Top 10 Best Basketball Players of All Time
There are billions of basketball fans worldwide and counting. This is not a surprise since Basketball has evolved drastically throughout the years and now belongs at the forefront of entertainment. The excitement involved in the sport seems to grow as new talented players join in. The world witnessed hundreds of basketball talents come and go. But among all of them, who do you consider as the best?
This question inspired me to come up with the list of Top 10 Best Basketball Players of All Time. As most of you might notice, most of the players I included in this list already retired. I firmly believe that these talented basketball players made a great impact in the sport compared to rising stars today. Though I’m amazed of how the new generation is performing, we still can’t deny the fact that they have a long way to go before achieving what these basketball legends have done. If ever you know a basketball player who deserves to be in this list, feel free to leave a comment and explain why. Let me say hello to every basketball fan out there like me! Have a good read everyone!
10. David Robinson
Full Name: David Maurice Robinson
Alias: “The Admiral”
Weight: 235 lbs.
Born: August 6, 1965 in Key West, Florida
High School: Osbourn Park in Manassas, Virginia
College: United States Naval Academy
Draft: San Antonio Spurs, 1st round (1st pick, 1st overall), 1987 NBA Draft
NBA Debut: November 4, 1989
Hall of Fame: Inducted as Player in 2009
David Robinsons gained the title “The Admiral” because of his innate ability to easily dominate a game. He was one of the best centers in his time. Along with his partner, Tim Duncan, he led his team towards consecutive championships. Aside from his height, Robinson can overpower almost anyone inside the paint. The way he position himself is genius as it allows him to outrebound players who are even taller than him. With both power and speed to boast, his presence in the court is highly felt. A team who dares to ignore this mighty force will surely pay the price. Aside from being the best rebounder in his time, Robinson is also known for having a very good attitude in and out of the court which made him even more amazing.
9. Karl Malone
Full Name: Karl Anthony Malone
Alias: “The Mailman”
Weight: 250 lbs.
Born: July 24, 1963 in Summerfield, Louisiana
High School: Summerfield in Summerfield, Louisiana
College: Louisiana Tech University
Draft: Utah Jazz, 1st round (13th pick, 13th overall), 1985 NBA Draft
NBA Debut: October 25, 1985
Hall of Fame: Inducted as Player in 2010
Karl Malone is one of the major reasons why Utah Jazz became the rival of Chicago Bulls for many years. He was called “The Mailman” because he always delivers particularly at times of great need. Karl Malone’s moves are less fancy compared to Michael Jordan, Chicago Bull’s star player during his time. Nevertheless, he never fails to cheer up every team member when it seems there’s no hope. He is a true leader in the court and is highly effective in both offense and defense. Karl Malone often relied on his power so stopping him after gaining a good position inside the paint is almost impossible.
8. Patrick Ewing
Full Name: Patrick Aloysius Ewing
Weight: 240 lbs.
Born: August 5, 1962 in Kingston, Jamaica
High School: Cambridge Rindge & Latin in Cambridge, Massachusetts
College: Georgetown University
Draft: New York Knicks, 1st round (1st pick, 1st overall), 1985 NBA Draft
NBA Debut: October 26, 1985
Hall of Fame: Inducted as Player in 2008
During his time, New York Knicks was not a team without Patrick Ewing as he became its heart. Though he suffered from several injuries in the early years of his career, Patrick Ewing still managed to lead his team to countless victories. He is a rebound specialist. His height, strength, and amazing leaping ability made Patrick Ewing an unstoppable force inside the paint. Goal-tending violations are common with him around since he won’t let any be thrown unchallenged. But what made Patrick Ewing a great player is his leadership. Everyone in his team gets fired up whenever Patrick Ewing makes a monstrous dunk or rebound amidst countless opponents surrounding him. Patrick Ewing’s ability to influence inside the court is also one of the main reasons why New York Knicks was a team feared for many years.
