HomeSportsBasketballLegends Unleashed: The Top 20 NBA Players of All-Time

Legends Unleashed: The Top 20 NBA Players of All-Time

The National Basketball Association (NBA) is the most revered Basketball League in the World. Naturally, the players that compete in the league are arguably the best lot you can ever find on the Earth. It is, thus, not surprising that NBA players are highest paid athletes in the world (in terms of average annual salary per player). Throughout the course of these years, the NBA has blessed the world with thousands of spectacular moments to cherish and hundreds of stars to worship. Talking about NBA stars, let’s have a look at some of the most iconic NBA stars of all time.

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20
David Robinson

Top NBA Players: David Robinson
  • Position: Center
  • Teams: San Antonio Spurs (1989-2003)
  • Honours: Rookie of the Year (1989-90), MVP (1994-95), Defensive Player of the Year (1991-92), 10-time All-Star, 10-time All-NBA selection, 8-time All-Defensive Team, Hall of Fame
  • Championships: 2 (1999, 2003)
  • Career stats: 21.1 PPG, 10.6 TRB, 2.5 AST, 51.8 FG%
  • Nickname: The Admiral

David Robinson was the only player outside of Hakeem Olajuwon to average 20 points, 10 rebounds and 3 blocks per game throughout his 14 season-long career. He was also called as the admiral because of his service in the US Navy prior to entering the NBA. He was also an integral part of the famous ‘Dream Team’ that represented the US in the 1992 Olympics held in Barcelona. The Admiral has a career-high score of 71 points, scored against Los Angeles Clippers in the last game of the 1993-94 season. He outscored Shaquille O’Neal for the scoring title of the season.

19
Dirk Nowitzki

Dirk Nowitzki Kreedon
Top NBA Players: Dirk Nowitzki
  • Position: Power forward
  • Teams: Dallas Mavericks (1998-2019)
  • Honours: MVP (2006-07), Finals MVP (2010-11), 12-time All-NBA selection, 14-time All-Star
  • Career stats: 20.7 PTS, 7.5 TRB, 2.4 AST, 47.1 FG%

Dirk Nowitzki was undoubtedly the best shooting big men of all time. Nowitzki is the NBA’s all-time leader in 3-point field goals made, free throws and free throw percentage among players taller than 7 foot. He also has the record of playing a 21 years long career in a single franchise (Dallas Mavericks). He also led the Dallas Mavericks to its long-awaited first NBA Title in 2011 against the favored Lebron James’s Miami Heat.

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18
John Stockton

Top NBA Players: John Stockton
  • Position: Point guard
  • Teams: Utah Jazz (1984-2003)
  • Honours: 10-time All-Star, 11-time All-NBA selection, five-time All-D selection, Hall of Fame
  • Career stats: PTS 13.1; TRB. 2.7 ; AST. 10.5 ; FG%. 51.5.

John Stockton is NBA’s all-time leader in assists and steals. The Hall of Famer point guard led the league in assists per game for 9 consecutive seasons from 1987-96. No other player has done it for 9 seasons total. John Stockton and Karl Malone were one of the most dominant duos of all-time. They led the Utah Jazz to 2 NBA finals appearance and if it weren’t for Michael Jordan, they would have one at least one of them. John Stockton is considered by many as most consisted point guards of all time. He missed only 22 games in his 19 seasons long career.

17
Julius Erving

Dr J Kreedon
Top NBA Players: Dr. J
  • Position: Small forward
  • Teams: Virginia Squires (1971-1973), New York Nets (1973-1976), Philadelphia 76ers (1976-1987)
  • Honours: MVP (1980-81), 11-time All-Star, 7-time All-NBA selection, Hall of Fame
  • Championships: One (1983)
  • Career stats: PTS. 24.2 ; TRB 8.5 ; AST. 4.2 ; FG%. 50.6.
  • Nickname: Dr J

Julius Erving was a star that people used to look up to for his innovation and wizardry with the ball. He used to perform feats like mid-air whirls and spins followed by slam dunks which were never seen before. He is also the only player to win MVPs in both the NBA and ABA. Dr J stands at 8th all-time in of NBA and ABA combined scoring list. He has also won season scoring titles 3 times.

