For the 75th anniversary of the NBA, the league released the Top 75 players that ever played the game. They allowed media, fans, and a few inner employees to vote on who deserves to be on the list. My own list highlights players who not only dominated during their time in the NBA, but also those who helped influence the growth of the league.
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75 Klay Thompson (2011-Present)
Thompson won three rings during the Golden State Warriors’ dynasty. During this time, the shooting guard became one of the best shooters in the history of the league. Although Thompson is still in his prime and dealt with a year and a half with injuries, the guard will finish as the second-best shooter to play in the NBA when his career is over.
74 Pau Gasol, (2001-2021)
Gasol played with a few teams in his career. He started off his career in Memphis where he became a household name. Once he was traded to the Lakers, his career blossomed as the second option behind the legendary Kobe Bryant. Gasol would win two championships, make five All-NBA teams, and win the rookie of the year award.
73 George Mikan, (1948-1956)
One of the tallest players to grace the NBA during the first decade, Mikan dominated the low post. He won the scoring title as a center for three straight years and had the most rebounds for two years. Although Mikan had a short career, his presence started a standard for the center position.
72 Robert Parish, (1976-1997)
Parish lasted 21 seasons in the NBA, as he played in the NBA during three separate decades. During his time with the Boston Celtics, he accumulated nine all-star appearances, 3 championships, two all-NBA awards, and was considered an MVP caliber player four different years.
71 Tim Hardaway, (1989-2003)
Hardaway is an elite point guard who was able to average a double-double with points and assist during the gritty ’90s. Hardaway did it all, from scoring at high efficiency, to playmaking and playing elite defense. The guard did it all as he racked up five All-NBA awards in a competitive guard decade.
70 Dennis Rodman (1986-2000)
One of the most colorful personalities to ever play in the NBA, Rodman was a workhorse. Not known for his scoring output, but as a defensive player. Rodman created the mantra of diving for the ball when others wouldn’t. Fighting for rebounds that no other player would go for. The forward was electric on the court and was one of the toughest players to go against in his era. He would go on to win five championships in his career as well as two Defensive Player of the Year awards.
69 Wes Unseld (1968-1981)
Unseld not only won Rookie of the Year but would take home the Most Valuable Player award in his first season. Only two other players have accomplished this feat. An iconic player for the ’70s, dominating on defense. He was one of the better low post offensive and defensive players of his era.
68 Dave DeBusschere (1962-1974)
Debussere thrived in the second half of his career when he landed in New York City with the Knicks. The forward dominated the defensive as he racked up six All-Defensive teams with the Knicks while winning two championships in the Mecca.
67 Ray Allen (1996-2014)
Allen was at one point considered the best shooter in the NBA. During his career, he shot 40 percent from three which was miles ahead of star players of his era. He broke multiple shooting records in the regular season and playoffs. Allen finished his career with 10 All-Star selections, two All-NBA teams, and won two championships.
66 Tony Parker (2001-2019)
The San Antonio guard would win four championships as the starting point guard with the organization. He received four All-NBA nods and won a Finals MVP in 2007. The French guard was amongst the best leaders during the 2000s and early 2010s.
65 Chris Mullin (1985-2001)
Mullin was the leader during the ‘Run TMC’ era of the Golden State Warriors. Mullin was a crafty scorer, as he was able to give his team a bucket at any point on the court. He was selected for four All-NBA teams and played in five all-star games.
64 Kevin McHale (1980-1993)
McHale won three championships during the 1980s with the Celtics. The bully of the team, McHale did anything to win games. He was aggressive both offensively and defensively on court. McHale would go on to win two Sixth Man of the Year awards, six All-Defensive teams, and make seven all-star appearances in his career.
63 Anfernee Hardaway (1993-2008)
Hardaway was a flashy point guard, who stood over the league average in height. A tall and athletic guard who was able to play make, and score at all spots on the court. During his time in the league, he was considered a unicorn of a player-type. He would finish his career off with three All-NBA team selections, four all-star appearances, and finished third in the 1995-1996 MVP voting. The tall guard would leave his mark in the NBA as the league is shifting to bigger guards.
62 Artis Gilmore (1971-1988)
Gilmore was just the biggest player during the 1970s. Standing at 7’2, no one player could contain him. The center dominated the post, as he easily averaged 20 points and 15 rebounds during his prime. Gilmore won his only MVP during his rookie season. The center would also be selected to five All-NBA teams and five All-Defensive teams.
61 Bernard King (1977-1993)
King is the only player of his era to be able to come back from two ACL tears. These injuries came before the advancement of medical surgery that allows athletes to recover within six months. King was an electric offensive player, who dominated the late 70’s and 80’s.
60 Damian Lillard (2012 – Present)
Lillard has been one of the best guards of the 2010s. Dominating every game, and becoming one of the most clutch scorers in the league’s history. The point guard won Rookie of the Year in 2013 and has made an all-NBA team since then.
59 Paul Pierce (1998-2017)
The truth was the main catalyst for the Celtics Championship run in 2008. He led the team in scoring and was given the Finals MVP award. In his career, he reached 10 all-star games and was selected to four All-NBA teams.
58 Willis Reed (1964-1974)
Willis Reed won two championships for the Knicks, and both times he was selected as the MVP. After winning Rookie of the Year, Reed would receive five selections to the All-NBA teams, one selection to an all-Defensive team, and won the 1970 MVP.
57 George Gervin (1972-1986)
Gervin was the league’s best scorer during the ’70s. His finger-roll layups were unguardable, as he would lead the league in scoring four separate seasons. The San Antonio Spur legend received 12 all-star nods and nine All-NBA team selections. Gervin never won an MVP but finished as a runner-up twice during his career.
56 James Harden (2009-Present)
It is very rare to see a player win Sixth Man of the Year, then win an MVP award. Former MVPs have won a Sixth Man award towards the end of their career. Harden did the opposite, as he won the MVP after the Sixth Man award. Harden is amongst the best offensive players to ever play in the league. Being able to score the ball at all levels with high efficiency.
Westbrook is a walking triple-double, as he is the league leader in most triple-doubles posted in a career. The point guard was the first to ever have multiple seasons to which he averaged a triple-double, and as a reward, he would win the 2017 MVP.
54 Mark Price (1986-1998)
One of the league’s most underrated point guards is Cleveland’s Mark Price. Although not the most accomplished, Price became one of the smartest players on the court. His ability to break defense and make quick passes allows him to overtake spots over former MVPs.
53 Dave Cowens (1970-1983)
Cowens is an MVP winner and is a two-time NBA champion. During his time with the Celtics, he managed to receive eight all-star selections, three all-NBA teams, and three All-Defensive teams.
52 Kawhi Leonard (2011-Present)
One of the 2010s most influential players, Leonard is a player that can change a franchise. He has won two championships to which he won the Finals MVP both times. He took the Toronto Raptors to their first championship in his only season with the organization. He’s a two-time Defensive Player of the year award winner and is amongst the best defenders of the 2010s. A seven-time receiver of an All-Defensive team and a five-time receiver of an all-NBA team.
51 Elvin Hayes (1968-1984)
A twelve-time all-star, Hayes was an MVP candidate throughout his career. He would lead the Washington Bullets to their only championship in 1978. He received six All-NBA team selections and two All-Defensive team selections during his career.
Main Image Credit: via Basketball Network