NBA's Top 25 Greatest Players of All Time

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NBA's Top 25 Greatest Players of All Time

25. John Stockton

Stockton is the all-time leader in both total assists with 15,806, and the all-time leader in total steals with 3,265. Over his 20-year career, he averaged 13.5 points and 10.5 assists, along with three rebounds and 2.2 steals. He also shot an amazing 51.5 percent from the field, 38.4 percent from the three-point line, and 82 percent from the free-throw line.

He was also a very good defensive guard, as he was selected to five All-NBA defensive teams, all second-team selections. He also led the league in both total assists and assists per game for nine consecutive seasons, from the 1987-1988 season through the 1995-1996 season.

However, he never won a championship with the Jazz in his long and durable career, as they lost both times they advanced to the Finals against the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s.

 

24. Charles Barkley, "Sir Charles"

Barkley is the best rebounder of all time for his height. In his career, he had averages of 22.1 points, 11.7 rebounds, four assists, 1.5 steals, and 0.8 blocks. He also shot a tremendous 54.1 percent from the field and 73.5 percent from the free-throw line. He was selected to 11 All-Star teams.

He was also selected to 11 All-NBA teams, with five of the selections as a member of the first team. He won an All-Star Game MVP and, more importantly, an MVP Award in the 1992-1993 season as a member of the Phoenix Suns.

However, he could never lead his team to a championship, for in his only Finals appearance, his Suns lost to the Bulls.

 

23. Kevin McHale

McHale was a key member of the three championship Celtics teams in the 1980s. He had career averages 18 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and 1.7 blocks. He also shot an amazing 55.4 percent from the field and 80 percent from the free-throw line. He won two Sixth Man of the Year Awards in 1984 and 1985.

He was selected to seven All-Star teams and one All-NBA team, as a member of the first team. He was also one of the best defensive big men in his era, as he was always at the top of the list of block leaders. He was selected to the All-NBA Defensive team six times, with three of the selections on the first team.

 

22. Karl Malone, "The Mail Man"

In terms of statistics, Malone would be much higher on this list. However, Malone wasn't clutch or a winner. He had great career averages of 25 points, 10.1 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.4 steals, and 0.8 blocks. He also shot 51.6 percent from the field and 74.2 percent from the free-throw line. He ranks second all-time in total points, as he is only behind Kareem.

In his long and durable career, he was selected to the All-Star team 14 times and he was selected to the All NBA team 14 times, with 11 of the selections as a member of the first team. He also won two All-Star Game MVPs and two regular MVP awards. However, he never won a ring as, he could never lead the Jazz to a title.

 

21. Elvin Hayes, "The Big E"

Hayes is one of the most underrated players in the history of the league. He ranks in the top 10 in career points, field goals made, rebounds, and minutes played. He has career averages of 21 points, 12.5 rebounds, 1.8 assists, one steal, and two blocks per game. He was also selected to 12 All Star teams in his 16-year career.

He was one of the most durable players of all time, as he only missed nine games in his career and played 80 or more games in every season. He was also selected to the All-NBA team six times, with three of the selections as a member of the first team.

Hayes also led the Bullets to a championship in the 1977-1978 season.

 

20. Julius Erving, "Doctor J"

"Doctor J" was one of the most entertaining and athletic players of all time. As the face of the NBA for several years, he averaged 22 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 3.9 assists, along with a fantastic 1.8 steals and 1.5 blocks. He also shot a fantastic 50.7 percent from the field and 77.7 percent from the free-throw line.

The Doctor was selected to 11 All-Star teams and was also selected to the All-NBA team six times, with four of the selections as a member of the first team. He also won the MVP Award in the 1980-1981 season and two All-Star game MVPs.

He led the Sixers to a championship in the 1982-1983 season.

 

19. Elgin Baylor

Baylor is probably the most underrated player of all time. In his 14-year career, he averaged a fantastic 27.4 points, 13.5 rebounds, and 4.3 assists per game. He also shot 43.1 percent from the field and 78 percent from the free-throw line.

He had one of the greatest statistical seasons ever in the 1961-1962 season, as he averaged 38.3 points and 18.6 rebounds along with 4.6 assists.

