With that in mind, welcome to Hoops Habit‘s 50 Greatest NBA Players of All Time! He is also one of the highest scoring small forwards in the game and the best rebounder of the lot with 13.5 rebounds per game. He’s one of the best we’ve seen period. His 15,806 career assists is 3,715 more than second-placer Jason Kidd’s total. They soon won three titles in a row from 2000 to 2002. 33 won three straight MVP awards, the only player in league history to accomplish the feat. In 1996, O’Neal left the Magic to join the Lakers where he would eventually team with coach Phil Jackson and fellow superstar Bryant to form one of the greatest trios in league history. Top 30 Basketball Players Of All Time. John “Hondo” Havlicek is one of them. Russell’s philosophy was all about winning titles because, according to him, there were no politics when it came to winning. ... Charles Barkley was born on February 20, 1963 in Leeds, Alabama, USA as Charles Wade Barkley. Career Averages: 20.6 points, 12.2 rebounds, 1.4 assists. Hayes was a member of the NBA’s All-Defensive Second Team in 1974 and 1975. What is especially incredible about Jordan’s legendary status is that none of this is made up. For now, let’s just be witnesses and watch in awe of this phenomenon called LeBron James. 11-time NBA All-Star. The Glove could hold his own against almost every guard in the NBA during the 90s. 16. No matter his size, Thomas was the heart and soul of the rough and tough Pistons who pummeled anyone on their way to winning back-to-back championships from 1988-89 to the 1989-90 seasons. The 7-footer changed the game as the NBA decided to widen the lane to limit his dominance over smaller players. Magic was perfect for L.A. and Hollywood with his trademark smile and passion for the game. The individual accolades came anyway as he won five MVP Awards. Top 20 NBA "Bad Boys" of All-Time Miles Jasper Miles’ passions lie within the salary cap, collective bargaining, and labor relations between leagues and their players. Malone is second all-time to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in career scoring with 36,928 points and seventh in career rebounds with 14,968. Career Averages: 18.7 points, 12.9 rebounds, 1.8 assists. Career Averages: 23.1 points, 13.4 rebounds, 2.8 assists. He was a force to be reckoned with and carried the St. Louis Hawks to a championship in 1958. Career Averages: 21.8 points, 11.1 rebounds, 2.5 assists, All-NBA: 6x First Team, 3x Second Team, 3x Third Team. But if you ask Isiah Thomas, the Pistons ringleader in the 1980’s who faced off against his Lakers, Abdul-Jabbar is the greatest player of all-time especially if you consider his dominance from his high school days to his college career and all the way to the professional ranks. Charles Barkley is one of the most skilled power forwards to play the game. In 1997, the 50 greatest NBA players of all time were assembled at Gund Arena during the halftime ceremony of the NBA All-Star Game. That’s a testament to his complete game. Everyone should remember that he carried the Knicks franchise to the playoffs for 13 years including a Finals appearance after years of mediocrity before he was drafted in 1985. That phenomenal turnaround alone should have earned the 6-foot-4 point guard his first MVP award but the voters chose Tim Duncan instead, a mistake that cost Kidd his best shot at the league’s most prestigious individual award. He revitalized the struggling Celtics in the 80s and brought back the glory days of the 60s when Boston ruled the NBA. After Chuck Daly coached the Round Mound of Rebound on the Dream Team in 1992, he believed that Barkley was the best player on the roster that included basketball luminaries such as Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Michael Jordan. 23 years since then, I have decided to dip my hand into the controversial listing with a list of my own and I made it even more controversial by ranking them. His incredible defensive timing landed him top-20 in the league 11 out of his 15 years in the NBA. He started the game at center and played all five positions by the time the game was over, recording 42 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists. He won the 1957 MVP and won six championships with Russell. Magic Johnson of the Los Angeles Lakers: Five-time NBA champion, three-time NBA MVP, 12-time NBA All-Star, two-time Hall of Fame inductee; Oscar Robertson of the Cincinnati Royals and Milwaukee Bucks: NBA champion, NBA MVP, 12-time NBA All-Star, two-time