The National Basketball Association (NBA) is the preeminent men’s professional basketball league in North America and is widely considered the premier men’s professional basketball league globally. It has 30 teams (29 in the United States and 1 in Canada) and is an active member of USA Basketball (USAB). The NBA is one of the four major North American professional sports leagues, which also includes Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Football League (NFL), and the National Hockey League (NHL).- Greatest NBA Players
On June 6, 1946, the league was founded as the Basketball Association of America (BAA). The BAA was renamed the NBA, the National Basketball League (NBL). The NBA played its first game on November 1, 1946.
The NBA is an active member of USA Basketball (USAB), which is recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as the National Governing Body (NGB) for men’s and women’s basketball in the United States.
The league has 17 head coaches who are either former players or have been involved in coaching with USA Basketball. In addition, 11 assistant coaches have also been involved with USA Basketball.
As of the 2019-20 season, the league comprises 30 teams: 29 in the United States and one in Canada. The Sacramento Kings are the only team located outside North America.
The league’s 72nd season began on October 22, 2019. The 2020 NBA All-Star Game was scheduled on February 16, 2020, at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois, but was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The regular season ended on March 11, 2020, and was supposed to conclude with the 2020 NBA Playoffs from April 18 to June 2. However, the playoffs were suspended on March 12 due to the pandemic. On June 4, it was announced that the playoffs would resume on July 30th at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida.
The 2020 NBA Finals concluded on October 11, when the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Miami Heat in six games to win their 17th NBA championship. This was the Lakers’ first title since 2010, and the first time they had won a tournament while led by LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
Top 12 Greatest NBA Players Ever
1. Michael Jordan
Michael Jeffrey Jordan, also known by his initials MJ, is an American former professional basketball player. He played 15 seasons in the National Basketball Association (NBA) for the Chicago Bulls and Washington Wizards. His biography on the official NBA website states: “By acclamation, Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time.” He was one of the most effectively marketed athletes of his generation and was considered instrumental in popularizing the NBA worldwide in the 1980s and 1990s.
2. Bill Russell
Bill Russell is widely considered one of the greatest basketball players of all time. A five-time NBA Most Valuable Player and a twelve-time All-Star, he was the centerpiece of the Boston Celtics dynasty, winning eleven NBA championships during his thirteen-year career. Russell led the University of San Francisco to two NCAA championships in 1955 and 1956, and he captained the gold-medal-winning U.S. national team at the 1956 Summer Olympics.
3. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is an American former professional basketball player who played 20 seasons in the National Basketball Association (NBA) for the Milwaukee Bucks and the Los Angeles Lakers. During his career as a center, Abdul-Jabbar was a record six-time NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP), a record 19-time NBA All-Star, a 15-time All-NBA selection, and an 11-time NBA All-Defensive Team member. A member of six NBA championship teams as a player and two more as an assistant coach, Abdul-Jabbar twice was voted NBA Finals MVP. In 1996, he was honored as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History. NBA coach Pat Riley and players Isiah Thomas and Julius Erving have called him the greatest basketball player.
4. Wilt Chamberlain
Wilt Chamberlain is one of the most dominant players in NBA history. A 7-foot-1 center, he played for the Philadelphia/San Francisco Warriors, the Philadelphia 76ers, and the Los Lakers. He was a champion shot-blocker and rebounder and is the only player in NBA history to average more than 50 points in a season.
5. Magic Johnson
Earvin “Magic” Johnson Jr. is an American former professional basketball player and current president of basketball operations of the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He played point guard for the Lakers for 13 seasons. After winning championships in high school and college, Johnson was selected first overall in the 1979 NBA draft by the Lakers. He won a title and an NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award in his rookie season and won four more titles with the Lakers during the 1980s. Johnson retired abruptly in 1991 after announcing that he had contracted HIV, but returned to play in the 1992 All-Star Game, winning the All-Star MVP Award. After protests from his fellow players, he retired again for four years but returned in 1996 to play 32 games for the Lakers before retiring.
6. LeBron James
LeBron Raymone James is an American professional basketball player for the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He is widely considered one of the greatest basketball players in NBA history. James has won four NBA championships, four NBA Most Valuable Player Awards, four Finals MVP Awards, and two Olympic gold medals. James played high school basketball at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, where he was highly promoted in the national media as a future NBA superstar. A prep-to-pro, he joined the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2003 as the first overall draft pick. Named the 2003–04 NBA Rookie of the Year, he soon established himself as one of the league’s premier players; he would be elected to 14 NBA All-Star teams, 12 All-NBA teams, and six All-Defensive teams, and is the Cavaliers’ all-time leading scorer.
7. Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bean Bryant was an American professional basketball player. A shooting guard, he spent his entire 20-season career with the Los Angeles Lakers in the National Basketball Association (NBA). He entered the league directly from high school and won five NBA championships with the Lakers. Bryant is an 18-time All-Star, 15-time member of the All-NBA Team, and 12-time member of the All-Defensive team. He led the NBA in scoring during two seasons and ranked fourth on the league’s all-time regular-season scoring and postseason scoring lists. He is also the all-time leading scorer in Lakers franchise history.
8. Tim Duncan
Timothy Theodore “Tim” Duncan is an American former professional basketball player. He spent his entire 19-year career with the San Antonio Spurs of the National Basketball Association (NBA). Duncan started as a swimmer and only began playing basketball in ninth grade after Hurricane Hugo destroyed the only Olympic-sized pool in his home of Saint Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. He played for St. Dunstan’s Episcopal High School. He had an outstanding college career at Wake Forest University, winning the Naismith College Player of the Year, USBWA College Player of the Year, and John R. Wooden Award in his final year.
9. Oscar Robertson
The Big O. Oscar Robertson is widely considered one of the greatest players in basketball history. The 6’5″ guard was so dominant that the NCAA changed its rules regarding fouls and the number of times a player could dribble the ball to contain him. In the NBA, he was equally unstoppable, averaging a triple-double for an entire season—a record that still stands. He was the first player to be voted MVP three times and was a 12-time All-Star. He also won an NBA championship, in 1971, with the Milwaukee Bucks.
10. Jerry West
Jerry Alan West is an American basketball executive and former player who is currently the general manager of the Los Angeles Clippers. His nicknames include Mr. Clutch, for his ability to make late-game shots, and The Logo, about his silhouette, featured on the NBA’s official logo. West played 14 seasons with the Lakers, winning the NBA championship six times. He was also a head coach for three seasons and an executive with the team for more than two decades. He played briefly with the Los Angeles/San Diego Rockets in 1974.
11. Elgin Baylor
Elgin Gay Baylor is an American retired basketball player, coach, and executive. He played 14 seasons as a small forward in the National Basketball Association (NBA) for the Minneapolis / Los Angeles Lakers, appearing in eight NBA Finals. In 1977, he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Baylor was a gifted shooter, strong rebounder, and an accomplished passer. Renowned for his acrobatic style of play, Baylor regularly dazzled Lakers fans with his trademark hanging jump shots. The No. 1 draft pick in 1958, NBA Rookie of the Year in 1959, 11-time NBA All-Star, and 10-time All-NBA first team member, he is considered one of the game’s all-time greatest players.
12. Shaquille O’Neal
Shaquille Rashaun O’Neal, nicknamed Shaq, is a retired professional American basketball player who is currently an analyst on the television program Inside the NBA. Standing 7 ft 1 in (2.16 m) tall and weighing 325 pounds (147 kg), he was one of the heaviest players ever to play in the NBA. O’Neal played for six teams throughout his 19-year NBA career. Following his time at Louisiana State University, O’Neal was drafted by the Orlando Magic as the first overall pick in the 1992 NBA draft. He quickly became one of the best centers in the league, winning Rookie of the Year in 1992–93 and later leading his team to the 1995 NBA Finals. After four years with the Magic, O’Neal signed as a free agent with the Los Angeles Lakers. He won three consecutive championships from 2000 to 2002 while forming a successful partnership with another center, Kobe Bryant. O’Neal was traded to the Miami Heat in 2004 and won his fourth NBA championship in 2006. Midway through the 2007–2008 season, he was traded to the Phoenix Suns. After a season-and-a-half with the Suns, O’Neal was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2009–10 season. O’Neal played for the Boston Celtics in the 2010–11 season before retiring.
The best NBA players of all time are an elite group. These men have dominated the game and left their mark on history. They are the legends who have inspired a new generation of players and fans.
There is no clear consensus on who the best player of all time is, but there are a few players who stand out above the rest. Names like Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, and LeBron James come to mind. These are the players who have changed the game and become icons.
The best player of all time is a hotly debated topic, but there is no doubt that the players on this list are among the greatest ever to play the game. They have inspired a new generation of players and fans and have left their mark on history.
What do you think? Who is the best player of all time? Let us know in the comments.