7. Shaquille O'Neal
Full Name: Shaquille Rashaun O'Neal
Weight: 325 lbs.
Born: March 6, 1972 in Newark, New Jersey
High School: Cole in San Antonio, Texas
College: Louisiana State University
Draft: Orlando Magic, 1st round (1st pick, 1st overall), 1992 NBA Draft
NBA Debut: November 6, 1992
Shaquille O’Neal boasts strength, size, and height. These physical features alone are more than enough for him to dominate the paint in every game. In the peak of big man’s career, it would take at least two men to stop him. Despite having a problem in his free-throws, Shaq was able to improve it later on which proves his dedication towards the sport. The Los Angeles Lakers was unstoppable with Shaq paired with a highly talented forward Kobe Bryant. Their offensive pattern revolves on this mighty duo who never fails to deliver. Shaquille O’Neal was also a monster in the defensive end to the point that carelessly shooting within his range would always mean a powerful block.
Although taller players started entering the league, Shaq managed to stay on the top. For him, it’s not just about being the biggest or tallest. Shaquille O’Neal knows more about achieving optimum position inside the paint compared to every center during his time. Outrebounding Shaq is close to impossible. Leaving him with a weak guard will most likely result to a monstrous dunk that will pump up not only his teammates but the crowd as well.
6. Wilt Chamberlain
Full Name: Wilton Norman Chamberlain (Wilt, Wilt the Stilt, the Big Dipper)
Alias: “Wilt”, “Wilt the Silt”, “The Big Dipper”
Weight: 275 lbs.
Born: August 21, 1936 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Died: October 12, 1999
High School: Overbrook in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
College: University of Kansas
Draft: Philadelphia Warriors, 1959 NBA Draft (territorial selection)
NBA Debut: October 24, 1959
Hall of Fame: Inducted as Player in 1979
Wilt Chamberlain is one of the most infamous basketball players during his time and among the reasons why the sport’s phenomenon spread worldwide. He is known for being a highly reliable scorer. In fact, he managed to score a hundred points in just one game against a formidable team. Aside from his height, Wilt Chamberlain’s offensive arsenal relied on athleticism. He can maneuver in mid-air despite being so tall. Wilt Chamberlain’s dunks and rebounds made him an unstoppable force inside the paint. Enemy teams find it hard controlling him impossible once he gained momentum. Though only a few today remember his name, Wilt Chamber surely deserves a spot in this list of Top 10 Best Basketball Players of All Time.
5. Hakeem Olajuwon
Full Name: Hakeem Abdul Olajuwon
Alias: “The Dream”
Weight: 255 lbs.
Born: January 21, 1963 in Lagos, Nigeria
High School: Muslim Teachers College in Lagos, Nigeria
College: University of Houston
Draft: Houston Rockets, 1st round (1st pick, 1st overall), 1984 NBA Draft
NBA Debut: October 27, 1984
Hall of Fame: Inducted as Player in 2008
Hakeem Olajuwon kept his team, the Houston Rockets dreaming. This is probably why he gained the title, “The Dream”. With his exceptional basketball skills, Hakeem Olajuwon created a seemingly impossible rally and made his team known worldwide. No one refer Houston Rockets as a formidable team until Hakeem Olajuwon came alongside with Charles Barkley changed everything. With them inside the paint, Houston Rockets dominated the NBA for years. Hakeem Olajuwon is tall and muscular so he finds it very easy to gain position and grab the rebound. Olajuwon’s perimeter shooting is also considered one of his major feats. It would require at least two big men to completely silence him or else Hakeem Olajuwon will easily get inside his comfort zone and pull of a devastating dunk.
4. Larry Bird
Full Name: Larry Joe Bird
Alias: “Larry Legend”, “The Hick from French Lick”
Weight: 220 lbs.
