Top 10 Best Basketball Players of All Time

Basketball is the sport of legends, and these players are the best of the best. They have dazzled fans with their amazing skills, incredible athleticism, and unstoppable will to win. They have won championships, MVPs, and other awards, but more importantly, they have changed the game forever.

This list features players from all positions, eras, and teams, but they all have one thing in common: they are the ultimate basketball players. Some of them were pioneers who revolutionized the game, while others were dominant forces who ruled the game for years.
The Top Ten
1 Michael Jordan Michael Jeffrey Jordan, also known by his initials, MJ, is an American retired professional basketball player.

The best player the world has seen and will see. Just looking at him inspires you to become a basketball player. No matter what anyone says, Jordan is the best basketball player.

It's amazing how quickly people forget how good he was. Bobby Knight, who coached him in the '84 Olympics, once made a statement saying he is the best player to ever play any team sport. Knight might have been an ass at times, but he knew talent, and he was one of the few who knew Michael would be as great as he was. He also made Pippen and Rodman the players they are due to his desire to win.

Paul Westfall, after getting beat by Jordan, was asked by reporters if he said he had to stop Michael. Westfall replied, "Nobody can, and we never said we could. The only way to stop Michael is to rip his heart out." He was red in the face and left the podium.

How many great players did he keep from winning a championship? Charles Barkley, Reggie Miller, Karl Malone, and basically everyone on the Dream Team, unless they played for the Bulls or when Jordan was playing baseball. Hakeem O. was picked ahead of Jordan in the '84 draft. It was a good pick, and with Jordan playing baseball, he was able to win 2 championships with the Rockets. Heck, I would have picked him over Jordan in '84, not knowing how great his Airness would be.

To compare LeBron to Jordan doesn't even make sense. LeBron is a good passer because other defenders can stop him from going to the bucket. If Jordan wanted to score, nobody who ever played the game could stop him, period! If he wanted to shut any guard down in the league, consider it done.

Actually, Dewayne Wade is the best player in the league at this time and can take over games like Jordan, but he doesn't have the players to finish the game off like when Jordan played. He is only 6'4", but I've seen him where defenders can't keep him from scoring either.

There may never be another Jordan, but buy his 3-disc collection to jog the memory!

2 Magic Johnson Earvin "Magic" Johnson Jr. is a retired American professional basketball player who played point guard for the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association for 13 seasons.

Magic could easily play point guard, shooting guard, small forward, and power forward. He once played center in the 1980 NBA Finals and won with Kareem injured in Game 6. The Bulls struggled when Jordan played the point because he was not good at distributing. Jordan was too small in size and did not have the strength to play small forward at his prime.

Overall Talent
While I do give Michael Jordan the edge in scoring, Magic had more all-around talent. He has 100 more triple-doubles than Michael Jordan did, even though he retired at only 32. Magic Johnson was the best passer the game has ever seen. Not even John Stockton, Jason Kidd, Steve Nash, or Chris Paul can pass as well as Magic Johnson. Magic Johnson was the best rebounder who played at any guard position, averaging 7.2 rebounds a game for his career.

Competitiveness
While Jordan did win 6 rings, Magic Johnson won 5 rings in the 1980s era - that was the best in basketball. There were the Celtics who had Bird, McHale, and Parish. The Pistons who had Isiah Thomas, Dennis Rodman, Joe Dumars. And the 76ers who had Moses Malone and Dr. J. Magic beat all those teams, which were the only other teams to win a championship besides the Lakers in the 1980s. The teams Jordan beat had only one top-50 player of all time, or at most two like the Jazz. Magic Johnson saved the NBA, and he is the Greatest Player of All Time!

3 LeBron James LeBron Raymone James is an American professional basketball player for the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association. LeBron has played for the Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat, and the Lakers.

