I'd Pay to See Him Play: The 10 Most Exciting Players in NBA History

Mike B.Correspondent IJune 6, 2010

NBA history is stuffed with players who fans wouldn't mind shelling out their hard-earned money to go out and watch. You know, those kind of players who usually keep you at the edge of your seat.

I came up with a list of the league's top 10 most exciting players of all time. Most readers will agree with a few of my picks, but there will definitely be a lot of people who will feel that certain guys were foolishly left off.  

Popular players who didn't make the list include Julius Erving, Vince Carter, Kobe Bryant (sorry all you Kobe lovers), "Pistol Pete" Maravich, Bob Cousy, and Spud Webb.   

Well, let the debate begin.


10. Reggie Miller

Reggie didn't amaze fans with dunks (except for his unexpected slam vs. New Jersey in the 2002 playoffs), he instead garnered attention with his unbelievable three-point shooting. 

When you think of Miller, you probably think of him scoring eight points in 8.9 seconds against the New York Knicks in the 1995 playoffs, which was one of the most unforgettable performances in NBA history.  

Another great moment in Miller's career came three years later, when he sank a game-winning three-pointer against the Chicago Bulls in Game 4 of the 1998 Eastern Conference Finals. 


9. Larry Bird

Bird wasn't exactly the quickest player, but that doesn't mean he wasn't exciting.

The Boston Celtics legend was known for his superb all-around skills. He could hit a shot from anywhere on the court and was blessed with exceptional passing abilities. 

Bird even made the NBA Three-Point Shootout exciting as he won the contest three consecutive times in the 1980s.  


8. Charles Barkley

Before Barkley became a hilarious color commentator for TNT, he was a "must see" NBA superstar in the '80s and '90s. 

Barkley's most exciting days as a pro were probably during his time with the Philadelphia 76ers. Back then, it wasn't unusual to see him snatch a defensive rebound and then take it coast-to coast for a rim-rocking slam.   

He also loved to swat opponents shots into the crowd and muscle his way into the paint and stuff it home over three or four defenders.


7. Allen Iverson

You have to have major skills to be a 6-foot shooting guard in the NBA. And that's exactly what Iverson had. 

The one-time NBA MVP was known to embarrass opponents with his "killer crossover" (just ask Michael Jordan), and then take advantage of his lightning-quick speed to get to the basket. 

And an occasional tip-in dunk wasn't out of the question either.


6. LeBron James

"King James" has had millions of fans ever since he arrived onto the NBA scene in 2003. Why? Because he makes everything look easy.

At 6-foot-8 and 250 pounds, LeBron is pretty much unguardable. Night after night, he creates some kind of SportsCenter highlight by either performing an amazing dunk or sprinting down the court to block a shot when an opponent least expects it.    

Fans would love to get the opportunity to see James participate in a dunk contest. Hopefully one day he'll stop rejecting the offer and finally give in.

We're all waiting.


5. Shawn Kemp

It's a shame that Kemp became overweight and the butt of several jokes during the latter part of his career, however nobody was laughing when he was younger in Seattle.

A much slimmer and athletic Kemp brought NBA fans to their feet as he dunked all over the league in the '90s, often off of alley-oop passes from teammate Gary Payton.

The "Lister Blister", which was a crazy jam over Golden State's Alton Lister is considered one of the greatest dunks ever.     


4. Shaquille O'Neal

At age 38, O'Neal isn't quite one of the league's most electrifying players, but years ago, he was a guy who a lot of people would pay to see, especially during his days in Orlando.

Shaq's mission was basically to dunk on everybody. Check out his rookie year highlights on YouTube. He posterized several centers like Patrick Ewing, Robert Parish, Alonzo Mourning, and Manute Bol, and he also tore down the backboard a couple of times.  


3. Dominique Wilkins

'Nique is considered one of the game's most brilliant dunkers of all time. Who could forget his memorable dunk contest showdowns with Jordan in the 1980s, you know, back when the event was actually worth watching. 

Wilkins appeared in tons of highlights during his career. That must be why he's nicknamed "The Human Highlight Film."    


2. Earvin "Magic" Johnson

Whether you were a Laker fan or not, you have to admit that it was a joy to watch Magic back in the day. Johnson excited fans worldwide with his crazy behind-the-back and no-look passes.

And don't forget about his famous "baby hook".

It was simply amazing that a 6-foot-9 point guard (the tallest point guard in history) had the ability to do things that he could do.   

We'll never see another Magic.


1. Michael Jordan

Jordan is not only the greatest player of all time, he's also the most exciting player of all time. The six-time NBA champion and five-time MVP made a countless number of moves during his career that would immediately force you to ask "How did he do that?"

It would take several days to list all of Jordan's exciting plays.

Perhaps his best dunk was in '91 against the Knicks, when he went around John Starks and Charles Oakley, and then finished with a slam over longtime rival Patrick Ewing.