.

23. Elgin Baylor

Elgin Baylor wasn’t the biggest guy on the court, but he was still able to dominate games like he was and it’s clear to see why he earns a position in the top 25 NBA players of all time. He never won a title, largely due to Boston’s dominance, but he still finished his career with 10 All-NBA 1st Team selections and 11 All-Stars.

We are sure that he would give up every single one, for just one championship ring, though.

Baylor always played well in those crunch games, too, averaging 26.4 points and 13.5 rebounds in 44 games in the NBA Finals during his career.

22. Charles Barkley

Charles Barkley is now known as one of the most entertaining sports pundits out there. But during the 90s, he was a phenom of a player, particularly around the glass.

Barkley’s power dunks and strong finishes to the rim made him a fan favorite and a Phoenix Suns all-time great.

He is currently considered by many as the best power forward of all time and one of the greatest NBA players of all time.

"The Round Mound of Rebound" won an NBA MVP, but never managed to win a ring.

He may be somewhat comforted by the fact that he is viewed as an all-time great, listing in the top 30 for rebounds (12,546) and scoring (23,757).

21. Scottie Pippen

One of the best defenders in NBA history, Scottie Pippen was the best sidekick in NBA history.

Pippen played second-fiddle to Michael Jordan with the dynastical Chicago Bulls and he was more important than many remember. His elite perimeter defense allowed Michael Jordan to, well, be Michael Jordan.

Pippen had success beyond the Bulls, too. He won six NBA championships and was named to the All-NBA team seven times.

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20. Karl Malone

Karl Malone won two NBA MVP awards at a time when some of the greatest players in the history of the league were playing. He ranks second in all-time scoring, 7th in rebounds and 11th in steals overall for the league, which proves his consistency over his career.

Outside of his first and last season, Malone averaged over 20 points per game every season. Those are crazy numbers to maintain for 17 seasons.

Some will point toward his playoff performances as a reason to drop him down the list, but those people are ignoring just how good Karl Malone was.

19. Kevin Garnett

One of the best trash talkers the league has ever since, Kevin Garnett was not only physical but also quite brilliant around the glass. Many NBA players will remember Kevin Garnett for his impressive stint with the Boston Celtics alongside Paul Pierce and Ray Allen.

Not only does he have an NBA title, a league MVP, nine All-NBA Teams, 15 All-Stars, one Defensive Player of the Year award, and nine All-Defensive 1st Team selections, but he also played a role he was born to play in Uncut Gems: himself.

Of course, it is his on-court performances that led to him becoming one of the most fearsome players in the history of the NBA. He is the only NBA player ever to average at least 20 points, 10 rebounds, and 4 assists per game for 9 consecutive seasons.

18. Moses Malone

Generally speaking, Moses Malone doesn’t get the respect he deserves considering he’s not only a defensive great but also one the best basketball players of all time. He has the fifth-most rebounds in the history of the league (16,212) and lands inside the top ten for scores (27,409). Put some respect on this man’s name!

He is probably the best offensive rebounder of all time and he did more than alright on the trophy front too, winning one title, getting a Finals MVP and three MVPs. We could go through his individual records, but that would take quite a while…

17. Dirk Nowitzki

Dirk Nowitzki is still loved in Dallas and rightly so. He helped them to an NBA Championship and was even awarded Finals MVP. Not only that, but he also has one MVP, 12 All-NBA selections, 14 All-Stars on his resume.

The German is sixth in the scoring charts for the league (29,527) and helped change the view of Europeans in the NBA. The Mavericks were never the same after him, with Luka now taking up the role of European powerhouse for the Texan franchise.

16. Julius Erving

Dr. J is a player who needs no introduction. Apart from being the first player with a line of his own signature sneakers, Julius Erving is also considered by many as the Michael Jordan of his generation.

His immense popularity saw him grace popular magazine covers, newspapers and comic books. He was simply the most famous basketball player in the 70s.

Dr. J, as he is known, won one MVP in 1981 in the NBA. Before that, he completely ruled the ABA, picking up two MVPs in that league. He won the NBA Championship in 1983 and was considered by many to be the best player in the league.