Personally, I think LeBron, as of 2023, is the greatest. I feel the league was easier in the 1990s, especially because of all the rule changes introduced between the 1990s and the 2010s. Jordan never averaged 30 points per game at 37 and 38. LeBron's got the scoring record and significantly outnumbers Michael Jordan's career rebounds and assists. He carried his team to the finals in 2018, at 33, with a 2K team filled with 75 overalls, except for Kevin Love, who was decent. LeBron is truly the greatest, especially because he can play and guard all five positions. And his consistency is of GOAT caliber.

4 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is an American retired professional basketball player who played 20 seasons in the National Basketball Association for the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is one of the most underrated players in NBA history despite being the all-time leader in scoring, having six championships (more than Jordan), having the most MVP trophies (more than Jordan), being third in rebounding, and third in shot blocking. It's amazing because shot blocking wasn't even counted statistically until his fourth year in the NBA. It's safe to say that if they would've counted it from his rookie year up, he might very well be the all-time leader in shot blocking. He is never in the conversation of the greatest of all time. Why?

5 Wilt Chamberlain Wilton Norman "Wilt" Chamberlain was an American basketball player. He was born on August 21, 1936 in Philadelphia and died on October 12, 1999 in Los Angeles due to heart failure... read more

He averaged 50 points in a single season, scored 100 points in a single game, got 55 rebounds against the Celtics led by Bill Russell (2nd all-time career rebounder behind Chamberlain), and had a 33-game winning streak. Of the 62 times more than 60 points have been scored by a single person in a game, 32 of those times were by Chamberlain. Blocked shots were recorded after he retired, but Harvey Pollack asked his statisticians to count Chamberlain's blocks, and they got up to 25 one night, well above the record for most blocks in a single game.

Elgin Baylor said that Chamberlain was the only player who could dominate on both ends of the court. He recalled one particular game against the Bulls where he blocked every single shot for 4-5 minutes and how no one from the Bulls could get a shot in.

In a sport where one game is 48 minutes, for a season he averaged 48.5 minutes a game, thanks to overtime. Bill Russell, the man who won more rings than he has fingers, said that Wilt Chamberlain was the best player he ever played against and that it wasn't even close.

He scored a lot, but he was also an accurate shooter. Through more than 70 years of the National Basketball Association, Wilt Chamberlain still holds the record for the highest season field goal percentage at 0.727.

This man was unstoppable.

6 Kobe Bryant Kobe Bryant (1978 - 2020) was an American retired professional basketball player. He played his entire 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association. Kobe Bryant has won 5 NBA championships with the Lakers and was the all-time leading scorer in Lakers franchise history... read more

According to me, Kobe is number 3. Most of you would say Kareem, but he played in such an easy era, with his prime being during the '70s after Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain retired. At the same time, he's not better than MJ and LeBron.

Kobe proved that he could win titles without Shaq. He's 4th all-time in career points, a 5-time champ, 2-time Finals MVP, and he's earned a few gold medals. He might not have had the raw talent, but his work ethic made up for it. Despite these achievements, he isn't better than Bron and MJ. Rest in power, Black Mamba and Gigi...

This is for everyone on LeBron's comment list who can't even spell and continues to say how Kobe cannot take over a game, is a selfish ball player, or how he relied on his teammates. You are all mentally challenged and obviously have only watched LeBron for the past 7 years.

Kobe had Shaq, everyone says? Kobe and Shaq were all that team had as far as talent! The only other people on that team were role players, not stars. LeBron has 2 other All-Stars on his team and still couldn't do what Kobe did with role players. This is a joke of an argument.

I wish very much that I would have been old enough and involved enough with the game to see Jordan play. Unfortunately, I was not. Kobe Bryant is simply incredible. He is the only player in the entire league that I can safely say that anything is possible, and he has a chance to overcome any situation and prevail.

LeBron is predictable, same crap every year. Conference finals and lose, or, more recently, a loss in the finals when he choked and played like garbage. So he is exciting to watch, his stats are great, he wins regular season games. Every NBA player will say themselves that it means nothing without the championship. I personally believe they are still great accomplishments but nowhere near as impressive as what Kobe Bryant has done in this league.

