Being a 90’s kid, Michael Jordan will always be the one. GOAT, some call it. The greatest basketball player of all time, the best to wear an NBA jersey. One of the greatest, most dominant and popular athletes of all time. I’m bought, what can I do. But this being a subjective matter, there are other opinions. And we’re here to present them, and the players, who at least by some or more, are considered as the greatest NBA player in history.
The What? – Some of these numbers and stats are common knowledge to many NBA fans, but still, lets go over them – Six time NBA Champions with the Chicago Bulls, Five time MVP, 14 time NBA All-Star, Six time Finals MVP, 10 time Scoring Champions, One time defensive player of the year, 10 time All-NBA First Team, Nine time All-Defensive first team. His 30.1 points per game career average is the highest of all time.
The Why? – Because he could win games single handily. He had a great head coach eventually, Phil Jackson, or maybe he made Phil Jackson great. Clutch, so clutch. Walked on air, and when he couldn’t anymore he just remained the best with less flying. Because he quit once in 1993, maybe because he wanted to fulfill his dad’s dream of MJ playing Baseball (terribly), or maybe it was the gambling and Stern forcing him to retire. He returned in 1995, at 32 years old, and was still the best. He retired after that shot over Russell and the second three-peat, and returned again, to the Washington Wizards. At 40 years of age, he was still averaging 20 points per game. And whatever I managed to write here, I’m sure I forgot about a million stuff.
The What? – A five time NBA Champions, all with the Los Angeles Lakers, Three time MVP, 12 time NBA All-Star, Three time Finals MVP, Nine time All-NBA first team, Assist King four times.
The Why? – I don’t think there’s too much doubt about Magic Johnson being the greatest point guard of all time. But he was so much more. Could play any position and be considered one of the greatest at it, I’m pretty sure. He player as a Center, clinching the NBA title during his rookie year, in the NBA finals, recording 42 points and 15 rebounds. He was probably the biggest reason along with Larry Bird and later Michael Jordan for building the NBA brand during the 1980’s. There was never a better passer, a better floor general and maybe better on court leader. Simply showtime, but he and the Lakers were much more. His career average of 11.2 assists per game is the best, ever.
The What? – Three time NBA Champions with the Boston Celtics, Three time MVP, 12 time NBA All-Star, Twice a Finals MVP, Nine time All-NBA first team.
The Why? – The rivalry with Magic Johnson made both of them great. What started in college continued to the NBA, and flourished, along with the league, along with the Lakers vs Celtics. Bird was a great shooter. Legendary even. Had eyes at the back of his head and his passing ability always kept you in awe. Was much tougher than he looked. Was a much better defender than he seemed to be (1.7 steals per game, 10 rebounds per game). Clutch. He’s the only NBA player with a 20-10-5 career average. Considered as the best ever mostly in New England.
The What? – Five time NBA Champions, all with the Los Angeles Lakers, Two time Finals MVP, One time MVP, 13 time NBA All-Star and counting, two time scoring champion, Nine time All-NBA first team, Nine time All-Defensive first team.
The Why? – Because he’s got five titles. All with talented teams, and he wasn’t even the most dominant player with the Lakers during the 2000-2002 three peat but he was probably the best player in the NBA this past decade. Yeah, he isn’t the nicest person in the world. But his drive and desire to win, just like Michael, made him this good. The hunger is still there, always there. One of the greatest defensive guards in history as well. Still, despite some (very few) who hold this opinion of Kobe, he isn’t the greatest ever in his position.
The What? – One NBA title in 1971, NBA MVP in 1964, 12 time NBA All-Star, Nine time All-NBA first team, led the league in assists seven times.
The Why? – He was a point guard on paper, but The Big O could do it all. The only player to finish a season averaging a triple double (1962, averaging 30.8 points per game, 12.5 rebounds and 11.4 assists). He finished his career with 25.7 points, 7.5 rebounds and 9.5 assists per game. The fact the he only has one title and it came past his prime, alongside a very young Kareem Abdul-Jabbar probably hurts Robertson when you look back at everyone.
The What? – Two time NBA Champion, Four time MVP, Finals MVP in 1972, Seven time All-NBA first team, Two time All-Defensive first team, 13 time NBA All-Star, Seven time Scoring champion, 11 time Rebounding champion.
The Why? – In his case, numbers pretty much tell it all. Averaged 50.4 points a game in 1961-1962. Averaged over 20 rebounds a game 10 times, and never less than 18.2. He even led the league in assists once, averaging 8.6 in 1967-1968. Scored 100 points in one game, one of the most famous and seemingly unbeatable records in American sports. Was too good, too strong, too dominant for everyone, but one man.
The What? – 11 time NBA Champion, Five time MVP, Five time rebounding champion, 12 time All-Star, Three time All-NBA first team, NBA All-Defensive first team once.
The Why? They began handing out the award in 1983. Russell would have won it at least ten times if it would have been awarded during his time on the court. If Chamberlain was about scoring and numbers, Russell was about title rings, defense, and leadership. They didn’t count blocks during his days, and the leaders of the eras that followed thank the stats people for that. He has more titles than any NBA player and any other North American athlete for that matter except for Henri Richard.
And no Jabbar. Jabbar played his best basketball during the weakest era of the NBA. Despite his MVPs and being the greatest scorer in the history of the league, sorry, I think all these guys were better.