Top 15 players in NBA history: CBS Sports ranks the greatest of all time, from West and Steph to LeBron and MJ

Whether he admits it or not, Michael Jordan signed up for The Last Dance to end the debate. is he agreed to participate in the film only after LeBron James won his third championship in 2016 and believes that he can no longer be the greatest player in Nba history began to gain momentum. But instead of ending the debate against James, he as a result, a series of smaller ones flared up that accumulate on a key question: what is the greatness of the NBA?

Is an one leadership style inherently better than others? Should great people of all time be held accountable game styles what will later become obsolete? How high must modern players rise to surpass their legendary predecessors?


CBS Sports spends this week looking at the greatness of the NBA in the past, present and future. We felt we had to put our chips on the table to really start this debate seriously. Our employees – including long-time NBA players Avery Johnson, Rip Hamilton and Raja Bell – weighed all of the above factors and more by voting for the greatest ever, eventually landing in the next 15 as the cream of the crop.

15. Jerry West

27.0 ppg, 5.8 RPG, 6.7 APG, 162.6 Win stocks, 12x All-NBA, 1x Champion


The only crime of the West was the division of the league with Bill Russell. Perhaps it cost him jewelry – he lost eight times in the finals – but his numbers do not bother anyone in the finals. Lakers story. Mr. Clutch scored more points per game in his career than Kobe Bryant, the only player in the team’s history to lead the NBA in both points and assists (albeit in separate seasons), made five teams of all defenders and won The first final of MVP – despite the loss of this series. If a 3-pointer existed during his career, he would probably be the first real shooter of the league. He was not just a jack of all trades – he mastered most of them.

14. Julius Erving

24.2 ppg, 8.5 RPG, 4.2 APG, 181.1 Win Shares, 4x MVP, 12x All-NBA / ABA, 3x Champion


Dr. J may not have invented a helmet, but he definitely improved it. His ABA highlights are legend and helped pave the way for the NBA, recognizing that it was necessary for a merger, and couldn't just pretend that the ABA did not exist. Erving is the bridge between the NBA’s terrestrial past and its highly flying gift, the first in a long line of attackers who can beat you as easily as the rim beneath it.

thirteen. Stephen Curry

23.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 6.6 apg, 103.2 Win Shares, 2x MVP, 6x All-NBA, 3x champion



Steph Curry is one of two active players on our list of the top 15.


The only unanimous MVP in the history of the league is, more importantly, the core of one of the great teams and tracks that we have witnessed. Without a doubt, he is the greatest shooter ever created by the game, who has broken and rethought all the records and ideas about what it means to be a shotmaker. His greatness has largely created a team that attracted Kevin Duran to this, and not vice versa, a fact that is too often overlooked. So it was: those Warriors the teams remained dominant with Stef on the floor and Durant on the bench, but not vice versa. Warriors never win three titles without Curry. Each era gives way to a player who shapes and changes the game – whose presence and superiority change the very way of playing sports. Curry, who is only 32 years old, is a player for this generation.


12. Oscar Robertson

25.7 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 9.5 apg, 189.2 Win Shares, 1x MVP, 11x All-NBA, 1x champion

Most likely, Big O is known as the first NBA player to average a triple double for a full season, but he also got a rebound and / or helped do the same in four other seasons. At 6-5, Robertson laid the foundation for the big ones, scoring the guards to succeed in the NBA, and also led the league six times in assists. He won the MVP in 1963-64, and then received his only career title, teaming with Karim Abdul-Jabbar on Milwaukee BucksHe also changed the NBA in another court, as his lawsuit opened the door to modern free will.

11. Hakim Oladzhuvon

21.8 ppg, 11.1 rpg, 3.1 bpg, 162.8 Win Shares, 1x MVP, 12x All-NBA, 2x champion

Everyone remembers back to back, but Oladzhuvon was already 31 years old when he outplayed Patrick Ewing in the 1994 final, with a decade of production at the superstar level under his belt. In defense, he was Bill Russell of his era, able to erase the mistakes of his teammates with his unreal quickness and anticipation. In the attack, he was not as effective as some of the other names on this list, but he is a rare franchise player who has consistently performed better in the playoffs – since he always made difficult, challenging shots, the postseason was not a big part of the adjustment. Imagine that Houston surrounded him with a half worthy support actor at the age of 20.

10. Kobe Bryant

25.0 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 4.7 apg, 172.7 Win Shares, 1x MVP, 15x All-NBA, 5x champion

The last two of these titles secured Bryant in this top 10, but we should not look at the entire volume of work of the late legend. Kobe, a two-time champion in points, is the fourth best scorer in history and is not in danger of being caught by anyone in the near future. Moreover, Kobe could dominate at both ends, as evidenced by his 12 elections for all defenders. He was twice named the MVP Final and the MVP League once. Did he always direct his talents to the most productive areas? Probably not, and efficiency is what keeps it in that place. But there was nothing he could not do on the basketball court, either mentally or physically, and few players have ever won more. He must have been doing something right.

Kobe and Shack are happy!

Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O & # 39; Neil are both in the top 10.


