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There is no objective way to determine who are the best NBA players of all time and this debate will always go on, just like Celine Dion’s heart. Yes, you can use different stats and measurements, but someone who might deserve it will always be left out.
That being said, we all love these debates and not being able to objectively decide won’t stop us from talking about it. So, we’ve made a list of the best NBA players of all time for you, in no specific order:
Wilt Chamberlain – The Big Dipper
Careers Averages: 30.1 PPG, 22.9 RPG, 4.4 APG
Teams: Philadelphia/San Francisco Warriors, Philadelphia 76ers, Los Angeles Lakers
One of the pioneers of the game we all love, Wilt Chamberlain is definitely one of the best NBA players of all time, at least statistically. The Goliath, Wilt the Stilt, or The Big Dipper – he was one of the most impressive athletic specimens of the human race since he also ran track and set high jump records in high school. He even played volleyball after his basketball career.
Chamberlain still holds many NBA records, such as averaging 50.36 points per season or 27.2 rebounds per season. But perhaps the best-known record of his is scoring 100 points in one game, a feat he achieved back in 1962. He also holds the record for most rebounds in history, he is 7th in most points in history, and he would probably be on the list of the best blockers if NBA started counting them as stats while he was still active.
Of course, it would take too much time to list all of Chamberlain’s records and achievements during his 14 seasons in the NBA. The two-time NBA champion was the face of the league for many years and he will always be remembered as one of the best NBA players of all time.
Michael Jordan – His Airness
Careers Averages: 30.1 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 5.3 APG
Teams: Chicago Bulls, Washington Wizards
Whether you agree with most experts that Michael Jordan is the best player in the history of the game or not, the current owner of Charlotte Hornets is without a doubt at the very top of the GOAT list. He was the face of the NBA in the 90s and he is responsible for spreading the influence of the NBA across the globe. Simply put, the league would not be what it is today without Michael Jordan.
Air Jordan is the only player in the NBA history to have 6 NBA Finals MVP awards. The fact that he never lost a final while being the team’s focal point on both ends proves his winning mentality, which is why many people consider him the best player in history.
Despite coming out of retirement twice in his career, Michael Jordan played 15 seasons in the NBA. He is fifth in all-time points and third in all-time steals. As the face of the NBA for years, Michael Jordan had no problems making it in showbiz as well and he even starred in a hugely popular movie Space Jam.
Bill Russell – Mr. 11 Rings
Careers Averages: 15.1 PPG, 22.5 RPG, 4.3 APG
Teams: Boston Celtics
No player in the history of the NBA has won more rings than Bill Russell, the legendary center for Boston Celtics in the 50s and 60s. The man who spent only 13 years in the NBA has managed to win the championship 11 times, which is unprecedented and unlikely to be repeated ever again, even in the current age of live NBA streams and whatnot.
Dubbed the Secretary of Defense for his unrelenting defensive efforts, Bill Russell wasn’t the main focus of Celtics’ offense in those years, but he wasn’t bad on that side of the court either. With 15.1 PPG and 4.3 APG, he contributed plenty on offense as well. However, his main contribution was on the defensive side and Russell is only behind Chamberlain in the total number of rebounds in NBA’s history. And while blocks were not officially counted as stats during his career, some estimates put him at more than 8 blocks per game!
All things considered, Bill Russell is rightfully considered to be one of the best NBA players of all time and the award for the MVP of the NBA Finals proudly carries his name.
LeBron James – Long Live the King
Careers Averages: 27.0 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 7.5 APG
Teams: Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat, Los Angeles Lakers
The only active player on our list is the kid from Akron, Ohio who captured the headlines of sports magazines as the next greatest thing in the NBA while he was still in high school. Despite the fact that he is still playing, LeBron James is already third in all-time points and seventh in all-time assists. He is also in the Top 20 of all-time in steals.
The 4-time NBA champion and 4-time NBA Finals MVP has already played in the NBA Finals 10 times, putting him behind Sam Jones and Bill Russell with 11 and 12 finals appearances. More importantly, it doesn’t look like he is slowing down, so we will probably see some more records broken by King James in the near future.
In addition to all this, he is one of only four players ever to win the NBA title with three different teams. LeBron James has been the face of the NBA for 18 seasons so far and it’s already safe to say that he has exceeded the expectations put before him as he first entered the league as a 19-year-old kid.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – The Owner of the Skyhook
Careers Averages: 24.6 PPG, 11.2 RPG, 3.6 APG
Teams: Milwaukee Bucks, Los Angeles Lakers
Born as Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor Junior, the legendary center won his first title and only title with the Bucks under his birth name. Soon after that, Alcindor became a Muslim and changed his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. After spending six years in Milwaukee, Abdul-Jabbar decided to join the Lakers in 1975.
Although his first few years in LA didn’t bring much success to the team, the acquisition of Magic Johnson in 1979 marked the start of the Lakers dynasty. Abdul-Jabbar and Johnson won five NBA titles in the 80s during the “Showtime” era in Los Angeles. The center won also won the MVP award 6 times in his career and he was the Finals MVP two times as well.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is still the NBA’s all-time leader in career points with 38,387 points in his 21 seasons in the league. He is also third in all-time rebounds and third in all-time blocks. He is also known as the master of the “Skyhook” shot, a virtually undefendable shot, which is unfortunately used rarely in today’s three-point oriented league.