Basketball is a game made up of fierce matchups and tough competition. Therefore it’s no surprise that the prospect of an all-time great list is a hotly debated topic. From fans and analysts to the players themselves — everyone has an opinion.
So that got me thinking, amidst all the arguing: which players are guaranteed a spot? And after research, there are names that continue to crop up in spite of wild takes and team allegiance, either because they are too important to the game, or the stats don’t lie.
Read on to discover four basketball players we bet nobody will leave off an all-time list.
You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who would bet against Michael Jordan’s legend.
Indeed, if you were to visit an online casino or bookmaker to check the chances of him featuring on a list of all-time legends then you’d get insanely short odds.
Not convinced? Then find one of the top online casinos or bookies now, put your bet to them and fact-check it for yourself. Now you’ve done that, the only outstanding argument is whether Jordan ranks first or second.
Taken as the third overall pick by Chicago Bulls in 1984, Jordan took the ailing franchise and turned them into a dynasty; delivering 6 titles, in 6 finals appearances. Thus achieving the first-ever double three-peat of the NBA championship; albeit with a helping hand from Pippen and the rest of the ensemble.
And his personal records run adjacent to the team’s success. With over 14 All-Star appearances, 5 league MVP awards, and a career average of 30.1 points per game, Jordan relentlessly demanded perfection out of everyone, because he strived so hard for it in himself.
But Michael Jordan’s legend is more than stats on a page. His legacy on and off the court jettisoned the NBA into the global league it is today. Jordan transcended basketball with brand deals and Hollywood movies, but never let it dampen his drive. Just take a look at the iconic ‘Flu Game’ for reference: playing through alleged food poisoning, to score 38 points in a conference finals game shows unmatched competitive fortitude.
Additionally, with the recent release of The Last Dance docuseries, Jordan’s career has been visualized for modern audiences. Placing pressure on for his closest rival to the crown, LeBron James.
As the proverbial ‘chosen one’ in modern basketball, LeBron James has faced a lot of criticism during his career. But there is no denying his greatness and impact, on and off the court.
Drafted at the first spot by his hometown team, the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2003. James controversially moved over to Miami in 2010, where he won 2 rings alongside Bosh and Wade. But in 2014 LeBron returned to the Cavs and finished what he started, overcoming the 73 – 9 Golden State Warriors to bring Cleveland its first championship.
LeBron James is a born leader, like Jordan. But that’s where the similarities end. On paper, he is built for raw power, yets it’s his elite passing skills that make James the ultimate facilitator. And for some old school analysts, that’s a mark on his credentials. Alternatively, I’d argue that his enate ability to flip a switch on and off, shows better versatility than Jordan’s more selfish gung-ho approach.
Another thing to remember is that the man — at 34 years of age — is still playing and displaying little sign of slowing down. Now paired with Anthony Davis at the LA Lakers, you can be sure LeBron is looking to add to his three titles, four MVP awards, and 16 All-Star appearances. And being just four-thousand points shy of the points record, I’d wager he’ll achieve top spot before he retires.
After being taken thirteenth in 1996 by the Lakers, Kobe entered the league with a chip on his shoulder that never relented. From an exciting prospect under the wing of Shaq, to retiring as a legend with 61 points in his final competitive match. Bryant was handed the mantle by Jordan and never looked back.
Considering the Jordan comparisons, it’s funny to think the life long Laker almost ended up as a Bull. But he was a one-team man through and through, eclipsing even Magic Johnson’s LA stardom.
By accepting guidance from Jordan and Shaq in the early years. Kobe carved his own path, becoming a five-time champion, 18-time All-Star, and the 2008 MVP. And not to mention one ridiculous 81 point outing against the Toronto Raptors. There is very little Kobe Bryant failed to achieve in the NBA, and beyond.
In the wake of his tragic passing in 2019, mamba mentality transcended beyond a catchphrase. It has become a blueprint of dedication and lasting legacy. If I had to choose anyone to take the game-winning shot, it would be Kobe Bryant.
The Bucks and Lakers legend competed in a time when the league was a different beast, but he deserves a place on everyone’s list all the same. Kareem’s long-lasting career spanned 20 years and six championships. And his groundbreaking stats put a devastating edge on an otherwise friendly personality.
Kareem Abdul-Jabaar sits atop the all-time scoring list that LeBron looks to chase. He was a scoring juggernaut that would give modern defenses a run for their money. Especially the patented skyhook, which was virtually untouchable and guaranteed a bucket.
While he was never flash on the court, the magic of being seven-plus feet tall with a reliable shot meant Kareem never had to be. Everything he touched turned to gold and it inspired a whole generation of tall shooters like Dirk Nowitski. Where legend sometimes softens with time, in terms of Kareem, the memory lives on in spite of years gone by.
Recommended reading: Pistons Coach Dwane Casey Sees Little Progress Made on Racism
The debate will always rage on about how good these greats were and still are. But what we can all agree on is that they should all be remembered for their incredible talent and individual contributions to basketball. Now it is time for the new generation to shine through: Will the rookie Zion Williamson live up to potential? Or will Giannis Antantekounpo’s work ethic pay dividends?