That is despite the fact that he was 26 before he ever played in the NBA. Those who saw him play compare his style and athleticism to Michael Jordan.

He finished his career with an average of 24.2 points per game in the NBA.

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15. Jerry West

Arguably the best shooting guard of the ’60s, Jerry West is widely known as the man who ultimately became the NBA logo. Despite being only 6 '3 tall, Jerry West compensated for his lack of size with hustle plays and persistence.

Moreover, he was also extremely athletic especially because he had a background in athletics. Apart from his exploits on the defensive end, Jerry West also had a silky-smooth jump shot that ultimately earned him the moniker, Mr. Outside.

That being said, Jerry West must dislike Boston. He played the Celtics in six finals and lost all six, having to be content with his one NBA Championship title. Still, it’s hard to argue with the brilliance of his career, ranking highly in both the scoring and assists charts for the league.

Fourteen All-Stars tells its own story. West wasn’t just brilliant; he was also consistent. An amazing career, averaging 27 points per game.

14. Kevin Durant

You can call him KD, the Slim Reaper, Easy Money Sniper or simply Kevin Durant. Just like Lebron James, Kevin Durant has been a dominant force in the NBA for many years.

While he had a rather impressive career with the Oklahoma City Thunder, KD was finally able to reach new career heights after signing with the Golden State Warriors. With the Warriors, he was not only able to end his Championship drought but was also able to win two finals MVPs in the process.

Who knows what the next chapter of Durant’s story will hold? Thus far, it’s been astounding brilliance, followed by more astounding brilliance.

He has two NBA titles and he has two Finals MVPs. He has three Olympic Gold Medals and 10 All-NBA 1st Team selections, 14 All-Stars and four All-Defensive 1st Team selections.

Durant also averages over 30 points per game in his NBA Finals appearances.

13. Stephen Curry

Arguably the greatest 3-point shooter of all time, Wardell Stephen Curry is just one of the few players who have greatly influenced the way the game is played in the modern era.

His high-arc 3-pointers and ability to convert 3s from any position on the court, ultimately forced many teams to change the way their defensive playbooks.

Despite having a rather impressive debut season in the NBA, Stephen Curry ultimately finished second, behind Tyreke Evans for the Rookie of the Year award.

In his second season in the NBA, Curry began showing glimpses of just how special of a player he would become. 

Curry is the best three-point shooter in the history of the NBA, but also knows when he should pass the ball. He is also the most successful free-throw player in the history of the league, averaging well above 90%.

He is still a top player, and at 36, hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down.

12. Oscar Robertson

Oscar Robertson made triple-doubles cool, becoming the first player in the league to get one.

He was a player who could do just about everything. He finished his career with 12 All-Stars, an MVP and an NBA Championship.

He is beloved in Milwaukee and rightly so. A seriously good player, who could do just about everything.

11. Hakeem Olajuwon

The No. 1 shot blocker ever in the league (3,830), Hakeem "The Dream" Olajuwon was more than just your typical big man. He also falls inside the top 14 NBA players all-time for points (26,946), rebounds (13,748) and steals (2,162).

Throughout his impressive NBA career, Olajuwon managed to win two NBA titles and two Finals MVPs, which shows just how good of a big game player he was. He also has a league MVP award, six All-NBA 1st Team selections, 12 All-Stars, two Defensive Player of the Year awards, and five All-Defensive 1st Team selections on his resume.

When he first won the Defensive Player of the Year Award, in 1993-94, Olajuwon made history in the process by becoming the first international player to achieve this incredible feat.

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10. Shaquille O’Neal

Shaquille O'Neal brought a dominance to the court that was hard to deal with. To put it plainly, he was simply massive; a ball-playing giant, who knew how to play to his strengths.

His career brought both team (Four NBA titles) and individual accolades (three Finals MVPs, one MVP, eight All-NBA 1st Team selections, 15 All-Stars, and three All-Defensive 2nd Team selections) and it is no surprise he is considered one of the best big men in the history of the sport.

When he was at his best, it was terrifying for opposition defenses, who tried to create entire systems in their attempts to stop him. A legend with both the Magic and The Lakers, Shaq’s legacy will be a long one.

