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Top 50 Players All-Time, Part 3: #9 to 1

Few players have dominated so many playoffs as thoroughly as Tim Duncan and Shaquille O'Neal, here sharing the 2000 All-Star Game MVP Award.After having evaluated the top players historically at each position (C, PF, SF, SG, PG), it's time to put it all together and try to create one list. As I've stated before, the key thing I'm looking for is a player's ability to improve his team's odds of winning games and contending, so both regular and post-season success are factors.

There are a zillion considerations that could fill an entire article of their own when putting together any list like this, but I'll try to standardize how I look at the players without complicating things too much. My scenario for considering the value of these players in helping a team contend is:


I can add two good players to a squad whose remainder is 10 average players that cover all the positions, and our goal is to play together for 10 years in a modern-style league and to contend for and win as many titles as possible. The two good players will use their best 8-year stretch throughout the hypothetical decade (considerations allowed for freak injuries, forced to be a backup for too long, baseball sabbaticals, etc – and we're talking abilities & intangibles here, not their stats), with two random seasons from their career that don't fall in the 8-year stretch thrown in at two random spots. So you get the best 8-year stretch of two players, plus two other random seasons from their careers (this helps guys like Parish, hurts guys like Reed), and you want to do as well as you can next to otherwise average teammates for a decade.


That's the basic scenario, and these top-50 are generally grouped by what their role would be as one of those two good players. This isn't a perfect scenario, but it's at least an attempt to consider them all under the same pretenses. Some of the guy's careers are very difficult to place into it, but I attempted to consider a fairly consistent version of it for everyone.


This final group, players 1 through 9, are here because they can lead a team to contention nearly every year in the decade, almost no matter who the other good player is. They are nearly certain to win a few titles and avoid any significant stretch of disappointment.

The rest of the top 50 is:

Part 1, #35-50
Part 2, #10-34



9. Hakeem Olajuwon - Hakeem was one of the best defensive players of all-time and carried some really underwhelming Rockets squads on offense and defense for years after his on-the-verge-of-greatness '86 team fell apart from under him. With Jordan playing baseball in '94 and '95, Hakeem quickly and definitively wrapped up the "second best player of the 90's" debate while beating HOF big men Ewing, Malone, Barkley, Robinson, and O'Neal in the playoffs during consecutive title runs. Olajuwon knew how to carry ho-hum teams for a long period of time, and that puts him in the top group.

8. Magic Johnson - Why he's above Hakeem: Magic completely revolutionized his team's offense through infectious leadership to a larger degree than Hakeem could with his team's defense. Even with the Dream Shake, Hakeem's FG% for a big was never great--just slightly above-average--and he wasn't much of a passer. Magic made teammates better and lifted their confidence to a degree few superstars ever have, including Hakeem.

7. Shaquille O'Neal - Why he's above Magic: Shaq was an absolute force of nature on both ends of the court for 13 years (and nearly unstoppable in numerous playoffs), making a huge impact on his teams' success despite some immature casts (Orlando) and internal alpha-dog battles with Kobe on LA. Magic's support was greater and/or more cohesive (and provided strong interior defense to cover up this glaring deficiency in Johnson's game, so he needed a more specific team around him than Shaq - this is big since O'Neal could be the central figure on O and on D), but Magic also spent most of his first 5 seasons with a questionable-to-bad reputation in the clutch and as a teammate, giving him only 7 seasons of definitely-nothing-to-worry-about-here leadership. You receive more of a complete impact for longer with Shaq.

6. Larry Bird - Why he's above Shaq: Bird sacrificed absolutely everything to win games, whereas Shaq could be rather blase a lot of the times. Even when Boston was overmatched in a playoff series, they never got swept with Bird (swept twice with him injured). After his rookie season, Larry's teams won at least 2 games in every other series (for the record, Magic's teams won 0 or 1 games in a series 6 times, which seems like a lot considering everything they had going for them); Shaq-lead teams were much more capable of underperforming and were swept many times (8-6 in series sweeps during his career through Miami). In the same vein, Larry's autobiography is titled "Drive"; O'Neal's is titled "Shaq Talks Back." If you need a leader to go to battle with for a decade, you pick Bird over Shaq.

Kareem indicates that he would like to be #1 on our list.

