BallnRoll’s 100 Greatest NBA Players of All Time: #10-1
After ten long weeks the time has finally come!
In part 10 of BallnRoll’s 100 Greatest NBA Players of All Time list, we look at the top ten players to ever grace a basketball court. The final instalment of our list may be controversial, but ultimately quite difficult to argue.
Who will finish at the top? Who cracks our list? At long last, the wait is over! In the case that you have missed part nine, click here.
So with all this being said, let’s not waste any time and get right into it, starting with number 10 on our list…
10. Kobe Bryant
- Career Stats: 20 Seasons, 25.0 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 4.7 APG, 22.9 PER, 172.7 Win Shares
Built in the mold of another all-time great, Kobe Bean Bryant kicks off our list.
‘The Black Mamba’ had an unmatched work ethic and desire to be great. An absolute assassin on the floor, not many players in NBA history were could score like Bryant. In fact, Bryant’s 81-point game along with the many other incredible scoring performances is simply one of many examples that Bryant could never be stopped.
Spending his entire career with the Los Angeles Lakers, Bryant won five NBA championships, is a former league MVP, an 18-time NBA All-Star, a two-time scoring champion, and a four-time All-Star Game MVP. There isn’t much empty space in Bryant’s trophy collection that’s for sure. The best player in the entire league at his height, Bryant would finish his career third on the all-time scoring list and a sure-fire first ballot Hall of Famer.
9. Hakeem Olajuwon
- Career Stats: 18 Seasons, 21.8 PPG, 11.1 RPG, 23.6 PER, 162.8 Win Shares
A Hall of Famer and NBA ambassador, Hakeem Olajuwon was one of the greatest and most skilled players in NBA history, crafting a legendary career built around a extraordinary array of unguardable post moves.
At seven feet, ‘The Dream’ was unstoppable on both ends of the floor. A two-time NBA champion with the Houston Rockets, Olajuwon cracked 12 NBA All-Star team rosters, was a two-time Defensive Player of the Year, as well as a former league MVP. Upon retirement, the record books only cemented Olajuwon’s greatness. ‘
11th on the all-time scoring list, 13th in rebounds, and first in all-time blocked shots, Olajuwon was also one of only four players in NBA history to record a quadruple-double in a game. Oh and Olajuwon did it twice – in the same month!
8. Shaquille O’Neal
- Career Stats: 19 Seasons, 23.7 PPG, 10.9 RPG, 26.4 PER, 181.7 Win Shares
There may be only one player in NBA History who was more destructive than Shaquille O’Neal.
With his size and strength, it’s incredible to note that O’Neal was also very athletic. He could destroy defender in his way, he was as physical and as dominant as any player in the league, but also possessed a very soft touch around the basket as well as a collection of post moves that made him simply untouchable.
A four-time NBA champion, 15-time NBA All-Star, and a former league MVP, ‘The Diesel’ list of NBA accolades is quite vast. To this day, O’Neal is eighth all-time in blocked shots, 14th in rebounds, and eighth in points scored. As humorous and loveable as he was dominant, there is no question that is one of the game’s top-ten greatest players.
When the term ‘Hack-a-Shaq’ was created because teams just didn’t want to waste the time in defending you, you know you are great. Now if only O’Neal was able to hit his free throws…
7. Bill Russell
- Career Stats: 13 Seasons, 15.1 PPG, 22.5 RPG, 18.9 PER, 163.5 Win Shares
It’s not a top-1o list without the greatest champion in sports history.
Bill Russell was an NBA pioneer, to this day is an ambassador to the sport, and in his time on the floor cemented himself as one of the all-time greats.
An incredible rebounder and defender, Russell was the anchor of 11-NBA Championship teams with the Boston Celtics. An All-Star in each year of his career, but one, Russell won five-league MVPs and revolutionized the center position. With the quickness and athleticism rarely seen even to this day, Russell could run the floor like a point guard. He was skilled, he was crafty, and a feared and respected player all around the league. Never averaging fewer than 18-rebounds per game in his career, Russell, in just 13-NBA seasons is second on the all-time rebounds list.
And if anyone could ever defend the man who is number six on the list, it would be Bill Russell.
6. Wilt Chamberlain
- Career Stats: 14 Seasons, 30.1 PPG, 22.9 RPG, 4.4 APG, 26.1 PER, 247.3 Win Shares
Before there was Shaq, there was Wilt Chamberlain – the most dominant NBA player to ever step foot on a basketball floor. Now, let’s put it this way – if you are a player more dominant than Shaq, trust me, you are an all-time great, period.