9. Tim Duncan

19.0 ppg, 10.8 rpg, 2.2 bpg, 206.4 Win Shares, 2x MVP, 15x All-NBA, 5x champion

Few players combined two-way excellence, permanence and durability, such as Duncan, who made the All-NBA First Team a rookie and the Third Team 17 years later. At his peak, he was the dominant defender of the rim and an automatic double team at the post, silently destroying the defense with his footwork, touch and accurate passage. His surgical style, indifference to attention and a complete disgust for self-promotion meant that he did not resonate like his peers, and he could have been even higher on this list if he had not been willing to sacrifice his individual statistics, first taking an easier load minute to extend his career and then take a smaller offensive role to expand the capabilities of his teammates. For this he receives bonus points, as well as for a restrained approach to leadership.

8. Larry Bird

24.3 ppg, 10.0 rpg, 6.3 apg, 145.8 Win Shares, 3x MVP, 10x All-NBA, 3x champion

Bird deals as perhaps the most experienced player in history. The shooter is about 50-40-90, his length is 6-9 and the high release allowed him to shoot against anyone. Passing his eyes to the back of the head, he made everyone around him better. A ruthless competitor, he could not be stopped by anything but his bad back. His career was not as long as most of the other players on this list, but his prime and peak were close to the best players we have ever seen.

7. Shaquille O & # 39; Neal

23.7 ppg, 10.9 rpg, 2.3 bpg, 181.7 Win Shares, 1x MVP, 14x All-NBA, 4x champion

O & # 39; Neil, in his prime, was completely careless, to the point that other rivals needed to make sure they had a 7-foot fleet on the list in case he got a starter and a spare due to unpleasant troubles. He is mainly remembered for his apparent physical dominance, but there was always more than strength in his game – the young Shack possessed elite speed before Shak's peak punished the double teams with his passage. His one MVP definitely emphasizes how carefully his presence has distorted the game. A nightmare match, especially if you had to deal with it throughout the playoff series.

6. Wilt Chamberlain

30.1 ppg, 22.9 rpg, 4.4 apg, 247.3 Win Shares, 4x MVP, 10x All-NBA, 2x champion

Everything we said about Shack can be said about Wilt. Ursa Major scored 100 points in one game. He scored over 50 points in a full season. Over his 14-year career, he never dropped less than 18.2 rebounds per game during the season, peaking at 27.2. Chamberlain is the NBA’s statutory king, and he will probably never leave his throne. You can argue about the level of competition, but Chamberlain was mostly a basketball kid in his era.

5. Magic Johnson

19.5 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 11.2 apg, 155.8 Win Shares, 3x MVP, 10x All-NBA, 5x champion



Getty images

In the era of unlimited basketball, it was no longer enough to call Magic "the best point guard in history." He is simply one of the top five players in history. As a new gaming center instead of injured Karim Abdul-Jabbar, Johnson scored 42 points, 15 rebounds, seven assists and three interceptions in one of the five most legendary performances in history. He appeared in the finals in nine of his first 12 NBA seasons, winning five times. One of the five players who have registered 10,000 career assists is arguably the best player in league history and perhaps the best player on the open field. With its size, with its full speed of playing the court, post-game, ball skills and a surge of drama, we can say that we will never see another player, such as Magic.

4. Bill Russell

15.1 ppg, 22.5 rpg, 4.3 apg, 163.5 Win Shares, 5x MVP, 11x All-NBA, 11x champion

When you have more championship rings than fingers, you have earned your place in the top four. Russell was an unrivaled winner and teammate, sacrificing individual stats for team success as Celtics blurred 11 unique titles in 13 seasons. Speaking of statistics, he probably would have led the league many times in blocked shots if they had watched – experts suggested that he averaged somewhere between 6-8 blocks per game in my career. He beat Wilt and West many times one on one, and even took on the duties of a coach over the past three seasons and yet won two titles. When you think about victory, you think about Russell, who makes him one of the best NBA players of all time.

3. Karim Abdul-Jabbar

24.6 ppg, 11.2 rpg, 2.6 bpg, 273.4 Win Shares, 6x MVP, 15x All-NBA, 6x champion

Let's start with the facts: Abdul Jabbar is the top scorer in NBA history. He was named MVP six times in a 10-year period and finished five in a ballot nine times. His two MVP finalists split up for 14 years, which speaks of his incredible longevity as an elite player. Karim scored an average of 28 points per game as a rookie in 1969-70, and 17 seasons later he still scored an average of 23.4 in an elite team. He has been the leader of all time for several minutes, and as a bonus, his sky hook is the most iconic shot in basketball history.

2. Lebron james

27.1 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 7.4 apg, 236.1 Win Shares, 4x MVP, 15x All-NBA, 3x champion

James has earned his place here, and he cannot be done. Three more full seasons in last year’s release, a difficult but not impossible task for a 35-year-old athlete of all time in the era of superstars who often defy time, would see that he would pass on Karim as the absolute leader of the game with glasses. He already has the eighth aid in league history. He could be the first player in the MVP finals with three different teams. And more rings, of course, remain within reach. The timer still takes its place in the game, and it has only one place left.

1. Michael Jordan

30.1 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 5.3 apg, 214.0 Win Shares, 5x MVP, 11x All-NBA, 6x champion

The name speaks for itself. Statistics too. Add: six-time NBA MVP final, 10-time leader in points, nine-time team defender. Etc. Goat.

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