Top Ten Greatest NBA Players Of All-Time

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Rahim Ali Merchant

Latest posts by Rahim Ali Merchant (see all)

In the 72-year history of the National Basketball Association, we as fans have seen a number of great players take the hardwood. But where do we rank each player in terms of the Greatest of All-time?

Let’s finally put an end to the debate between specific players.

Legendary Boston Celtic, Bill Russell, was part of a historic Championship run that we may never see again. He and the Celtics went on to win 11 NBA championships in 13 years (most as a player), but does he make it into your top ten?

How about Wilt Chamberlain and his historic 100-point game that no body could ever reach, not even the Mamba himself, Kobe Bryant. What about other Lakers legends like Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Shaquille O’Neal? All of which have won at least three titles with the Lakers.

Or is it the newest Laker, LeBron James? Most people in today’s generation would say it’s James, but how about Michael Jordan? Or could it be Jordan’s competition, like the Utah Jazz Karl Malone and Celtics Larry Bird? Although Bird was more of a competition to Magic Johnson. But was Magic the best all-around point guard? Or was it really the Big O, Oscar Robertson?

I mean the debate for who the Greatest of All Time is can go on forever, but what are we basing it off of? Does the amount of championships a player wins determine where they end up on the top ten? Or do we actually look at the amount of success each individual player had? That’s what I will be looking at. Even though some of the players on this list may make you question why you read this, the debate will always be there as to who’s the G.O.A.T.

So here’s the order:

10. KARL “THE MAILMAN” MALONE: (1985-2004)

Career Stats: 25.0 ppg, 10.1 rpg, 3.6 apg

Career Milestones:

  • 2 x NBA Most Valuable Player (1997, 1999)
  • 14 xNBA All-Star
  • 2nd Most Points All-Time (36,928)
  • 7th Most Rebounds All-Time (14,968)
  • 10th Most Steals All-Time (2,085)

NBA Championships: None

9. LARRY BIRD: (1979-1992)

Career Stats: 24.3 ppg, 10. rpg, 6.3 apg

Career Milestones:

  • 3 x NBA Most Valuable Player
  • 12 x NBA All-Star
  • NBA Rookie of the Year (1980)
  • 3 x Three-point Champion

NBA Championships: 3 (1981, 1984, 1986)

8. OSCAR “THE BIG O” ROBERTSON: (1960-1974)

Career Stats: 25.7 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 9.5 apg

Career Milestones:

  • NBA Most Valuable Player (1964)
  • 12 x NBA All-Star
  • NBA Rookie of the Year
  • 6 x NBA Assists Leader
  • 6th Most Assists All-Time: 9,887
  • 12th Most Points All-Time: 26,710
  • First Ever to Average Triple-Double in A Season
  • 2nd Most Triple-Doubles in A Season (41, Westbrook- 42)

NBA Championships: 1 (1971)

7. WILT “THE STILT” CHAMBERLAIN: (1959-1973)

Career Stats: 30.1 ppg, 22.9 rpg, 4.4 apg

Career Milestones:

  • 4 x NBA Most Valuable Player (1960, 1966–1968)
  • 13 x NBA All-Star
  • NBA Rookie of the Year (1960)
  • 7 x NBA Scoring Champion
  • 11 x NBA Rebounding Champion
  • NBA Assists Leader (1968)
  • 5th Most Points All-Time: (31,419)
  • 1st Most Rebounds All-Time: (23,924)
  • Most in Points in A Single Season (4,029)
  • Most in Points in A Single Game (100)

NBA Championships: 2 (1967, 1972)

6. SHAQUILLE O’NEAL: (1992-2011)

Career Stats: 23.7 ppg, 10.9 rpg, 2.3 bpg

Career Milestones:

  • 1 x NBA Most Valuable Player (2000)
  • 15 x NBA All-Star
  • NBA Rookie of the Year (1993)
  • 8th Most Points All-Time: (28,596)

NBA Championships: 4 (2000-2002, 2006)

