nba 50 greatest players

Top 10 NBA Players of All-Time – 2014 Update

nba 50 greatest players

It’s been three long years since The Hoops Manifesto gathered together some of the web’s best basketball writers to rummage through the annals of NBA (and ABA) history (sounds dirty, but it’s not – honest) to bring you rankings of the best players to have ever laced them up.  It’s about time we update that list.  Because, in the past three years, to quote Christopher Wallace: things done changed.

Voting panel: Jeff Fox, Perry Missner, and Taylor Luchtefeld from The Hoops Manifesto, College Wolf & Bonk from the TWolves Blog, Philip from Orlando Magic Daily, Don from With Malice, Ray Bala from The Can Ball Report.

 

Honourable Mention: Oscar Robertson, Jerry West, Kevin Garnett

 

10) Kobe Bryant- Los Angeles Lakers – 1996 – present

kobe vs jordan

Career accomplishments:

– member of five NBA championship teams
– sixth all-time in field goals made in NBA history
– third all-time in free throws made in NBA history
– fourth all-time in points in NBA history
– 16-time NBA All-Star
– two-time NBA Finals MVP
– one-time NBA MVP
– NBA All-Rookie Team
– 15-time All-NBA selection
– 12-time NBA All-Defensive Team selection

The fact that Kobe Bean Bryant is coming off the worst (and shortest) NBA campaign of his career probably didn’t do him many favors in the eyes of our voting panel.  But look at that career resume – not too many players can boast one as full of achievements.  But at the age of 35 (a very banged up, well-traveled 35), does he have any gas left in the tank?

 

9) Shaquille O’Neal – Orlando Magic, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston Celtics – 1992 – 2011

Career accomplishments:

– member of four NBA championship teams
– fifth all-time in field goals made in NBA history
– third all-time in field goal % in NBA history
– sixth all-time in offensive rebounds in NBA history
– eighth all-time in defensive rebounds in NBA history
– eighth all-time in blocks in NBA history
– sixth all-time in points in NBA history
– 15-time NBA All-Star
– three-time NBA Finals MVP
– one-time NBA MVP
– 14-time All-NBA selection
– three-time NBA All-Defensive Team selection
– NBA Rookie of the Year
– NBA All-Rookie Team

Just look at that list of accomplishments – pretty impressive stuff, right?  Yet, Shaquille O’Neal‘s career feels like it could have been so much more than it was.  What could he have achieved if he was in proper physical condition?  What could he have accomplished if he put the effort in to becoming a competent free throw shooter?  How high up on this list could he have landed if he was properly motivated at all times?

 

8) LeBron James – Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat – 2003 – present

Career accomplishments:

– member of two NBA championship teams
– two-time NBA Finals MVP
– four-time NBA MVP
– NBA Rookie of the Year
– NBA All-Rookie Team
– 10-time All-NBA selection
– six-time NBA All-Defensive Team selection
– sixth all-time in minutes played per game in NBA history
– third all-time in points per game in NBA history

The King finally takes his rightful place on the greatest players of all-time list.  And he’s only just begun.  The scary thing is, despite a resume deemed the eighth greatest of all-time, LeBron is only 29.

 

7) Tim Duncan – San Antonio Spurs – 1997 – present

Career accomplishments:

– member of five NBA championship teams
– three-time NBA Finals MVP
– two-time NBA MVP
– 14-time All-NBA selection
– 14-time NBA All-Defensive Team selection
– 14-time NBA All-Star
– NBA Rookie of the Year
– NBA All-Rookie Team
– third all-time in defensive rebounds in NBA history
– seventh all-time in blocks in NBA history

Cyborg Duncan, despite being 38 (which, in fairness, is only 19 in cyborg years), hasn’t shown any signs on slowing down.  And neither are the reigning NBA champion Spurs.  Will winning another ring (or two or three or…) put Duncan even higher on this list in the future?

 

6) Wilt Chamberlain – Philadelphia/San Francisco Warriors, Philadelphia 76ers, Los Angeles Lakers – 1959 – 1973

Career accomplishments:

– basketball Hall of Fame
– member of two NBA championship teams
– sixth all-time in minutes played in NBA history
– third all-time in field goals made in NBA history
– first all-time in total rebounds in NBA history
– fifth all-time in points in NBA history
– first all-time in minutes per game in NBA history
– second all-time in points per game in NBA history
– first all-time in rebounds per game in NBA history
– 13-time NBA All-Star
– one-time NBA Finals MVP
– four-time NBA MVP
– 10-time All-NBA selection
– two-time NBA All-Defensive Team selection
– NBA Rookie of the Year

You can’t really top Wilt’s individual accomplishments, it’s his lack of sustained team success that knocks him down a few places on the list.  But, wow – what an unique talent – perhaps the greatest size/skill combination the world has ever seen.

