There have been many discussions about who the top players are and who the best NBA players ever were. There is always the question of how does one compose a list, do you list them by emotion, stats, position, championships, impact or all of the categories. I am going to list my Starting 5. This list should put the Top All-Time Players in perspective. (In their prime, all things being equal and with a minimum of 10 years in the league)
My Starting Five
Wilt Chamberlain 7’1″ 280 lbs
I know people would like to go with Bill Russell, or Shaq here, but honestly Wilt “The Stilt” Chamberlain was the original “Freak of Nature”. Yes he scored 100 points in a game, but Wilt, the player, forced the NBA to change so many rules its absurd and he also caused the NBA to widen the lane. Aside from his numerous records and awards he is the only player in NBA history to average more than 40 and 50 points in a season. In case you didn’t know Wilt Chamberlain played for the Harlem Globetrotters and he was the 1st athlete of note to bring volleyball out of the gymnasiums and onto the sand. He may not get the credit, but it was Wilt who gave birth to beach volleyball, it was he who made it popular. He also led the NBA in rebounds for 11 seasons and average of 23 rebounds per game and had 227 consecutive double-doubles.
Dennis Rodman 6’7″ 230 Lbs
I know, most people would have selected Tim Duncan, or Charles Barkley. Rodman at 6’7″ with a wingspan of 7’7″ led the league in rebounds for 7 straight years, including 19 rebounds per game during the 1991-1992 season. What he may lack in height he more than makes up for in pure tenacity. Rodman was known as a rebounding machine, but even more so for his defensive toughness. Unpredictable, hardworking and unselfish that is what a great teammates are made of . Rodman’s defensive play was the stuff of legend. He made Scottie Pippen cry during the playoff no less. He took his counterparts completely out of the game, he did the dirty work, something that is beneath a lot of players these days. 1989-90, 1990-91 Defensive Player of the Year awards.
Elgin Baylor 6’6″ 225 Lbs
Most of the time I see Larry Bird in this spot, which is mostly due to the 80’s Celtics/Lakers champions games. Elgin was every bit a pure shooter as Bird was, but the key here is that Baylor could actually defend. You don’t get a career average of 28 points and 14 rebounds for nothing. Baylor a gifted shooter, strong rebounder, known for his acrobatic maneuvers on the court. The No. 1 draft pick in 1958, NBA Rookie of the Year in 1959, and an 11-time NBA All-Star.
Michael Jordan 6’6″ 220 Lbs.
Often referred to as the best NBA player that has ever lived, but that distinction goes to Wilt Chamberlain. Also known as MJ, or just Jordan. He has five MVP awards, ten All-NBA First Team selections, nine All-Defensive First Team selections, fourteen NBA All-Star game appearances, three All-Star Game MVP awards, ten scoring titles, three steal titles, six NBA Finals MVP awards, and the 1988 NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award to top it all off. Jordan holds the NBA records for highest career regular season scoring average (30.12 points per game) and highest career playoff scoring average (33.45 points per game). In 1999, he was named the greatest North American athlete of the 20th century by ESPN. His tenacity on both end of the court was unmatched, his selection is a no brainer.
Magic Johnson 6’9″ 250 Lbs
At 6′ 9″ the man redefined the point guard position. Magic earned twelve All-Star appearances, and ten All-NBA First and Second Team nominations. He led the league in regular-season assists four times, and is the NBA’s all-time leader in assists per game, with an average of 11.2. He is a member of the 700 club, assists, rebounds, and points in the same season. Three NBA, MVP Awards, nine time NBA Finals appearances. Johnson was a member of the “Dream Ream”, which is a nickname for the U.S. basketball team that won the Olympic gold in 1992.
Bench (13 man playoff roster)
Allen Iverson 6′ 0″ 170 Lbs (Guard)
Kareem Abdul Jabbar 7′ 1″ 250 Lbs. (Center)
Kobe Bryant 6′ 7″ 210 Lbs. (Shooting Guard)
Tim Duncan 6′ 11″ 260 Lbs (Power Forward)
Shaquille O’Neal 7′ 2″ 325 Lbs. (Center)
Ray Allen 6′ 6″ 210 Lbs. (Shooting Guard)
Larry Bird 6′ 9″ 220 Lbs. (Small Forward)
Oscar Robinson 6′ 5″ 220 Lbs (Point Guard)