Pfft only 5 you people are crazy you couldn't fit the greatest players in into a top 5 even if you were one of them. That's just too d**n impossible i've made my list but it's a top 10, not 5.
1) - For Now, Michael Jordan
In case you were wondering, this was the least debated slot on the entire list. I'm not saying Michael Jordan CAN'T never be toppled, but for the time being, based on every consideration we could give, Mike is the one. Pure stats and their place in history? Try 30.1 ppg for his career (first all time). Or 2,514 steals (second all time). Honors? Rookie of the Year, 14 All-Star Games (MVP three times), 10 First Team All-NBA teams (nine First Team All-Defense), five MVP awards (plus six Finals MVPs). Dominant at both ends of the floor? Um, did you read the stats and honors above?! Championships? Six. Went head-to-head with other greats? Shoot, MJ ended one era (Magic-Bird-Isiah) before its time, and basically single-handedly kept a Hall of Fame lineup’s worth of stars (Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Karl Malone, Reggie Miller, John Stockton) from ever winning a ring. Entertaining? Sure ok. Impact on the game? Ditto. Really, Michael Jordan is the overall perfect basketball player.
2) - Will some day be 1, Kobe Bryant
Perfectionism is the persistence of will in obtaining the optimal quality of spiritual, mental, physical and material being. Also referred to as Kobeism. When discussing KB24, there are a few things you have to take into account. One, he was constructed in a lab by commissioner David Stern and company. Sixty percent MJ, 20 percent Tiger Woods and 20 percent Jellybean Bryant (for physical attributes). Two, he’s only 30 years old and has 13 healthy seasons under his belt with 4 rings, 12 All-Star Game appearances and two scoring titles. Last but not least, how many players can give you 25-30 points when their defender is doing a great job stopping them? Kobe is the product of Michael Jordan as MJ was the product of Dr. J. Some may argue that there’s a different best active player, but truth is Kobe Bryant has the only set of keys to the best basketball player car and it’s going to be a few more years until he lets anyone else drive. For now he’s welcoming all students(lechoke) to ride alongside in the passenger seat. So put your seatbelt on and enjoy the ride!.
3) Magic Johnson
Magic's greatness can be quantified by citing a lot of statistics. But, I think the single most compelling evidence of his greatness is that there hasn't been a player since who has been able to do the things he did. He was a 6'8 point guard who could run the break, drive to the hole, rebound and post-up. His excellence produced five NBA Championships and three MVPs. He accomplished all of that despite the fact that his career ended at 31 years of age. One can only imagine what he could have done with five-to-ten more years added to his career. Magic holds a slight edge over Shaq in a number of categories. He holds a 5-4 Championship advantage, a 9-8 All-NBA First Team advantage, a 9-8 advantage in top-5 MVP finishes, and a 3-1 MVP advantage (although both won three Finals MVPs). Magic is 6th on the all-time Wins Shares Above Average-list. Shaq is 7th. Plus, as a 6’8 point guard, Magic is one of the few players in NBA history who can claim a size advantage relative to his position on par with Shaq’s.
4) Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
I always knew Kareem was good. You don't hold the record for most points in NBA history by being average. What I didn't know was just how good he was. I only got to see the “bald” portion of his career. In his prime, Kareem was unstoppable. He amassed six MVP awards (most all-time), six NBA Championships, two Finals MVPs, and 19 All-Star appearances (most all-time). His patented "skyhook" was an unblockable weapon. His defensive skills earned him five selections to the First Team All-Defense. His all-around skills made him the perfect big man for Pat Riley's up-tempo offense. Kareem has the most First-Team All-NBA selections of any center in history. He has the most All-NBA (first, second, and third) selections of any player in history. He finished in the top five of the NBA MVP voting 15 times. No player has even come close to that.
5) Julius Erving
Based on his NBA numbers alone, Dr. J probably doesn't deserve to be rated this high. However, he was so dominant in the ABA that it would be a shame to penalize him for coming from the wrong league. Erving won three MVP's in the ABA which is an impressive feat but shouldn't be confused with winning an NBA MVP where the competition was second-to-none. Erving won two ABA Championships and one NBA Championship. It's not like his NBA-career was second-rate, either. He made 11 All-Star teams. He was selected First Team All-NBA five times. He finished in the top five of the MVP Voting five times and won the MVP in '81. Oh yeah not to mention HE PAVED THE WAY FOR JORDAN!.
