Top All-Time 50 NBA Players
by Ron Kurtus (revised 11 April 2017)
In 1996, as part of the National Basketball Association's (NBA) 50th anniversary celebration, a panel of announcers, former players and coaches named the 50 greatest players in league history.
The players are listed alphabetically along with the dates of their professional careers and positions.
This lesson will answer those questions.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, 1969-1989
Wilt Chamberlain, 1959-1973
Dave Cowens, 1970-1980, 1982-1983
Patrick Ewing, 1985-1991
Moses Malone, 1974-1995
George Mikan, 1946-1954, 1955-1956
David Robinson, 1989-2003
Bill Russell, 1956-1969
Hakeem Olajuwon, 1984-2002 (forward/center)
Shaquille O'Neal, 1992-2009
Robert Parish, 1976-1997
Willis Reed, 1964-1974
Bill Walton, 1974-1988
Charles Barkley, 1984-2000
Rick Barry, 1965-1980
Elgin Baylor, 1958-1972
Larry Bird, 1979-1992
Dave DeBusschere, 1962-1974
Julius Erving, 1971-1987
John Havlicek, 1962-1978 (forward/guard)
Elvin Hayes, 1968-1984
Jerry Lucas, 1963-1974 (forward/center)
Karl Malone, 1985-2004
Kevin McHale, 1980-1993
Bob Pettit, 1954-1965 (forward/center)
Scottie Pippen, 1987-2003
Dolph Schayes, 1948-1964 (forward/center)
Nate Thurmond, 1963-1977 (forward/center)
Wes Unseld, 1968-1981 (forward/center)
James Worthy, 1982-1994
Nate Archibald, 1970-1984
Paul Arizin, 1950-1961 (forward/guard)
Dave Bing, 1966-1978
Bob Cousy, 1950-1963, 1969-1970
Billy Cunningham, 1965-1976
Clyde Drexler, 1983-1998
Walt Frazier, 1967-1980
George Gervin, 1972-1986
Hal Greer, 1958-1973
Magic Johnson, 1979-1991, 1996
Sam Jones, 1957-1969
Michael Jordan, 1984-1993, 1995-1998
Pete Maravich, 1970-1980
Earl Monroe, 1967-1980
Oscar Robertson, 1960-1974
Bill Sharman, 1950-1961
John Stockton, 1984-2003
Isiah Thomas, 1981-1994
Jerry West, 1960-1974
Lenny Wilkens, 1960-1975
One missing person is Bob McAddoo, who had been MVP and scoring leading a number times. It was strange that he had been left out. Another missing player is Artis Gilmore, who also should be added to the list.
This list really should be updated, considering some of the present players in the NBA that have extraordinary abilities. The physical size and speed of newer players may make some of the "old-timers" obsolete.
The all-time greatest players in the NBA had not only the physical abilities, but they also possessed the drive and competitive spirit to make them the best.
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Top All-Time 50 NBA Players