Basketball has produced so many legendary players since its invention in 1891. The NBA remains to be the premier league for professional basketball. It is the main destination for great basketball talent. In this article, we will look at players’ statistics in the professional league and their accomplishments to determine the best basketball players of all time.
10. Kobe Bryant
Achievements: 5 Championships, 1 MVP, 2 Finals MVP, 18 times All-Star, 2 Olympic gold medals
Averages: 25.0 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.7 assists
Standing at 6 feet 6 inches, Kobe entered the NBA as a teenager and went on to play as a shooting guard for the Los Angeles Lakers. He spent his entire 20-year career with the Lakers.
Kobe is a lights out shooter who can score at will. With excellent footwork and leg power, his fadeaway move was unstoppable.
Kobe’s charisma and showmanship have earned him fans all over the world. He was named as one of the global ambassadors for the FIBA (Fédération Internationale de Basketball) basketball world cup in 2019.
9. Tim Duncan
Achievements: 5 Championships, 2 MVP, 3 Finals MVP, 15 times All-Star, 1 Olympic gold medal
Averages: 19.0 points, 10.8 rebounds, 3.0 assists
At 6 feet 11 inches, Tim Duncan was nicknamed “The Big Fundamental” for his simple yet effective moves. He teamed up with David Robinson to form the “Twin Towers” when he joined the NBA in 1997 as a power forward. He would eventually play all his 19 years as a professional with the San Antonio Spurs. Tim is considered by many as arguably the most accomplished power forward.
8. Shaquille O’Neal
Achievements: 4 Championships, 1 MVP, 3 Finals MVP, 15 times All-Star, 1 Olympic gold medal
Averages: 23.7 points, 10.9 rebounds, 2.5 assists
With an imposing 7 feet 1 inch frame and over 300 pounds, Shaquille barged into the NBA and shattered rims and backboards. He dominated as a center during his rookie year and carried the Orlando Magic into the NBA finals. He would then help the Los Angeles Lakers win three consecutive NBA championships from 2000 to 2002.
Shaq’s influence has changed the NBA rule book. Any player now whose contact with the ring or backboard causes it to shatter or make it unplayable will be penalized with a technical foul!
However, he was also known for his poor free throw percentage and this has resulted to teams resorting to ‘Hack-a-Shaq‘.
7. Larry Bird
Achievements: 3 Championships, 3 MVP, 2 Finals MVP, 12 times All-Star, 1 Olympic gold medal
Averages: 24.3 points, 10.0 rebounds, 6.3 assists
Larry Bird redefined basketball and introduced the stretch 4 position even before it became popular. Standing at 6 feet 9, he has a soft touch and his range stretches beyond the three point arc.
He remains to be the only player to win three consecutive MVP awards.
6. Magic Johnson
Achievements: 5 Championships, 3 MVP, 3 Finals MVP, 12 times All-Star, 1 Olympic gold medal
Averages: 19.5 points, 7.2 rebounds, 11.2 assists
At 6 feet 9, Magic is one of the biggest point guards in the NBA. He is known for his signature no-look passes that can fool even the best defenders.
With a total of nine NBA finals appearances and five NBA championships, Magic has cemented himself as a hall-of-famer. He is second in the NBA all-time assists chart. His jersey number 32 was retired by the Los Angeles Lakers on February 16, 1992.
5. Bill Russell
Achievements: 11 Championships, 5 MVP, 12 times All-Star, 1 Olympic gold medal
Averages: 15.1 points, 22.5 rebounds, 4.3 assists
If the number of championship rings is the basis, Bill will be the undisputed number one with 11 championships. He dominated the paint with his 6 feet 10 inch presence. His speed and quickness in defense intimidated his opponents.
Bill Russell’s all-around game helped the Boston Celtics become a championship team. They won nine championships in ten seasons. In 1966, he was named player-coach. He then went on to win two more championships to cement his legacy.
4. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Achievements: 6 Championships, 6 MVP, 2 Finals MVP, 19 times All-Star
Averages: 24.6 points, 11.2 rebounds, 3.6 assists
Kareem holds the title of most MVP awards with six in his 19-year career. Standing at 7 feet 2 inches, he perfected the skyhook. His signature move was so unstoppable that he eventually became the all-time scoring leader with 38,387 points.
3. Wilt Chamberlain
Achievements: 2 Championships, 4 MVP, 1 Finals MVP, 13 times All-Star
Averages: 30.1 points, 22.9 rebounds, 4.4 assists
Wilt Chamberlain holds the all-time rebounding record of 23,924. He was dominant on both ends of the floor. On March 2, 1962, he scored 100 points to lead the Philadelphia Warriors to victory over the New York Knicks. As a 7 feet 1 inch defender, he is said to have blocked 26 shots in a game against the Detroit Pistons during the time when blocks were not recorded.
2. LeBron James
Achievements: 4 Championships, 4 MVP, 4 Finals MVP, 16 times All-Star, 2 Olympic gold medals
Averages: 25.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, 10.5 assists
LeBron is the only active player in my list. He was picked first overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2003 and won the Rookie of the Year award. There are endless debates whether LeBron is better than Michael Jordan. Regardless, he is already in the all-time record for points (3rd) and assists (8th).
1. Michael Jordan
Achievements: 6 Championships, 5 MVP, 6 Finals MVP, 14 times All-Star, 2 Olympic gold medals
Averages: 30.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, 5.3 assists
As a 6 feet 6 shooting guard, Jordan was known for his athleticism during the early years of his career. He then developed into a well-rounded two-way player winning six championships with the Chicago Bulls.