I mean, come on people, the guy coaches his own teammates on the triangle offense in the middle of the games. He doesn't just play for his team. He makes his team every year. He builds his team and his teammates every year. He is incredibly intelligent in the game of basketball and possesses everything that LeBron personally wishes he had.

7 Larry Bird Larry Joe Bird is an American retired professional basketball player who played for the Boston Celtics of the National Basketball Association. Bird is a 3x champ, 1x ROTY, 1x Finals MVP, 3x 3PT Contest winner, all with the Boston Celtics. (1979-1992)

Larry was a great shooter with few dunks, unlike Jordan who had many dunks to increase his shooting percentage. Larry was also a better rebounder, free-throw shooter, and passer than Jordan. Larry entered the NBA one year late after sitting out a year in college and missed almost another full year in his prime with a foot injury.

He was not a selfish shooter but just wanted to win and would get all of his teammates involved. He averaged over 10 rebounds per game for his career - not bad for someone who couldn't jump! He was both the first and second player ever to shoot over 50% from the field and over 90% from the line for a season - and this from a long-range shooter! He was the best ever with a full command of the game and awareness of what was happening - always.

8 Bill Russell William Felton "Bill" Russell was an American retired professional basketball player. Russell played center for the Boston Celtics of the National Basketball Association from 1956 to 1969.

Most opinions that I read about come from people who use statistics. They are simply very misleading. And how does one define the "best" basketball player? Is it the one with the best overall skills? Russell was not too good at dribbling or shooting.

But in a team game, I think it makes more sense to talk about how "valuable" a player is. In other words, what would happen if the team lost that player? How easy would it be to replace that player's skills with someone else?

If we look at it that way, then Russell is clearly the first choice. No one is even close. Russell was the Boston Celtics' fast break, possibly the most dominating aspect that basketball has ever seen. Russell got the rebound, turned, made his outlet pass, and the ball was near half-court by the time Russell hit the ground. No wonder he did not score many points.

Chamberlain, on the other hand, rebounded, shook his body, then handed off to his guard (Hal Greer most of the time). When Chamberlain got the ball, the rest of his team could take a nap, for all that it mattered. Wilt was going to shoot, score, or miss.

When Russell blocked a shot, it almost always "miraculously" ended up in the hands of a Celtic. Chamberlain's blocks went out of bounds. According to statistics, each had a blocked shot. But they did not have equal effects.

With Russell on defense, he intimidated shooters because his body could get to places that no one else could. There is no statistic at all for that. One of the two years that Russell did not win, he got hurt in the playoffs. The Celtics did not have the most individually talented players, but they had the most valuable player, one that made everyone else better.

This is why the Russell Celtics were so dominant. I think Russell's abilities were so unique that it might take 100 years to see another Russell.

9 Shaquille O'Neal Shaquille Rashaun O'Neal, nicknamed Shaq, is a retired American professional basketball player who is currently an analyst on the television program Inside the NBA. He is known for his fun, friendly personality, and is one of the most beloved athletes of all time.

Shaq was the most dominant player of all time. He was so dominant that we never use his last name. You wouldn't recognize his full name better than just Shaq. It's like Ichiro. Everyone knows his last name is Suzuki, but people refrain from saying it because they think it would be a sin or something.

Nobody can do a better charge than this man. He is currently, I think, the most experienced pro-basketball player on the NBA roster, being on it for currently 15 years. I mean, he is simply amazing. Him, along with the amazing Dwyane Wade, took the Miami Heat to places it hasn't gone before.

10 Oscar Robertson Oscar Palmer Robertson, nicknamed "The Big O", is an American retired National Basketball Association player who played for the Cincinnati Royals and Milwaukee Bucks.

The first player to average a triple-double, and he almost did it three more times. No one else has ever done something like this. He also did this without a three-point line. Oscar gave the NBA a new style of play and was one of the first great NBA point guards.