Shaq put up career averages of 23.7 points on 58.2% shooting, 10.9 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game.

9. Tim Duncan

Tim Duncan, aka "The Big Fundamental," wasn't the sexiest player to watch, but he was one of the best and most efficient.

Arguably the greatest power forward in NBA history, Duncan is one of just five players to tally more than 25,000 points and 15,000 rebounds. He also has five NBA championships and All-Defensive team selections to his name.

His contribution to the San Antonio Spurs over almost two decades was immense. There are very few players who have contributed more to a team over their NBA career.

8. Kobe Bryant

The Black Mamba was not only ruthless on the basketball court but he also had a killer mentality. Despite mirroring his game against Michael Jordan with many people describing his game as “Jordanesque,” the Black Mamba was still able to forge his own unique identity.

An LA Lakers legend and all-time NBA great, Kobe Bryant not only played an outstanding 20 seasons donning the franchise jersey but also led them to an impressive 5 NBA championships.

That being said, the memories of his most outstanding performances will live on forever, with Kobe earning two Finals MVP, as well as being the fourth-highest scorer in the history of the NBA.

Like many other stars on this list, Kobe Bryant was iconic in his own unique ways. His trademark jumpers, circus shots, chase down blocks and poster dunks will continue to influence the way the game is played in the coming years.

7. Larry Bird

Larry Bird didn't look like your typical NBA player all thanks to his unique physique and uncharacteristic look. Past the looks and the physique, Bird was a relentless scorer with a killer mentality.

He was also one of the best trash talkers the league has ever seen.

Many people regard Larry Bird as the greatest player to ever don the Boston Celtics jersey. All you have to do is read through this list to realize how high of an accolade that is. And at his best, he was truly worthy of it.

Larry Legend's ongoing battle with Magic Johnson was the stuff of legend, with Bird coming out with three MVPs and two final MVPs before his career was all done. Bird ultimately retired with 21,791 points (24.3 ppg), 8,974 rebounds (10.0 RPG) and 5,695 assists (6.3 APG).

6. Magic Johnson

Regarded by many as the best point guard of all time, Earvin Magic Johnson’s game can simply be described as poetry in motion. A natural performer, Johnson played the game at a different frequency and many at times his on-court performance was likened to a conductor guiding an orchestra.

The no-look passes, behind-the-back dribbles and flashy dunks made him a cultural icon among many basketball enthusiasts.

In 905 NBA games, Johnson scored 17,707 points and had 6,559 rebounds and 10,141 assists.

By the end of his illustrious career, Magic finished with five NBA Championships, three NBA MVP awards and three Finals MVP awards. He was simply that good and it is clear to see why is considered by many as one of the best guards of all time and one of the best NBA Players of all time.

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5. Wilt Chamberlain

A larger-than-life athlete, Wilt Chamberlain stood at an impressive 7’1 and was dominant on both ends of the court. An all-time great, Wilt Chamberlain currently holds the record for most rebounds in the league, finishing his NBA career with an impressive 2,818 returns from the glass.

On top of that, Chamberlain also went ahead to average an impressive 50 points in a single season, a feat that’s yet to be matched.

That being said, Chamberlain definitely brought much more to the table, ranking seventh for overall scoring and also demonstrating impressive assist numbers throughout his career.

Despite his impressive performance, Chamberlain only managed to win two NBA titles but was the MVP in only one of them. In addition to his two titles, Chamberlain’s impressive resume is also capped off with four regular MVP awards.

Overall, Chamberlain is considered by many as the most dominant big man to ever play the game and reports of his playing days suggest that when he played well, nobody could keep up with his game.

His single-season scoring and rebound records attest to that.

4. Bill Russell

We are not sure if anyone will ever top Russell’s 11 NBA titles. He ran the show for Boston for many seasons and during the 60s, there weren’t many who could compete with him, which is demonstrated by his five MVP awards.

By the end of his career, Bill Russell had managed to collect an impressive 21,620 boards.  

Simply put, if you were going up against Russell in any kind of duel, you probably weren’t going to win.

And that is especially true if it's around the glass.

3. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

When talking about the best NBA players of all time, there are always two names that always come up, Lebron James and Michael Jordan. Outside the two, there is a clear third-place finisher and that is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

A 6-time league MVP is arguably one of the most decorated NBA players of time.  In addition to his league MVPs, Kareem also has 2 FMVPS to his name and 15 All-NBA team selections.

In fact, his list of honors is just ridiculous; it includes the second most points (surpassed by Lebron) in the history of the league (38,387), two Finals MVPs, third in the history of the NBA for rebounds (17,440) and 19 All-Stars.

Even more impressively, Kareem’s two Finals MVP Awards were won 14 years apart. How about that for longevity from the big man?

2. LeBron James

Lebron’s unrivaled longevity, on-court dominance, in-game IQ, impressive leadership qualities and unparalleled work ethic have seen him transcend into the biggest and most renowned basketball star of the modern era. Arguably one of the most polarizing stars of the modern era, Lebron is loved and hated in equal measures.

Despite joining the NBA straight from high school, Lebron James lived up to the hype. In his rookie season with the Cleveland Cavaliers, the kid from Akron was named The Rookie of the Year while averaging an impressive 20 points and 5.5 rebounds per game.

A few years down the line, Lebron would lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to its first-ever NBA title in franchise history after also leading the Miami Heat to two consecutive titles. A 4-time NBA champion and a 5-time league MVP, many would argue that King James deserves the top stop on our top 50 Greatest NBA players of all time.

Despite his rather impressive resume and accolades especially after recently breaking the all-time scoring record, Lebron comes a close second in our rankings and rightfully so.

In all of his final losses, Lebron refused to carry the blame and instead chose to blame the front office for not building a formidable team worth competing at the grandest stages. Many seasoned sports analysts, including Stephen A, have always been quick to point out Lebron’s lack of accountability as the only blemish on his rather immaculate NBA career.

That being said, when it’s all said and done, King James who is currently the oldest player in the NBA is still and will be one of the biggest basketball stars of all time.

1. Michael Jordan

If there is a name that’s synonymous with basketball, then it has to be “His Airness” Michael Jeffrey Jordan. A cultural icon and one of the most celebrated basketball stars, Michael Jordan is the greatest player of all time.  

Back in the 90s, Jordan and David Stern helped transform the image of the league, especially at a time when the NBA was facing a series of backlash from the media and fans, mainly due its extreme physical nature and plenty of off-court incidents. 

Even though many teams at the time took a more defensive approach to games, many of these teams were willing to bend the rules especially when it came to defending star players. One great example is the “Bad Boy” Pistons. I mean, the franchise literally came up with the infamous “Jordan Rules”. 

The “Jordan Rules” were a set of unwritten defensive rules fashioned to limit MJ’s effectiveness and dominance on the court. This set of unwritten rules meant throwing him off balance, double/triple team him and in other instances taking hard fouls.

This just goes a long way in showing how dominant Michael Jordan was. 

Jordan’s offensive prowess is just one of the many things that gives Michael Jordan a slight edge over Lebron James. Unlike LBJ, Jordan is yet to lose on the international stage, taking home 4 gold medals in 4 Olympic appearances. 

Finally, it’s time to address the elephant in the room, the 6 rings. When you think about it, 6 championship rings capped off with 6 final MVPs in 6 final appearances is insane and is a feat that will not be matched anytime soon.

While many pro-Lebron fans may argue that Bill Russel has more rings than MJ, therefore he should rank higher than Jordan, it’s important to point out that Bill Russel never won a finals MVP in all of his final appearances. 

That being said, looking at his long resume and overall accomplishments, it is high time to finally put the never-ending GOAT debate to rest. MJ never gave up on his teammates, was mentally tough and excelled at both ends of the court. 

Even though Jordan took a long time to settle in the NBA, he still managed to remain in his prime for a long time. I mean, the man took a short hiatus from the game at one point to join the MLB and still managed to not only come back but also win 3 back-to-back NBA titles in the process.


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Comments (2)
@kamsi
1/10 8:27 AM
0
This is cap
@pohito
4/29 7:49 AM
0
No Jokić? You have to be absolutely insane and utterly clueless.
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