The 50 Best Players In NBA History May Surprise You
With the All-Star break upon us, it is kind of a dead time in basketball. The weekend has lost a lot of its luster over the years and a not a lot of people watch it anymore. However, it is a perfect time for some NBA debate. Today, I am bringing you my list of the 50 best players in NBA history. This list is certainly going to cause a stir and it should be quite fun.
With any list, there is going to be debate about it. This list is certainly going to cause a stir because people love to argue for their favorite player or argue against someone that they do not like. That is the true beauty of sports these days. You can always debate and both sides can have good arguments.
For instance, I bet that Kobe Bryant and LeBron James are the two most debated players on this list. Both of them are successful and both are still high profile players. This means a lot of people have seen them and love to spend time picking them apart. An older generation might say that they couldn't compete in an older era while the new breed would argue that they would dominate in an era when athleticism was not that prevalent. That is what makes stuff like this fun.
If you feel like you want to debate, go ahead and leave a comment in the section below. However, let us keep it civil. There is no point in debating if it is going to devolve into people insulting each other instead of looking up stats and highlights and making their own judgments and understanding where other people are coming from on certain issues.
With that, it is time to get into the list. These 50 players are certainly debatable but that is what makes sports fun.
DJ was an absolute beast on defense. He could frustrate even the most accomplished scorer and he was a key cog in those dominant Boston Celtics teams. That's good enough to make this list.
Would Big Game James have had a different career if he didn't end up playing with Magic Johnson? Probably, but you can't fault him for that. Worthy had a very good career as a key player on some dominant title teams.
You might be shocked to see Pierce this high but the guy has had one heck of a career. He has a ring and he's been a guy who has still produced, even in old age. He makes the cut for this list.
Since Cunningham played well before I was born, I had to use some reading to determine how to rank him. Although he does not look it, the guy could flat out dunk on people. Throw in some great stats and lots of success and that makes him perfect for this.
Here's another guy that I never watched but I did read about. He was a lockdown defender and one of those guys that did all the little things. Sounds like my type of player.
Thurmond could rebound and block shots with the best of them. He received tons of accolades in his career, which includes making the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History list. That's good enough for me.
Drexler was always overshadowed by Michael Jordan and he seemed to never get the most out of himself. He had a terrific career but he always left you wanting more. Good enough for the list, but I wish I could move him higher.
Wade is going to continue to climb up lists before he retires. He has a couple of titles and he convinced LeBron James to come play with him. That's worth at least a spot a year at this rate.
The master of the outlet pass, Unseld had a lot of success early in his career. He may have not been able to keep that up, but the guy could simply change games with his passes and his screens. Of course, he sucked as a GM, but we can't know him for that.
Like Drexler, Ewing always left you wanting more. He looked like he had all the tools but once his knees started to go, that was the end of that. A very good career but one that will be marked because he does not have that title to go along with it.
For a guy who simply could not shoot when he entered the league, Kidd has spent the last few years killing teams from three. He was a key member of the Dallas Mavericks squad that won a title and he may jumpa few more spots before he hangs it up.
Payton was an absolute terror on defense. He was probably the best point guard in the league during the 1990s, but he didn't win a title until he was a role player. The young guys probably remember that, but they need to watch old tapes of GP. The man was called The Glove for a reason.
The face of the NBA when it first started, it is really hard to find a spot for Mikan on this list. He was dominant but his era was not exactly difficult for tall people to dominate. He gets a spot because success is hard to argue, but I don't think he matches up well in the new era.
The Iceman could score and he could score in bunches. Unfortunately, that was about all he could do. If he gave defense more than a lick and a prayer, he could have won a title. Alas, it was not to be. Still, he had an amazing career.
Jones was the perfect role player on the old Boston Celtics teams. He wasn't a guy who wanted the spotlight, but he could come up clutch when you needed him to. People may forget about him but people should read up on him. You'll learn a lot.
Nash may be a little bit high on this list, but the two time MVP played on of the most entertaining teams in history. However, it seemed like greater forces conspired to keep him from winning a ring. I can see how you would knock him down the list, but his play speaks for itself.
