The 74 Best NBA Players Ever. Miller led the league in true shooting percentage twice and saved his biggest games for the playoffs, particularly at Madison Square Garden against the rival Knicks with Spike Lee courtside, engaging Miller in trash talk. by margettsjames Plays Quiz not verified by Sporcle . All-time NBArank: Nos. NBA Comparison Animation by Rebound Rewind. With the NBA's 74th season on hold, we ranked the top 74 players of all time, with one "Last Dance" Bull making an appearance in today's selections. On Monday, the worldwide leader published a collaborative piece featuring bytes from many of its most respected staffers. — Ohm Youngmisuk, Not many players are talented enough to end a team’s season with a 37-foot buzzer-beater and bye-bye wave to the crowd, and then go drop a fire hip-hop track in the studio with the same swagger. Of course Michael Jordan, Bill Russell and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar are … His chase-down block in Game 7 of the 2016 Finals to help complete a 3-1 comeback against a Warriors team that won 73 games will forever encapsulate his will to win. — Lopez, Twenty-two seasons, spanning four decades. Which player most deserved to make the top 74 but didn't? The 7-foot-2 Gilmore was a force in the ABA, averaging 22.3 points and 17.1 rebounds in five seasons before his NBA career began. Still, Drexler’s career stands out in its own right. Rodman won five NBA championships playing an integral role for two of the greatest teams in NBA history (the Pistons and Bulls). Allen was a part of the Big Three that led the Celtics to an NBA championship in 2008 and he added a second title with the Heat five years later. Being in the conversation as the best player of all time means being part of an exclusive club -- no disrespect to those who just missed out on the top 10. He persevered and became a pillar for a franchise that won three more rings. Starting in his third year, Cousy led the NBA in assists per game every season from 1952-53 through 1959-60, while also ranking as one of the league’s leading scorers over this period and winning MVP in 1956-57. Russell's defensive acumen and determination made him the perfect foil for Wilt Chamberlain, as well as one of the players from his era who wouldn't have looked out of place in later generations. Ten years ago, that seemed unthinkable. #espn #nba #alltime Want me to react to a certain video? Though McAdoo wasn’t able to maintain that level after an ill-fated trade from the Buffalo Braves to the Knicks, he would later reinvent himself as an elite sixth man on a pair of Lakers championship teams in the 1980s. Despite winning 12 fewer games, the Celtics would break through as champions the following season and add another title in 1976. Ginobili popularized the Eurostep in the NBA, and his willingness to come off the bench for the Spurs played a big part in both the longevity of his career and San Antonio’s longevity as a championship contender. Dikembe Mutombo makes the list at 73, Alonzo Mourning is 63rd, Patrick Ewing 37th, and Allen Iverson … 74 through 41. He led the lead in scoring in 1985-86, when he finished second in MVP voting. 1963-64 Boston Celtics; Regular season: 15.0 PPG, 23.7 RPG | Playoffs: … 40-11. Former Golden State Warriors Bernard King (No. — Pelton, 1974-79 Portland Trail Blazers; 1979-84 San Diego Clippers, 1984-85 LA Clippers; 1985-87 Boston Celtics, Despite being named to this list, Walton’s career is one of the ultimate NBA “what-ifs.” He was the hub of one of the iconic teams in NBA history, the 1977 champion Trail Blazers, and he won an MVP award the following season, but a series of foot injuries robbed him of a chance to be one of the truly all-time great players. ESPN has added a new wrinkle to the great NBA debate about whether Michael Jordan or LeBron James is the best player of all-time.. A four-time NBA champion and three-time Finals MVP, O'Neal averaged a double-double during a career that spanned almost two decades. — Pelton, Your email address will not be published. He led the Bullets to four NBA Finals appearances, delivering the only NBA championship to the nation’s capital after he was Finals MVP in 1978. He later missed almost two seasons, requiring a life-saving kidney transplant in 2003. Still, the seven-time All-Star played six more seasons, winning a championship with the Heat in 2006. "Mamba mentality" became more than a kitschy catchphrase after Bryant died; it is now a blueprint for how to chase your dreams. McGrady earned seven trips to the All-Star Game and won two scoring championships while striking fear into the hearts of opponents each night with his explosive ability. — Bontemps, 1990-2003 Seattle SuperSonics; 2003 Milwaukee Bucks; 2003-04 Los Angeles Lakers; 2004-05 Boston Celtics; 2005-07 Miami Heat, 16.3 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 6.7 APG, 1.8 Steals PG, Few players in NBA history have played with as much swagger as Payton, who talked trash to Jordan as a rookie and later helped contain Jordan in the NBA Finals with the Sonics at his Defensive Player of the Year peak. Stephen Curry or Kevin Durant? — Bontemps, One thing “The Iceman” could do was finger roll, but that iconic shot was just one trick in his deep repertoire. Stephen Curry or Kevin Durant? The 12-time All-Star eventually joined forces with Wes Unseld to form a Hall of Fame frontcourt for the Bullets, who reached three NBA Finals and won the championship in 1978. His game transcended the sport. ESPN's NBA expert panel voted on thousands of head-to-head matchups, taking into consideration both total career value and peak performance. He won a long-awaited championship after rejoining college teammate Hakeem Olajuwon with the Rockets in 1995. 