NBA was established in 1949. Since then, there have been numerous players gracing the court who have left a mark which can be seldom ignored. Today NBA is one of the most profitable and successful organizations in the world. With a combined revenue of 6.41 billion U.S. dollars, the impact of NBA on the sport is legendary. This was made possible due to the once-in-a-lifetime players who dazzled us with their athleticism and genius.
There have been numerous stars who have graced the court of an NBA game. Most were able to make a name for themselves, but some have their name etched into the record books as the best in the history of the sport. We count down the top 10 basketball players in the NBA of all time, in our humble opinion.
One of the best power forwards in the history of the game, Tim Duncan, was selected as an overall first draft pick by the San Antonio Spurs. He would go on to spend his entire career loyal to the franchise. Dubbed “The Big Fundamental”, Tim Duncan was typically not a flamboyant player but rather depended on the fundamentals of basketball. This made him terrifyingly efficient throughout the court. Whether it be offense or defense, Tim Duncan bought that stability in the team. Having won the final MVP award 3-times in his career, Tim Duncan also guided the Spurs to the NBA championship 4 times. Tim Duncan was also considered quite underrated throughout his career. Nonetheless, one thing cannot be overstated that Tim Duncan truly was one of the greats to grace the basketball court.
With 11 NBA Championships, the name of Bill Russel is etched in history to be one of the greats to ever do it. A defensive player by heart and trade, he is considered one of the greatest rebounders in the history of the NBA. His rebounding game was crucial in the many championships he won with the Celtics. One of the greatest moments of Bill Russel’s career was the 1962 finals between Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers. Lakers were leading the series 3-2. However, in Game 7, Russel took matters into his own hand and single-handedly destroyed the Lakers by scoring 30 points and putting up an incredible 40 rebounds on the board.
His blocking game was too revered by many. Since NBA did not officially start recording blocks per game but several newspaper articles during that time reported around 20 blocks in a single game. A 5 time MVP award winner, Bill Russell surely is a legend in the game and is an inspiration to many players today.
Larry Bird was known for his shooting and his trash talking. However, he backed up his trash talking with legitimate results. This made him a fearsome foe to encounter, Having a high basketballing IQ and skills to go along, Larry Bird’s name is revered to this date as one of the greatest ever. Drafted 6th overall in the 1978 NBA Draft by the Boston Celtics, he remained with them for the entirety of his career.
A well-known story about Larry Bird is that he memorized the dead spots of the Celtics court, which was made with oak wood. The alleged dead spots on the floors meant that the ball would not bounce quite as high as the rest of the court. So he used to defend the players and lure them into those spots, which aided him tremendously while stealing off the opposition. This story is certainly a testament to his dedication and competitiveness. He was also the only person to never lose a playoff game against the great Micheal Jordon. He got the better of him both times they met in the play-offs. Larry “Legend” Bird was certainly not the most athletic but surely the most dedicated and competitive player we got to witness in the history of the NBA.
Earvin Johnson Jr.
Better known as Magic Johnson, he was one of the greatest ever to play basketball. His greatness cannot be defined by mere statistics. The ’80s was a transitional period for NBA. It was slowly adapting to the high-paced and athletic NBA of today. Among everything, Magic Johnson was drafted first overall in the 1979 NBA draft by the LA Lakers. He went on to win the Rookie of the Year as well as the NBA Championship. To make matters even more ridiculous, he even won the Finals MVP award that year.
Earvin “Magic” Johnson was a 6’9″ point guard who used his high stature to dominate the game from the get-go. Having won 5 NBA Championships and 3 Finals MVP awards, he was destined for even more if his health did not deteriorate. In the summer of 1991, a piece of tragic news was abruptly broken by Johnson that he had contracted HIV and had to retire immediately. He would not play for 4 years. Until he returned in 1996 for a brief period but then again retired in the same year for good. A true legend of the game who achieved greatness and was perhaps destined for more. Nonetheless, his impact in the league is truly unmatchable.
