[dropcap size=small]B[/dropcap]asketball is a sport that doesn’t only require brutal strength. It requires strength coupled with skills. Crizic celebrates this incredible sport with listing some of the legends on the court. Here is the list of 10 greatest NBA players of all time. And NO, LeBron James is not on this list.
10. Oscar Robertson:
The 6’5″ Hall Of Famer is regarded as to be the first legitimate “big guard” in the NBA. And here’s something insane, “The Big O” in just his second season averaged an unimaginable triple double(points-rebounds-assists) for an entire season. Not many players in the league had the versatility on the court that Roberstson offered. He averaged 30.3 points, 10.4 rebounds and 10.6 assists for the stretch of his first five seasons(also awarded rookie of the year), now those are some stats. And adding to all this Big O had an absurd 181 triple-doubles(highest ever) in his entire career, a record which won’t be broken anytime soon. During the course of 14 seasons(10 with Cincinnati Royals and 4 with Milwaukee Bucks) Roberstson finally earned his first and only NBA title with the Bucks in the 1971 NBA finals.
9. Kobe Bryant:
Though considered by some to be a ball hog, the Black Mamba has proved his brilliance on the court. A 5 time NBA-champion, 2 times NBA finals MVP, 17 time NBA All-Star, winner of ’97 slam dunk contest and several other accolades, Bryant is for sure one of the best shooting guards to play the game. With Phil Jackson as the coach and the center-guard combination of Bryant and Shaq the Los Angeles Lakers went on to win a Three-peat(consecutive NBA championships in 2000, 2001 and 2002). Bryant is number 3 in all time scoring list with only Karl Malone and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar ahead of him. His recent injuries has made somewhat impossible what would have been a great match-up, A James-Bryant faceoff in the NBA Finals.
8. Tim Duncan:
Tim Duncan is one of the few active players in the NBA to have played their entire career with one team. After the injury riddled 1996-97 season, the San Antonio Spurs grabbed number one pick in Duncan. “The Twin Towers”(Duncan and Robinson) together became unstoppable and led the Spurs to win its first NBA championship in 1999. During the Duncan era of the Spurs, the team went on to win 5 NBA Championships, Duncan being named the Finals MVP three times. And he is still not done, not yet, “The Big Fundamental” just doesn’t get old. Duncan is still breaking records, almost averaging a double-double in the current 2014-15 season. For over a decade and a half now in the league, Duncan has asserted his prowess in the post and is undoubtedly one of the best Power Forwards of all time.
7. Shaquille O’Neal:
You just can’t hate Shaq. One of the most dominant player of his generation, and possibly of all time, it was borderline unfair how he brutalized defenders with brute strength. Shaq played for six different teams(Magic, Lakers, Heat, Suns, Cavaliers and Celtics). Shaq’s biggest problem being free-throw shooting, other teams constantly used up fouls to put him on the line but even Hack-ing-a-Shaq did not stop his offensive dominance in the paint. Having found their championship team with Kobe and Shaq on the roster the Lakers three-peated winning championships in 2000, 2001 and 2002. After the 2003-04 season Shaq took his talents to south beach and with the contribution of the lethal duo of Wade and Shaq, the Heat won a championship in 2006. A 4xNBA champion, rookie of the year award, 15 All-Star game appearances, 3 Finals MVP and All-Star game MVP awards each, 14 All-NBA team selections, two scoring titles, and to these accolades Shaq also adds a personal achievement of shattering the backboard, twice.
6. Wilt Chamberlain:
As for Chamberlain, he seems to be more of a mythical figure, having scored a 100 points and averaging 50.4 points and 25.7 rebounds in the 1961-62 regular season. Simply unreal. Unachievable. Offensively unstoppable, Chamberlain’s stellar athleticism resulted in his domination in the game. Chamberlain’s achievements include Rookie of the year award, 2 NBA championships, 4 NBA MVP awards, 7x scoring champion, 11x rebounds leader, NBA assists leader in 1968, NBA all-time rebounds leader, some top class stats which look good on paper but still Chamberlain is considered to be selfish and being focussed more on individual accolades rather than team play unlike his perennial rival Bill Russell, where Russell’s Celtics outclassed Chamberlain’s team every time they met in the playoffs.
5. Bill Russell:
The greatest defender in the game’s history led the Boston Celtics to a record 11 NBA Championships(8 straight titles) in just 13 seasons he
played. And NO, nobody’s ever getting to close to winning 11 titles. Still, his career averages are nothing to sniff at, and if blocks and Finals MVPs were counted/awarded throughout his career, he wouldve won plenty of those. Russell’s ability to direct blocked shots to his teammates earned his team easy fast-break points. Talking about Russell’s prominent opponents, it was Chamberlain who challenged Russell’s defence and the Russell-Chmberlain matchup is basketball’s greatest rivalry of all time. A 4xNBA rebounding champion, second all-time in total rebounds and rebounds per game, Russell is also one of just two NBA players(other being Chamberlain) to have grabbed more than 50 rebounds in a single game.
4. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar:
He played in the NBA for two full decades. Won 6 NBA Titles, 6 MVP awards and still holds the of all time scoring record of 38,387 points. His ability to maintain such scores while competing for 20 seasons is simply a testament to his greatness. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was nearly impossible to block, the reason being his famous skyhook shot, a really magnificent offensive weapon that only Jabbar poseessed. On the other hand, Jabbar had no difficulty blocking his opponents, and is ranked 3rd all-time in both rebounds and blocked shots. Domination is what defines Jabbar’s career and he did that for two full decades. Jabbar is truly one of the greatest centers of all time.
3. Larry Bird:
Never the most athletic player on the court, but Bird was always dominant and Why? Beacause whatever he lacked in athleticism, he made up for with his basketball IQ, great skills including that deadly jump shot and fierce competitiveness. The greatest shooter of all time, Larry Legend skill for clutch plays, his three-point shooting, and the games Celtics won because of his buzzer beaters, was the reason for Celtics prominence (they did win 3 championships) in the league in the 80s. The 50-40-90 shooting feat has been achieved multiple times by only two players, Bird was the first one to do it(the other being Steve Nash who did it 4 times). Bird and Magic revived the Lakers-Celtics rivalry in the 80s and to think that we could have had more of those intense matchups if only Magic’s sickness and Bird’s back problems would not have led to their early retirements is unfortunate.
2. Magic Johnson:
Undoubtedly the best point guard of all time Magic Johnson began his career with greatness and never looked back. He won Finals MVP as a rookie when he famously started center in place of the injured Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in Game 6 of the 1980 NBA Finals. The Finals were like a second home to Magic(5x NBA champion) and the Showtime Los Angeles Lakers, as they made nine trips during his illustrious career. Johnson’s sudden announcement of retirement because of getting tested positive for HIV shocked NBA fans all around the world but then he returned to play in 1992 All-Star game and was also crowned the All-Star game MVP. His love for the game pushed him to make another comeback in 1996 after which he retired permanently. Although close friends in real life, the rivalry of Bird and Johnson(one of the greatest ever) appealed to a whole new generation of fans and took every Lakers-Celtics game to a whole new level. There have not been many as versatile as Magic.
1. Michael Jordan:
The immortal David Stern said it best when he presented Jordan with one of his five Most Valuable Player awards: You are the standard by which basketball excellence is measured. It was true then and it is still true to this day. The Bulls three-peated twice(and of course Joradan was the Finals MVP every single time) making it the most dominant team in the league for a decade. The list of accolades alone is enough to make your head spin. He is the greatest player to grace the game. Period.