Hall of Fame inductee; Bob Cousy of the Boston Celtics: Six-time NBA champion, NBA MVP, 12-time NBA All … The list was compiled based upon unranked selection undertaken exclusively by members of the print and broadcast media who regularly cover the NBA. Such was the omnipresence of the Wake Forest graduate on the court. His all-around game distinguished him and Jordan from other shooting guards. Roughly nine hours before LeBron James became the youngest player in NBA history to reach 30,000 points, ... SLAM’s Top 100 Players Of All-Time: 50-11 Larry Bird, No. The greatest passer in NBA history by a mile, John Stockton could have been a 20-point scorer but chose to distribute the ball to his teammates instead, whether it was Karl Malone or any of their supporting cast. The 23 greatest players in NBA history. The 6-foot-6 legend took the league by storm the moment he set foot on an NBA hardwood. As for why ESPN placed so many active guys on the list, keep in mind that it's their nature to be biased in favor of the modern era. Also included in the NBA's 50th-anniversary celebration was the selection of the Top 10 Teams in NBA History. The Suns had a 29-53 record. After joining the Nets in 2001, Kidd immediately turned the team’s fortunes around. 20. He became the foundation of today’s San Antonio Spurs with his class act and unselfish play on the court. Pettit had a spectacular game with 50 points in Game 6 of the Finals, clinching the series with a 110-109 victory. But, honestly, we’ve seen versions of these two great players in Kobe Bryant and Ben Simmons, respectively. Of course, I’m talking about George Gervin who confounded defenders with his cool and savvy game. NBA MVP. Career Averages: 30.1 points, 22.9 rebounds, 4.4 assists. There was nothing he couldn’t do on the hardwood as long as he set his mind to do it. Smith made the 2nd NBA All-Defensive Team … Gallery.  Forty-seven of the fifty players were later assembled in Cleveland, during the halftime ceremony of the 1997 All-Star Game. Menu. All 10 coaches named were alive at the time of the list's announcement, and five of them—Bill Fitch, Phil Jackson, Don Nelson, Pat Riley, and Lenny Wilkens—were then active. None of it is a product of the imagination. Regardless of a player’s position, if he is better than another player in the top 10 of another position, he can make it to this prestigious list. But it all boiled down to a choice between Kobe Bryant and Robertson but the Laker guard won by a hair mostly because of his postseason successes. Had it not been for a certain No. Ranking Kyrie Irving is a difficult exercise, as the 26-year-old has been separated from the shadow cast by LeBron … He spent his entire NBA career with Philly, going down as possibly the greatest 76er of all-time. They eventually lost Game 6 but who knows if the Sonics could have won the series had he guarded His Airness from the start? Malone knows what it takes to win individually and with a team. In just his third season, Wade led the Heat to the 2006 title versus the Dallas Mavericks after going down 0-2 in the Finals. He was an outstanding scorer but is also one of the first do-it-all forwards of the game. Who deserves the title of the NBA's greatest player of all-time? Upon entering the NBA in 1950, Paul Arizin made the jump shot his signature move, one that was unusual in an era when players routinely took two-handed set shots. Career Averages: 24.6 points, 11.2 rebounds, 3.6 assists. He powered his way to 23.1 points and 13.4 rebounds per game. He entered the league as a teenager who could barely contain his excitement to be playing hoops as a career. His five championships cemented him as one of the greatest players to play the game. But it’s impossible to talk about Kareem without talking about the skyhook. Each team won the NBA championship, and they combined to average 66 wins per season. His 2008 NBA Finals MVP trophy showed everyone that Pierce is definitely the Truth. He averaged more assists per game than most, if not all, of his fellow shooting guards. Patrick Ewing is one of the 10 best centers in NBA history. Soon, he would win three straight titles along with fellow superstar Shaquille O’Neal. He’s a warrior of the highest order and the face of the franchise for more than a decade. Despite his lack of height (listed at 6-foot-6) while playing the power forward position, he led the league in rebounds in 1987. Career Averages: 18.