 

5) Larry Bird – Boston Celtics – 1979 – 1992

Career accomplishments:

– basketball Hall of Fame
– member of three NBA championship teams
– tenth all-time in free throw % in NBA history
– three-time NBA MVP
– NBA Rookie of the Year
– two-time NBA Finals MVP
– 10-time All-NBA selection
– 12-time NBA All-Star
– NBA All-Rookie Team
– three-time NBA All-Defensive Team selection

The crazy thing about Larry Bird, and one that people don’t always recognize, is his career was shortened (not to mentioned diminished while he was on the court) by injury.  He was cut down in his early 30s with a bad back, and only played 897 NBA regular season games.  Imagine what he could have done if his body didn’t betray him.

 

4) Magic Johnson – Los Angeles Lakers – 1979 – 1991, 1996

Career accomplishments:

– basketball Hall of Fame
– member of five NBA championship teams
– fifth all-time in assists in NBA history
– first all-time in assists per game in NBA history
– 12-time NBA All-Star
– three-time NBA Finals MVP
– three-time NBA MVP
– NBA All-Rookie Team
– 10-time All-NBA selection

Yet another NBA legend struck down in his prime – Magic also was driven from the game in his early 30s due to health issues, playing only 906 regular season games.  But what a career he still had.  However, claiming that he revolutionized the point guard position is incorrect – there never was a point guard like Magic before he came around, and there has never been one since he left the hardwood.

 

3) Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – Milwaukee Bucks, Los Angeles Lakers – 1969 – 1989

Career accomplishments:

– basketball Hall of Fame
– member of six NBA championship teams
– second all-time in games played in NBA history
– first all-time in minutes played in NBA history
– first all-time in field goals made in NBA history
– eighth all-time in free throws made in NBA history
– seventh all-time in defensive rebounds in NBA history
– third all-time in total rebounds in NBA history
– third all-time in blocks in NBA history
– first all-time in points in NBA history
– eighth all-time in blocks per game in NBA history
– 19-time NBA All-Star
– six-time NBA MVP
– two-time NBA Finals MVP
– 15-time All-NBA selection
– 11-time NBA All-Defensive Team selection
– NBA Rookie of the Year
- NBA All-Rookie Team

The greatest player in basketball history?  If you include prep, college and pro accolades, it’s very hard to argue that anyone had more success than the artist formerly known as Lew Alcindor.

 

2) Bill Russell – Boston Celtics – 1956-1969

chamberlinrussell

Career accomplishments:

– basketball Hall of Fame
– member of 11 NBA championship teams
– second in total rebounds in NBA history
– second in rebounds per game in NBA history
– second in minutes per game in NBA history
– 12-time NBA All-Star
– five-time NBA MVP
– 11-time All-NBA Team
– one-time All-Defensive Team

Winner.  Nuff said.

 

1) Michael Jordan – Chicago Bulls, Washington Wizards – 1984 – 1993, 1995 – 1998, 2001 – 2003

michael-jordan-magic-game3

Career accomplishments:

– basketball Hall of Fame
– member of six NBA championship teams
– fourth all-time in field goals made in NBA history
– fifth all-time in free throws made in NBA history
– third all-time in steals in NBA history
– third all-time in points in NBA history
– first all-time in points per game in NBA history
– fourth all-time in steals per game in NBA history
– 14-time NBA All-Star
– Rookie of the Year
– Defensive Player of the Year
– five-time NBA MVP
– six-time NBA Finals MVP
– All-Rookie Team
– 11-time All-NBA selection
– nine-time All-Defensive Team selection

Mentally and physically the greatest player to ever lace them up.  Period.  Over a decade since his last game, everyone still wants to be like Mike.

 

Previous Top Tens of All-Time: Point Guards, Shooting Guards, Small Forwards, Power Forwards, Centers.

Related: Is LeBron better than Jordan?

 

About Jeff Fox

Jeff Fox is Mr. Manifesto - the Supreme Leader and evil mind behind The Hoops Manifesto & The MMA Manifesto

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