Born: December 7, 1956 in West Baden, Indiana
High School: Springs Valley in French Lick, Indiana
College: Indiana State University
Draft: Boston Celtics, 1st round (6th pick, 6th overall), 1978 NBA Draft
NBA Debut: October 12, 1979
Hall of Fame: Inducted as Player in 1998
Tall players usually excel in rebounding and scoring inside the paint. Larry Bird defied this rule by being one of the best three pointers of all time in NBA. Aside from his prowess in shooting beyond the three-point area, is also a proficient dribbler. He is one of the few tall men who can carry a ball from one side of the court to another effortlessly amidst the enemy team’s tight defense. Larry Bird’s talent in basketball also extends in driving swiftly towards the basket which he usually does with a fake to confuse his defender. Larry Bird’s reliable three points were lifesavers and led the Celtics towards numerous championships during this time.
3. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Full Name: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Alias: “Lew”, “Cap”
Weight: 225 lbs.
Born: April 16, 1947 in New York, New York
High School: Power Memorial in New York, New York
College: University of California, Los Angeles
Draft: Milwaukee Bucks, 1st round (1st pick, 1st overall), 1969 NBA Draft
NBA Debut: October 18, 1969
Hall of Fame: Inducted as Player in 1995
There were high hopes for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar because of his size. Nonetheless, he proved everyone else that he was much more than a player with insane height. His infamous hook shot is impossible to block and its accuracy is almost 100%. This only means two points are assured once Kareem Abdul-Jabbar leaps and stretches one of his hands. His dedication to the sport is second to none which is seen by how much effort he exerts regardless if the game a crucial or not. He uplifted the standards of NBA like no other player in the history. Though his contribution to the sport is undeniable, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s feet are always on the ground. Hs humility and sportsmanship in and out of the court made him a lovable icon even more.
2. Magic Johnson
Full Name: Earvin Johnson Jr.
Weight: 215 lbs.
Born: August 14, 1959 in Lansing, Michigan
High School: Everett in Lansing, Michigan
College: Michigan State University
Draft: Los Angeles Lakers, 1st round (1st pick, 1st overall), 1979 NBA Draft
NBA Debut: October 12, 1979
Hall of Fame: Inducted as Player in 2002
Magic Johnson’s name is not just for show. He literally does magic in the court with his brilliant passes. He may not have absurd leaping ability and strength like most famous basketball players have but Magic Johnson dominates a game through a unique approach. Instead of scoring, he lets his teammates do the job by drawing the defenses towards him. Once he attracts at least two defenders, he then passes the ball behind his back to an open teammate. This strategy might seem very predictable but it’s never easy to counter if Magic Johnson does it. His passes can come from out of nowhere so predicting when, where, and how it is done seems impossible. Magic Johnson is a living proof that basketball is not just about individual greatness but how every team member work together to achieve victory.
1. Michael Jordan
Full Name: Michael Jeffrey Jordan
Alias: “Air Jordan”,”MJ”
Weight: 195 lbs.
Born: February 17, 1963 in Brooklyn, New York
High School: Emsley A. Laney in Wilmington, North Carolina
College: University of North Carolina
Draft: Chicago Bulls, 1st round (3rd pick, 3rd overall), 1984 NBA Draft
NBA Debut: October 26, 1984
Hall of Fame: Inducted as Player in 2009
Michael Jordan is a living legend in basketball. Every time he had the ball, audiences were all at the edge of their seats since they knew something great will surely happen. And of course, Air Jordan never fails his countless fans worldwide. Michael Jordan is an all-around player. He defies the law of gravity by launching way off the usual distance while making a dunk. He is also infamous because of his fade-away shot which is virtually impossible to block. Michael Jordan manifested exceptional talent in handling the ball and driving straight towards the basket despite being guarded by among the best defenders in NBA.
He played a big role during the Chicago Bulls NBA domination. Probably one of the best features of Michael Jordan aside from his innate talent in basketball is his attitude towards the game. He will always play at full gear in every game. Michael Jordan exerts every possible effort he can give just to achieve his goals. This above all made him deserving to be considered as the best NBA player of all time.