74. And as expected, basketball fans are tearing the list apart from top to bottom, pick by pick. -- Tim Bontemps. Johnson revolutionized the game, entering the league as the tallest point guard in league history at 6-foot-9. But fans won’t forget his duel with Larry Bird in Game 7 of the 1988 Eastern Conference semifinals. Carter is the only player in NBA history with at least 2,000 3-pointers and 800 blocks in his career. The NBA 's 50 greatest players list has been cause for some controversy among fans. During his age-34 season in 1990-91, King averaged 28.4 points for the Bullets — the second most in a player’s age-34 season or beyond, trailing only Michael Jordan in 1997-98 (28.7), per ESPN Stats & Information. Carter will likely be remembered for two things in his NBA career: his dunks early on and his longevity late. Twelve of those 50 players not only don't make our top 50 but don't make our top 74. Gasol’s ability to score underneath the rim and protect the key provided exactly the kind of counterpunch Kobe Bryant needed to help deliver Los Angeles another set of titles. -- McMenamin, 1984-93, 1995-98 Chicago Bulls; 2001-03 Washington Wizards, The greatest player of all time. These debates rage on endlessly in every corner of NBA fandom, and our experts have done their best to answer them, ranking the greatest players in the league's 74-year history. -- Tim MacMahon, Bird and Magic Johnson revitalized the NBA -- and the Celtics-Lakers rivalry. He was known as "The Big Fundamental," dominating for nearly two decades on both ends of the floor with textbook simplicity, such as his midrange bank shot and perfect position defense. Sports Quiz / ESPN's Top 74 NBA Players of All-Time Random Sports or NBA Quiz Can you name the ESPN's Top 74 NBA Players of All-Time? Payton made nine All-NBA appearances and peaked at third in MVP voting in 1997-98, capping his career with a championship as a reserve for the 2005-06 Heat. Dave McMenamin: I remember how big of a deal the NBA at 50 celebration was for the league's golden anniversary in 1996. Hit that like and subscribe button for more daily reactions! Required fields are marked *. (1:37). — McMenamin, 1968-71 San Diego Rockets, 1971-72, 1981-84 Houston Rockets; 1972-73 Baltimore Bullets, 1973-74 Capital Bullets, 1974-81 Washington Bullets, After Hayes helped halt Lew Alcindor and UCLA’s 47-game winning streak while at the University of Houston, “The Big E” entered the league in 1968 and promptly led it in scoring with 28.4 points per game. — MacMahon, 1982-94 Atlanta Hawks; 1994 LA Clippers; 1994-95 Boston Celtics; 1996-97 San Antonio Spurs; 1999 Orlando Magic, 24.8 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 2.5 APG, 1.3 Steals PG, More than just a dunker, the “Human Highlight Film” was one of the top scorers of his era. Lillard is making a strong case to become the greatest player in Blazers history, with many years seemingly ahead of him. These debates rage on endlessly in every corner of NBA fandom, and our experts have done their best to answer them, ranking the greatest players in the league’s 74-year history. In each of his first four seasons, Hayes averaged no less than 25.2 points and 14.6 rebounds. He remained a force during his NBA career: He’s one of just four players to lead the league in field goal percentage for at least four straight seasons (Wilt Chamberlain, Shaquille O’Neal and DeAndre Jordan). -- Bontemps, 1969-75 Milwaukee Bucks; 1975-89 Los Angeles Lakers, No one in NBA history can match Abdul-Jabbar's lengthy list of achievements. — Lopez, 1970-80 Boston Celtics; 1982-83 Milwaukee Bucks, One of just 11 players to have won both MVP and All-Star MVP in the same season, Cowens led the 1972-73 Boston Celtics to a franchise-record 68 wins before they were edged out by the Knicks in a thrilling, seven-game East finals. To identify the top 74 individual seasons in NBA history.. His unstoppable skyhook allowed him to score more points than anyone in league history, and while he wasn't flashy, there has arguably never been anyone better. He won six championships -- with the first and last coming 17 years apart -- and was named to 15 All-NBA teams, with 10 first-team selections. Scoop Jackson explains why Wilt Chamberlain's legacy extends far beyond his historic 100-point game on March 2, 1962. — Youngmisuk, 1965-67 San Francisco Warriors; 1968-69 Oakland Oaks (ABA); 1969-70 Washington Capitols (ABA); 1970-72 New York Nets (ABA); 1972-78 Golden State Warriors; 1978-80 Houston Rockets, Known for his underhand free throw approach, the Hall of Fame sharpshooter led the Warriors to a title in 1974-75 and was one of the most consistent scorers in the game. O'Neal became an All-Star 15 times and earned the 1999-2000 MVP award. It was the same season he earned his only All-NBA first-team honor. 