5. Kareem Abdul-Jabaar - Why he's above Bird: Bird had a much more all-encompassing offensive game that made his team gel during his prime years, but Kareem's peak was still great offensively (Sky Hook and underrated passer) and included phenomenal defense. Remember that Kareem's peak was much longer and played out next to much worse surrounding talent, and he then filled the role of super-duper second fiddle for 5-6 years.

4. Michael Jordan - Why he's above Kareem: In his prime, Jordan did more to raise the collective level of his teammates (even before Pippen was great and in '97-98 when Pippen was out for half the year) than the "moody" Kareem. When it came to the most crucial games, Jordan was going to kick someone's ass and everyone knew it, whereas Kareem would do the same if that someone wasn't Moses Malone, Willis Reed, or super-old Wilt Chamberlain - basically anyone who played physical inside.

3. Jerry West - Why he's above Jordan: The two iconic SG's are virtual equals in terms of scoring, defending, contagious drive and confidence, and clutch/playoffs success. West gets the nod because he also had elite PG skills, was a far superior outside shooter who would have thrived with a 3-point line, and he could mesh personality- and role-wise with more types of teammates. West could play next to other alpha scorers and not lose his value or rock the boat with them.

2. Tim Duncan - Why he's above West: West and Duncan were both great at doing a lot of things on both sides of the ball that showed up and didn't show up in the box scores to help elevate their team for years, but Duncan as one of the elite defensive bigs of all-time was able to add more value to his team than a great SG. West, Jordan, and Magic were all certainly better at raising their clubs' offenses than Duncan, but not by the width of margin Duncan had over them on defensive effect.

1. Bill Russell - Why he's above Duncan: Pretty much everything Duncan was great at, Russell was even better at: defense, rebounding, clutch play, being an important facilitator even when not scoring a lot, raising everyone's level of play. Russell's teams were 27-1 in playoff series throughout his career when he was healthy; they were 0-1 when he wasn't healthy. Considering his effect on Boston's offense is far greater than most fans are aware, and his defensive influence/value is the best ever, there are a lot of reasons to call Russell the Greatest Of All Time.


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Reader Comments (68)

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahha. Wait, let me catch my breathe. Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahha. Your articles are true comedy from a trollish hater. Haters gonna hate. You should take up comedy because you're no good as a sports journalist. Your lists are such a joke.
You say your premise is helping your team win but you totally ignore Win Shares ( A little stat that tracks how many wins a player is responsible for helping their team earn). You give absolutely ZERO weight to the most important wins of all possible wins ( finals game wins ). A finals game win is 10X more important than a regular season win. Just ask ANY NBA player, that just lost in the finals, how great all their regular season wins were and they will tell you, " They don't mean a whole lot when you lose in the finals". Whether you think the ultimate wins matter or don't is irrelevant because EVERY ONE ELSE DOES. Your opinion piece was real funny, but you lack in logic, stats, facts and reason.

September 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRaViNuS

I think you did a fine job overall (and I'm not just kissing your ring because you accommodated my opinion of Dr. J -- honest).

Any list like this invites debates, so I feel obligated to offer one again. I'm a fan of centers. Tim Duncan might be my personal #2 alltime favorite player. (Even though I'm from Chicago, #1 is not Jordan but the collegiate Bill Walton. What a shame that injuries only allowed him essentially a 1-1/2 year career at peak efficiency; I wish fans could know what they missed). So I'm thrilled to see him so high on this llst. Even after the MVP awards, four titles and "greatest power forward" accolades, I still think he's underrated.

All that said -- and I suspect you expected someone to say this -- I have a hard time putting Duncan ahead of Jordan. Duncan had four titles, and the first one or two (which was it? I forget) had David Robinson as a capable second banana who basically duplicated his duties. Jordan had six, basically in a 7-year stretch, and with no great teammates except Pippen, who I strongly believe would never have been a great player without Jordan goading him forward every step of the way (though you're right that Jordan destroyed other teammates who weren't as tough-minded, including Rodney McCray and Dennis Hopson).

While it's true that Duncan made a much greater defensive impact than any perimeter player, I think it's a scarcer asset to have a guy who could score 40 at will than a guy who was a composite of an excellent offensive post player and an excellent defender. You can supplement the lineup with a bulky defense-and-open-jumpers-only center (Cartwright, Longley), have a better-than-adequate defense, and still be immune to being shut down offensively in the fourth quarter of championship games.

