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. In today’s final installment, we count down the Top 10.
10 Shaquille O’Neal (1992-2011)
O’Neal is a 15-time All-Star and a four-time championship winner. Shaq is the most popular name in the NBA, even post-career. The former MVP was the most dominant center of the 1990s and 2000s, as he finished with the 10th-most points in league history. O’Neal ended his career with 14 All-NBA nods and three All-Defensive teams.
9 Wilt Chamberlain (1959-1973)
The only player to ever finish a season with 50 points and 25 rebounds per game, Chamberlain holds the second-best career points per game and sits seventh all-time in scoring. A four-time MVP winner and a two-time champion, Chamberlain completed his career with 13 All-Star selections.
8 Hakeem Olajuwon (1984-2002)
Olajuwon is a two-time championship winner and two-time Defensive Player of the Year. The Houston Rockets center was the smoothest low post scorer to ever play the game. The former MVP finished with 12 All-Star selections, nine All-Defensive teams, and 12 All-NBA teams.
7 Bill Russell (1956-1968)
11 Rings. Five MVPs. The most successful player to ever play in the NBA, Russell led the most dynamic dynasty in history. The Celtics’ center was the most dominant defensive player of his era, and would have won multiple awards if the league introduced the defensive accolade earlier.
6 Magic Johnson (1979-1996)
Arguably most well-rounded player in NBA history, Johnson was able to create a new era of Lakers basketball. The ‘Showtime’ Lakers were led by Magic, who dazzled with his talent all over the court. He finished his career with 12 All-Star selections, 10 All-NBA teams, and a pair of MVP awards.
5 Larry Bird (1979-1992)
The (surprisingly) best trash talker of all time is ironically one of the best players to play in the NBA. The 12-time All-Star won three championships leading a dynasty in the 80s. A three-time MVP, Bird was selected to 10 All-NBA teams and three All-Defensive teams.
4 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1969-1989)
Abdul-Jabbar is the league leader in career total points, standing at an amazing 38,387. He is tied for the most MVPs in league history with six, in total. In his career, he finished with 19 All-Star selections, 15 All-NBA selections, and 11 All-Defensive teams.
3 Kobe Bryant (1996-2016)
Although Bryant only won one MVP award in his career, he was the league’s most dominant guard of the 2000s. Bryant showcased intense dedication to the game, never leaving the court and always putting the most into his craft. The “Black Mamba” is the league’s most famous basketball player aside from former teammate O’Neal. His influence on the game is seen throughout the NBA today. Kobe finished his career with a staggering 18 All-Star appearances, 15 All-NBA teams, 12 All-Defensive teams, and five championships.
2 LeBron James (2003-Present)
James is today’s biggest star. Every player in the NBA and in the future will try to imitate the forward. James is a one-of-a-kind type player; no one has ever been able to mimic his style of play with his body type. The four-time champion currently has 17 All-Star appearances, 17 All-NBA selections, six All-Defensive team nods, and (most importantly) five MVPs.
1 Michael Jordan (1984-2003)
Six MVPs, six championships, and a whole lot of real estate in the NBA. Jordan dominated the 1990s, winning every year that he played in that decade. The guard revamped the NBA, his success went worldwide making him the first player to be well-liked around the globe. Jordan finished his career with one Defensive Player of the Year award, six finals MVPs, 14 All-Star appearances, 11 All-NBA selections, and nine All-Defensive teams. He is responsible for making the league what it is, today.
Main Image Credit: via Sporting News