One of the most dominant players to ever step foot on the court, Wilt Chamberlain’s impact is undisputed. A player who averaged 50.4 points and 25.7 rebounds in a 1961-62 season can only be revered as something out of a manga or comic book. One of the originals to bring the level of basketball to new heights, he set numerous outlandish records, which we can only marvel at. His score of 4000 points in a season is simply as ridiculous as it sounds. His dominance would later prompt several rule changes in the league. Some of them are widening the lane, revising the rules governing in-bounding ball, and even shooting free throws. Since Chamberlain practically deposited the ball so easily by just leaping with the ball from behind the foul line.
He retired at the end of the 1972-73 season and went on to have a successful and happening post-retirement, even acting alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger in the movie Conan The Barbarian. The list could go on, but it truly remains undisputed that Chamberlain is one of the best to ever play basketball.
It is impossible to like Shaquille O’Neal. One of the most likable personalities in the NBA. However, on the court, it was a different story for the opposition. Standing at 7 ‘ 1″ tall and weighing more than 145 kgs, there has seldom been a dominant force like Shaq. Drafted in the year of 1992 by Orlando Magic, Shaq became notorious for dominance throughout the game. Averaging 23.4 points and 13.9 rebounds per game, he picked up rookie of the year award in 1993.
Shaq, despite being a giant, was surprisingly athletic. He was also known to intentionally break the basketball glass boards while dunking. It leads to a modification of the entire basket mechanism to prevent it from happening so frequently. He has played for numerous clubs. However, his career peaked when he was bought by the LA Lakers, and he paired up with Kobe Bryant. He was instrumental for the Lakers as their Center and helped win 3 consecutive NBA championships. After his retirement, Shaq’s impact on the pop culture media is still prevalent and has only added to his popularity. One of the greatest to ply his trade in the NBA, and we certainly will never see such larger than life personality as Shaq in the NBA.
There is plenty of evidence to support Michael Jordan’s GOAT status, however, his greatest feat of all might have come before he even won an NBA title. In the 1988 season, he won MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, and the NBA’s scoring title. His insane ’88 season went like this: 35 points on 53% shooting, 5.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 3.2 steals, and 1.6 blocks.
After Micheal Jordan, the title of the greatest was up for grabs. “The Black Mamba” Kobe Bryant grabbed it with both hands, and the rest is history. He was drafted in 1996 by the Charlotte Hornets as the 13th pick overall. However, the Lakers had a prior deal fixed in place to obtain him from the Hornets, and they did. Regarded as one of the best scorers of our generation, Mamba’s cold-blooded nature on and off the court made him a fierce rival. His rock-hard mentality and dedication were second to none. He seemed to be out there to prove the world wrong, and he did. Winning 5 NBA Championships and breaking numerous personal records, Kobe Bryant has inspired an entire generation.
His most jaw-dropping inspiring story came during a match in 2013 against Golden State Warriors. An unfortunate foul on Kobe resulted in him tearing both his Achilles tendon. However, he went to the free-throw line to drop the free throws, all the while being in excruciating pain. This moment solidified his already legendary career.
Synonymous with the game of basketball is Micheal Jordan. Such is the impact of this individual that there is probably nobody who hasn’t heard about Micheal Jordan. Basketball is Jordan. His dominance took over the entire industry by storm. His godlike technical ability makes it wonder maybe the game was designed for Micheal Jordan. One of the greatest scorers in the history of the league. Winning the NBA Championships 6 times and having 6 Finals MVP awards, Jordan’s impact on the game cannot be disputed. Widely regarded as one of the best players to ever step foot in the NBA, and his unblemished finals record of never losing an NBA final is perhaps the biggest argument for GOAT status.
Outside of the game, he has been a successful actor, played baseball for a few years, and has made a business out of sports shoes which also became synonymous with sneakers. MJ has done it all in the game and is certainly the greatest player in the history of NBA.