Baylor was selected to 11 All-Star teams and an unbelievable 10 All-NBA teams, with all of the selections as a member of the first team. He also won the Rookie of the Year Award in 1959 and the All-Star Game MVP in 1959.

He ranks fifth all-time in career points per game, but he never won a ring, as his Lakers repeatedly lost to the Celtics in the Finals.

 

18. Isiah Thomas

Thomas was one of the best scoring point guards of all time. In his career, he averaged 19.2 points, 9.3 assists, and 3.6 rebounds, along with two steals per game. He also shot a solid 45.2 percent from the field, and was one of the most clutch players of all time. He led the "Bad Boy" Pistons to back-to-back championships in the late 1980s.

He was selected to 11 All-Star games, and won the All-Star MVP twice, in 1984 and 1986. He also won the 1990 Finals MVP, as he led the Pistons over the Portland Trailblazers for their second-straight championship.

He was selected to five All-NBA teams, with three of them being first-team selections. He led the league in total assists twice and in assists per game once.

 

17. Bob Pettit

Pettit was one of the first dominant big men in the league. He had career averages of 26.4 points, 16.2 rebounds, and three assists along with 43.6 percent from the field and 76.1 percent from the free-throw line.

He was selected to 11 All-Star teams in his 11-year career. He was also selected to the All-NBA team in the 11 seasons he played, 10 of the selections as a member of the first team.

Pettit also won four All-Star game MVP awards, which is the most all-time and he won two MVP awards, one in the 1955-1956 season and the other in the 1958-1959 season. He also won two scoring titles in his career.

Pettit led the St. Louis Hawks to a championship over the much more talented Bill Russell-led Celtics, with a dominating Finals performance. He scored 50 points in Game Six to clinch the championship.

 

16. Kevin Garnett, "The Big Ticket"

KG is one of the most versatile big men of all time, as he is an excellent scorer, rebounder, passer, and defensive player. So far, in 13 seasons, he has career averages of 20.4 points, 11.2 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 1.4 steals, and 1.7 blocks per game. He has also shot a 49.4 percent from the field and 78.1 percent from the free-throw line.

He has been selected to 11 All-Star Games, and he has won one All-Star Game MVP. He has also been selected to the All-NBA team nine times, with four of the selections on the first team. He is one of the best defensive big men, as he has been selected to the All-NBA Defensive team nine times, with seven of the selections on the first team.

He also won the Defensive Player of the Year Award in the 2007-2008 season. He still has a few great years left, as he is 32 years old.

Garnett won an MVP award in the 2003-2004 season, and he led the Celtics to a championship in 2007-2008 season.

 

15. David Robinson, "The Admiral"

Robinson was one of the best offensive and defensive centers of all time. In a 14-year career, he had averages of 21.1 points, 10.6 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.4 steals, and three blocks per game. He also shot a very good 51.8 percent from the field, and an excellent 73.6 percent from the free-throw line. 

Robinson was selected to 10 All-Star games. He also won Rookie of the Year in 1990 and the Defensive Player of the Year in 1992.

He was selected to the All-NBA team 10 times, with four of the selections as a member of the first team. He was also a great defender, as he was selected to the All-NBA Defensive team eight times, with four of the selections as a member of the first team.

Robinson helped lead the Spurs to two championships, and won the MVP Award in the 1994-95 season.

 

14. John Havlicek, "Hando"

Havlicek was one of the most all-around players at both ends of the court. He averaged 20.8 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 4.8 assists, along with 1.2 steals. He also shot 44 percent from the field and 81.5 percent from the free throw line.

He ranks 10th all-time in the NBA with 26,395 career points.

He was selected to 13 All-Star teams and to the All-NBA team 11 times, with seven of the selections on the second team and four on the first team. He was also selected to the All-NBA Defensive team eight times, with five of the selections on the first team.

He helped the Celtics win eight championships and finally he won the 1974 Finals MVP, as he led the Celtics over the Kareem-led Bucks in seven games.

 

13. Jerry West, "Mr. Clutch"

West is by all accounts the greatest basketball person of all time. He was one of the greatest players of all time, a solid coach, and arguably the greatest General Manager in all of sports.

