During the 2013-2014 NBA season, more than any previous year that comes to mind, debate raged over the best NBA players of all time.
I’ve picked the 10 greatest players of all time.
I also have three honourable mentions, who could easily have made the top 10.
Big ‘Akeem the Dream’ is widely regarded as the smoothest big man the league has ever seen.
He beat many defenders with his famous ‘Dream Shake’ and could also block shots pretty well. Hakeem boasted an NBA MVP, was a back-to-back NBA Finals champion, two-time NBA Finals MVP, two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year and holds the record for the most blocks ever recorded.
Oscar ‘The Big O’ Robertson
My experience watching Oscar is limited to a documentary and numerous highlight videos. But when some of the greatest players ever say he was the hardest player they had to contain, you tend to take notice.
Big O is the only player in NBA history to average a triple-double over an entire NBA season. He was also the first player to be considered a triple threat – deadly at scoring on the inside, outside, and also was a stellar playmaker.
Oscar boasted incredible feats, including an NBA Championship, NBA MVP of 1964, three-time NBA All-Star Game MVP and, as mentioned before, averaged a Triple-Double in a season.
Julius ‘Dr J’ Erving
To NBA fans Julius Erving will always be Dr J, and a player who will feature later in the list came out this week and said Dr J is the greatest player to play the game.
The Doctor is known for his signature one-handed dunks, his long white socks and hard-tops, sporting a huge afro, and being the first player to dunk from the free throw line in an NBA dunk competition.
He also boasts a formidable column of accolades, including three-time Champion, four-time MVP, sixteen-time All-Star, and a nine-time All First-Team member.
With the honourable mentions announced, let’s turn to the top 10.
10. LeBron James
LeBron James does thing on a basketball court no one else can do. If he wasn’t still playing he would’ve probably been in the top five based on skill alone.
He does it all – attacks inside the key, can post you up with great efficiency, hit an outside shot as good as Steph Curry, defend 1 through 5, and charges to the basket with that controlled aggression that gives opponents nightmares.
Dubbed ‘The Chosen One’ before he had even stepped onto an NBA Court, he has lived up to the hype. He’s claimed four NBA MVP awards, two NBA championships, two Finals MVP, is a ten-time NBA All Star, and a former Rookie of the Year.
He still needs to develop that ice-cold fourth-quarter mentality, other than that LeBron will finish in the top five once his career is done.
9. Shaquille O’Neal
The only player in NBA history who can give himself nicknames and have the skill to back them up. The ‘Big Diesel’ is easily the most dominant player of his generation.
Watching the 2002 NBA Finals series against the Nets recently, they sometimes had three players guarding Shaq, and he could still overpower them with his signature two handed jam-in-the-grill.
Shaq in his prime was simply incredible. His stature, moves and motion were unreal.
Shaq created the most dynamic one-two punch in the NBA with Kobe Bryant, and went on to win three straight NBA titles, along with three NBA Finals MVPs. Across that time, he also scooped up an NBA MVP award for his trouble.
He then further established himself with an NBA Title in Miami, totalling four NBA Championships.
Further down in his career he seemed to jump to any team who wanted him, but he led three different teams to the NBA Finals and was near impossible to defend in his prime.
The numbers Kevin Love puts up on a ‘freakish night’? Shaq did that nightly!
8. Tim Duncan
The greatest power forward to ever play the game, and he continues to play.
Timmy has only played for one organisation, one coach and about 80 teammates in his entire career, yet he always gets the job done.
A true gentlemen of the game, Tim Duncan lives up to his nickname – a ‘Big Fundamental’ player. Typically sound on the offensive end, Duncan can create big defensive plays, and is always willing to pass his knowledge on to younger teammates.
He boasts five NBA titles, three Finals MVP, back-to-back NBA MVP titles and a staggering twelve NBA All-Star appearances. And he still has the opportunity to add to this list of accolades.
Tim Duncan is the model of consistency and humility, and has earned a place within the 10 greatest to play the game.