My heart's not really in this post -- there's a lot about Jordan on close inspection that's much less admirable than Duncan -- but my head is. Overall, though, fine articles and lots of food for thought. Thanks.

P.S. I'd love you to devote a future column to what you know about Oscar and Rick Barry being viewed as assholes, especially Oscar. In his defense, Oscar did sublimate his game for one year at the end of his career to get a title with Kareem, although those who saw only the older Kareem don't realize just how fantastic the young Kareem was.

September 17, 2012 | Unregistered Commentertonycd

Kudos to you for having some faith in Zach, but I can't do it. He has people in his top 50 who couldn't help their team win the ultimate prize (championship) without AT LEAST 2 OTHER All Stars and leaves people off his list that did it with only 1 other All Star on their team. I don't give a crap if a player was an A Hole or a nice guy. What did they achieve on the court?
You should re-title all your articles: " The top _____________ greatest team players I would choose for my team if I could pick players from All Time".

September 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRaViNuS

There have been many commentors on my site who have disagreed with me who actually make sense because they understand that debates are about using the most relevant facts or the proper contextualization in which to view the facts - not simply attacking the resulting opinions (some 6th grade English for you: support wins debates, not opinions) in really childish ways. I suggest you check them out and try some imitation because your use of "facts" is just getting too ridiculous.

September 17, 2012 | Registered CommenterZachariah Blott

Ok.you say Kobe is a bad player.what if I told you Kobe is one of few players who plays through any injury.how many players you know plays through a fractured finger,torn ligament in thumb,bone to bone knee,bruised shin,torn ligament I wrist.he never takes a day off despite playing tjrough serious injuries.he missed several games last year cause coach wanted him to rest,not cause he was hurt.

September 17, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterilya77

He never misses a day, yet I have an entire season's worth of missed games for him from his career to show how his team's W-L record improves without him. I continue to wonder how some of you all remain in conversations that are supposedly fact-based.

I never said he was a bad player (check your facts). I said his impact on his team's ability to win games over time (not this one playoff game he went off back in '01) is right around zero, which does not get him on my "best players/SG's all time" lists.

September 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterZachariah Blott

Get real, this is neither a debate nor a factual conversation. You are the ONLY person in THE WORLD who doesn't include Kobe Bryant in their top 50 of all time. Quit trying to fit your "Dream Teammates" argument into the context of the Greatest of All Time argument. My "Dream Team" of All Time would NOT include the top 15 players of all time 1-15 ( though it would probably have most em them) see my list as a comment on your "great SF" article. http://www.behindthebasket.com/btb/2012/8/31/ranking-the-best-small-forwards-of-all-time.html
Team play and "the greatest PLAYER" are 2 seperate conversations and your article titles on this series are faulty. You misrepresent what you are about.
As for the "context" in which you rank the players ( picking 2 greats with an average supporting cast to get wins) WHAT DO YOU THINK KOBE HAD TO WORK WITH TO GET HIS LAST 2 RINGS? 1 great player (Pau) and an average supporting cast ( probably below average). THESE ARE ACTUAL RESULTS WITHIN YOUR SCENARIO. How many players on your list had 2 or more greats next to them. The Celtics in the 60's were a super team! The Lakers in the 80's were a super team! You don't give credit where credit is due. Your "what IFS" are pathetic attempts to support YOUR way of thinking. LOOK AT ACTUAL RESULTS AND THE CONTEXT IN WHICH THEY CAME. Ignore Pros & Cons, that's fine, just call your article an opinion piece instead of a debate, cause that is CLEARLY what it is.

September 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRaViNuS

You've ranked every player that has won multiple or back to back Finals MVP in the modern era (post 1970) except Kobe. You've ranked every player in the modern era that has led his team to 3 straight NBA finals other than Kobe. You've ranked every player that has led their team to back to back NBA titles. Kobe's team won its last ring against a team witrh 3 people you have ranked in the top 50.

Kobe Bryant has earned the right to be on EVERY list that ranks the top NBA players of all time. Whether in a supporting role or the lead role the teams he has been a major contributor to 5 NBA championships teams. Using your definition for this series, You give credit to players that have won championships. For some players on your list you give them the benefit of the doubt by assuming they WOULD win championships or contend. Kobe HAS accomplished these things yet he isn't given credit or the benefit of the doubt. I can think of only one reason why you didn't extend this to Kobe.