In his legendary 14-year career, he averaged an amazing 27 points, 6.7 assists, and six rebounds along with a great 47.4 percent and 81.4 percent from the free-throw line. He also averaged 2.6 steals and 0.7 blocks, and his defensive stats were only recorded in his last season.

He was selected to an amazing 13 All-Star teams and to the All-NBA 12 times, with all of them except for one being as a first team selection. He was also one of the best defensive guards ever as he was selected to the All-NBA Defensive team five times, with four of them being first team selections. (All-NBA defensive teams started in the last five seasons of his career.)

He won only one championship even though he made the NBA Finals over 10 times, with nine of the losses to the legendary Boston Celtics team and one to the 1970 Knicks team.

He is also the only player of all time to win a Finals MVP award on a losing team. He accomplished this in the 1969 Finals against the Celtics, when he averaged over 40 points in the seven-game series.

He is a true basketball legend.

 

12. Shaquille O'Neal

O'Neal was one of the most dominant players of all time, as no one in his era was big or strong enough to guard him one-on-one down low. So far in 16 seasons, he has career averages of 25.2 points, 11.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 2.4 blocks per game. He also has scored over 25,000 total points, and has shot an amazing 58.1 percent from the field along with a pathetic 52.4 percent from the free-throw line.

Shaq has also been selected to the All-Star team 14 times, winning MVP awards in the 2000 and 2004 All-Star games. He also won the Rookie of the Year Award in 1993 after a dominant season with the Orlando Magic.

He has been selected to the All-NBA team 13 times, with eight of those selections as a member of the first team, and the All-NBA Defensive team three times, with all of the selections on the second team.

Shaq won an MVP award in the 1999-2000 season with the Lakers, as he also won his second scoring title, averaging 29.7 points along with 13.6 rebounds, 3.8 assists, and three blocks per game.

He has won four championships in his career—three of them on the Lakers with Kobe Bryant, and the other one in Miami with Dwyane Wade.

Shaq won three Finals MVP Awards with the Lakers during their three-peat.

 

11. Moses Malone

Moses was one of the most dominant big men of all time. In his 20-year career, he had averages of 20.6 points, 12.2 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.8 steals, and 1.3 blocks. He ranks fifth all-time in total points scored with 27,409. He also won seven rebounding titles, including six straight from the 1980-1981 season through the 1984-1985 season.

He was selected to the All-Star team 11 times in his career, and was selected to the All-NBA team eight times, with four of those selections as a member of the first team. He was also a solid defensive player, as he was selected to the All-NBA Defensive team twice, with one of the selections of the first team.

Malone is also one of only seven players in the history of the league to have won three or more MVP awards.  He won three in his career, including back-to-back awards in the 1981-82 and 1982-83 seasons.

Moses also won a championship in the 1982-83, as he led the Sixers to a dominant playoff performance.  They lost only one game in the entire playoffs.

 

10. Oscar Robertson, "The Big O"

Oscar is probably the greatest player statistically, besides Wilt. Over his career, he averaged 26 points, 9.5 assists, and 7.5 rebounds, while also shooting a tremendous 49 percent from the field and 84 percent from the free-throw line.

He is also the only player of all time to average a triple double for an entire season, which he accomplished in the 1961-62 season. He averaged 32 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 11.4 assists that season.

He made the All-Star team 12 times, won three All-Star game MVPs, won an MVP award in the 1963-64 season, and was selected to 11 All-NBA teams, nine of those being first-team selections.

He led the league in assists per game seven times and he won one scoring title. He is fourth all-time in total assists, and 10th all-time in total points scored.

He also won one championship with the Bucks, in the 1970-71 season.

 

9. Kobe Bryant

For Kobe to already be ahead of so many legendary retired players at such a young age (30) tells you how great he really is. So far in his 12-year career, Kobe has career averages of 25 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 1.5 steals, and 0.6 blocks. He also shoots a solid 45.3 percent from the field, 34 percent from the three-point line, and 84 percent from the free throw line.

He has made the All-Star team 10 times, with one of the seasons being cut off because of the lockout. He has also made the All-NBA team nine times, with six of them being first-team selections. He is one of the greatest defensive guards of all time as he has made the All-NBA Defensive team seven times, with five of the selections being first-team selections.