5. EARVIN “MAGIC” JOHNSON: (1979-1991, 1996)

Career Stats: 19.5 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 11.2 apg

Career Milestones:

  • 3 x NBA Most Valuable Player (1987, 1989, 1990)
  • 12 x NBA All-Star
  • 4 x NBA Assist Leader
  • 2 x NBA Steal Leader
  • 5th Most Assists All-Time (10,141)

NBA Championships: 5 (1980,1982,1985,1987,1988)

4. LEBRON “KING” JAMES: (2003-PRESENT)

Career Stats: 27.2 ppg, 7.4 rpg. 7.2 apg

Career Milestones:

  • 4 x NBA Most Valuable Player (2009, 2010, 2012, 2013)
  • 14 x NBA All-Star
  • NBA Rookie of the Year (2003)
  • NBA Scoring Champion (2008)
  • 5 x NBA All-Defensive First Team
  • 6th Most Points All-Time: (31,038)
  • 11th Most Assists All-Time (8,208)

NBA Championships: 3 (2012-2013, 2016)

3. KOBE “BLACK MAMBA” BRYANT: (1996-2016)

Career Stats: 25.0 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 4.7 apg

Career Milestones:

  • 1 x NBA Most Valuable Player (2008)
  • 18 x NBA All-Star
  • 2 x NBA Scoring Champion
  • 9 x NBA All-Defensive First Team
  • NBA Slam Dunk Champion (1997)
  • 3rd Most Points All-time: (33,643)
  • 2nd Most in Points in A Single Game (81)

NBA Championships: 5 (2000-2002, 2009-2010)

2. KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR: (1969-1989)

Career Stats: 24.6 ppg, 11.2 rpg, 2.5 bpg

Career Milestones:

  • 6 x NBA Most Valuable Player (1971, 1972, 1974, 1976, 1977, 1980)
  • 19 x NBA All-Star
  • NBA Rookie of the Year (1970)
  • 2 x NBA Scoring Champion
  • NBA Rebounding Champion (1976)
  • 4 x NBA Blocks Leader
  • 5 x All-Defensive First-Team
  • Most Points All-Time: (38,387)
  • 3rd Most Rebounds All-Time: (17,440)
  • 3rd Most Blocks All-Time: (3,189)

NBA Championships: 6 (1971,1980, 1982, 1985, 1987, 1988)

1. MICHAEL “MJ” JORDAN: (1984-1993, 1995-1998, 2001-2003)

Career Stats: 30.1 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 5.3 apg

Career Milestones:

  • 5 x NBA Most Valuable Player (1988, 1991, 1992, 1996, 1998)
  • 14 x NBA All-Star
  • NBA Rookie of the Year (1985)
  • 10 x NBA Scoring Champion
  • 2 x NBA Slam Dunk Champion
  • 3 x NBA Steals Leader
  • 9 x All-Defensive First-Team
  • NBA Defensive Player Of The Year (1986)
  • 4th Most Points All-Time: (32,292)
  • 3rd Most Steals All-Time: (2,514)

NBA Championships: 6 (1991-1993, 1995-1998)

The only active player on this list is LeBron James, and the reason for giving you my top ten is to show you where he currently places as the G.O.A.T.

With his current move to the Los Angeles Lakers, some members of the media and fans are saying he’s the greatest Laker without playing a single game. Others talk about how he’s above Kobe and Jordan as the greatest, but I don’t think he’s greater than Kareem yet either.

The key word there is “yet.” James is entering his 15th season and is already fourth on the list. All we know is where he’ll be playing for the next few seasons, and if you know me, I’ve been a Lakers fan through the good and bad. I have also been saying that James isn’t really after winning rings so much as he is trying to be the greatest. Expect to see James in the top five to ten in every statistical category that is available in the NBA. That is seemingly the only way I could see him being the greatest of all-time.

But what do you think? Comment below to continue this debate with me!

Also don’t forget to follow us on Twitter!

LeBron James vs. Kobe Bryant” by Erik Drost is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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Top Ten Greatest NBA Play…

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