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16
Oscar Robertson

Oscar Robertson Kreedon
Top NBA Players: Oscaar Robertson
  • Position: Point guard
  • Teams: Cincinnati Royals (1960-70), Milwaukee Bucks (1970-1974)
  • Honours: MVP (1963-64), 12-time All-Star, 11-time All-NBA selection, Rookie of the Year (1960-61), Hall of Fame
  • Championships: One (1971)
  • Career stats: PTS 25.7, TRB 7.5, AST 9.5, FG 48.5%
  • Nickname: Big O

Oscar Robertson is the NBA’s all-time leader in triple-doubles. He scored 181 triple-doubles in his 14 seasons long NBA career. He was the first player to average a triple-double throughout a season in 1962 NBA. Big O was an integral part of the Milwaukee Bucks’ Championship run in 1970-71 with Kareem Abdul Jabbar. He won the Rookie of the Year Award, averaging 30.5 points and 9.7 assists per game in his rookie season. This proved that his talents were way ahead of his time. It would have really interesting to see how he performs in today’s guard dominant league.

15
Karl Malone

Karl Malone Kreedon
Top NBA Players: Karl Malone
  • Position: Power forward
  • Teams: Utah Jazz (1985-2003), Los Angeles Lakers (2003-2004)
  • Honours: Two-time MVP (1996-97, 1998-99), 14-time All-Star, 14-time All-NBA selection, four-time All-D selection, Hall of Fame
  • Championships: None
  • Career stats: PTS. 25.0 ; TRB. 10.1 ; AST. 3.6 ; FG%. 51.6.
  • Nickname: The Mailman

Karl Malone stands second in the all-time scoring leaders of the NBA with 36,928 points. He was called the mail-man as he always delivered as a mail-man does. He played 18 seasons for the Utah Jazz forming a formidable duo with John Stockton. In fact, a lot of Stockton’s assists can be credited to Karl Malone’s lethal scoring skills. Also, he is the only player to be named in the first-team all-NBA for 11 consecutive seasons. The only feat that he couldn’t achieve in his 19 seasons long career was the NBA Title that he desperately wanted. He also joined the Lakers for his last season in the NBA in 2003-04 but the Lakers fell short to Pistons in the NBA finals.

14
Jerry West

Top NBA Players: Jerry West
  • Position: Shooting guard
  • Teams: Los Angeles Lakers (1960-1974)
  • Honours: Finals MVP (1969), 14-time All-Star, 12-time All-NBA selection, five-time All-D selection, Hall of Fame
  • Championships: One (1972)
  • Career stats: PTS 27, TRB 5.8, AST 6.7, FG% 47.4
  • Nickname: The Logo

Jerry West is the man in the NBA logo with a ball in his hand. He played in the all-star game in every season of his career. The Logo also led the Los Angeles Lakers to 9 NBA Finals. Also, he is the only player outside of Michael Jordan to score 40 points per game in the entire post-season. He holds the record of averaging most points per game (46.3 points) in an NBA playoff series. While the NBA never officially confirmed his presence in the logo, everyone knows that it is Jerry West’s figure. This proves his impact in the NBA back in that era.

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13
Stephen Curry

Stephen Curry Kreedon
Top NBA Players: Stephen Curry
  • Position: Point guard
  • Teams: Golden State Warriors (2009-present)
  • Honours:  NBA Finals MVP (2022), 2× NBA Most Valuable Player (2015, 2016), 4× NBA champion (2015, 2017, 2018, 2022)
  • Career stats: PTS. 29.4 ; REB. 6.1 ; AST. 6.3 ; FG%. 49.3.
  • Nickname: Baby-Faced Assassin, Chef Curry

Wardell Stephen Curry II serves as an American professional basketball athlete competing for the Golden State Warriors within the National Basketball Association (NBA). He holds a prominent reputation as the premier marksman and one of the most exceptional athletes in history. Curry is acknowledged for his transformative impact on the game, spurring teams and players to adopt a greater emphasis on three-point shot attempts.

12
Kevin Durant

Top NBA Players: KD
  • Position: Small forward
  • Teams: Seattle SuperSonics (2007-08), Oklahoma City Thunder (2008-16), 2019–2023: Brooklyn Nets, Phoenix Suns: 2023- present
  • Honours:  2× NBA champion (2017, 2018), 2× NBA Finals MVP (2017, 2018), 13× NBA All-Star (2010–2019, 2021–2023), etc.
  • Career stats: PTS. 29.1 · REB. 6.7 · AST. 5.0 · FG%. 56.0. 15th.
  • Nickname: KD, Durantula

Kevin Durant, recognized by his initials KD, serves as an American professional basketball athlete, affiliated with the Phoenix Suns within the National Basketball Association (NBA). Having endured an Achilles injury during the 2019 finals, he entered the ranks of the Brooklyn Nets as a free agent in the subsequent summer. Amidst conflicts with the Nets’ management, he initiated a trade request in the 2022 offseason and subsequently became part of the Suns’ roster in 2023. He is widely acknowledged as one of the most exceptional figures in the annals of NBA, solidifying his status among its all-time greats.