He has also won an MVP Award, two All-Star game MVPs, and two scoring titles. Despite his young age, he is already 24th all-time in total points.

He helped lead the Lakers to three straight championships in the early 2000s and made himself one of the best playoff performers of all time.

Kobe still has several great years in him and easily could move up to be ranked among the top three to four players on this list someday.

 

8. Tim Duncan, "The Big Fundamental"

Duncan is one of the greatest offensive, defensive, and clutch big men of all time. So far in 11 seasons, he has career averages of 21.6 points, 11.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 2.4 blocks, and 0.8 steals. He has also shot 50.8 percent from the field and 68.4 percent from the free-throw line.

He has been selected to 10 All-Star teams, and he has also won an All-Star Game MVP in 2000. Duncan has also been selected to the All-NBA team 11 times, with nine of the selections as a member of the first team. He was also selected to the All NBA Defensive team nine times, with seven of the selections as a member of the first team.

He won the Rookie of the Year Award in 1998, and he won back to back MVP awards in the 2001-2002 and 2002-2003 seasons.

He is also one of the biggest winners of all time, as he has already led the Spurs to four championships in just 11 seasons, winning three Finals MVP awards.

 

7. Bill Russell

Russell was the greatest defensive center ever, the anchor of a great Celtic defense for over a decade, and probably would have been the leader in career blocks per game if they had recorded defensive stats in his era.

In his 13-year career, Russell had averages of 15.1 points, 22.5 rebounds, and 4.3 assists along with shooting 44 percent from the field and a terrible 56.1 percent from the free-throw line.

Russell was also selected to the All-Star team 12 times, winning the All-Star game MVP in 1963. Russell was selected to the All-NBA team 11 times, with three of the selections as a member of the first team. Russell also ranks tied for second all time in MVP awards with five in his career.

He is also considered by many to be the greatest winner in team sports. He won 11 championships in this 13-year career and led his team to the Finals in every season he played in except for one.

He led the Celtics to a record eight consecutive championships in the 1960s, with most of those Finals wins coming against the great Lakers teams of Jerry West and Elgin Baylor.

 

6. Hakeem Olajuwon, "The Dream"

Hakeem was one of the most skilled big men of all time at both ends of the floor. Offensively, he averaged 21.8 points, 11.1 rebounds, and 2.5 assists, shooting 51.2 percent from the field and a solid 71.2 percent from the free-throw line. Defensively, he was amazing, with career averages of 3.1 blocks and 1.7 steals.

He won the Defensive Player of the Year Award in both 1993 and in 1994 and he was selected to the All-NBA Defensive team nine times, with five of the selections as a member of the first team. He was also selected to the All-Star team 12 times and to the All-NBA team 12 times, with six of those selections as a member of the first team.

He also won his only MVP award in the 1993-1994 season. He won two rebounding titles in his career, along with three blocked-shot titles. He ranks first all-time in career blocked shots with a total of 3830, and he somehow is eighth all time in total steals with 2162.

Hakeem led the Rockets to back-to-back championships in the mid '90s, winning the Finals MVP award each time.

 

5. Larry Bird

Bird is one of the five greatest players of all time. He averaged an amazing 24.3 points, 10 rebounds, 6.3 assists, 1.7 steals, and 0.8 blocks. He also shot a fantastic 49.6 percent from the field, 37.6 percent from the three-point line, and 88.6 percent from the free-throw line. He was selected to 12 All-Star teams in his 13-year career.

He was also one of the most clutch players of all time, as he had several legendary performances in the playoffs and several game-winning shots. He also led the Celtics to three championships in the 1980s.

He was selected to the All NBA team 10 times, with nine of the selections on the first team.

Bird won three consecutive MVP awards from 1983 to 1986, one All-Star Game MVP, and two Finals MVP awards. He also won the 1980 Rookie of the Year Award. Finally, he and Magic revived the NBA with their legendary rivalry in the 1980s after the league's popularity dropped in the late '70s.

 

4. Wilt Chamberlain, "The Big Dipper"

Wilt was, without a doubt, the most dominant player of all time. In his 14-year career, he had averages of 30.1 points, 22.9 rebounds, and 4.4 assists per game, while shooting a fantastic 54 percent from the field and a terrible 51.1 percent from the line.

