The Ten Greatest Basketball Players of All Time

Steve KinsmanStarred Page By Steve Kinsman, 6th May 2011 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/g9tfo.1n/
Posted in Wikinut>News>Sport

This my personal opinion of the ten greatest basketball players of all time. There have been many great ones, and I'm certain that others will disagree with me, but all of these guys are special.

The dance that is basketball

When Dr. James Naismith nailed a peach basket to the wall of the gymnasium at Springfield College (Massachusetts) in 1897, thus creating the game of basketball, he probably could not in his wildest dreams have imagined where that small act would ultimately lead. It would lead, of course, to basketball's becoming one of the world's most popular team sports.

I love basketball for the sheer beauty of the game. The men who are good enough to play it professionally are probably the best all-around in terms of overall athletic ability - better pure athletes than football players, baseball players, hockey players, soccer football players. I liken the game to a dance: in terms of sheer control of body movement it is like a beautiful ballet.

My list starts with Bob Cousy, No. 10

Bob Cousy came out of Holy Cross College and joined the Boston Celtics, where he played his entire career, which lasted from the early 1950's to the mid 60's. Cousy could do things with a basketball that nobody did before him and nobody has done since. He would dribble the ball between his legs, and he would dribble the ball between your legs. His blind, behind-the-back passes to teammates were legendary. Every year he played in the NBA (National Basketball Association) he would lead the league in assists. He was simply the master of the pass. He was no slouch scoring with the ball either, as he averaged 19 points a game throughout his career.

Walt Frazier, No. 9

Walt Frazier, who played his career for the New York Knicks form the late 1960's through the late 70's, was such a smooth operator on the basketball court that he earned the nickname Clyde the Glide, or just "Clyde" for short. Frazier never changed the emotionless expression on his face, no matter what was going on in the game. His look and his bearing simply announced "I'm gong to beat you. I'm better than you. There's nothing you can do about it." Frazier was a master at taking over the game in its final moments and leading his team to scores upon scores of come-from-behind victories.

Pete Maravich, No. 8

"Pistol" Pete Maravich came out of Louisiana State University in 1970 as the national points per game scoring champion. As a pro he played for several teams, and it seemed as if Pistol Pete could always find a way to get the ball through the hoop, falling down, back to the basket, right handed, left handed, underhanded. He was perhaps the most acrobatic basketball player ever. Sadly, Pete died of a heart attack in his early 40's.

Oscar Robertson, No. 7

Oscar Robertson's professional career spanned 14 seasons from 1961 through 1974, and he was named a member of the all-NBA team twelve times and was a member of the All Star team eleven times. He is the only player in NBA history to average a 'triple double' over the course of an entire season, accomplishing the feat in every game he played that season. A triple double is scoring at least ten points, getting at least ten rebounds, and having at least ten assists in one game. It's possible this feat may never again be accomplished.

Kobe Bryant, No. 6

Kobe Bryant came straight out of high school to play in the NBA, and he immediately showed he belonged. As a rabid Boston Celtics fan, I fear Kobe more than any other player in the league. No one can take over a game like Kobe. When everything is on the line Kobe rises to the occasion time after time. He has an uncanny ability to find a way to score through sheer force of will. He has led the Los Angeles Lakers to four world championships.

Magic Johnson, No. 5

After Magic Johnson completed his basketball career at Michigan State University by leading them to the NCAA Championship, he joined the Los Angeles Lakers where he remained his entire career, leading them, along with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, to four world titles. Magic could play any position on the court. When Abdul-Jabbar was injured one season during the final playoff series, Magic replaced him at the center position, which he had never played before in his college or professional life, and he promptly proceeded to score 42 points in the game and bring the championship trophy back to L. A. His passing ability was a wonder to behold.

