Part of what makes all of the men on this list great is the desire and the passion they brought to the game of basketball. It is what drove them to work hard and become such great players.
Unfortunately, it is that same passion and desire that caused these men to play basketball a little too long at the end of their careers when they were, in some cases, a shell of their former selves—something that leaves a bad taste with the fans who watched these greats struggle at the end of their respective careers.
There is a certain sentimental value that goes with seeing a great player end his career at the top of his game the way Bill Russell, Jim Brown, John Elway and Barry Sanders did.
It gives the fans a sense of poetic justice that this great player left on his own terms, doing so when he was still quite capable of playing the game at a high level.
Unfortunately, the players on this list did not leave the game of basketball under those same circumstances, but it hardly tarnishes the incredible legacies they've left behind.