You already know we’ve put Wilt Chamberlain at the #1 position. Wilt is, without question in our opinion, the greatest player in the history of the game. Let’s see, what NBA records does Wilt hold?
Points in a game: 100
Rebounds in a game: 55
I don’t have to say any more. CLEARLY the number one player in the history of the game. If Chamberlain was a free agent today, he could have simply moved on or forced a trade. In those days, you were stuck with your team until they were tired of you.
So who are players #5 through #2? Lets take a look:
#5:Larry Bird. I’m not sure where Larry Bird really fits among the all time greats, but I place him at five because many NBA fans wouldn’t have cared about the game if it wasn’t for Larry Bird…or his rivalry with Magic Johnson. Plus he was one of the greatest situational players of all time.
My dad and one of my friends went out to the old Capital Centre to see the Bullets play the Celtics in their heyday. Bullets lead by three, five seconds left, Celtics to inbound. We’re screaming “foul him, foul him”. The Bullets did NOT foul him. Bird got loose and shot a 3-ball from 28 feet and swish. Boston wins in OT.
Larry Bird was a sharp shooter, great passer and actually had more athletic talent than Magic Johnson. Plus, he was fearless. They beat the then-Lakers because they were better in certain situations.
#4: Oscar Robertson: Oscar Robertson averaged a triple-double for a season before a player like Magic made the term go Hollywood. In college, he led his teams to a 79-9 record over three seasons. He played in two Final Fours and won an Olympic gold medal in 1960. Like Chamberlain, the 6’5″ guard was a player before his time. While he did win a title with the Bucks, he was often stuck on bad teams during a time where players only moved with the consent of ownership. A 12 (consecutive) time All-Star who averaged over 30 points a game in six seasons, Robertson also led the league in assists six times.
Robertson’s most significant role in basketball may have been the Player’s Union suit against the NBA and ABA. Eventually, the court case led to the revocation of the reserve rule and free agency without compensation.
At the end of his career, fans and sports journalists (not today’s yellers) were considering Robertson as THE greatest NBA player of all time.
#3: Michael Jordan: When I was going to the University of Maryland (College Park), I saw Jordan play in Cole Field House. That was after they had won the NCAA title the year before.
My impression was, “this guy throwing down the tomahawk dunks is pretty good.”
Yeah, pretty good. Jordan could do whatever he wanted to do on a court. If you needed him to dominate the ball, he could. If you needed him to score…obvious. He could even serve as a great rebounder. The thing that sets Jordan apart is his competitive fire. Jordan is possibly the most competitive person to ever play ANY sport. The guy wanted to (and still wants to) win at every thing he’s ever tried. And he’s never afraid to let you know he DID win. The Ultimate Champion.
#2: Magic Johnson: Unquestionably the SMARTEST player to ever play the game. Magic invented the “throw the ball down the court” move to run out clocks. He also learned a trick shot from a Globetrotter and actually used it in a game to tie it. Magic wasn’t fast. Magic wasn’t as flashy as people think. But he had a game of tricks that’s unequalled to this day. One of the great performances in basketball history was Magic stepping in as a center as a rookie in the 1980 NBA Finals, scoring 42 points, hauling down 15 rebounds and dishing out 7 assists to win that game…and series.
Despite a shortened career due to his acquisition of the HIV, Johnson accomplished practically everything a player could in the NBA.