He won seven scoring titles and an unheard of 11 rebounding titles in his career. He also would've been at the top of the blocked shots list, but they weren't recorded in his era.

He was selected to the All-Star team 13 times, winning the All-Star game MVP in 1960. He was selected to the All-NBA team 10 times, with seven of the selections as a member of the first team. He was selected to the All-NBA Defensive team twice, with both of the selections as a member of the first team. (All NBA Defensive teams started in his last two seasons.)

He also ranks fourth all-time in total points, with 31,419 in his career.

Wilt won four MVP Awards, including three consecutive from the 1965-66 to the 1967-68 seasons. He also had the greatest statistical season of all time by far, as he averaged an unfathomable 50.4 points, 25.7 rebounds, and 2.4 assists per game in the 1961-62 season.

Wilt won two championships and the Finals MVP in the 1972 Finals as a member of the legendary Lakers team that won 69 games (a record at the time) and 33 straight—still a record in all of sports.

 

3. Michael Jordan

Jordan is one of the three greatest players of all time. In his 15-year career, he averaged 30.1 points per game, 6.2 rebounds, and 5.3 assists along with 2.3 steals and 0.8 blocks. He also shot a tremendous 49.7 percent from the field and 84 percent from the free-throw line.

He was selected to the All-Star team 13 times, winning three All-Star game MVPs. He was also one of the greatest defensive players of the all time as he won the Defensive Player of the Year Award in 1987-1988.

He was selected to the All NBA Defensive team nine times, with all of them being first team selections, and to the All NBA team 10 times, with nine of them being first team selections.

He led the Bulls to two different sets of three-peats in the 1990s, winning six Finals MVP Awards. He is also second all time in MVP Awards with five, behind only Kareem, who has six.

 

2. Kareem Abdul Jabbar

In terms of accomplishments, Kareem is the greatest player of all time, and without a doubt the greatest center of all time. He is first all-time in total points with 38,387, third all-time in total rebounds with 17,440, third all-time in total blocked shots with 3,189, and even 33rd all-time in total assists with 5,660.

In a dominant 20-year career, he had averages of 24.6 points, 11.2 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 0.9 steals, and 2.6 blocks per game. He also shot an amazing 55.9 percent from the field and 72.1 percent from the free-throw line.

He was selected to a record 19 All-Star teams and to the All-NBA team 15 times, with 10 of the selections as a member of the first team. He was also a very good defensive center, as he was selected to the All-NBA Defensive team 10 times, with five of the selections as a member of the first team.

Kareem was also one of the game's biggest winners, as he led his teams to six championships, five of them with the Showtime Lakers in the 1980s. He also led his team to the Finals a total of 10 times, winning the Finals MVP twice, in the 1971 and 1985 Finals.

Kareem won the 1970 Rookie of the Year Award, and a record six MVP Awards in his career.

On a side note, Kareem was also the greatest college basketball player of all time, as he led the Bruins to three consecutive NCAA championships, a total record of 88-2, and was the winner of two NCAA College Player of the Year Awards.

 

1. Earvin Johnson, "Magic"

Magic Johnson is the greatest basketball player of all time. He is far and away the best team player ever, and he was one of the biggest winners in the history of the league.

During his career, he led the Lakers to nine Finals appearances in the toughest era of all time—the '80s—while winning five of them. His career averages are 19.5 points, 11.2 assists, 7.2 rebounds, and two steals per game. He also shot a tremendous 52 percent from the field, and a very good 85 percent from the free-throw line.

He was selected to 12 All-Star teams, and he made the All-NBA team nine times, all first-team selections. He won three consecutive MVPs, and three total Finals MVPs. He also won two All-Star game MVPs. He ranks third all-time in total assists, and first all-time in assists per game.

Magic also had the greatest postseason performance of all-time in Game Six of the 1980 Finals against the Sixers.

The Lakers were up 3-2, and Kareem was injured and couldn't play, so Magic started at center, and also played forward and guard. Magic scored 42 points, grabbed 15 rebounds, and had six assists to lead the Lakers over Doctor J and the Sixers and win the Lakers' first championship since their legendary 1971-72 team.

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