1 8. On March 12, 1985, Larry Bird put on a shooting clinic for the ages, scoring a Celtics-record 60 points in a game against the Atlanta Hawks. He remains the oldest player to dunk in a game and the oldest player to score in double digits in a game in NBA history. Undersized for a center at 6-foot-9, Cowens became a fan favorite in Boston by compensating with skill, quickness and hustle. He'll forever be on the short list of players you'd want to take the last shot with the game on the line. -- Bontemps, 2003-10, 2014-18 Cleveland Cavaliers; 2010-14 Miami Heat; 2018-20 Los Angeles Lakers, Standing 6-9 and weighing north of 250 pounds with a 40-inch vertical, James' game is built on power, but his passing ability might be his strongest skill. — Pelton, 1997-2000 Toronto Raptors; 2000-04 Orlando Magic; 2004-10 Houston Rockets; 2010 New York Knicks; 2010-11 Detroit Pistons; 2011-12 Atlanta Hawks; 2013 San Antonio Spurs, 19.6 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 4.4 APG, 1.2 Steals PG, 1.2 3s PG, The Hall of Fame swingman became one of the most accomplished scorers of his generation, averaging almost 20 points a night over a 15-year career that started with a jump to the league straight from high school. Stephen Curry slid in at No. ESPN Top 74 NBA players of all time- Updated Posted by QJenk on 5/11/20 at 10:26 am. Jordan - 12.47 2. Unseld made his impact felt immediately, winning MVP and Rookie of the Year after averaging 13.8 points and 18.2 rebounds in 1968-69. Gervin managed to make the unorthodox look so smooth, scoring prolifically and efficiently on a shot diet that consisted primarily of off-dribble jumpers launched from all kinds of creative angles, funky floaters and, of course, finger rolls flipped over the outstretched arms of would-be shot-blockers. Such an endeavor is difficult if for no other reason than attempting the impossible task of making cross-generational comparisons among stars and, in this case, seasons. ESPN has ranked its Top 74 NBA Players of All-Time, and four Hoyas have made the list. — Bontemps, Over the three-year stretch from 1973-74 through 1975-76, only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was more valuable than McAdoo, who averaged 32.1 PPG and 13.8 RPG, was the 1974-75 MVP and finished second to Abdul-Jabbar the other two seasons. by bennyokc Plays Quiz not verified by Sporcle . [/quote] Maybe so but in Reggie’s defense how many p — Youngmisuk, 18.2 PPG, 3.0 APG, 1.1 Steals PG, 1.8 3s PG, The greatest shooter of his era, Miller became the NBA’s career leader in 3-pointers during the 1997-98 season and held the record more than a decade, even as 3-point volume increased. But his résumé is stacked with jaw-dropping achievements, the greatest of which is intangible: He made the triple-double not only seem normal, but to some dissenters, no longer a worthwhile achievement. LeBron James or Michael Jordan? 1 pick in the 1970 NBA draft. Maravich averaged 24.2 points per game during his 10-year career and only had the 3-point line for his final season, when he shot 10-for-15 from deep in limited action for Utah and Boston. The list of 10 through 1 crowns the exceptional performers who have their own cases to be the greatest ever. That means we have 38 from the original list chosen by the league and 36 new faces, which speaks to the advancements in the league in the past two decades but could also suggest … 74-41 | Nos. Bill Russell or Wilt Chamberlain? He won a record six MVP awards and was a 19-time All-Star. The only reason he doesn't rank higher on lists of the all-time greats is he won "only" two NBA championships. The two-time Defensive Player of the Year made rebounding an art, leading the NBA for seven consecutive seasons from 1991-92 to 1997-98. In a new poll conducted by ESPN that ranked the top 74 players … ESPN’s NBA expert panel voted on thousands of head-to-head matchups, taking into consideration both total career value and peak performance. The stretches when he was able to stay on the court — both early in his career with Portland, and then later with the Celtics, with whom he won the 1986 title — were enough to merit inclusion here. The seven-time All-Star was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2003. These debates rage on endlessly in every corner of NBA fandom, and our experts have done their best to answer them, ranking the greatest players in the league’s 74-year history. -- Nick Friedell, 25.0 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 4.7 APG, 1.4 SPG, 1.4 3s PG, For all of his statistical achievements -- the five championships, the 81-point game, the 60-point finale, the league MVP in 2008, the 20 seasons all with the same franchise -- Bryant's lasting legacy is his mental edge and burning desire to master the sport.