A "triple-double" for an entire season, and four other seasons where he almost did it as well - despite steals and blocks not being recorded as stats until his final season (so who knows how many others he should have/could have earned). Simple as that.

The Newcomers

? Derrick Jones Jr.
? Tyrese Maxey
The Contenders
11 Tim Duncan Timothy Theodore "Tim" Duncan is an American professional basketball player who has played his entire career for the San Antonio Spurs of the National Basketball Association.

Are you kidding me?! 18? Tim Duncan is in the top ten at the very least. I sense a bit of Spurs hating on this list. The guy is a perennial All-Star, League MVP winner, Finals MVP winner, Rookie of the Year, All-NBA, etc. And possesses the traits that all true champions have: the ability to modify his game over time as needed.

Duncan's entry into the league was marked with moves and grace the likes of which hadn't ever been seen at the power forward position and will, from here on out, be the standard by which other power forwards will be judged. As he got older, he continued to find ways to remain relevant, even if he was no longer dominant. His basketball IQ is through the roof, and his mere presence on the floor makes his team better while simultaneously frustrating his opponents and making them worse.

I'm not sure why you have so many players ahead of Tim that have not won as many championships, if they even won one at all. I'm sorry, but this Hall of Fame player deserves to be way higher on this list than he is. Not bad for a kid from a tiny little island with 50,000 people on it and no real basketball program.

12 Hakeem Olajuwon Hakeem Abdul Olajuwon, formerly known as Akeem Olajuwon, is a Nigerian-American retired professional basketball player.

Although many people consider Hakeem to be one of the ten greatest players to ever step onto the hardwood, his current fourteenth spot on this list proves that he is still one of the most underrated players. I genuinely believe that he is the greatest center of all time.

Offensively, his Dream Shake was absolutely uncontainable due to his guard-like ability to dribble and spin. He also had a knack for finishing with either power or finesse and was a constant threat with his mid-range jumper. What set him apart the most on the offensive end was his ability to pass the ball, especially when faced with double and triple teams.

Defensively, he was probably even better. He didn't just defend the post through help-side blocks. He was also an elite one-on-one defender. This goes without mentioning his ability to steal the ball - he ranks in the top 25 all-time - and leading the league in rebounding in back-to-back years. He also won back-to-back titles as the only superstar on the roster, something that many other greats cannot claim.

If you switched Hakeem with Kareem, Wilt, Russell, or Shaq, I can't see why he wouldn't win as many rings, if not more, given the context of the situation. This includes the weaker eras with Wilt and Russell, as well as having another bona fide superstar like Kareem and Shaq did.

The only players who achieved all five of the major statistical categories at an elite level for an extended period of time while overachieving in terms of team success are Pippen in '94, a prime Garnett, and LeBron James. Although this isn't a benchmark for greatness, it does point out the uniqueness of Hakeem. The only players I'd take over prime Hakeem are Michael and Magic.

Given his offensive and defensive versatility, leadership, and era context - which included competing against elite centers like Robinson, Ewing, Shaq, and Mourning - I have no doubt in my mind that Hakeem Olajuwon is the greatest big man of all time.

13 Kevin Durant Kevin Wayne Durant is an American professional basketball player for the Brooklyn Nets of the National Basketball Association. He has played for the Oklahoma City Thunder, Golden State Warriors, and the Nets. He was MVP of the 2017 and 2018 NBA Finals.

Kevin Durant is amazing. As a player and as a person, he dominates and scores more points than LeBron and Kobe. In the summer, he's the one who calls up his teammates to go to the gym and shoot. Great leader. And the reason he wears the number 35 jersey is because his high school coach was murdered at the age of 35. Humble.

Durant is not even in the top 10? In the game at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, Durant scored 34 points in 30 minutes of action! I know I copied and pasted that, but he has also won an NBA Most Valuable Player Award, four NBA scoring titles, the NBA Rookie of the Year Award, and two Olympic gold medals! Not many basketball players can say that, huh?