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 9.5 assists, All-NBA: 4x First Team, 4x Second Team, 1x Third Team, All-Defensive: 7x First Team, 2x Second Team. There wasn’t a better point guard in the league when Walt Frazier was on the floor in the 70’s. Few centers can match Moses Malone’s accomplishments at the professional level despite coming directly from high school. Additionally, he exhibited coolness both on and off the court. Career Averages: 26.4 points, 16.2 rebounds, 3.0 assists. Dolph Schayes was one of the first superstars of the very young NBA. Three-time First Team All-NBA. Career Averages: 27.0 points, 5.8 rebounds, 6.7 assists. In addition, the top ten head coaches and top ten single-season teams in NBA history were selected by media members as part of the celebration. With an MVP and two championships, the Durantula is as tall as a center at seven feet tall with the skills of a shooting guard, playing the small forward position and defending the paint like a power forward. Wilt Chamberlain was a larger than life figure who is one of the most difficult to rank in an all-time greatest list. The 1995–96 Chicago Bulls had, at the moment, the best single-season record in NBA history with 72 wins. The Stilt suffered from the perception that he wasn’t as good as advertised when time and time again his teams would be eliminated by Russell’s Celtics. The Answer was known in most NBA circles as “pound-for-pound the best player in the NBA” during his career. Some say he’s the greatest Laker of all time and after playing incredibly great for 20 years, Kobe Bryant deserves to at least be part of the argument. Career Averages: 30.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, 5.3 assists. During his playing days, he added three championship banners to the rafters of the old Boston Garden and brought in legions of fans from the NCAA to the NBA along with Magic Johnson, his chief rival and now close friend. He won the Slam Dunk Contest as a rookie and was a member of the All-Rookie Team. In Game 6 of the 2003 Finals, Duncan nearly recorded a quadruple-double when he accumulated 21 points, 20 rebounds, 10 assists and 8 blocks. Starting his career with the Portland Trail Blazers and going to the Finals twice with them, it wasn’t until he was traded to the Houston Rockets in 1995 when he won a championship. When Julius Erving simply could not win a title with 76ers, the addition of the 6-foot-10 center was the final piece that gave Dr. J his highly-coveted championship ring and it was Malone who took home the Finals MVP award. Phil Jackson, head coach of the Bulls from 1989 to 1998, was the only man to coach two teams that made the list. Curiously missing from the NBA’s official 50th Anniversary All-Time Team was a certain former MVP named Bob McAdoo. He should have been on the original Dream Team in 1992 but wasn’t included due to a conflict with some members of the team particularly Jordan and Karl Malone. Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, Cincinnati Royals / Kansas City-Omaha / Kansas City Kings, "Pete Maravich, a Hall of Famer Who Set Basketball Marks, Dies", "Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Announces Class of 2012", "Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson amazes Knick legends with his hoops longevity", "1964–65 Boston Celtics Roster and Statistics", "1966–67 Philadelphia 76ers Roster and Statistics", "1969–70 New York Knicks Roster and Statistics", "1971–72 Los Angeles Lakers Roster and Statistics", "1982–83 Philadelphia 76ers Roster and Statistics", "1985–86 Boston Celtics Roster and Statistics", "1986–87 Los Angeles Lakers Roster and Statistics", "1988–89 Detroit Pistons Roster and Statistics", "1991–92 Chicago Bulls Roster and Statistics", "1995–96 Chicago Bulls Roster and Statistics", "Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Announces Class of 2011 – Mullin, Rodman, Gilmore and VanDerveer Headline Distinguished Group", National Basketball Association's 50 Greatest Players in NBA History, NBA 50 Greatest Players (50th Anniversary Team), https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=50_Greatest_Players_in_NBA_History&oldid=1013717120, Wikipedia pages semi-protected against vandalism, All Wikipedia articles written in American English, Articles containing potentially dated statements from 2021, All articles containing potentially dated statements, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, Denotes player who was active in the NBA at the time of induction, Denotes year of Basketball Hall of Fame induction, This