Just browse through Chamberlain’s stats. The late, great ‘Wilt the Stilt’ had a season in which he averaged 50-points and 26-rebounds per game. He averaged 38-points and 27-rebounds per game in his rookie year! He also holds the record for most points in an NBA game with 100! First on the all-time rebounding list and fifth on the all-time scoring list, there was absolutely no one who could ever stop him on the basketball floor.
A 14-time NBA All-Star, a seven-time scoring champion, a two-time NBA champion, and a four-time league MVP, Chamberlain even led the entire NBA in points, rebounds, and assists in 1967-68!
No one can ever refute the greatness of ‘The Big Dipper’.
5. Larry Bird
- Career Stats: 13 Seasons, 24.3 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 6.3 APG, 23.5 PER, 145.8 Win Shares
Who would have ever thought that once everything was all set and done, Larry Bird would become one of the greatest players in NBA history – let alone a top-five player?
One of the greatest trash-talker, Larry Bird was never the most athletic or quickest player, but boy could he shoot. In fact, Bird could pretty much do everything. One of the most versatile, motivated, and intelligent players in NBA history, Bird retired a three-time NBA Champion and MVP, and took part in 12 NBA All-Star Games.
Simply one of the greatest of all time, even his many injuries couldn’t stop ‘Larry Legend’ from being unguardable.
4. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
- Career Stats: 20 Seasons, 24.6 PPG, 11.2 RPG, 2.6 BPG, 24.6 PER, 273.4 Win Shares
The NBA’s all-time leader in points scored, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is known for the most unguardable move in NBA history – the sky hook. Virtually unstoppable, Kareem used this one move to become the greatest big man the league has ever seen.
Cracking an NBA record 19 All-Star rosters, the six-time league MVP won six titles during his time with the Milwaukee Bucks and then the Showtime Lakers. An incredible offensive player, Abdul-Jabbar also was an 11-time All-Defensive team member cementing himself as truly one of the all-time greats – so much so that some even hold Kareem atop their list of greatest players of all time.
3. Magic Johnson
- Career Stats: 14 Seasons, 19.5 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 11.2 APG, 24.1 PER, 155.8 Win Shares
The greatest point guard of them all. Magic Johnson has become a basketball icon – a true legend of the sport. All the flash and talent in the world with the size of a bruising wing player, Johnson could do just about everything.
He could find the open man whenever he chose, scored whenever he felt like it, and play the center position in the NBA Finals, still lead his team to victory and win the Finals’ MVP in the process. A 12-time All-Star, a five-time NBA Champion and three-time league MVP, Johnson was the architect of the Showtime Lakers dynasty. A member of the 1992 Team USA ‘Dream Team’, Magic was the greatest of his time and remains to this day, one of the greatest to ever step onto the basketball hardwood.
2. Michael Jordan
- Career Stats: 15 Seasons, 30.1 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 5.3 APG, 27.9 PER, 214.0 Win Shares
Michael Jordan not atop the list? How could this be possible? I’m truly sorry, but number two all-time isn’t too bad either.
In his time in the league, Jordan became the gold-standard for an NBA player. He was cold-blooded, an incredible scorer, clutch, and could defend with the best as well. Now while, we have went into great depths why Jordan is not as good as the best player of all time, you can never take away anything from the career Jordan has had. A six-time NBA champion and 14-time All-Star, ‘His Royal Airness’ won 10-Scoring Titles and five MVP awards.
Some of the game’s greatest moments are revolved around this man – a true NBA legend and icon. Considered by many as the greatest player ever, Jordan Hall of Fame career lands him at number two on our list!
1. LeBron James
- Career Stats: 14 Seasons, 27.1 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 7.0 APG, 27.6 PER, 205.4 Win Shares
We have made it up to number one and for this I ask you to forget all of the six-for-six talk and the silly clutch gene discussion. There is absolutely zero argument against LeBron James being the greatest to ever play the game.
With an unguardable build, James has become the biggest star in NBA history both on and off the floor. He is the most complete and versatile player the game has ever seen. A three-time NBA champion and four-time league MVP, let’s not forget James is still only 32-years of age and from the start of his career to present day, he has been the game’s greatest player for over a decade.
As our ten-part series comes to an end there is no better way to put this to a close than placing James atop our list of the game’s greatest players of all time!