5 Best Basketball Players of All Time

The best basketball players of all time backed by data and little bias. Find out below who made the list.

1. Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan is the best basketball player of all time. To throw some data and facts at you. Jordan averaged 30.1 points per game, 6.2 rebounds per game, and 5.3 assists per game. Jordan played 15 seasons in the NBA. During that time, he won six NBA championships, six finals MVP awards, and five regular season MVP awards. Michael Jordan is fifth on the NBA all time scoring list with 32,292 points.

Why is Michael Jordan the greatest NBA player of all time? Aside from the impressive stats above, he won a record ten scoring titles and is regarded as the best scorer ever seen despite not being number one on the all time scoring list. What made Jordan the GOAT was his desire to win. This fire within him forced his teammates to become better or they would be left behind. His leadership allowed Pippen to shine, allowed Rodman to shine, just to name a few. He was a powerhouse, an all in one package, an intense and orchestrated leader, but most importantly he was a champion.

2. Lebron James

Lebron James is the second best basketball player of all time. Lebron James averages 27.1 points per game, 7.4 rebounds per game, and 7.4 assists per game. Since this article was published (Dec.31, 2020), Lebron has played 18 seasons in the NBA so far. During that time he has four NBA championships, four finals MVP awards, and four regular season MVP awards. He is still going at 36 years young (2020) and is pursuing his fifth NBA Championship for the 2020-2021 season with the Los Angeles Lakers. Lebron is third on the NBA all time scoring list with 34,358 points currently.

Lebron James vs Michael Jordan. The debate that has been happening since Lebron started asserting his dominance on the court. Lebron James has led his team to the post season 14 times and has made it to the finals ten times. During the Finals, Lebron has led his team in points, rebounds and assists seven times in the NBA Finals. What is mind boggling is the fact that only three players have done this even once. Those players are Jimmy Butler, Magic Johnson and Tim Duncan. Lebron is higher then Jordan and Kobe on the all time scoring list and is very deserving of this second place spot behind the great Michael Jordan.

3. Bill Russell

Bill Russell is the third best basketball player of all time. Bill Russell averaged 15.1 points per game, 22.5 rebounds per game, and 4.3 assists per game. Bill played 13 season and won an astounding 11 NBA championships! Bill earned five MVP awards and eleven All-NBA selections. He is considered to be one of the greatest defenders in NBA history.

What gets him ahead of Kareem is the fact that he is the greatest winner in basketball history. Prior to Bill joining the Boston Celtics, they had never been to the NBA finals. When Bill joined, they won 11 NBA championships. What makes him not higher on the list is his average offensive performance. It was his defense and rebounding ability that allowed the Boston Celtics to shine and become a dynasty during those years.

Photo by Markus Spiske

4. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the fourth best basketball player of all time. Kareem averaged 24.6 points per game, 11.2 rebounds per game, and 3.6 assists per game. He played 20 season in the NBA and has a long list of achievements to show for it. These achievements include being a nineteen time all star, six MVP awards, and six NBA championships. What may be his most remarkable achievement is being number one on the NBA all time scoring list with 38,387 points. Kareem and Bill are basically tied for third in my eyes but in the interest of this list, Bill slightly pulled ahead.

Kareem has been argued as the greatest of all time. Isiah Thomas remarks how “When I look at Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s six championships, six or seven MVPs, scored the most points than anybody in the NBA, lost one game in college, lost one game in high school and didn’t lose in grade school. To me that’s the GOAT.” Although, most agree that the above three had more of an impact, especially Jordan and Lebron.

5. Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant is the fifth best basketball player of all time. Kobe was an absolute scoring machine. Kobe averaged 25 points per game, 5.2 rebounds per game, and 4.7 assists per game. In fact, in one game Kobe scored 81 points….. let that sink in……81 points in the NBA! Kobe played 20 season in the NBA and won 5 NBA championships. He has been named to the all star team 18 times and won two NBA Finals MVP awards. Kobe Bryant is currently fourth on the NBA all time scoring list with an astounding 33,643 points.

Kobe is one of the greatest NBA players of all time. This list would be thrown out if he was not on it. Kobe lead his team to seven NBA finals appearances, which he and the Lakers won five of. He stayed with the Lakers when Shaq was traded and managed to win two more championships. Kobe made due with the team he was given despite not having insane all star talent like Jordan or Lebron had (with the Heat).

Kobe Bryant art
Kobe Bryant Mural in Los Angeles


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  • “Ranking the Top 74 NBA Players of All Time: Nos. 10-1.” ESPN, ESPN Internet Ventures, 13 May 2020, www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/29105801/ranking-top-74-nba-players-all-nos-10-1.
  • ESPN, ESPN Internet Ventures, www.espn.com/nba/history/leaders.
  • Doherty, Tim. “Michael Jordan: The Greatest of All Time.” Bleacher Report, Bleacher Report, 3 Oct. 2017, www.bleacherreport.com/articles/926592-michael-jordan-the-greatest-of-all-time.
  • Beer, Tommy. “These Stats Suggest LeBron James Is The Greatest Basketball Player Ever.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 14 Oct. 2020, www.forbes.com/sites/tommybeer/2020/10/12/these-stats-suggest-lebron-james-is-the-greatest-basketball-player-ever/?sh=4a93a8651cab.
  • Forum, RealSportsTalk.net Discussion. “Bill Russell: The Greatest Player of All Time.” Bleacher Report, Bleacher Report, 3 Oct. 2017, www.bleacherreport.com/articles/51928-bill-russell-the-greatest-player-of-all-time.

Michael Jordan
Michael Jordan showing how many championships he has won