Larry Byrd, No. 4

Choosing Larry Byrd over Magic Johnson for the number four position on my list is an arbitrary act. These two players dominated the game in their day, and they had legendary games between them. They had different styles, but their impact upon the game was of equal measure. Every year in the seventies it seemed as if it came down to Boston and Los Angeles in the finals of the playoffs. I pick Byrd at number four simply out of my bias as a Celtics fan.
Larry Byrd was the master of 'trash talk'. He would come back into a game after a few minutes rest on the sidelines and announce. "Here I am. I'm back. You're all done now." Once in a close playoff game that was down to the wire, during a time-out Byrd said to his teammates "Give me the ball and everybody get out of the way." His coach, K. C. Jones, said "Larry, I'm running this team. I'll call the play." Jones paused for a moment and said "Listen up fellas. Here's what were going to do. Give the ball to Larry and everybody get out of the way."

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, No. 3

When 7 foot 4 inch Lew Alcindor graduated from Power High in New York he was the most sought after and recruited high school player in the nation, and he landed at U.C.L.A. under the tutelage of the great John Wooden. They won an unprecedented four straight national championships during his tenure there. When he joined the pros he became a follower of Islam and changed his name. Kareem was famous for his 'sky-hook' shot, impossible for opponents to block, and it was poetry in motion. No one ever, during his entire career, could block Abdul-Jabbar's sky hook. He was perhaps the most graceful 7 foot 4 inch man who ever lived.

Wilt Chamberlain, No. 2

Wilt Chamberlain came out of Kansas University and played his career in Philadelphia, San Francisco and Los Angeles from the late fifties through the entire decade of the sixties. Chamberlain was the only player in NBA history to score 100 points in a single game, and the only man to average over 50 points a game for an entire season, which he did twice. His match ups against Bill Russell were the stuff of legend.

Michael Jordan No. 1.1

It turns out my list of the ten greatest basketball players of all time actually includes eleven men. I did not realize until I was lying in bed after finishing the article that I had omitted the name of Michael Jordan. Thank you, Sanford, for prompting me to remember. How I could have forgotten in the first place I'll never know. It was an egregious lapse of memory, perhaps now that I'm a social security recipient, a senior moment.

Michael Jordan is arguably the best who's ever donned a uniform, but I put him ever so slightly behind Bill Russell because it took Jordan five years before he played on a championship team, and Russell did it in his rookie year. Jordan was sheer electricity on the court. Yes, Kobe can take over a game and win it for you. Frazier could do that, too. But no one did it with the fire and the flare of M.J. He was able to win championships in Chicago with very mediocre supporting casts - with the exception of Scotty Pippen, a bunch of also-rans around him. Like Magic Johnson, he made everybody around him better ballplayers than they actually were. If anyone else wants to put Jordan at number one on their list, they'll get no argument from me.

Bill Russell, No 1

Bill Russell joined the Boston Celtics as a rookie for the 1957-58 professional season after leading the University of San Francisco to the national collegiate title. He remained in the NBA for thirteen years, during which he led the Celtics to eleven world championships, a feat that has yet to be equaled and most likely never will be again. He was the greatest defensive player of all time, and while he was 'only' six feet, ten inches tall, just average for a man playing the center position, he set record after record for blocking opponent's shots at the basket. Today, we see players regularly swatting balls out-of-bounds when they block shots, thus giving possession of the ball back to the other team, but Russell would far more often than not block shots and guide the ball to a teammate, who would be able to start a fast break which would lead to an easy score at the other end of the court. His unequaled record as a champion puts him in the number one position of the best basketball player of all time.

Tags

Basketball, Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, Kobe Bryant, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Oscar Robertson, Pete Maravich, Steve Kinsman, Walt Frazier, Wilt Chamberlain

Meet the author

author avatar Steve Kinsman
I live in California with my wife Carol, where I have been practicing professional astrology for 35 years. I write articles on astrology, but I enjoy writing on a variety of other subjects as well..

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Comments

author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
7th May 2011 (#)

I know nothing of Basketball thanks for the info on these guys.

I have send you some messages in the notes in regards to getting a star.

