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Ranking the top 100 players in NBA history - will23c1982 - 07-31-2011 02:50 PM

I am fascinated by articles that attempt to rank the best players in NBA (and ABA) history. Some authors are too easily swayed by eye-catching statistics. Other authors give too much credit to players who won championships (perhaps riding the coattails of their superstar teammates). Meanwhile, some authors abandon all obvious indicators and simply go with their heart. In my opinion, all three measures are valid and should be combined together.

Indeed, that is exactly what I have attempted to do here. I have combined the rankings from nine different publications (including – but not limited to – Bill Simmons’ ‘Book of Basketball’, Slam magazine’s ‘Top 500’, Elliot Kalb’s ‘Who’s Better Who’s Best in Basketball?’ and Sport magazine’s 50th anniversary rankings) to create a master list.

Some of the rankings were written a few years ago and, as a result, active players were ranked too low. To accommodate for this, I have adjusted the rankings of active players accordingly (by simply weighting them more towards the most recent rankings).

I have included the major awards won by each player, their career statistics along with revealing quotes (admittedly with a generous dose of hyperbole) from players and well-respected basketball authors.

The results are fascinating and, in my opinion, the most accurate rankings I have seen. Let me know what you think.

http://basketballjournalist.blogspot.com/2011/07/ranking-top-100-players-in-nba-history.html

Quote:01 – Michael Jordan
Awards: 6 x NBA champion, 5 x Regular Season MVP, 6 x Finals MVP, 10 x All-NBA 1st Team, 14 x All-Star, 1 x Defensive Player of the Year, 9 x All-Defensive 1st Team, Rookie of the Year
Numbers: 30.1ppg, 6.2rpg, 5.3apg, 2.3spg
Words: “That was God disguised as Michael Jordan” (Larry Bird after Jordan scored an NBA record 63 points in the playoffs against the Celtics).

02 – Bill Russell
Awards: 11 x NBA champion, 5 x Regular Season MVP, 3 x All-NBA 1st Team, 12 x All-Star
Numbers: 15.1ppg, 22.5rpg, 4.3apg, .440 FG%
Words: “Each year the Finals MVP is given to an exceptional, extraordinary player based on his performance on the grandest stage in all of basketball, the Finals. Who better to name this prestigious award for than one of the greatest players of all time and the ultimate champion?” (David Stern).

03 – Wilt Chamberlain
Awards: 2 x NBA champion, 4 x Regular Season MVP, 1 x Finals MVP, 7 x All-NBA 1st Team, 13 x All-Star, Rookie of the Year
Numbers: 30.1ppg, 22.9rpg, 4.4apg, .540 FG%
Words: “He’s like T-Rex, so big and god-awful, stomping through his world as other, thunderstruck creatures seek shelter from his wrath” (Michael Bradley).

04 – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Awards: 6 x NBA champion, 6 x Regular Season MVP, 2 x Finals MVP, 10 x All-NBA 1st Team, 19 x All-Star, 5 x All-Defensive 1st Team, Rookie of the Year
Numbers: 24.6ppg, 11.2rpg, 3.6apg, .559 FG%
Words: “He developed the skyhook after dunking was banned in college to neutralize him. Instead, the ban helped lead to the perfection of the greatest shot the game has ever seen” (Peter Vecsey).

05 – Magic Johnson
Awards: 5 x NBA champion, 3 x Regular Season MVP, 3 x Finals MVP, 9 x All-NBA 1st Team, 12 x All-Star
Numbers: 19.5ppg, 7.2rpg, 11.2apg, 1.9spg
Words: “There have been times when he has thrown passes and I wasn’t sure where he was going. Then one of our guys catches the ball and scores and I run back up the floor convinced that he must’ve thrown it through somebody” (Michael Cooper).

06 – Larry Bird
Awards: 3 x NBA champion, 3 x Regular Season MVP, 2 x Finals MVP, 9 x All-NBA 1st Team, 12 x All-Star, Rookie of the Year
Numbers: 24.3ppg, 10.0rpg, 6.3apg, 1.7spg
Words: “He was always going to go back at you. It may be scoring, it may be a pass, it may be a rebound – but he was going to find a way to beat you” (Dominique Wilkins).

07 – Shaquille O’Neal
Awards: 4 x NBA champion, 1 x Regular Season MVP, 3 x Finals MVP, 8 x All-NBA 1st Team, 15 x All-Star, Rookie of the Year
Numbers: 24.7ppg, 11.2rpg, 2.6apg, .582 FG%
Words: “All the greats are blessed with something… and Shaq – along with his criminally underrated athleticism, passing ability and court vision – has mass. Hate if you want, but the Daddy has taken utmost advantage of his gift, and the results are undeniable” (Ryan Jones).

Remainder of the top 100 at the following link: http://basketballjournalist.blogspot.com/2011/07/ranking-top-100-players-in-nba-history.html


RE: Ranking the top 100 players in NBA history - xstreaminsanity - 08-01-2011 10:50 AM

I do not have the time nor energy to do the whole 100, but I'll give you my opinion of what the top 5 should be.

