I did a TD series about a year ago regarding the greatest NBA players of all-time.While it was fun, it wasn't what I ended up liking and wasn't very good for a couple reasons...


1. I didn't know much about the history of the NBA. For example, I left off players like Kevin McHale, Bill Walton. And I also had players ranked all out of wack and it was just an awful list. If you want to see it, be my guest, just don't make too much fun of me


2. I did it in a weird format that I don't like now. Whether I thought I was going to win every TD or what, I TD'd 10 players at a time and whoever won, their list would be the next 10. 10 players is too many to debate at once and I don't like it when I lose and have to use someone else's ideas.


So this time, I'm making my list how I want it. I'll debate players 5 at a time, but I'm only releasing the rankings when I do the TD's.


So, without further adieu, here are my 50 Greatest NBA Players


1. Michael Jordan - I don't know of many people that would argue about this one. I will admit that he was the perfect player in the perfect time period. He came in to a league that was watching two of it's biggest stars starting to bid farewell and no one yet to replace him. Now, I'm not taking anything away from Jordan, as he did step up and take advantage of the opportunity to the max. I don't see him ever being matched either. I'm the biggest Kobe fan ever and I know Kobe isn't close to Jordan, but that's another debate.



2. Bill Russell - A lot of the time, Russell doesn't get the credit he deserves. He is always known as the master of defense who did nothing offensively. That's partly true. We know about his prolific rebounding, but he wasn't that bad offensively. Compare him to Ben Wallace, who is the closest thing we've seen recently to Russell. Wallace's 36-minute averages were 7.3 points, 11.9 points, and 2.4 blocks. Russell same equated averages are 12.8 points, 19.1 rebounds, and somewhere in the neighborhood of 6-8 blocks per game. And you can't deny a man who was a born winner at every level. Including college, Russell has 15 titles. That's quite a feat.



3. Wilt Chamberlain - I can only imagine the wars Chamberlain and Russell had. Many consider these two guys top 5 players and they battled each other in their primes 88 times (IIRC). In those 88 games, Wilt averaged 28 points and 28 rebounds. Take a moment to let that sink in. Against who many consider the greatest defender ever, Wilt put up 28 points and 28 rebounds against him ON AVERAGE. But what hurts him was his selfishness. Reports were that he would check the stat box during games to see what his were. And we all know his problems with teammates, coaches, etc. That's what separates him from the top 2



4. Magic Johnson - After talking about two top 5 guys battling each other in their prime, we switch to two top 5 guys playing WITH each other in their primes. They paired up for 5 titles and would have gotten more if not for Bird and the Celtics great teams in the same time period. Taking that into account, those 5 titles in the '80s are that much more impressive. And Magic was the key to that. He revolutionized the PG position like no one else before. Those "Showtime Lakers" invented the fast break. And maybe Magic's greatest feat was the clinching game in his rookie season in the NBA Finals where he took over the center spot and dominated the game.



5. Kareem Abdul Jabbar - A quiet figure. Even though he is the all-time leading scorer, you never hear about some big, career defining game he had. He just always put up 30 points a night for his entire career. But, what everyone does remember is the sky hook. His patented move that very well may have kept him in the league for as long as it did. No one could block it and he had it down to a T. The most consistent scorer this league has ever seen.



6.Larry Bird - I really wish I could have seen the guy play. From reading stories and books and watching Youtube videos, he was an incredible player. He started off with his memorable run with Indiana State and then joined the Celtics. From then on, he took over the NBA. Between him and Magic, they saved the NBA. Bird was the "LeBron James" statistically during the 80s. He's one of the few guys who put up a 50-40-90: 50% FG, 40% 3-pt, 90% FT. No matter how you look at it, he was one of the most revolutionary players in the game



7.Oscar Robertson - We all know about his triple double season average, the only one to do so. What some don't know is that in his rookie year, he averaged 30.5 ppg, 10.1 rpg, 9.7 apg and in the year following his triple double season, he averaged 28.3 ppg, 10.4 rpg, and 9.5 apg. He very nearly averaged a triple double in three straight seasons. Easily the most well-rounded guard this league has ever seen. A great scorer, a superb rebounder, and a great passer.



8.Kobe Bryant - It's time that people start to accept Kobe for what he is. We're stuck in a time where, for some reason, nobody likes Kobe. They call him a rapist, yet he was not convicted. They call him a ball hog, yet he averages five assists a game. They say he can't win without Shaq, yet he now has two titles without him. So what excuses are left? The guy is one of the greatest scorers the game has ever seen and could make his way into the top 5 before his career is over



9. Tim Duncan - Duncan got caught in an awful time period or he would surely have more than his 4 rings. He played in a time with Kobe Bryant, Shaq, and LeBron, arguably 3 of the top 25-30 NBA players of all times. Yet he still managed to get four NBA titles. And he always did it in incredibly impressive fashion. Look at the 2003 Finals against the Nets for example, where he averaged 24.2 points, 17 rebounds, 5.3 assists, and 5.3 blocks. He'll be most remembered for his bank shot jumper, but should also be remembered as arguably the greatest PF ever.



