Culture of Hoops

List of the Greatest Players to Ever Play Basketball and What Makes Them Great

Image courtesy of Jason H. Smith/Flickr.

Basketball is one of the most loved sports by fans globally. Like other sports, it has seen its fair share of iconic moments and players. This article focuses on some of the most amazing basketball players in the NBA. There are many great players out there, and categorically selecting iconic players requires a set of prescribed criteria. You can check out other great players on the FanDuel Sportsbook!

Jerry West

Jerry West is frequently cited as one of the greatest players in the history of the NBA. A member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, he played his entire 14-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers and was a 12-time All-Star. He also won an NBA championship, was named the Finals MVP, and was voted into the All-NBA First Team 10 times.

West was known for his quickness and lethal outside shooting, which made him a dangerous offensive threat on the court. He was also an excellent defender, using his speed to stay in front of opposing players and his long arms to block shots. In addition to his skill as a player, West was also known for his competitiveness and will to win, which helped him earn the nickname “Mr. Clutch.”

While West may not have the same level of individual accolades as some other players on this list, there is no doubt that he is one of the greatest ever to play the game. His impact on the Lakers franchise – both as a player and executive – is unmatched, and he played a significant role in making them one of the most successful teams in the history of the NBA.

Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan is one of the greatest players ever to play basketball. He had an exceptional basketball career and was instrumental in popularizing the sport globally. In addition, MJ was a fantastic scorer and could shoot the lights out from anywhere on the court. He always brought his A game in all his tournaments and put on a stellar show thanks to his unparallel defending and rebounding skills. Most importantly, Jordan was a true winner and led his teams to six NBA championships.

Larry Bird

Larry Bird was among the most skilled and savvy players ever to play basketball. He made an incredible impact on both ends of the court and was always a clutch performer when his teams needed him the most. Bird was an excellent shooter, rebounder, and passer and had a high basketball IQ that allowed him to always be in the right place at the right time. He was also an incredible leader and motivator, and his work ethic was second to none.

Image courtesy of Cliff1066/Flickr.

Wilt Chamberlain

Standing at 7 feet tall, Chamberlain could do it all on the court. He could score, rebound, and block shots with the best of them. As a result, Chamberlain holds many NBA records, including the most points in a single game (100), most points in a season (4,029), and most rebounds in a season (2,149).

He was also a two-time NBA champion and was named MVP in both of those seasons. Simply put, Wilt Chamberlain was one of the greatest players ever to play the game of basketball.

Julius Erving

Julius Erving, also known as “Dr. J”, is one of the greatest players ever to play basketball. He was a dominant player in both the ABA and NBA and is considered one of the pioneers of modern-day basketball. He was also an incredibly athletic player with a signature style of play that included highlight reel dunks and acrobatic layups. He was also a great scorer and rebounder and was named one of the 50 Greatest Players in the History of the NBA.

Bill Russell

Bill Russell played for the Boston Celtics from 1956 to 1969and was a 12-time All-Star and an 11-time NBA champion. He is also a two-time Olympic gold medalist.

Russell was known for his defence and rebounding. He was an excellent shot blocker and a great rebounder, winning the second position on the NBA’s all-time rebounding list. In addition, he was a great team player and helped his teams win championships by looking for passes and making extra passes.

Russell was also a great leader and motivator and got the best out of his teammates. While Russell did not have the same scoring prowess as some of the other great players on this list, he made up for it with his other attributes.

Image courtesy of Keith Allison/Flickr.

Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant was one of the greatest players ever to play basketball. He was a 15-time member of the All-NBA Team, 18-time All-Star, and 12-time All-Defensive team member. In addition, he has been accredited for leading the NBA (in scoring) twice and won five NBA championships.

He was an Olympic gold medalist. Kobe was a gifted scorer and shooter. He could score from anywhere on the court, and his jumper was virtually unstoppable. He was also an excellent defensive player, able to guard multiple positions.

Kobe was an amazing competitor and willed his teams to victory on many occasions. He is one of the most decorated players in NBA history and is globally considered one of the best basketball players.

LeBron James

LeBron James is a 6-time NBA champion, 4-time NBA MVP, 3-time Finals MVP, and 2-time Olympic gold medalist. He has also been named an All-Star 17 times.

His combination of size, strength, speed, agility, and power makes LeBron great. He is one of the most physically gifted players in the game’s history. He can score from anywhere on the court and is an elite defender. His basketball IQ is off the charts, and he always makes the right play.

LeBron is in his prime at 37 years old, playing in his 20th season in the NBA and still shows no signs of slowing down. However, when he eventually does retire, he will go down as one of the greatest players to ever play the game.

Tim Duncan

Duncan is a skilled post player who can score inside and out. In addition, he can defend, block shots, rebound and impact both ends of the court. He’s also an outstanding leader who has helped the Spurs maintain a high level of success for over two decades.

His field goal percentage of 50.6 ranks fourth all-time behind only Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O’Neal, and DeAndre Jordan. Also, his free throw percentage of 69.6 ranks ninth all-time. Not many players have had as much success as Tim Duncan has in his career. He’s a true champion and one of the greatest.


This list features some players of the most incredible shooters, impressive defenders, and all-around athletes. But what they all have in common is a love for the game and a drive to be the best they can be. We hope this list has inspired you to pick up a basketball and start working on your own game. Who knows, maybe one day you’ll be on this list!

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