Win Shares is an estimate of the number of wins contributed by a player. Win Shares Per 48 Minutes is an estimate of the number of wins contributed by the player per 48 minutes. Kobe is 18th in NBA history in WS and 30th in WS/48. IN the playoffs he's 7th all time in WS and 44th in ws/48.

An objective writer without bias has Kobe on this list.

September 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJamesD

If you think the Lakers' last two title teams were not good beyond Gasol, then you really don't know basketball.

Win shares come from individual statistics, so they miss TONS of stuff that's of value to a club, like defense. I've asked you a million times to tell me how few advantages Kobe needs for his team to be good since he's always had a ton of them (see also: many title, many teammates on each with much better defensive impact and efficiency stats), but you've never answered it. Now I'll make the question much easier for you. Using my scenario where everything is equal and average except for 1 other teammate, tell me how bad and how specific that other good teammate next to Kobe can be and their squad still competes for a title? How long would that pairing work out with the other good player getting totally shafted on shots and not care enough to not create internal strife?

Seriously - who you got next to him that is an amazing offensive rebounder to make up for his inefficient and overly-difficult shot selection, good at the shots he takes so that the team's eFG% doesn't take too much of a hit from Kobe, provides great D since LA's team defense has usually been awesome during their championships and that identity doesn't come from a SG with very little defensive versatility, and/or is a very good team facilitator since Kobe's Ast-TO ratio has always been sub-par for a ball-heavy guard and he's generally known as the guy who doesn't really run the offense of the coach/team? I guess Russell or Duncan would be close to perfect, but they're the best C and PF of all time and would work with anyone. Shaq, Hakeem, and Kareem might work, but now you have no team facilitator and none of those 3 was nearly as dominant a rebounder as Russell (only talking about compared to league, not actual numbers), plus all 3 would likely want and deserve more of the ball than Kobe would allow, and we already know how that plays out over time. Maybe someone like KG or Nate Thurmond who don't necessarily need the shots and brings the D and rebounding, but neither of them would push the team's offense upward in a big way from Kobe's inefficiency in the manner LA's other players always did (Shaq, Gasol, Bynum, Odom). Any other non-C/PF doesn't provide the big offensive rebounding and team D Kobe's teams need to win. Kobe couldn't exist with Wilt for 2 seconds. Moses Malone is in the discussion if Moses could get his shots (questionable-to-possible), had defensive help inside since he wasn't real good there (wouldn't happen), had an '83 Sixers-like supporting cast around him (doesn't fit scenario), and there was a true facilitator (nope) -- and even if he did work, we're talking a top-15 guy.

So again, let me know who Kobe could work next to in this scenario that creates a good team.

September 18, 2012 | Registered CommenterZachariah Blott

I'll tell you which Non-team-altering-defensive (means not top tier defender) Big that Kobe could play next to with an average team and still win with. Pau Gasol and the 08-09 NBA champion Lakers. Guess who won't be driven out of LA? Guess who Kobe Bryant said would be a Laker as long as Kobe was on the team? Pau Gasol. Guess which 2 players are able to work together for the rest of their career? ( if its their choice) Kobe & Pau !
Bynum? INJURED, and also please look at his stats that year and tell me how they were better than average?
Are you telling me that Odom, Ariza, Derek Fisher, Vujacic, Shannon Brown, Farmar, Luke Walton, Adam Morrison, Mbenga and the rest were above average players in the league? PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE show me their statistic comparisons to league average that year. PLEASE !
Your "What If" joke of a scenario is blown out of the water by Facts and Real Life. But what if ....... Blah blah blah. HOW ABOUT REAL LIFE?
While you're at it, please explain how any of that supporting cast from 08-09 are perennial All-Stars or team altering talents, oooooops, wait, YOU CAN'T.

September 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRaViNuS

Odom = absolutely instrumental to how that team worked - you're insane if you don't agree with this
Fisher = one of the smartest/clutchest non-elite PG's ever
Ariza = the defender brought in to take tough wing assignments so Kobe could guard trash
Bynum = injured, still played and supplied that bulk and some blocks

And we are talking about 2009 when every major contender except the Cavs had major injuries, right? KG, Ginobili, Nelson... The Lakers should have never been in a spot where they were 2 points away from being down 3-2 to Orlando, a team no one even remembers as being a contender.

