Top Ten NBA Players of the '80s

This list shows the best players of the '80s! What a funky and fun era!

The Top Ten

1 Larry Bird 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)

Bird led the 80s in Win Shares. He led the 80s in MVPs. He led the 80s in 1st Team All-NBA honors. He won the 1980 ROY Award in a landslide the same year that Magic was eligible. He was All NBA 1st Team his first 9 years (only Bob Pettit and Oscar Robertson ever did that); Magic wasn't All NBA 1st Team until his 4th year. Bird was 1st or 2nd in MVP voting 6 straight seasons. Only Bill Russell did that. He was the 1st player to shoot 50% FG, 40% 3pt and 90% FT in the 80s (twice). He finished ahead of Magic for MVP 8 out of the 10 years----and 1 of those years he only played in 6 games. He has the highest winning % of the 80s at 74.8% (about 62 wins per 82 games) and he is still responsible for the greatest single season improvement when adding just 1 new starter----the 1979 Celtics went 29-53 without him and the 1980 Celtics were 61-21 with him. That 1979 team and the Celtics teams from 1980-1989 averaged about 37 wins for every 82 games played WITHOUT Bird. He made the biggest ...more

Just a great pure shooter. He had about three of just about everything, and oddly enough he was number 33.

Larry deserves the number one spot. Number two is Magic

2 Magic Johnson 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 went 8 Finals out of the 10 seasons between 1979-80 and 1988-89. He was part of 5 Championship Teams in those same 10 years. He was 2nd in the NBA in Win Shares during the 80s, but he didn't have the most Win Shares on his own team for the decade until the 8th season (1986-87)----as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar owned that distinction. By that time, the Lakers had already appeared in 5 of their 8 Finals and won 3 of their 5 Titles in the decade. Magic is #2 behind Larry Bird.

Magic had such a creative play style, find hundreds of different ways to get to the basket.

Magic and Bird were the best hard to say who was better

1. Magic
2.Julius Erving
3.Isaiah Thomas

3 Kareem-Abdul Jabbar

Kareem led the 70s in Win Shares. He was already 32 by the time Magic joined him on the Lakers for the 1979-80 season. Kareem was the 1980 MVP, not Magic and he was 100% on his way to Finals MVP before he missed Game 6. To put his productivity in that Series in context, had he played 1 minute of Game 6 and scored zero points, grabbed zero rebounds and blocked zero shots----he still would have led everyone in PPG, RPG and BPG for the series. He completely dominated the 5 games he played. Magic dominated the 1 game Jabbar DIDN'T play and stole the MVP because Kareem hadn't made the flight to Philly for Game 6 and the network didn't want to give the MVP to an empty chair. It was awkward. Kareem led the Lakers in Win Shares for the 80s through the 1st seven seasons. That covered the Lakers first 3 Titles of the decade.

V 1 Comment
4 Moses Malone Moses Malone more.

Moses was 3rd in the NBA in Win Shares for the decade. He won back to back MVPs playing for 2 different franchises (Houston, Philadelphia). He led a 40-42 Rockets team past the Lakers with Magic & Kareem in the 1981 playoffs and then had the same team tied 2-2 in the Finals with Bird's Celtics before losing. The next time someone tries to excuse Michael Jordan for being 0-6 VS Bird's Celtics in the playoffs or for his 1-9 record in the postseason pre-Scottie Pippen, tell them about Moses Malone.

5 Julius Erving 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.

Based on Erving's awards, honors, compiled stats and post season relevancy, I have him as 1st Team All NBA for the 1980s.

Dr. J was more of a player in the 70's, but you can't deny his greatness, because he did win a title in the 80's.

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

Based on Isiah's awards, honors, compiled stats and post season relevancy, I have him as 1st Team All NBA for the 1980s.

7 Sidney Moncrief
8 Dominique Wilkins Dominique Wilkins

One of the best Dunkers of all time. I mean what an athlete, He could dunk over just about anybody or anything.

9 Michael Jordan Michael Jordan Michael Jeffrey Jordan, also known by his initials, MJ, is an American retired professional basketball player.

Jordan hadn't really bloomed yet in the 80's. Definitely one of the best players ever, but just not the best of the 80's.

The greatest player in the 90s was nonetheless 14-23 in the playoffs in the 80s, including 13-14 with Scottie Pippen. He doesn't belong anywhere near the top of an 80s list.

The third best player of the 80s

He should be #1! Because he has the best dunks in the NBA!

10 Alex English

Alex scored the most points in the NBA during the 80s. Had he been more relevant in the post season, he'd be higher up on my list. I still have him on my All 1980s NBA 2nd Team at one of the forward positions.

The Contenders

11 Kevin McHale

Talk about a big man. He will all ways be seen as a side kick to Larry Bird, but what a great player.

12 John Stockton John Stockton John Houston Stockton is an American retired professional basketball player. He spent his entire professional playing career as a point guard for the Utah Jazz of the National Basketball Association, from 1984 to 2003. Stockton is regarded as one of the best point guards of all time, holding the NBA more.

One of the best point guards of all time. Probably would've been in the top players of all time of it weren't for MJ.

13 Clyde Drexler Clyde Drexler

What a beast! He could dunk very well for guy his size, pretty much a mini Jordan.

Jordan was the east coast Drexler

14 Adrian Dantley
15 James Worthy

A great offensive player and one of the all time greats.

16 Charles Barkley Charles Barkley Charles Wade Barkley is an American retired professional basketball player and current analyst on the television program Inside the NBA.
17 George Gervin George Gervin George Gervin, nicknamed "The Iceman," is an American retired professional basketball player who played in both the American Basketball Association and National Basketball Association for the Virginia Squires, San Antonio Spurs, and Chicago Bulls.
18 Dennis Johnson
19 Shaquille Shaquille 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.
20 Gus Williams
21 Bill Russell Bill Russell
BAdd New Item

Recommended Lists