Not everyone is going to agree but here’s my selection of the top-five stars to have graced the NBA, building up to the number one pick.
5) Lebron James
The only player on the list who is still playing, Lebron is heading into his 20th NBA campaign and is looking for his fifth title success.
The 36-year-old has won the NBA Championship with three different franchises – Miami Heat, Cleveland Cavaliers and LA Lakers – and has been voted the NBA’s Most Valuable Player on four occasions.
James was hyped up from his college days and made an instant impact at the highest level, making no fewer than 17 appearances in the NBA All Star game.
His popularity transcends the game of Basketball as well, with film appearances and high-profile endorsements.
4) Magic Johnson
Ervin Johnson got the nickname ‘Magic’ in High School and you have got to be a legendary player to then have that stick as your name when you enter the NBA.
A one-team player is a rarity in any sport, especially in basketball, but Johnson spent his whole NBA career with the LA Lakers and won five Championship titles in eight seasons.
The man from Michigan was the first draft pick in 1979 and has a string of impressive stats, including three NBA Finals MVP, 12 All-Star appearances, and the point-guard is the all-time leader in average assists per game, at 11.2.
3) Larry Bird
The power forward entered the NBA in 1979 and went on to win three NBA Championships with the Boston Celtics and was part of the original Olympic ‘Dream Team’ in 1992.
Bird will be forever remembered for his rivalry with Magic Johnson and his stats prove he was right up there with the best to have ever played in the NBA.
He scored 21,791 points – 4000 more than Magic – and claimed 5,695 assists in his 13-year playing career – before going on to coach the Indiana Pacers for three years and winning NBA coach of the year in 1998.
2) Kobe Bryant
Bryant enjoyed an amazing 20 years in the NBA with the Lakers and is their all-time leading scorer, with 33,643 points.
Having been drafted by Charlotte Hornets, the shooting guard though was part of an organised trade and signed with the Lakers – going on to win five Championship titles during his illustrious career.
Kobe was an 18-time All-Star selection and has the joint record for All-Star Game MVP awards, claiming the prize on four occasions.
Sadly, Bryant was lost far too soon and died at the age of just 41, following a helicopter crash in January 2020.
1) Michael Jordan
Widely acknowledged to be the greatest of all-time, MJ is at the top of this list as well and still remains the marker for any aspiring NBA star.
In two spells with the Chicago Bulls, Jordan won six NBA Championships and was named Finals MVP in every one of those successes.
His stats are made all the more remarkable by the fact that the Bulls had never won the title before he joined in 1984 and they have not won the NBA crown since!
The shooting guard holds the NBA record for a career regular-season scoring average (30.12 points per game), as well as the record for career play-off scoring average (33.45 per game).
His popularity and class transcend the basketball court – having his own brand of Nike sportswear, staring in movies, owning his own NBA franchise (Charlotte Hornets) and becoming the first billionaire player in NBA history.
*All odds correct at time of writing