4. Wilt Chamberlain – Philadelphia Warriors/76ers/Los Angeles Lakers:
‘The Stilt’s’ greatest records still hold true today. He holds the NBA record for most points in a single game with 100. He’s also the only player to average more than 40 or even 50 points per game in a season. Chamberlain was dominant, winning two NBA titles and a Finals MVP in 1972.
He was four-time NBA MVP and made 13 All-Star games, winning the MVP in 1960. Chamberlain made seven All-NBA First Teams. But it was his individual scoring and rebounding skills that separated him far from the rest. Chamberlain was a seven-time NBA scoring champion and 11-time rebounding champion. He even led the league in assists in 1968. All told ‘The Stilt’ averaged 30.1 points, 22.9 rebounds, and 4.4 assists per game in his all-time great career.
Now is where the NBA’s greatest of all-time debate really heats up. James is no doubt in the top five players of all-time, but can you really rank him above the two all-time greats above him? Some would vehemently argue yes while others would say not a chance. In any case, James accomplishments are historic in their own right.
He’s a three-time NBA champion and won the MVP award in all of those wins. James is also a 15-time NBA All-Star, having won the MVP award in that game three times. He’s made 12 All-NBA First Teams. James also added five NBA All-Defensive First Team awards to that list. Finally, he’s won four NBA league MVP awards. James is the all-time leader in NBA Playoff scoring and fourth all-time in regular-season scoring. Perhaps the only knock on him would be his multiple Finals losses, but he hasn’t always had the team to win. James is still playing at an elite level and could rise up to the top spot on the list of the NBA’s greatest players ever.
2. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – Milwaukee Bucks/ Los Angeles Lakers:
The one-time Lew Alcindor is a true legend of the game. Abdul-Jabbar owns the NBA records for most league MVP awards with six and the most All-Star Game appearances with a whopping 19. He led his teams to the playoffs in 18 of his 20 seasons and made the Finals 10 times. Abdul-Jabbar was a six-time NBA champion and won the MVP in two of those championships.
He made 15 total All-NBA teams including 10 First Team selections. Abdul-Jabbar was selected to five NBA All-Defensive first teams. He led the NBA in scoring twice, rebounding once, and blocks four times. Topping it off, Abdul-Jabbar is the all-time leader in points scored and most importantly, wins. It’s tough to argue with this resume.
1. Michael Jordan – Chicago Bulls/Washington Wizards:
Now we’ve reached the mountaintop. While there are some truly amazing players preceding him on this list, the fact simply remains that Michael Jordan is the best NBA basketball player to ever play. He’s a six-time NBA champion with the Chicago Bulls and he won the Finals MVP in all six of those iconic victories. Jordan even retired to go play baseball then came back and won his second three titles. Adding to that, Jordan was a five-time league MVP as well.
“Air” Jordan made 14 All-Star games, taking home the MVP award in three of them. He made 10 All-NBA First Teams. Jordan had nine NBA All-Defensive First Team awards and was the NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 1988. In a huge achievement, he was the NBA scoring leader 10 times throughout his career. Jordan also led the league in steals three times. He was also well known for his dunking prowess, particularly in his historic Slam Dunk Contest battles with Dominique Wilkins. Jordan also remains a leading figure in the sports apparel business and created a massive industry with his Air Jordan brand. But what he’ll be remembered for most are his epic three-peats with Chicago, feats that probably won’t be repeated.
For those and his massive all-around success, Michael Jordan is the greatest NBA player of all-time.