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Top 10 NBA Players of All-Time.

As of this writing, we have been in quarantine for around eight weeks without sports. So we watch The Last Dance, watch old games (not me), read articles and books and….. make lists!

ESPN recently came out with their top NBA players of all-time and of course it created controversy, which is what lists are intended to do (Russell Westbrook at 42 would be my bone to pick, as he should be way lower).

Well, I haven’t done a lot of basketball historical stuff at the pro level, so I am doing a Top 10 NBA All-Time player list here. The list is based on criteria that includes the quality of the overall player, overall success like winning titles, because that is hugely important in basketball where one player can make such a difference, and overall impact on the game. No era-based stuff here. When you get to these short lists of the elite players, they all could play in any era. Enjoy. Rant. Agree. Disagree. Hit me on Twitter @MikeLSports with anything. You know I will respond.

Micheal Jordan

1.Michael Jordan.

“Be Like Mike.” There was only one player historically we all wanted to be like. From the post-up turn-around shots to the tongue out to the shoes to the Gatorade to the #23. MJ was so good at basketball that he won three titles, retired to play baseball, changed his workouts and rode buses and came back and won three more. Career stats: 30.1 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 5.3 APG, 2.3 SPG. 6-0 in the NBA Finals. Six Finals MVP awards. Five league MVP awards (should have been 6-8). Great defensive player as well. And his global impact is unmatched on and off the floor. More people play basketball around the world today because of MJ. Sneakers? He sells more than anyone in today’s game and has been retired nearly two decades. Bird and Magic may have saved the league, but this guy took the torch and made the game what it is today and forever. GOAT.

Magic Johnson

2.Magic Johnson.

Greatest point guard of all-time. Revolutionized the position at 6’9. Five NBA titles, nine Finals appearances. Averaged a double-double in points and assists in his career. Saved the league with Larry Bird. Imagine his fast breaks and no-look passes in today’s social media age. Played all five positions in the 1980 NBA Finals as a rookie, helping the Lake Show to victory with 42 points, 15 rebounds and 7 assists. “Showtime Lakers?” Try “Showtime Magic.”

Bill Russel

3. Bill Russell.

Changed the game with rebounds, blocks and a big man outlet for a fast break. 11 titles in 13 years. Arguably the greatest leader in team sports history. 11-time All-Star. Five NBA MVP awards. The only guy who could regularly stand-up to Wilt Chamberlain. Averaged 15.1 PPG and 22.5 RPG.

LeBron James

4.LeBron James.

The most hyped athlete of all-time didn’t meet that hype, he exceeded it. The worst thing James has ever done off the floor is “take his talents to South Beach” in a TV forum and raise money for the Boys and Girls Club. 6’9. 250 pounds. 40-inch vertical. And he can do it all. In that regard, we have never seen a player like him. Three titles. Four MVP’s. Eight NBA Finals appearances and seven straight from 2011-2018. His greatest triumph was leading the Cavs back from a 3-1 deficit against the 73-win Warriors in 2016 and the chase-down block of Andre Iguodala in Game 7. He promised Cleveland its first sports title since 1948 and he delivered.

5. Wilt Chamberlain.

Chamberlain gets killed on these lists because he only won two titles. How about dominating the sport as a big man during a big man’s era? Scored 100 points in one game. Averaged 50 points a game for an entire season. Averaged 30.1 PPG and 22.9 RPG. The most dominating player ever.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

6.Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Arguably the best resume in hoops history. 19-time All-Star, six MVP’s, six titles, 10 first-team selections on 15 All-NBA teams. Consistent. Durable. Unstoppable. It’s irresponsible when people start rattling off 10-15 names for greatest players ever and don’t mention Kareem.

7. Larry Bird.

“Larry Legend.” “The Great White Hope.” Inside-outside, incredible shot-making, great passing, amazing leader and fundamentally unmatched. NBA MVP three straight seasons (1984-86) with only Chamberlain and Russell achieving it before. Five NBA Finals appearances. Three titles. He bailed the NBA out along with rival Magic and made the 1980’s NBA must-watch.

Kobe Bryant

8. Kobe Bryant.

Kobe is the closest thing we have seen since Jordan. Amazing will to win. Amazing mental strength over the competition. “Mamba Mentality” produced five titles, an 81-point game, 60 points in his last contest and so much more. Last shot? Like MJ, you wanted Kobe with the ball. He’s so missed.

9.Tim Duncan.

Boring? No problem. He simply won and did everything well and right. Scored. Passed. Rebounded. Ran the floor. Incredible defender. Polished. Five titles. The greatest power forward of all-time. As time goes on, Duncan looks better and better and so does that Spurs dynasty.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

10.Steph Curry.

Steph edges out Oscar Robertson because he has three titles to Oscar’s one and his impact is perhaps the greatest the game has ever seen behind Jordan. Steph is the greatest shooter of all-time and is the face of today’s NBA; shoot from anywhere, screen around, bob and weave, guard off guard, 3 balls and more. Not to mention, no one has had this shooting ability AND the ball handling to go along with it. Two MVP’s and the first unanimous ever in 2015-16. Whoever leads the next trend in the game will have to break Curry’s. That’s how huge he has become and is wildly popular among the basketball youth around the globe.

Mike Lindsley
Follow Mike Lindsley on Twitter @MikeLSports and download his podcast the “ML Sports Platter” on Apple Podcasts, Google Play and Spotify.