page was last edited on 23 March 2021, at 02:04. Also read: Top 5 Greatest Point Guards of all time 10. If I were to create an all-time great Celtics team, I would put him at the shooting guard spot right alongside Bob Cousy at the point, John Havlicek at small forward, slide Larry Bird at the power forward position and then Bill Russell at center. His near-annual battles with Bird for the championship drove the league to heights of popularity it had never known before. Even as an undersized shooting guard, Dwyane Wade played big especially in the biggest stage. That’s the highest praise that Barkley has received from a coach. The Human Highlight Reel not only had a cool nickname but he had a game that truly warranted the moniker. His excellence extends over two decades, winning six championships along the way. His 38,837 points have stood the test of time. As a testament to his greatness and popularity, Cooz was named to 13 NBA All-Star Games while playing 13 full seasons for the Celtics. He was a humble leader, encouraging teammate and a good friend to those who had the privilege of playing with him. But not all who made it to the top 10 of each list made it to my final 50. If we include his playing days in the ABA, he would have an astounding total of 26,595 points. He has led the league in assists four times in his career so far but his scoring ability is not one to be taken lightly as he averages nearly 19 points a game. He’s a 15-time All-Star, a two-time MVP, a five-time NBA champion and a three-time Finals MVP. The NBA’s official list also needs updating since there have been a number of great players who have come along since then. Career Averages: 23.2 points, 7.1 rebounds, 8.3 assists. Career Averages: 21.0 points, 12.5 rebounds, 1.8 assists. Author: SI Staff Publish date: Feb 8, 2016. Had it not been for Russell’s Celtics, West would have won multiple championships. Perhaps the most fluid big man ever, Hakeem Olajuwon was a man of a thousand moves in the low post. Mikan literally changed the game as the league widened the lane from six to 12 feet in 1951 to prevent him from scoring too easily. If he had played his entire career in the NBA, he would have ranked higher on this list. No one has scored more points in a Celtics uniform than Havlicek and that includes the great Larry Bird. Kevin Garnett is the only player to average at least 20 points, 10 rebounds and five assists for six consecutive seasons, breaking Larry Bird’s mark of five consecutive. It's wild that it's even a debate. When James finally pioneers the exclusive 40K-10K-10K club, we may not see anyone else join him for the next 50 years or so. Many have said that there will never be another Michael Jordan or Magic Johnson etc. The 50 Greatest Players in National Basketball Association History, also referred to as … Nelson was the only member to have never won a championship as a coach, even though he won five as a player. 50. Hayes also led the Bullets to a championship in the 1977-1978 season. The announcement marked the beginning of a season-long celebration of the league's anniversary. Career Averages: 24.6 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists, All-NBA: 1x First Team, 4x Second Team, 2x Third Team. 11 championship rings. O'Neal was the last to be active in the NBA, retiring at the end of the 2010–11 season.. He led North Carolina to an NCAA championship as a freshman and was a two-time first-team All-American. If there was a Defensive Player of the Year Award back in the 1960s, Russell would have won it every year that it was handed out. C. Jones with the Celtics as a player in 1964–65 and coach in 1985–86, Billy Cunningham with the Sixers as a player in 1966–67 and coach in 1982–83, and Pat Riley with the Lakers as a player in 1971–72 and coach in 1986–87. Most of all, Duncan will be remembered as a gentleman and a great human being. What more could anyone ask? Every Knicks fan knows about Reed’s heroic effort in Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals that galvanized his team to win against the Wilt Chamberlain-led Lakers. He was the second real giant (after Mikan) on the hardwood and it was only the Celtics who truly humbled the league’s unstoppable mythical figure with the defensive prowess of Russell, their own immovable object. He only won one MVP award even though there were at least two other instances when he could have won it. Dave Cowens scratched and clawed his way to becoming one of the best players in league history.