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author avatar Steve Kinsman
7th May 2011 (#)

Notes? Where do I find notes? I'm sorry I'm so dumb at this Mark. Please forgive me.

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author avatar Sanford
7th May 2011 (#)

Steve, are you seeking a debate on this story? Something is amiss, but I will leave it up to the other readers to detect.
Very smart of you to do this in the way you have, it will definately create a buzz and debate. I will chime in from time to time to see how your readers are reacting to this piece. Good work!

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author avatar Steve Kinsman
7th May 2011 (#)

Thanks Sanford. I would welcome a debate, though I'm not specifically seeking one. There's a lot of great b-ball players who are not on my list.

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author avatar Songbird B
7th May 2011 (#)

I too, know little of basketball, but then I am in the UK, and with us here, it is more Football and Rugby, but as always a great share, and a great article my friend...

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author avatar Sanford
7th May 2011 (#)

Well, it seems as if it's a little slow in the process of the debate I anticipated so therefore, I shall begin.
I think we should start with the greatest player to ever play the game, how could we exclude him or there's an exception to him being the greatest? I do respect your opinion, but I will name my 5 greatest of all time.

1). Michael Jordan
2). Kobe Bryant
3). Bill Russell
4). Wilt Chamberlain
5). Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

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author avatar Steve Kinsman
7th May 2011 (#)

Sanford - I went to bed last night thinking what did Sanford mean? - and then it hit me in a flash - God! I had omitted Michael Jordan! MJ has to be no. 1 or 2. If I had been a sports anchor on ESPN and went on the air with this list omitting Jordan, I would have been summarily fired. I'm setting to work immediately to revise this article. Thank you - Sanford.

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author avatar D in The Darling
8th May 2011 (#)

Steve,
Shaq is missing! Like you've said, let me leave him out of your top ten. Thanks for sharing your passion with us.

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author avatar Steve Kinsman
11th May 2011 (#)

Shaq isn''t in the top twenty!

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author avatar Sanford
11th May 2011 (#)

Great JOB there, thanks for the update and congrats on the Star! I love it..

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author avatar Steve Kinsman
12th May 2011 (#)

Thank you again for getting me a star page, Sanford.

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author avatar Joanie
16th May 2011 (#)

It's BIRD not BYRD. Not knowing that makes your list a giant fail

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author avatar Steve Kinsman
20th May 2011 (#)

Well, Joanie, in the Celtics web site it's spelled Byrd, on wikipedia it's spelled Byrd, in several other places it's spelled Bird. I guess we'll have to ask him.

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author avatar Josh
15th Sep 2011 (#)

steve if you are going to write something about anything and in this case its basketball dont u think that u have to be a follower of the sport first? im not saying your not but u would never make a simple mistake with larry's family name if u have been watching the game. plus there are some ridiculous mistakes in some of the players profiles... kareem is 7'2 and not 7'4, magic has 5 rings not 4, walt is just clyde and not clyde the glide coz thats clyde drexlers nickname, saying kobe immediately prove that he belong? he never started on his first 2 years and with limited minutes, bird and magic battled it out in the 80's and not in the 70's... pete as great as he is will never be top 10 so as walt, bill may have 11 rings but also no way can he be no.1 remember your list is top 10 greatest of all time... im not an expert but i do know what im saying. kudos u have a good list. have a nice day.

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author avatar Gina
19th Jan 2013 (#)

Enjoyed reading your list and analysis, but there is absolutely no way that Julius Erving (Dr J) can be excluded from any list of top ten greatest basketball players of all time.

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author avatar Shamarie
20th Jan 2015 (#)

Great article, Steve, I like your Top 10.1 Greatest Basketball Players of all-time! Your list is one of the few that stands out. Not too people would have Walt Frazier, Bob Cousy, and "Pistol" Pete Maravich on their 'Greatest of All-Time' list! Thanks for sharing!

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author avatar Steve Kinsman
20th Jan 2015 (#)

Thank you Shamarie. Npw I want to see your top ten.

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