McHale had some of the best post moves in the world. If his feet didn't betray him, he could have played a few more years and climbed even higher on this list. Then again, he won some rings as the second best player on one of the best teams of the 1980s. Hard to argue with that.
People today know Frazier because of his broadcasting. When the man played basketball, he was a force of nature. He loved the high post game and elbow jumpers were his weapon of choice. A big guard for his era, Frazier was one guy that you had to watch.
Cowens has two rings and a MVP award. Those only scratch the surface of the awards the man won but that is not what stands out to me. Cowens played balls to the wall every single night and that is something that you can't teach. Add that in with his stats and you have a guy worthy for this list.
Reed had one of the most memorable moments in basketball history. However, he also had a great career to go along with it. He was the man on that first New York Knicks team to win a title and that is plenty to get onto the list. "Here comes Willis" is just the icing on the cake.
AI was one of the most influential players in history. He forced the league to accept the hip-hop era, whether they liked it or not. People may look at his shooting percentage and knock him down a few spots, but he was one of the most feared players in the league during his prime. You did not want AI to have a game winning look against you, no matter how poorly he had shot during the game.
Robinson looked like he could have been one of the best to ever play. However, that never came to fruition. He was a very good player but he only won a ring because Tim Duncan came into his own. Howver, you can't knock a guy who was good enough for the Dream Team and a man who had a very long and successful career.
If Walton did not get hurt, he could have easily been one of the best players of all time. However, we were robbed of him due to his feet. His teams were dominant and he was the force that drove it all. At least we still have him as a broadcaster, even if he can't hide his hate for Ben Howland.
You may think Dirk is too high on this list, but the man showed that he was one of the best power forwards to play the game. The man has his MVP and he now has a ring. His career is on the down slope but he could still jump up a few spots. Plus, the Dirk fadeaway is an actual term for a shot now.
Barry was a jerk but he could also play the game. He could do it all on the court, but his attitude tended to rub players and fans the wrong way. Plus, he shot free throws underhanded. With the way that some players struggle today, it should be making a comeback.
Stockton played forever and his play almost never dipped. Then again, it almost never peaked either. He had a very, very good career but there were not a ton of good point guards around during his prime. He is one of the best to play the game but you wonder how he would hold up against some of the PGs that play today.
There are going to think that Pippen is too low but I always wondered what he would have been like without MJ. Pippen played great defense and was a man that could fill up the stat sheet. To me, he sits just outside the top 20, although I could be talked into moving him higher.
People may remember Thomas for being a horrible GM but the guy was a great point guard. He wasn't the biggest guy but he willed his team to win two titles. He was the man on the Bad Boys, which is good and bad. Good because they won but bad because they tended to infuriate almost everyone across the league.
Cousy is another guy that retired long before I was born, but I have heard plenty of good things about him. A six time champion, Cousy made everyone on the floor better. He could score when he wanted to but his passing is what really set him apart. He may have played in an era that was set up perfectly for him but you can't knock him for that.
Malone's career could have been made if he won just one title. Alas, that did not happen. The Mailman had some great numbers but his choking when the big game was on the line has to be held against him. He could have easily been a top 15 player, but top 20 is about where he falls these days.
Barkley also could have had a better career if he won just one ring. Like Malone, he ended up being bested by Michael Jordan. Barkley could do a lot of things on the court but his attitude seemed to doom him. He never really dedicated himself to being the best that he could be. If he would have, Barkley could have been a top 10 player.
I bet there are a lot of people out there who do not know a lot about Pettit. He was one of the early stars in basketball and he had the accolades to back it up. He won a couple MVPs and he won a title. He averaged over 20 points and 12 rebounds per game every season he played. He may be old school but he needs to be recognized.
Garnett may be a spot or two too high but the Big Ticket has had a great career. He won his ring in Boston and his career is still chugging along. If he gets a chance to win another one, his career is going to go down as one of the best ever.
Dr. J was the stuff of legends when he played in the ABA. His play was not quite the same in NBA but he was still successful. He helped make the game more popular and his trademark dunk is something that almost every fan knows about. He certainly belongs on this list.
