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Best NBA Players in History

The best to ever lace them up!
Publish Date: 06/07/2021
Fact checked by: Mark Lewis

Shaquille O’Neal (1992-2011)

The Hall of Fame center used a combination of size, strength, and quickness that had never been seen in the NBA. He was an All-Star 15 times, won four NBA titles, and three Finals MVP awards. In addition, he was the league MVP in 1999-2000 and retired with averages of 23.7 points and 10.9 rebounds per game.

Tim Duncan (1997 – 2016)

Although not a flashy player, Duncan was one of the best big men in league history, dominating both offensively and defensively. Duncan was stellar in low-post defense and deadly with the mid-range shot. He led the Spurs to five NBA titles and averaged 19 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 2.2 blocked shots per game for his career.

Kobe Bryant (1996 – 2016)

Bryant won five NBA championships and league MVP in 2008. His 81-point game and a 60-point game in his finale go down as two of many highlights over a storied 20-year career. Bryant was never one to shy away from the big moment and goes down as one of the most clutch players in league history. He averaged 25 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists per game.

Larry Bird (1979 – 1992)

Bird led the Celtics to five NBA Finals and three titles during an era of rivalry with Magic Johnson and the Los Angeles Lakers. Bird was one of the best pure shooters in league history and won league MVP three consecutive seasons from 1984 through 1986. He retired with averages of 24 points, 10 rebounds, and 6 assists per game.

Magic Johnson (1979 – 1991, 1996)

Johnson was the tallest point guard in the NBA when he began his career. He even started at center in the 1980 NBA Finals against the 76ers when Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was injured. Johnson could record a triple-double at any time and took the Lakers to nine NBA Finals, winning five of them. Johnson averaged 19.5 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 11.2 assists per game during his career making him one of the greatest in the history of NBA teams.

Wilt Chamberlain (1959-1973)

The most dominant center of his generation, Chamberlain once scored 100 points in a game and averaged 50 points per game for a season. He also led the league in assists one year as a center. Chamberlain won two NBA titles and his career averages are a staggering 30.1 points, 22.9 rebounds, and 4.4 assists per game.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1969- 1989)

His list of achievements is remarkable, winning six NBA titles, six MVP awards, 19-time All-Star, and 15 time All-NBA.  Abdul-Jabbar’s skyhook is likely the most dominating shot in league history.  Never a flashy performer, Abdul-Jabbar was so consistently excellent and he is the league’s all-time leading scorer.  He averaged 24.6 points and 11.2 rebounds per game for his career.

LeBron James (2003-Present)

James has been a dominant scorer during his career, but at 6’ 9” and 250 pounds, his passing ability is likely his strongest and most underrated skill. He’s a four-time NBA champion, four-time league MVP, and three-time NBA Finals MVP. James is averaging 27.1 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 7.4 assists per game this season.

Michael Jordan (1984-1993, 1995-1998)

The top player in league history, Jordan was six NBA titles, six Finals MVP awards and five league MVP awards. Jordan was a 14-time All-Star and 10-time scoring champion.  He took the game to a new level and became the player that everyone after emulated. Jordan retired with averages of 30.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, 5.3 assists, and 2.3 steals per game.

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