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11
Tim Duncan

Image Source- USA Today
  • Position: Power forward
  • Teams: San Antonio Spurs (1997-2016)
  • Honours: Two-time MVP (2001-02, 2002-03), three-time Finals MVP, 15-time All-Star, 15-time All-NBA selection, 15-time All-D selection, Rookie of the Year (1997-98)
  • Career stats: PTS. 19.0 ; TRB. 10.8 ; AST. 3.0 ; FG%. 50.6.
  • Nickname: The Big Fundamental, Timmy

Tim Duncan’s is among the most underrated players of all time. He used to torch his opponents in the paint with his strong fundamentals and footwork. The Big Fundamental was also the only player in 25 years to be named in First-Team All-NBA in his Rookie Year. He was the pillar around which Greg Popovich and Spurs build their empire. Tim Duncan and Greg Popovich empowered the San Antonio Spurs with 5 NBA Titles in 18 seasons. He was named in the All-NBA defensive team for a record 15 times in his 18 seasons long career.

10
Hakeem Olajuwon

Top NBA Players: Hakeem Olajuwon
  • Position: Center
  • Teams: Houston Rockets (1984-2001), Toronto Raptors (2001-02)
  • Honours: NBA MVP (1993-94), two-time Defensive Player of the Year, 12-time All-Star, two-time NBA Finals MVP, 12-time All-NBA selection, nine-time All-Defensive Team selection, Hall of Fame
  • Career stats: PTS. 21.8 ; TRB. 11.1 ; AST. 2.5 ; FG%. 51.2.
  • Nickname: The Dream

Hakeem Olajuwon is the NBA’s all-time leader in Blocks. The Dream had the elegance in his game that every player dream about. He led the Houston Rockets to back-to-back championships in 1993-94 and 1994-95. He is the only in the NBA History to tally 200 steals (213) and 200 blocks (282) in a single season (1988-89). Also, he is the only player in NBA history to average 20 points, 10 rebounds, 20 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks per game in each of his first 12 seasons.

9
Shaquille O’Neal

Shaq Kreedon
Top NBA Players: Shaq
  • Position: Center
  • Team: Orlando Magic (1992-96), Los Angeles Lakers (1996-2004), Miami Heat (2004-08), Phoenix Suns (2008-09), Cleveland Cavaliers (2009-10), Boston Celtics (2010-11)
  • Honours: MVP (1999-2000), three-time Finals MVP, 15-time All-Star, 14-time All-NBA selection, three-time All-D selection, Rookie of the Year (1992-93)
  • Championships: 4 (2000, 2001, 2002, 2006)
  • Career stats: PTS. 23.7 ; TRB. 10.9 ; AST. 2.5 ; FG%. 58.2.
  • Nickname(s): Shaq, Diesel, The Big Aristotle, Most Dominant Ever, Superman

Listed at 7’1 and 325 pounds, Shaquille O’Neal was an unstoppable force in the paint. The only way to stop him was to foul him and make him work for those free-throws which he was horrible at. Shaq is among the only 2 NBA players to have won the NBA Finals MVP for 3 consecutive seasons. Also, he is the only player to have scored more than 30 points in every game of multiple NBA Finals (2000,2002).


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8
Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant - Wikipedia

  • Position: Shooting guard
  • Teams: Los Angeles Lakers (1996-2016)
  • Honours: MVP (2007-08), two-time Finals MVP, 18-time All-Star, 15-time All-NBA selection, two-time NBA scoring champion
  • Championships: Five (2000, 2001, 2002, 2009, 2010)
  • Career stats: PTS. 25.0 ; TRB. 5.2 ; AST. 4.7 ; FG%. 44.7
  • Nicknames: The Black Mamba, Vino

Kobe Bryant, an American professional basketball player, held the position of shooting guard throughout his illustrious 20-year career in the National Basketball Association (NBA) with the Los Angeles Lakers. Renowned as one of the most exceptional basketball players in history, Bryant secured five NBA championships, participated in the All-Star event 18 times, earned a spot on the All-NBA Team 15 times, and was a 12-time selection for the All-Defensive Team. He achieved the title of NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP) in 2008, along with being named NBA Finals MVP twice. Bryant also claimed the NBA scoring title twice and currently holds the fourth position in all-time scoring for both regular seasons and postseasons in the league. Following his passing, he was posthumously inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2020, and in 2021, he was chosen as a member of the NBA 75th Anniversary Team.

