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The Best NBA Players of All-Time

A list of the best NBA players of all-time is likely to spark great debate. However, here's a list of worthy candidates for your consideration.
Published on February 6, 2023

A list of the best NBA players of all-time is likely to spark great debate. Nevertheless, here’s a list of worthy candidates for your consideration.

The Best NBA Players – Wilt Chamberlain

The Best NBA Players of All-Time

We could argue that Wilt Chamberlain was the best NBA player of all time. After a 15-year career, consider that Chamberlain averaged 30 points, 22.9 rebounds, and 4.4 assists per game for his career. Also, Chamberlain holds the single-game records for most points scored (100) and most rebounds (55). Additionally, Chamberlain averaged an amazing 45.8 minutes played per game for his career. Further, in his 1961-62 season with the Philadelphia Warriors, Chamberlain averaged 48.5 minutes per game. That’s an incredible stat when you consider that a regulation NBA game is 48 minutes long.

Best NBA Players – Michael Jordan

If not Chamberlain, the greatest ever would have to be Michael Jordan. In addition to his career stats (30.1 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 5.3 apg), Jordan led the Chicago Bulls to six NBA Champiosnhips. Equally important, Jordan holds the record for most NBA All-Defensive first team selections with nine.

The Best NBA Players – Kobe Bryant

Fans will remember Kobe Bryant as one of the most talented players of all time, as well as one of the most intense. In addition to his career stats (25 ppg, 5.2 rbg, 4.7 apg), Bryant was a 12-time All-Defensive team member.

Best NBA Players – Larry Bird

Larry Bird might have looked dorky and clunky on the hardwood, but his results were silky smooth. In addition to his career stats (24.3 ppg, 10.0 rpg, 6.3 apg), “Larry Legend” was one of the most clutch players in the history of the game, as well as one of its biggest trash talkers.

The Best NBA Players – Earvin “Magic” Johnson

Earvin “Magic” Johnson broke the mold of what an NBA point guard looks like. Despite being 6’9″, 215 lbs. Johnson was still quick with exceptional vision and ball-handling skills. Additionally, he was versatile, famously starting at center for an injured Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in Game 6 of the 1979-80 NBA Finals, recording 42 points, 15 rebounds, 7 assists, and 3 steals. For his career, Johnson posted career numbers of 19.5 ppg, 7,2 rpg, and 11.2 apg.

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Best NBA Players – Bill Russell

Bill Russell was one of the greatest players in NBA history, but he may be the only player on this list who is here primarily for his defense prowess. Despite averaging just 15.1 ppg for his career, Russell dominated the defensive end of the court (22.5 rpg) and was perhaps the greatest team player ever, leading his Boston Celtics to 11 NBA Championships in 13 seasons.

The Best NBA Players – Shaquille O’Neal

Has there ever been a more physically intimidating player than Shaquille O’Neal? Nearly unstoppable in the paint, Shaq was a powerful big man who still retained a degree of quickness. For his career, O’Neal posted a stat line of 23.7 ppg, 10.9 rpg, and 2.5 apg.

Best NBA Players – Oscar Robertson

Oscar Robertson, the “Big O”, was known for posting triple-doubles in an era when the triple-double was a rarity. As a matter of fact, Robertson was the first NBA player to average a triple-double for an entire season (for the 1961-62 Cincinnati Royals) and remains one of only two NBA players in history to achieve the feat (the other being Russell Westbrook). Additionally, Robertson was the named plaintiff in the landmark Robertson v. National Basketball Ass’n, an antitrust suit filed by the NBA’s Players Association against the league. As a result of the lawsuit, free agency rules were established in 1976 that are still in effect today.

The Best NBA Players – Lebron James

Lebron James entered the NBA as a prep school whiz kid, and he will leave it as the most prolific scorer in NBA history, as well as one of its greatest assists men (currently #4 all-time). Although he’s built more like an NFL tight end than a NBA small forward (6’9″, 250 lbs), James has nevertheless redefined his position for generation of NBA ballers to come.

Best NBA Players – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

When Lebron James becomes the top career NBA scorer this season, the man whose mark he will surpass will be Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Abdul-Jabbar was a 19-time All-Star, 6-time NBA champion, and a 6-time MVP, who posted a career stat line of 24.6 ppg, 11.2 rpg, and 3.6 apg. Perhaps above all else, Abdul-Jabbar will most likely be remembered as the master of the most unstoppable shot in NBA history, the Sky Hook.

Wrapping Up

The NBA has seen its fair share of great players over the years, and it’s always a matter of debate when it comes to selecting the greatest of all time. Which players do you think we’ve missed?

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