14 Julius Erving Julius Winfield Erving II, commonly known by the nickname Dr. J, is an American retired basketball player who helped popularize a modern style of play that emphasizes leaping and playing above the rim.

Julius Erving, Dr. J, is the first player to make an art out of a dunk. That's why people love him. People say he is the heart of the city. He earned an NBA championship ring, won an NBA MVP award, went to 11 NBA All-Star Games, and took home the All-Star MVP twice. And that doesn't even count the two ABA titles, two ABA MVP awards, and 6 ABA All-Star Games.

Forever... Or his famous dunk from the free-throw line... Now, that is history! Dr. J! Also, the greatest flyer, dunker, and hangtimer ever! A class act.

Doc is the best thing to happen to the game since the ball! Erving won only one title in the NBA, but all fail to remember that he led a garbage team in '80 and '82 to the finals, only to lose in six games against the seven all-star Lakers. The Sixers had no one but the Doc! Also, he is the greatest flyer, dunker, and hang-timer ever! A true class act.

15 Dwyane Wade Dwyane Tyrone Wade Jr. is an American professional basketball player for the Miami Heat of the National Basketball Association.

Dwyane Wade, bar none, is one of the three best basketball players on the planet today. His averages right now may not stun you, but when he retires and you look back on his career, there's no doubt he'll be considered one of the greatest of all time. He's a champion, an All-Star, and has had many MVP-worthy seasons, even though he hasn't won the award yet. In my opinion, by the time he gets into the Hall of Fame, he'll be one of the top 15, maybe top 10 players of all time. If top 15, probably only behind Jordan, Magic, Russell, Bird, Wilt, Kareem, Big O, Kobe, Duncan, Shaq, Olajuwon, Mailman, Jerry West, and LeBron.

16 Allen Iverson Allen Ezail Iverson is an American retired professional basketball player who played for 14 seasons in the National Basketball Association.

The reason AI is in the top 10 is that he is the greatest little man in the history of the game. If I were ever to pick a starting shooting guard for my team, I would pick Allen Iverson. Yes, sorry Kobe, D-Wade, Michael Jordan, and Jerry West (who, by the way, for some reason isn't in the top 15), because he is not a point guard. He is a shooting guard.

Allen had the best crossover ever. If you haven't seen it, look it up. It was an ankle breaker. He even crossed Jordan, and that's no easy task. I guess you can say he has the "Answer."

17 Jerry West Jerry Alan West was an American basketball player who played his entire professional career for the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association.

If Jerry West had been blessed with the three-point line, he would be among the top five without question. The NBA should use their computer systems to check West's shots made for a year and give him an extra point for every three-pointer he made. No question, Jerry West would be right there with Michael Jordan as the greatest player ever. Even without the three-point shot, West holds the scoring record for a series. Move Jerry to second at the least.

Jerry West was an outstanding basketball player, a good general manager, and a guy who deserves to be the face of the NBA. He was tough and clutch.

This list is completely whack as well. Anyone who thinks Ginobili, Gasol, Reddick, Yao, Rondo, Nash, and Luke Walton (not Bill) are better than Jerry West knows very, very little about basketball history.

18 Scottie Pippen Scottie Maurice Pippen is an American retired professional basketball player who played in the National Basketball Association.

Scottie Pippen is the best basketball player ever! A lot of people say, "Scottie wasn't the best basketball player, but the most versatile player, the best all-around player." Is it enough?

If someone is the most versatile player ever or the best player all-around, then who is the best basketball player ever? The most versatile and the best all-around player. Scottie Pippen forever.

Those were the days of the Bulls! Jordan, Pippen, and Rodman are the best ever! I am a huge Bulls fan and own a lot of Chicago team memorabilia. Out of all the years that I have watched basketball, those guys are the best ever and should always be. Go Bulls!

19 Dwight Howard Dwight David Howard is an American professional basketball player for the Washington Wizards of the National Basketball Association.

Dwight Howard is a beast! So what if he's only 6'11"? He can outrebound any 7-footer. He is the best center of all time, with Shaq and Moses Malone behind him. He can play defense like I've never seen before.