September 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterZachariah Blott

Pretty words that lack substance, yet average supporting cast and you can't show any substance that proves otherwise. EVERY winning team has important contributors because last time I checked an NBA team has 5 players on the court at all times. Kobe & Pau carried an average team to a championship. This is completely within the context of your argument. I suppose Bill Russell is #1 because he had others from "your top 50" on his team?
While I don't argue that Russell is a top 10 all time great, I do laugh at your bias.

September 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRaViNuS

Pretty words that lack substance, yet average supporting cast and you can't show any substance that proves otherwise. EVERY winning team has important contributors because last time I checked an NBA team has 5 players on the court at all times. Kobe & Pau carried an average team to a championship. This is completely within the context of your argument. I suppose Bill Russell is #1 because he had others from "your top 50" on his team?
While I don't argue that Russell is a top 10 all time great, I do laugh at your bias.

September 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRaViNuS


How could you not include Derek Fisher, 5 rings! That's same number as Kobe and one less than Jordan, 5 times as many as West!!!

What about K.C. Jones. He had 8 rings!! That's two more than Jordan!


September 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGav

@ Zachariah Blott
answer this. If Kobe is a bad teammate as you say, who can't win, and doesnt get along with teammates, why did Nash, who you constantly praise, decide to go to Lakers to play with kobe. Nash, who has an amazing basketball IQ, probably realized that he needs to team up with Kobe in order to contend for a ring. Why would nash do this if kobe is such a bad teammate?he could have went to toronto because he is canadian, or to south beath to play with lebron, but no, he decided to play with kobe. Do not tell me he went to LA cause of howard, cause nash signed a contract there because howard was traded there. it could not have been because of bynum because nash wants to win, and he knows bynum's knee is made out of glass, and very inconsistent and disappeared in playoffs. it wasnt for gasol because gasol played like a cancer the last two years. If gasol is so good, why did he not make the all star team, he shot the lakers out of games two straight years in playoffs, he disappeared in the fourth quarter, he just stood there on one spot,Through six games against a weak Denver frontcourt, Gasol's averages have dipped to 11.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, and a 41% field goal percentage.talk about disappearing in clutch!! After struggling with his perimeter shot in Games 1-5, Gasol disappeared completely in Game 6against denver last year, scoring just three points on 1-of-10 field goals. when lakers needed him most. I saw kobe give it his best against the thunder last playoffs went off for 44. , gasol just stood there and got abused by mc. gee, faried, ibaka. talk about playoff failures, ,When the 2011 Lakers needed Gasol to step up in Games 2-4 against the Dallas Mavericks he responded with 11.2 points on 41% shooting as Dallas swept Los Angeles 4-0. Coach Phil Jackson was so upset with Gasol's lethargy that the normally composed Jackson thumped Gasol on the chest - hard - and yelled at him during a timeout, trying desperately to wake Gasol from his daze.i do not see you bashing gasol here and i explained how he is a xhemistry killer for lakers

September 18, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterilya77

@ilya77 & @Rav,

Here are 7 steps to understanding how a good team works and wins, and how to apply that knowledge to this situation:
1) Go read up on what the Four Factors are. Understand where they come from and why we understand how they work. You might want to start with "Basketball on Paper," a book most basketball fans who try to have serious debates about players' value and impact read years ago.
2) Go look at the Lakers' Four Factors every year they won a title. That's for offense and defense.
3) Try to figure out how Kobe affects any of them, notably the first three that account for 99% of their influence (eFG%, OffReb%, TO%), in a way that actually helps the Lakers. Which factors on O or D is he making a real difference with? Until you figure out this is a trick question, it'll take you a while.
4) Trying your hardest to look at the Four Factors for those teams without being extremely biased, notice that the really efficient, defense-altering bigs on LA had a massive impact on all of them that are good for the Lakers.
5) Use unbiased logic and reason to realize that a player who doesn't have a positive impact on these factors, and in many cases negative, for a club would probably make a club a little bit worse than it could be without him.
6) Make the logical predication based on these first 5 steps that if Kobe missed games, the Lakers would probably improve.
7) Notice that this very logical prediction holds true over his entire career. He misses games, and their W-L record improves.

Or skip all this unbiased logical nonsense and make "supporting" statements that make little to no sense.

So the Lakers' success is tied very closely to Gasol and follows his ups and downs? Well the only logical step I can see you making is that Kobe was the most important player on the teams that won.