People will say LeBron is too high but look at the results. He is going to be a four time MVP award winner and he already has a ring. He probably has a few more of those coming as well. He is an absolute freak of nature and he is starting to dominate the league. A top five spot when his career is over is not out of reach.
Malone could rebound with the best of them. In fact, he may be the best rebounder to ever play the game. He was also a star, even if he wasn't the most public friendly guy. You can try to pick apart his resume but there is really no point. The man is easily one of the best 15 players to play the game.
Havlicek was another old school player but he had some of the best numbers ever. He won eight titles in his career and was a menace on defense. Hondo is a guy that might start to slip with time but we need to avoid that. He was simply that guy.
Shaq could have been the most dominant center in basketball but he just never seemed to want it. He had all the physical tools but he seemed to have spent a lot of time playing himself into shape instead of showing up into shape. He was one of the most dominant players that I have ever seen but I know that he could have done more.
Olajuwon had one heck of a career and his post work was amazing. He had some of the best footwork in the league and the "Dream Shake" is something that everyone wishes they could do. He brought home two MVPs and two titles. He was also one of the most dominant defensive forces in history. No wonder why he's so high on this list.
Robertson put up some amazing numbers in his day. Heck, the guy averaged a triple-double during a season. That is way too absurd to believe. He was great but he was well-known for being extremely tough on his teammates. That is something that seems to have held him back. He couldn't be stopped on the court but his off-the-court antics seem to have hurt him.
The Logo was a terrific player in his day. He only has one title and one MVP but he seemed to have the worst luck when it came to title opportunities. He was a great defender and that is something that tends to get overlooked these days. You may not remember him as being this good but a lot of teams would have killed to have a guy like West leading the way.
Bryant is going to have his career broken down more than most. He has five rings and he should have multiple MVPs. However, his first three titles came while playing with Shaq and many think his selfishness held some of his teams back. Then again, you can't deny how dominant he could be. He is creeping up the list and more success will keep moving him up.
Chamberlain had some eye-popping numbers but he always left you wanting more. He was dominated by his chief rival over and over again. He seemed more concerned with his own numbers instead of winning. As a basketball player, that is a cardinal sin. If Wilt would have dedicated his time into winning instead of stat hunting, he could have been the best of all time.
Russell is one of the hardest guys to peg on the list. Yes, he won 11 titles but the competition wasn't exactly difficult. However, you can't forget about how much better he made his teammates. He dominated when it mattered the most and that is something that can't be overlooked. Russell is easily one of the best 10 players but finding a permanent spot for him is certainly difficult.
People will scoff at having Duncan at five, but the man continues to put in work. He has four titles and he won them during four different styles of play. He could win when teams ground out victories. He could win when things were opened up and his play has barely dropped off. If he adds another ring, he would certainly become a lock for one of the top five players of all time.
Bird is a player who gets knocked these days but for reasons that are unclear. He was an absolute dead-eye shooter and no one wanted to go up against him in his prime. Bird led those Boston Celtics teams into battle and you knew he would put on a show. His back betrayed him too soon, but he was an icon in basketball. You can't forget that.
Johnson could run the point like no one ever could. He was the key cog of the Showtime Lakers and he thrived when basketball was booming during the 1980s. In fact, you could say that he and Bird helped save basketball in America. They helped make it one of the most popular sports in the world. Throw that in with his numerous titles and MVP awards and you have a great player.
The skyhook may have been the easiest two points in basketball. You were not going to block it and you could only hope to force Kareem off of the block. He was a dominant presence for an incredible amount of time and he still succeed well after most players started to fall off. He may have looked goofy but he is clearly one of the best to ever play the game. If it wasn't for a certain number 23, he probably would have been the best to ever play.
Jordan is going to be number one on any list. The man had no peer and he was obsessed with winning. He simply had to win at everything that he did. That is what made him the best to ever lace up a pair of basketball shoes. He sought out rivals and systematically destroyed them. He left no doubt that he was the best player out there. People have always been compared to Jordan, but there will never be another Jordan. He (originally) left the game on top and that is where he should stay.