6) Wilt Chamberlain
More than a few people probably think that Wilt Chamberlain is the greatest NBA player of all-time. I can respect that viewpoint. I just don't agree with it. He dominated the competition like nobody before or after him. There are a number of reasons why I can't rate Chamberlain higher than sixth. First, Jordan, Kareem, and Magic just have better resumes. Second, his competition wasn't anywhere near what Shaq had to play against. There is no way to quantify the differences in competition-levels but Chamberlain most likely wouldn't have fared as well as Shaq had he played in his era. Keep in mind that Chamberlain was essentially Dwight Howard (big, strong, lean, athletic player without much of a game outside of 8’) playing in the 60s and 70s. Howard gives us a glimpse of what Wilt might be like if he played today. He's good but he certainly isn't scoring 100 points or grabbing 55 rebounds in a game. Lastly, Shaq was the prototype for his position. Shaq was bigger, stronger, and more explosive than Chamberlain. Shaq also won twice as many titles in a vastly more difficult era. As for a Chamberlain/Russell comparison, I give the edge to Wilt. Bill Simmons ("The Sports Guy") recently said that revisionist history has caused Chamberlain to be rated higher than Bill Russell. He also said that back when both men were playing, it was common knowledge that Russell was the better player. If that is the case, then why was Wilt selected to the First Team All-NBA ahead of Russell in seven of the nine seasons that they played together? Also, Chamberlain was 7'1 while Russell was only 6'9. That is a significant difference in height. A match-up like that in the NBA today would be called a "mismatch." The extra four inches are likely the reason Russell wasn't able to match Chamberlain's dominance offensively in an era plagued by 6’7 post-players. The edge goes to Chamberlain.
7) Bill Russell
I am a big fan of taking into consideration championships when analyzing a career. That's not to say that a player who never won a championship can't be better than a player who did win a championship. Nobody, in any sport, has won more championships than Bill Russell. He is undoubtedly one of the greatest players to ever play the game. Unfortunately, I can't justify rating him above the players ahead of him on this list. Winning that many championships takes a good amount of skill and an absurd amount of good fortune. Russell played along side Bob Cousy and John Havlicek who are among the top 50 NBA players of all-time. He also had the "Chamberlain factor" of matching up against much weaker competition than Shaq and Kareem. Russell was awesome. I almost feel like I need to justify ranking him only 7th all-time. Eleven championships will do that to you. He was great, but he was vastly inferior offensively to the players above him on the list. His Player Efficiency Rating (PER) is also, by far, the lowest of any player that I have rated in the top 20.
8) Jerry West
Jerry West was freakishly underrated. He is literally the face of the NBA as he is the silhouette portrayed on the league’s logo. West was a first team All-NBA selection ten times (second all-time). He had the luxury of playing with Wilt Chamberlain and Elgin Baylor during his career. That may be the greatest collection of talent on one team the league has ever seen. West was also a stellar defensive player being named first team All-Defense four times. West didn’t win an MVP award for the same reasons Baylor didn’t. Chamberlain and Russell made it virtually impossible for anyone else in that era to win the award.
9) George Mikan
There was no father to his style. That George Mikan was the NBA’s first great big man is almost beside the point; he was professional basketball’s first big man, period. A gangly 6-10, Mikan stepped into a game played by average-sized men taking set shots and changed it forever. He was both a freak and a superstar at a time when the game had neither and needed both. Understand this: They changed rules for this man. He dominated the lane so thoroughly that they widened it, and he swatted so many shots from above the rim that they disallowed the practice. Comparing him to the greats who came after, players with more size and talent, is a waste of time, and really beside the point. George Mikan is peerless because he literally had no peer.
10) Larry Bird
Larry Bird collected every accolade the NBA offered. At 6-9, 220, and long-armed, Bird had abundant athleticism, physical limits didn’t stop Larry. You don’t average 24.3 ppg and 10 rpg without athleticism, but he did. You don’t average 6.3 apg and 1.7 spg as a forward, but he did. You don’t win three rings and last 13 seasons with a bad back, but somehow he did. overcoming, competing, wining, repeating
Answered By: Pseudonymity - 6/23/2009