7
Bill Russell

Bill Russell Kreedon
Top NBA Players: Bill Russell
  • Position: Center
  • Teams: Boston Celtics (1956-1969)
  • Honours: Five-time MVP (1957-58, 1960-61, 1961-62, 1962-63, 1964-65), 12-time All-Star, 11-time All-NBA selection, All-D selection (1968-69), Hall of Fame
  • Championships: 11 (1957, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1968, 1969)
  • Career stats: FG%. 44.0, TRB 22, PTS 15.1

Bill Russell is the most successful player of the NBA, winning 11 championships with the Boston Celtics in the 60s. He led his team to 12 NBA Finals appearance in the 13 seasons that he played. He believed that the key to winning games resided in defence and worshipped his belief faithfully. There was no 3 point line at that in the NBA and the major scoring was done in the paint. Bill Russell was one the greatest defender in the paint. He used to block the opponent’s shots directly towards his teammates which led to easy transition buckets. No one knows how many blocks Bill would have recorded throughout his career as there were no such stats recorded back in his day.

6
Larry Bird

Top NBA Players: Larry Bird
  • Position: Small forward
  • Teams: Boston Celtics (1979-1992)
  • Honours: Three-time MVP (1983-84, 1984-85, 1985-86), two-time Finals MVP, 12-time All-Star, 10-time All-NBA selection, three-time All-D selection, Rookie of the Year (1979-80), Hall of Fame
  • Championships: 3 (1981, 1984, 1986)
  • Career stats: 24.3 PPG, 10.0 TRB, 6.3 AST, 49.6 FG%
  • Nickname: Larry Legend, Mr Clutch, The Hick from French Lick

Larry Bird, Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell are the only players in NBA history to have won 3 straight MVPs. Although his numbers look quite modest for his position in this list, Bird carried rare swagger when it came to moments that mattered the most. His enormous list of game winners justifies his title as ‘Mr Clutch’. Bird received 85% of the first-class votes during his MVP run. Everybody knew who the best player in the league was and those who questioned it, realized soon when they saw him wearing the ring.

5
Magic Johnson

Top NBA Players: Magic Johnson
  • Position: Point guard
  • Teams: Los Angeles Lakers (1979-1991, 1995-1996)
  • Honours: Three-time MVP (1986-87, 1988-89, 1989-90), three-time Finals MVP, 12-time All-Star, 10-time All-NBA selection, Hall of Fame
  • Championships: Five (1980, 1982, 1985, 1987, 1988)
  • Career stats: PTS. 19.5 ; TRB. 7.2 ; AST. 11.2 ; FG%. 52.0

Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson is regarded by many as the greatest point guard of all time. He was the greatest floor general every time he stepped on the court. Him ‘Magic’ vision allowed him to visualise all the plays before they even started. He used to orchestrate the offence at another level. Magic dominated the NBA in his short career. The Showtime Lakers were possible only because of the greatest showman of all time. He did not just make look sharing the ball fancier but also demonstrated how to win as a team. Also, he was a very important figure in the 1992 Olympics Dream Team. He retired from the NBA in 1991 after learning that he was HIV positive.


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4
Wilt Chamberlain

wilt chamberlain Kreedon
Top NBA Players: Wilt Chamberlain
  • Position: Center
  • Teams: Philadelphia/San Francisco Warriors (1959-1965), Philadelphia 76ers (1965-1968), Los Angeles Lakers (1968-1973)
  • Honours: Four-time MVP (1959-60, 1965-66, 1966-67, 1967-68), Finals MVP (1972), 13-time All-Star, 10-time All-NBA selection, two-time All-D selection, Rookie of the Year (1959-60), Hall of Fame
  • Championships: Two (1967, 1972)
  • Career stats: FG%. 54.0 ; FT%. 51.1 ; PER. 26.2 ; WS. 247.3.
  • Nicknames: Wilt the Stilt, The Big Dipper

Wilt Chamberlain is undoubtedly the most statistically dominant player in the world to have ever lived. You can tell this by merely looking at his numbers. He has 118 50-point games which are 87 more than any other player. Also, he has scored 32 60-point games which more than every other 60 point game in the league history combined. He holds the record of scoring 100 points in a single game. He even averaged 50 ppg throughout a season.

These numbers are just so incomparable that anyone would declare him the GOAT straight away. But the fact is that Wilt was such an athletic, versatile and physical freak that he felt it easier to score and do it himself than share the ball. Basketball is a team sport and you have to play together to win titles. Wilt’s team never won a Championship with him averaging these unbelievable numbers. He won his 2 NBA titles in 1967 and 1972 averaging only 24.1 and 14.8 ppg respectively. While he still led in rebounds and field goal percentage, he realised that he cannot win rings single-handedly.