#1 - Kareem - I kind of wish this was a Best Players of Basketball History rather than NBA history because then you'd have to include his four college chips. But the reason I have him #1 is because of his durability, his amazing FG% (I don't include Shaq because he dunked mostly, Kareem shot more real shots), he has a LOT more accolades than some of the other people on here (except he falls to Bill in chips and Jordan in Finals MVP), as your quote states, he had to develop the hook shot because of them banning dunking to neutralize him.

#2 - Russell - 11 chips, 22+ RPG, 5x season MVP and 12 time all-star. Wait, did I say 11 chips? Smile

#3 - Jordan - He brought the NBA to the masses and had tremendous skill. The reason I have him #3 is because it seemed as though his dominance came in a time when there were less skilled players in the NBA. Kareem was leaving, Russell was gone, Bird was gone, Magic was gone, and others. Yes, there was Malone (no rings), Barkley (no rings), Hakeem (two rings while MJ was gone), David Robinson (rings after MJ left) and a few others, but it seemed the first three championships came when Bird and them were closing the doors on their careers, and while who are superstars now (Kobe, Kevin Garnett, etc.) were just starting in their careers. However, I will not deny his skill. He has major passion for the game and tremendous skill.

#4 - Wilt - As stated, he walked through everyone. It was like George Muresan playing against the Smurfs. Smile However, can't argue with a 100 point game (even though Cheryl Miller had a 105 pt game in high school).

#5 - Magic - Pure point guard, career ended too quickly, and has amazing basketball IQ. I can't wait until he's an NBA head coach.

But, those are just my opinions. Smile Nice list.


RE: Ranking the top 100 players in NBA history - eman97 - 08-01-2011 03:59 PM

DeMarcus Cousins!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!​!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


RE: Ranking the top 100 players in NBA history - will23c1982 - 08-02-2011 02:05 AM

xstream, Magic Johnson was not gone when Jordan entered the league. In fact, their careers overlapped for 8 years and, in 1992, Jordan's Bulls defeated Magic's Lakers in the Finals.


RE: Ranking the top 100 players in NBA history - xstreaminsanity - 08-02-2011 05:56 AM

(08-02-2011 02:05 AM)will23c1982 Wrote:  xstream, Magic Johnson was not gone when Jordan entered the league. In fact, their careers overlapped for 8 years and, in 1992, Jordan's Bulls defeated Magic's Lakers in the Finals.

No, I didn't mean he was gone, I know they played against each other a bit, but I'm saying that by the time Jordan really started to dominate, Magic was gone. I don't remember off hand what years each person retired, but I know a lot of the greats that were playing before Jordan won his first championship were gone by the time he won his second.


RE: Ranking the top 100 players in NBA history - will23c1982 - 08-02-2011 08:09 AM

But there were a lot of greats when Jordan was at his peak too. Players like Hakeem Olajuwon, Karl Malone, Charles Barkley, David Robinson, John Stockton, Isiah Thomas, Patrick Ewing, Shaquille O'Neal.

And remember, we'd probably hold players like Barkley, Malone and Ewing in much higher esteem if Jordan hadn't stopped all of them from winning championships.

Imagine if Malone had won a couple of rings. We'd rank him as a top 10 player of all-time for sure. And yet, because of Jordan, most people rank him about 16th, which is probably why you don't class him as an elite player. That's not really fair, in my opinion.

Jordan beat the best the league had to offer.

Also, if anything, the argument goes that the league was at its weakest in the 1970s when Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was dominant.

Sure, expansion spread out the talent in the mid-1990s, but the number of great players was higher in the 1990s than in the 1970s (when a number of the great players were actually in the ABA not the NBA).
Btw, I just found this quote from Bill Simmons with regards to Clyde Drexler (who I forgot to mention in my post above)...

Quote:During the most competitive stretch in league history (1990-93), Portland made the Finals twice with Drexler as its lone blue-chipper”

So, according to Simmons (who I agree with), Jordan won three championships (1991, 1992, 1993) during the most competitive stretch in league history. Not bad.


RE: Ranking the top 100 players in NBA history - antriarc - 08-08-2011 05:32 PM

If there was no jordan then the knicks would have about another 3 rings to record and ewing would be in the top 10!


RE: Ranking the top 100 players in NBA history - will23c1982 - 08-08-2011 05:53 PM

Do you think Ewing would have won 3 rings if not for Jordan?

I think he might have won 1 but not 3.

After all, the Knicks lost to the Rockets in 1994, so who's to say they wouldn't have lost every year if they'd reached the finals?


RE: Ranking the top 100 players in NBA history - taffster74 - 08-08-2011 07:46 PM

But will you have to remember, that 1994 Knicks-Rockets series went down to the wire. And it ended up being nothing more than a battle between two of the best centres in league history - it was a fairly even match with Ewing and olajuwan swapping who led from game to game.


RE: Ranking the top 100 players in NBA history - maso33 - 10-02-2011 05:57 AM

This is always an interesting debate and the majority of people will judge the best by the amount of rings a player has on his fingers and in this case it's probably justified with these players but what about those that didn't win a ring?

No matter how great a player is, they can't win without their team.