Top 10 Basketball Players of All Time

When it comes to opening doors to debate, nothing is more effective than a top 10 list. Especially when it involves ranking athletes. Because these are all purely subjective, there will always be both negative and positive feedback. This list ranks the top 10 basketball players of all time, according to me. Agree or disagree, thats up to you. Either way let me know what you think.

Michael Jordan signature dunk
Michael Jordan throwing one down in emphatic fashion Photo by Guitar Zero

1. Michael Jordan: The greatest combination of statistics and championships and the most beloved player to ever lace them up. Also one of the greatest salesmen/advertiser out there. The man could endorse broccoli and kids would buy it.

Bill Russell blocking a shot
Bill Russell shows the type of defense that made him famous Photo by justinschacter1

2. Bill Russell: The greatest winner in sports history. Not only did he win 11 championships and 5 MVP awards, he, along with Wilt Chamberlain, was a huge civil rights activists who played his ball during the racially insensitive 60’s.

Kareem prepares a thunderous dunk
Kareem brings it behind his head as prepares to flush it home Photo by bball chico

3. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Retired as the all time leader in points scored over a career. Featured the most unstoppable scoring move in history, the sky hook. Also won a record 6 MVP’s and 6 championships.

Kobe playing defense under the comfort of the Staples Center Photo by thedanger23

4. Kobe Bryant: One of three players on the list whose career is still active. Already features 5 championships, an MVP, and 2 finals MVP’s. On pace to break the all time scoring record. Regarded as the most polarizing player in the game today.

Magic in action
Magic posing in his usual vibrant manner Photo by cliff1066tm

5. Magic Johnson: The greatest point guard of all time. Executed some of the greatest highlights ever. Ended his career as the leader in assists (recently passed by John Stockton, Marc Jackson, Jason Kidd). Led the Lakers to 5 championships.

Larry prepares his free throw
Larry Legend attempts to sink another shot Photo by Rich Pilling/NBAE/Getty Images)

6. Larry Bird: The Legend. Could be much higher on the list and nobody would argue. One of the most unorthodox players ever, he featured one of the deadliest and most accurate jump shots in history. Won three straight MVP’s and led his Celtics to 3 championships before his career was cut short to injuries.

Duncan with an easy two points
Duncan throwing down another a dunk Photo by Dave Gorman

7. Tim Duncan: The greatest power forward of all time. With 4 championships and 2 MVP’s at his disposal, Duncan was the most consistent player to grace the court. 24 points, 12 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks were all but guaranteed the moment the clock started. Also one of the greatest defensive players ever.

Wilt getting ready to score
Chamberlain surveys the court as he prepares his move Photo by bballchico

8. Wilt Chamberlain: The most controversial player on the list. As high as number 1 on other lists. Although he put together the gaudiest stats anyone ever saw, he played with a “me first” attitude. As a result, despite his transcendent skill, he only won two championships, a telling stat because he played against Bill Russell his whole career. Russell’s team oriented style always prevailed over Wilt’s prolific statistics. Based on sheer talent and force, however, Wilt is at or near the top.

West before he joined the Lakers
Shrine for Jerry West at his alma matter Photo by kwatson0013

9. Jerry West: He is the NBA logo. West only won one championship, due in large part to having to play Bill Russell’s Celtics every year. The combination of Wilt and West finally prevailed. Also known as Mr. Clutch because of the tough shots he always seemed to hit with the game on the line.

Shaq hangs after a dunk
Shaq trying to bring the backboard down with an emphatic dunk Photo by justinschacter1

10. Shaquille O’Neal: In his prime, the most dominant force to ever lace them up. Relied on sheer strength and size to amass 4 championships and an MVP award. Reluctance to take care of his body and refine his game keeps him from being any higher on the list.

9 thoughts on “Top 10 Basketball Players of All Time

    • Magic played with the number 3 player on this list, as well as James Worthy, Bob Mcadoo, Byron Scott, etc.
      As much as he made them much better players, playing with those guys and at the pace they played at inflated his stats. Big time. You can argue that there is not a single hall of fame caliber player aside from Kobe Bryant on the current Laker squad (Gasol might be. Who knows.). Kobe has proven that he could win without Shaq and if he wins this season, that’s six rings for Mr. Bryant. Look at the track record and it’s a lot closer than you seem to think it is. And if Kobe wins ring number 6 it’s not even a debate anymore.