The only reason the Magic got knocked out of the playoffs so early is because Superman was hurt. That's also why the Sixers beat the Bulls. Dwight is the best player I have ever seen in my life! Superman is my favorite player!

Dwight Howard is my favorite player. He's the best. He's an amazing shot blocker and an amazing dunker. Superman is really good. He's on the Orlando Magic, and they're good. They would be terrible without Dwight Howard. Go Dwight Howard!

20 Isiah Thomas Isiah Lord Thomas III is an American former basketball player who played professionally for the Detroit Pistons in the National Basketball Association.

Isiah was a great player, and he deserves more than to be number 94. Isiah was one of the greatest players of his time and was better than half of the people on this list before him. Also, he is my number one, and he earned his way there. So, whoever made this list should think about where they put people next time because it makes a difference.

Y'all trippin' when you say Westbrook is better than Isiah. Even casual NBA fans know he's at least a top ten point guard in NBA history, but only the real OGs know he's the second best. How many rings does Westbrook have again?

21 Bob Cousy

Cousy was one of the best point guards in NBA history. Without him directing the traffic, the Celtics wouldn't have that many championship banners.

22 Moses Malone Moses Eugene Malone was an American basketball player who played in both the American Basketball Association and the National Basketball Association from 1974 through 1995. The center was named the NBA Most Valuable Player three times and was a 12-time NBA All-Star and an eight-time All-NBA selection... read more

Moses was better than so many on this list. Who rebounded better? Great scorer, top 10. It amazes me how you discredit Moses. The first straight out of high school.

Moses was better than Shaq ever will be! Moses didn't need to be overweight to get his rebounds. He used talent. He's the reason the Sixers won it in '83!

Moses is better than Shaq. Wilt and Russell were the only centers better. Look at his stats, mind-boggling!

23 Patrick Ewing Patrick Aloysius Ewing (born August 5, 1962) is a Jamaican-American retired Hall of Fame basketball player and current head coach of the Georgetown University men's basketball team.

Patrick is extremely underrated. He did not play with all-stars or Hall of Fame guys. He carried the Knicks on his back for many years.

How can you forget Patrick Ewing? He is one of the best centers of that time, and to not put him there is just crazy.

24 Manu Ginobili Emanuel David "Manu" GinĂ³bili is an Argentine professional basketball player for the San Antonio Spurs of the National Basketball Association.

Excellent clutch shooter. Good defense. He can penetrate through the most closed defense like anyone can do. Whether inside or outside, he can make the impossible shots look like an easy routine. In other words, Manu is the best.

He is simply incredible. He and Duncan were like "Who can stop us?" Also, player of the Olympics 2004 when he absolutely demolished your USA crapheads. Why not on the list? I'll tell you why because you don't have a brain!

Simply amazing. Obviously not better than the top three on the list, but deserves a little bit more recognition. I mean, it's not easy to win international matches.

25 Stephen Curry Wardell Stephen Curry II is an American professional basketball player for the Golden State Warriors of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He is widely considered to be one of the greatest shooters in NBA history, if not the greatest. He is one of the most beloved stars in the NBA today, as well as one of the most controversial.

Steph is the greatest shooter of all time. Period. That's what got him into this list. The only other players who were so dominant at one thing on this list are Shaq, who was dominant at being dominant, and Bill Russell, who was dominant at rebounding. That's a pretty good group to be in, and that'll get you into the top ten NBA players of all time.

His story is amazing. Indeed an 'underdog' through high school and college because he was probably just as good as the next guy, but just always a bit on the short side when it comes to the standard of size for basketball players so most people thought he was not going to make it to the NBA. A true star that is one of the prize role models in the game today. His dedication and hard work to always improve is second to none to anyone in the league at the moment. Some believe he is the best shooter in NBA history. And to be honest, I'm writing this in 2016. The man just came of his first Championship season with the Dubs and he is surely still going places. Get him higher up this list people!

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