3
Lebron James

LeBron james Kreedon
Top NBA Players: LeBron James
  • Position: Small forward
  • Teams: Cleveland Cavaliers (2003-2010, 2014-2018), Miami Heat (2010-2014), Los Angeles Lakers (2018-present)
  • Honours:  4× NBA champion (2012, 2013, 2016, 2020), 4× NBA Finals MVP (2012, 2013, 2016, 2020), 4× NBA Most Valuable Player (2009, 2010, 2012, 2013), 19× NBA All-Star (2005–2023), etc.
  • Career stats: 28.9 PPG, 8.3 TRB, 6.9 AST, 50% FG
  • Nickname: King James, The Chosen One

LeBron James, often referred to as “Bron” for brevity, serves as an American professional basketball player representing the Los Angeles Lakers within the National Basketball Association (NBA). Given the moniker “King James,” he holds widespread recognition as one of the premier figures in the sport’s chronicles, frequently sparking comparisons to Michael Jordan in discussions revolving around the supreme basketball player in history. James stands as the leading point scorer of all time in the NBA and secures the fourth rank in terms of career assists. His accolades encompass four NBA championships (two achieved with the Miami Heat and one each with the Lakers and Cleveland Cavaliers), coupled with his participation in 10 NBA Finals.

2
Kareem Abdul Jabbar

Kareem Abdul Jabbar Kreedon
Top NBA Players: Kareem Abdul
  • Position: Center
  • Teams: Milwaukee Bucks (1969-1975), Los Angeles Lakers (1975-1989)
  • Honours: Six-time MVP (1970-71, 1971-72, 1973-74, 1975-76, 1976-77, 1979-80), two-time Finals MVP, 19-time All-Star, 15-time All-NBA selection, 10-time All-D selection, Rookie of the Year (1969-70), Hall of Fame
  • Championships: Six (1971, 1980, 1982, 1985, 1987, 1988)
  • Career stats: 24.6 PPG, 11.2 TRB, 3.6 AST, 55.9 FG%
  • Nickname: Cap

Kareem Abdul Jabbar is the all-time leader of points scored in the NBA. He also has the most number of MVP awards (6) and the best Win Shares. The Cap had the single most destructive scoring weapon of all-time in the ‘sky hook’. He must have scored more than ⅔ of his total points using this lethal move. The moment ball left his hand, everybody knew it was going in. Kareem was also one of the most consistent performers on the biggest stage which resulted in him winning 6 rings in his 20-year long career. He also ranks 3rd all-time in total blocks in the NBA. He was also the most prolific scorer proven by the fact that he averaged 23 points at an age of 38 years in his 17th season.

1
THE GOAT AMONG TOP NBA PLAYERS: Michael Jordan

His Airness GOAT Kreedon
The Greatest of All Time: Michael Jordan
  • Position: Shooting guard
  • Teams: Chicago Bulls (1984-93, 1995-98), Washington Wizards (2001-03)
  • Honours: Five-time MVP (1987-88, 1990-91, 1991-92, 1995-96, 1997-98), six-time Finals MVP, 14-time All-Star, 11-time All-NBA selection, nine-time All-D selection, 10-time NBA scoring champion, defensive player of the year (1987-88), rookie of the year (1984-85), Hall of Fame
  • Championships: Six (1991, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 1998)
  • Career stats: 30.1 PPG, 6.2 TRB, 5.3 AST, 49.7 FG%
  • Nickname: Air Jordan, His Airness, Mike

There has been nobody like Michael Jordan. There will be nobody like him. Ever. He is the most competitive human being to have ever stepped on the basketball court. Every time when he stepped on that floor, he was motivated to destroy the opponent. Take the infamous flu game of 1997 NBA Finals. In the 11 seasons (played more than 20 games) that he played for the Chicago Bulls, he finished top 5 in the MVP voting 10 times. And the one time he did not was his rookie season when he ended up 6th. Besides all this, his air time was something never seen before. He used to jump and almost seemed to hang in the air till the defender goes down.


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Raghav Heda
Raghav Heda
Raghav is a sports enthusiast and a content writer at Kreedon. Being a former state-level cricketer and Captain of the Basketball team at IIT Patna, he understands the problems faced by a student-athlete in India. He is also a die-hard NBA fan and has been following the league and American Sports Media for long. Comparing the Indian sports economy to American Sports' was something that motivated him to work for the development of Indian Sports.

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