LeBron James or Michael Jordan? bill Russell or wilt Chamberlain? Stephen Curry or Kevin Durant? Old institution or brand-new school?
These debates rage on infinite in every corner of NBA fandom, and our specialists have done their ideal to answer them, ranking the best players in the league"s 74-year history.
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znjke.com"s NBA skilled panel vote on countless head-to-head matchups, taking into factor to consider both total career value and peak performance.
Being in the conversation as the ideal player of all time means being component of one exclusive society -- no disrespect to those who just missed out on the top 10. The perform of 10 with 1 crowns the superior performers who have actually their own situations to it is in the greatest ever.
All-time NBArank: Nos. 74-41 | Nos. 40-11 | 5-on-5 debate
10. Shaquille O"NealRocky Widner/NBAE/Getty Images23.7 PPG, 10.9 RPG, 2.3 BPGThe room of Fame center transformed the video game with a mix of agility and also explosiveness and also size, the likes of i beg your pardon the league had never seen. A four-time NBA champion and also three-time Finals MVP, O"Neal average a double-double during a career that spanned practically two decades. O"Neal came to be an All-Star 15 times and also earned the 1999-2000 MVP award. The fun-loving big man used his outsize personality to become a global pitchman and analyst after ~ retiring.-- Nick Friedell
Shaq"s legend tenure v the LakersTake a look earlier at Shaquille O"Neal"s time in Los Angeles, which included three championships and an intense rivalry with teammate Kobe Bryant.
9. Kobe Bryant
Noah Graham/NBAE/Getty Images1996-2016 Los Angeles Lakers25.0 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 4.7 APG, 1.4 SPG, 1.4 3s PGFor every one of his statistical achievements -- the five championships, the 81-point game, the 60-point finale, the league MVP in 2008, the 20 seasons all v the exact same franchise -- Bryant"s lasting legacy is his mental edge and burning desire to grasp the sport. "Mamba mentality" became an ext than a kitschy catchphrase after ~ Bryant died; it is currently a blueprint for exactly how to chase your dreams. He"ll forever it is in on the quick list of football player you"d desire to take it the critical shot v the video game on the line.-- Dave McMenamin
Kobe Bryant"s career, in his own wordsRelive Kobe Bryant"s historical NBA career, as explained by the Lakers icon.
8. Tim Duncan
Sam Forencich/NBAE/Getty Images19.0 PPG, 10.8 RPG, 3.0 APG, 2.2 BPGPerhaps the just perceived hit on Duncan"s game was the he was boring. He was recognized as "The huge Fundamental," conquering for almost two years on both ends of the floor through textbook simplicity, such together his midrange bank shot and also perfect position defense. More than anything, Duncan was one of the finest winners, leading the spur to 5 titles and 1,001 regular-season victories, the many for any type of player v one team in NBA history.-- Tim MacMahon
Tim Duncan was all-time greatness covering in humilityTom Rinaldi describes why Tim Duncan"s career embodies greatness.
7. Larry Bird
Dick Raphael/NBAE/Getty Images1979-92 Boston Celtics24.3 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 6.3 APG, 1.7 SPGBird and Magic Johnson revitalized the NBA -- and the Celtics-Lakers rivalry. Bird led Boston to five NBA Finals and three championships through a blend of shot-making, passing and also his feel for the game. He to be the league MVP in 3 consecutive periods (1984-86), something just Wilt Chamberlain and also Bill Russell had actually accomplished. Until LeBron James come along, Bird was hailed together the best little forward ever.-- Tim Bontemps
Flashback: Larry Bird set Boston document with 60-point performanceOn march 12, 1985, Larry Bird put on a shooting clinic because that the ages, scoring a Celtics-record 60 point out in a game against the Atlanta Hawks.
6. Wilt Chamberlain
AP Photo30.1 PPG, 22.9 RPG, 4.4 APGChamberlain was truly front of his time. His numbers -- consisting of scoring an NBA-record 100 clues in a solitary game and averaging 50 clues per video game for an entire season -- room mythical. The just reason the doesn"t rank higher on lists of the all-time greats is he won "only" 2 NBA championships.-- Bontemps
Chamberlain"s tradition exceeds 100-point featScoop Jackson describes why it must be Chamberlain"s legacy extends far past his historical 100-point video game on march 2, 1962.
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5. Magic Johnson
Focus ~ above Sport/Getty Images1979-91, 1996 Los Angeles Lakers19.5 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 11.2 APG, 1.9 SPGJohnson transformed the game, entering the organization as the tallest suggest guard in league background at 6-foot-9. He to be a legendary winner, a transcendent passer, an prompt highlight and a triple-double wait to happen. Without Johnson and his rivalry because that the ages with Bird and the Celtics, the NBA might not be wherein it is today. The charismatic Johnson take it the "Showtime" Lakers to nine NBA Finals, and they won 5 titles. His quick breaks and also no-look passes catapulted the NBA native an era once Finals games weren"t televised live to the an international game the is today.-- Ohm Youngmisuk
4. Invoice Russell
Dick Raphael/NBAE/Getty Images1956-69 Boston Celtics15.1 PPG, 22.5 RPG, 4.3 APGThe biggest winner in basketball history, Russell declared 11 title in 13 years by turning the Celtics into a defensive juggernaut. Russell"s defensive acumen and determination made him the perfect foil because that Wilt Chamberlain, and one that the football player from his era who wouldn"t have actually looked out of ar in later generations. Those qualities also helped that earn 5 MVP awards and also 11 All-NBA selections.-- Bontemps
3. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Rich Pilling/NBAE/Getty Images24.6 PPG, 11.2 RPG, 3.6 APGNo one in NBA history can complement Abdul-Jabbar"s prolonged list of achievements. He winner a document six MVP awards and also was a 19-time All-Star. The won six championships -- v the an initial and critical coming 17 years apart -- and was called to 15 All-NBA teams, with 10 first-team selections. His unstoppable skyhook permitted him come score more points 보다 anyone in organization history, and while he wasn"t flashy, there has arguably never been everyone better.-- Bontemps
2. LeBron James
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images2003-10, 2014-18 Cleveland Cavaliers; 2010-14 Miami Heat; 2018-20 Los Angeles Lakers27.1 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 7.4 APG, 1.6 SPGStanding 6-9 and also weighing north of 250 pounds through a 40-inch vertical, James" game is constructed on power, but his passing capacity might it is in his strongest skill. The four-time MVP and three-time champion has actually reinvented how an athlete"s prime should be viewed; he had the Lakers in the special of a title hunt together a 35-year-old play in his 17th season. His chase-down block in video game 7 that the 2016 Finals to assist complete a 3-1 comeback against a warrior team that won 73 games will forever encapsulate his will certainly to win.-- McMenamin
LeBron"s MVP-worthy mixtapeLeBron James has played the function of scorer and also facilitator through the Lakers this season, inspiring many of the young stars in the NBA.
1. Michael Jordan
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images30.1 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 5.3 APG, 2.3 SPGThe greatest player of every time. Jordan led the Bulls to six NBA championships, winning 6 Finals MVP awards and five regular-season MVP honors while ending up being a global icon on and also off the floor. Jordan"s brilliance on both ends of the court identified a generation the basketball and collection a new standard for players adhering to in his footsteps. His video game transcended the sport.-- Friedell