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Every list is subjective in some way to the author’s preferences. If we are trying to group together the 10 best players in NBA history, then specific placements might be up for debate, but the actual players on this list are something that virtually all of us can agree upon.

Let’s get started with that list first.

Who Are the 10 Best Players in NBA History? 

1. Michael Jordan

2. Larry Bird

3. Bill Russell

4. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

5. Wilt Chamberlin

6. LeBron James 

7. Tim Duncan

8. Magic Johnson

9. Shaquille O’Neal

10. Julius Erving

There might be a player one day who can take Michael Jordan from his spot as being king of the mountain. That person is not in the NBA right now. Some might feel that LeBron James could take that spot one day – but they are wrong. Sorry.

Now let’s take this list of the best players in NBA history to the Top 20.

Players Ranked #11-#20 in NBA History

11. Hakeem Olajuwon

12. Oscar Robertson

13. Kobe Bryant

14. David Robinson

15. Jerry West

16. Scottie Pippen

17. Dwayne Wade

18. Karl Malone

19. John Stockton

20. Kevin Durant

Let’s not forget that the NBA is changing right now. There is a wave of three-point shooting which changes the dynamics of offense and defense within the game. Some of the players that fit into the Top 20 in NBA history would struggle in the modern game because of this structure.

That does not change their greatness. We should not judge players based on their ability to perform in the modern iteration of the sport. They should be evaluated on the basis of how they played against their peers. That’s why you’ll find a combination of different eras in this part of the list.

Honorable Mentions for the Best in NBA History

There are a handful of players who make various lists like these who we didn’t rank as one of the best of all-time. That doesn’t mean they weren’t any good. It just means that, in our opinion, they weren’t as good as the others that have numbers by their names.

Here is our grouping of honorable mentions for players that still dominated during their era.

  • Charles Barkley
  • Elgin Baylor
  • Reggie Miller
  • Steph Curry
  • Dirk Nowitzki
  • Kevin Garnett
  • Dennis Rodman
  • Dominique Wilkins
  • James Harden
  • Clyde Drexler

There are probably hundreds of people who could make this list and there wouldn’t be an argument for their conclusion. It is also essential to remember that this list is for NBA players only. There are incredible women who play basketball that deserve recognition as being the best of all time as well.

If a woman ever can break into the NBA, then she will certainly earn her place in history. Until then, we will continue to take a look at the history of the game to see who performed well, created great moments, and brought grace to the competition.

Who do you think should have made this list that did not?