      • Kobe could win 10 NBA rings and I don’t believe he’s on the same planet as Magic in my opinion. Different time period, different talent. Magic made all of those players better, not vice versa. Kareem’s career was probably catapulted because of Magic. Same with the other players you mentioned. Kobe is very good, but it is a different time period in the NBA. I believe Magic’s era of the NBA was the best as a whole. I’m pretty sure, not positive, if Kobe played in that era, he would have way different stats.

      • I can’t penalize Kobe because he was born 20 years after Magic. Should we also penalize Bill Russell and Wilt because they played in the 50’s and 60’s against a bunch of unathletic centers who couldn’t jump or shoot? I don’t think so. The things Kobe is doing against the players of his generation are right on par to what Magic was doing against the players in his. And I would actually argue that some of the players of this generation were on par if not better than some of the legends of Magic’s time. Lebron, Wade, Howard, Kidd, Nash, etc. These guys would be great regardless of era and Kobe (along with Duncan and Shaq) has nonetheless dominated his era of basketball.

        Also, another reason Kobe ranks 4 and Magic is at 5 is longevity. Would you rather have 15 transcendent seasons from Kobe or 11 from Magic. I’ll take the 15 (and counting). Like I said, however, this is a completely subjective list. If you were to put Magic ahead of Kobe I probably wouldn’t put up much of an argument because its very close. Personally, however, Kobe is slightly ahead.

  1. I respect your opinion. I wasn’t penalizing him for playing now. I was just stating a fact. All those guys are good you mentioned he plays against, but I don’t believe they are better than guys like Bird, Mchale, Wilkins, Dr. J, Hakeem, Drexler, Barkley, Tom Chambers(lol), Mark Price, Isaiah Thomas and tons of players I can’t think of at the moment. I always believe that Bill Russell and Wilt would be good today in today’s game as they were back then. Maybe not 11 championships in a row and 100 point games good, but I think those guys would be all-stars, even in today’s game. Especially Russell. That man was an awesome player. . Wilt was kind of goofy, but his strength and size got him over a lot as you mentioned about the talent he played against. I think Russell would be the best center in the game today if he played. I’m 35, and I still play basketball. I’ve played since 3rd grade. I was decent once. I still play on the street courts from time to time. I see all-stars now in high school and college and hear how great they are all the time. They are good, but I knew guys who sat the bench throughout my playing days that were better then some all stars today around my area. So I see how time really doesn’t effect talent in a way, though a lot of people say those guys in the 50’s and 60’s were slow, small and goofy, they really weren’t. Film, stats, etc., can be deceiving when making a comparison.

  2. I will put up my top ten because i’m tired of watching people be stupid nd put kobe bryant in the top ten. HE’S NOT IN THE TOP TEN! 1.MICHAEL JORDAN 2.OSCAR ROBERTSON 3.WILT CHAMBERLIN 4.KAREEM ALDULAU JABAR (FORGET SPELLING) 5.LARRY BIRD 6. MAGIC JOHNSON 7.MOSES MALONE 8.TIM DUNCAN 9. SHAQUIEL O’NEAL 10. BILL RUSSEL

  3. How is Kobe Bryant higher on the list then Bird and Magic? It doesnt make any sense. Larry Bird was big, could pass, could shoot, and made his teamates better. Magic did anything he had to do for his team to win. Plus they had the stats that Bryant had as well. Magic played center for a game to help his team win, and when Kobe was drafted, Charlotte had to trade him because he refused to play for Charlotte. Larry Bird was all about team ball, and he and Magic had one of the most historic rivalries in all of sports. Bryant is a one man show, and players that play with him get worse. I just dont see how that adds up.
    Another problem with this list is Bob Cousy is no where to be seen. Arguably the best point guard in the history of the game, and he is not on the list over Shaq who just stood under the basket and made layups his whole career. I have complete respect for Shaq but Cousy had more to offer throughout his carreer. Since he played so long ago he is forgotten.

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