10.Hakeem Olajuwon - Might be the unluckiest man in NBA history. Got caught behind the greatest player of all-time and couldn't get teammates to help him. He's one of the most overlooked players of all-time, but he did average 21.8 points, 11.1 rebounds, and 3.1 blocks a game. However, it's the defense he's most remembered for, partly because he's in first all-time in blocked shots, and by a quite large margin. If not for MJ, it's safe to say Hakeem would have more than two rings and would be much higher up on this list.



11. Shaq - He was arguably the most dominant force ever when he was in his prime. And he put up some gargantuan numbers in playoffs and Finals. Against the Pacers in 2000, he averaged 38 ppg, 16.7 rpg, 2.7 bpg. Against the Sixers the next year, he put up 33 ppg, 15.8 rpg, 3.4 bpg. And against the Nets in their final title, he had 36.3 ppg, 12.3 rpg, 2.8 bpg. So basically, he just took over on the biggest of stages. But it was the fact that he's always had a great wingman for his titles that I downgraded him below Hakeem.



12. Jerry West - Like so many others, including the next guy listed, he got stuck in an awful time period. And while he was known as Mr. Clutch, he was also a superb all-around player. In the 64-65 playoffs, he put up 40.6 points, 5.7 rpg, and 5.3 apg. Had he gotten more than 1 title, he would certainly be higher on this list. Oh yeah, and he kind of is the logo of the league. He was the star in the 60s of a league without an icon.



13. Elgin Baylor - Arguably the most underrated player in NBA history. I've argued this before, but in the same year Oscar averaged a triple-double and Wilt put up 50 points a game, Baylor averaged 38 points and 18 rebounds....WHILE ENLISTED IN THE ARMY. Yes, he only played games on the weekends. He flew to the arena to meet the Lakers at the games, played, then flew back to base. One of the greatest seasons ever.



14. Moses Malone - Another supremely underrated player. Arguably the best rebounder in the game. He's 3rd all-time behind Chamberlain and Russell, but Malone stood only 6'10. And he played in an era with players much closer to his height. Malone averaged just 12 rebounds a game for his career, but did it for 21 years in the league. He was also an underrated scorer as he's 6th all-time in scoring. A lot of his stats, however, were padded due to longevity, which is why he's lower on this list.



15. Karl Malone - Ranking him and Stockton was a tough task. They both relied on each other so much, yet both were spectacular players. When ranking them, I looked at things that they didn't rely on each other on (taking away Malone's scoring and Stockton's assists). Without that, Malone is still a great rebounder and quality passer. Plus, he was a consistent player for such a long time. One of the greatest players without a ring.



And now for my 16-20 picks

16. John Havlicek
17. Julius Erving
18. Bob Pettit
19. Isiah Thomas
20. David Robinson

Please feel free to leave your thoughts on my list and your own lists in the comments
July 3, 2010  08:48 PM ET

You BLOG much better than you TD, Rudester!!!

July 3, 2010  08:49 PM ET

Just messing with ya, man.

July 3, 2010  08:51 PM ET

Nice, rudedog.

July 3, 2010  08:54 PM ET

You BLOG much better than you TD, Rudester!!!

I'm more experienced at presenting my point in however many characters I need. I hate the 1200 character limit, especially because I can only do about 1150 characters with Safari

July 3, 2010  09:55 PM ET

Wilt is too high, but that's the only thing that really jumped out at me that I find fault with. Good blog, looking forward to the next installment.

July 5, 2010  12:43 PM ET

Bird in top 5 ahead of Magic-Kobe not top ten

July 5, 2010  01:27 PM ET

Great Post !!

Love the photo of Oscar, and also agree about Kobe, that its well past due that all the rhetoric ceases, which has turned out to pure illogical hate, and hopes for his demise simply because he was not the humble and thoughtful servant, but the hard driven athlete with the imperfect off court personality and life.

I do however have some issues with Russell who I believe would not fare as well today as he did back then, because when there were only 8 teams in the league, the talent much farther and few between, thus the odds were much higher for championships and awards.

Comment #11 has been removed
July 6, 2010  06:52 AM ET

Imagine if the Big O had nike behind him....that pic would be good for 10-14 pairs of air O's....
great post

August 29, 2012  10:28 PM ET

Bill russell is overrated look at some articles on google

August 29, 2012  10:31 PM ET

Bill russell is overrated look at some articles on google

Now that's funny......

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