NBA's Best Players of the Decade: 1950s Edition

Tim MorelandContributor IIFebruary 19, 2011

BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 10:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers hugs Ray Allen #20 of the Boston Celtics after the game on February 10, 2011 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.  The Lakers defeated the Celtics 92-86. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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The 1950s was a decade dominated by the big men.  It was the centers and forwards who were leading the league in scoring and winning championships for their teams.

Like several decades, the 1950s were dominated by the Lakers and Celtics, although the Lakers had not moved to Los Angeles yet.

In terms of total contribution to the decade, these 10 players were the best of the 1950s.

10. Vern Mikkelsen

Mikkelsen played alongside George Mikan in the Minneapolis Lakers' frontcourt during the 1950s. In fact, his career declined sharply after Mikan retired.

Nonetheless, Mikkelsen was an important piece of the four NBA Championships for the Lakers. Four times he was selected to the All-NBA Second Team.  

The part of Mikkelsen's game that stood out the most was his ability to accumulate personal fouls. He led the league in personal fouls three times during the 1950s.

9. George Mikan

Mikan may have been the most talented player of the 1950s, but he only played through 1956. During that time, Mr. Basketball dominated at center for the Minneapolis Lakers.

He was a First-Team All-NBA selection four times in the 1950s, while leading his team to four NBA Championships.  

During the decade, Mikan led the league in scoring once and rebounding twice. He truly was one of the best players in the game during his short stretch of play in the '50s. 

8. Harry Gallatin

Harry "The Horse" Gallatin spent almost the entire 1950s with the New York Knicks, during which time he was a seven-time All-Star and a one-time rebounding champ.

The Knicks made the NBA Finals three consecutive times to begin the 1950s.  Unfortunately, Gallatin's team was never able to bring home a ring.

7. Larry Foust

Foust played the majority of his time during the 1950s with the Fort Worth Pistons.  

The big man was an All-Star every year from 1951 to 1959. During that time, he also led the league in total rebounds once.

6. Bill Sharman

Sharman is the only pure guard to make the list. He was essentially a member of the Boston Celtics for the entire decade, where he helped them win two NBA Championships during the 1950s.

This eight-time All Star rarely missed a free throw. In his career, Sharman shot 88.3 percent from the line, leading the league in free throw percentage six times during the 1950s.

5. Ed Macauley

Easy Ed split his playing days between the Boston Celtics and the St. Louis Hawks.  

It was not until his final productive season as a player that he finally won an NBA Championship, with the Hawks. He was the third best player on a team led by Bob Pettit and Cliff Hagan. Still, he contributed 10 points and six rebounds per game during their playoff run.

Macauley was a seven-time All Star and three-time All-NBA First Team pick.

4. Bob Pettit

Pettit played every year but one for the St. Louis Hawks during the 1950s. While he did not begin playing until halfway through the decade, Pettit was one of the top 50 players of all time. Some of his best seasons were also during the 1950s.

Throughout his NBA career, Pettit filled up his trophy case. He was an All-Star five times in the 1950s, as well as winning NBA Rookie of the Year, two NBA MVPs and six All-NBA First Team selections.

Pettit was a two-time scoring champion as well, and he led his team to the 1958 NBA Championship.

3. Paul Arizin

Arizin was a 6'4" guard/forward hybrid for the Philadelphia Warriors. His strength was scoring, as he led the league twice in points per game.

Arizin was a familiar face at the All-Star game, as he was selected seven times in the decade. He also helped lead his team to the 1956 NBA Championship.

2. Dolph Schayes

Dolph Schayes was the star of the Syracuse Nationals for the entire 1950s.

He made nine All-Star games in the decade, along with six All-NBA First Team selections and four All-NBA Second Team selections.  

With Schayes clearly as their best player, the Nationals won the 1955 NBA Championship.  

1. Neil Johnston 

Johnston's career was essentially over before the age of 29. In his six years as a productive player, Johnston made his presence known.

Johnston was a six-time All-Star and four-time All-NBA First Team selection. He also won the scoring title three times, while leading the league in rebounding once.  

Along with Paul Arizin, Johnston helped the 1956 Philadelphia Warriors win the NBA Championship.


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