September 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterZachariah Blott

Ok Zach, you have made your point that when you look at exactly 4 factors only and see who the most efficient is at those 4 factors, then you come up with some crap like this.
Well, I hate to burst your bubble, but Basketball includes LITERALLY thousands of factors that it takes to win.
You CAN'T answer any questions that are posed to you. You CAN'T show ACTUAL stats and facts to disprove what I'm saying. I don't need to read a book about the "what if" it takes to win because I can SHOW YOU ACTUAL WINNERS, actual data and facts. You lack substance and your article is weak.

September 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRaViNuS

You made your point - you have no clue what the Four Factors are, where they come from, or how they're used. Lack of knowledge about the forefront of evaluating a player's worth/value does not win an argument.

1) Inefficiency in basic stats doesn't look good, especially when compared to his own teammates.
2) His effect on Four Factors doesn't look good.
3) The fact his team has a better W-L record without him (and a similar effect when investigating his increased/decreased role over time) for over a decade doesn't look good.

Either you're right and Kobe is the only player of true value in basketball history who fits all 3 of those criteria, but it's just not able to be quantified in any objective/unbiased way, or the person who has far more facts supporting his opinion to the opposite (me) is right. Hmmmm....logic and facts not based on opinion vs. most bizarrely unique situation of all-time that in no way fits the way we'd expect the facts to work, which doubles as the way they work for every other great player of all time.

September 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterZachariah Blott

This should explain the b.s. in the comments

1. In that 2003 magazine, Kobe was in the league for SEVEN years. He was only 25.
2. 2004 NBA Finals, c'mon now. Lebron choked in 2011, but I bet he's still top 10.
3. Missing the playoffs in 2005 because Kobe had to carry his team. Sadly he couldn't carry them into a playoff spot. Hard in the west. West dominated back then.
4. Anyone know what happened on January 22, 2006? That's right. Second greatest scoring performance in NBA history. 81 Points by the Black Mamba himself. THAT's why he jumps so high up in 2009 magazine.
5. 7th seed with an *** team and still took the Suns to Game 7 when they had MVP Nash.
6. 3 straight NBA Finals appearances, winning 2 of the 3. Guess who was the Finals MVP?
7. 2011-2012 season, finished second in scoring (basically handing it to Kevin Durant) despite his age.
All in all, his career was not hyped. He was (and still is) just a monster.

September 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBasketball Guru

Thanks for the comment.
You do realize his efficiency stats have never been good and his team's W-L records have gotten better without him in the lineup for his entire career.

September 18, 2012 | Registered CommenterZachariah Blott

Carmelo Anthony fits this ,yet I dont hear you criticizing him.i believe Denver did better when they traded melo in 10 11 season and knicks did worse.I belive knicks had a winning record until Carmelo came,and knicks lost more games than won,but Denver won more games than lost after trading Carmelo.Denver took lakers to seven,knicks took heat to five.so Carmelo team has a worse W L with him and the team he left has a bigger W L.yet I dont see,you write that about Carmelo.also knicks were on a seven game winning streak when Carmelo was out.

September 18, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterbasketball guru

Zach I believe your missing out 2 of the GOAT on this list, I'll go into detail just as you do as why they deserve to be up there. Brian Scalabrine: 1. What if he had versatility 2. What if he had the footwork of an elite and could play like a dominate force 3. What if he actually played every game every season and won
Kwame brown: 1. What if he actually had talent 2. What if the lakers kept him and he won championships 3. His teammates liked his personality and was a great person who would sign your t-shirt or socks
That's why I have these 2 players on my All time What if list and should be on yours as well.

P.S. I completely agree on your list don't listen to the 10:1 ratio of negative comments compared to yours. They don't know anything, also NBA coaches and analysts are soooo stupid how do they have Jordan on the #1 greatest player and Kobe even in there top 10. I wish Jordan could hire you as the bobcats coach then they would win multiple championships with your brilliant basketball I.Q.

September 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGreat article

Zach don't worry I'll write your response to my earlier comment for you.

@Great Article Your 6th grade comment holds no data, facts, bs(like mine). Please understand that any question you ask of me will not be answered and I shall counter your question with a question that contradicts half of my players on my list. Great article I would suggest you take into consideration of how Kobe should not be up on the list because he was accused of rape thus affecting his basketball skills and throwing him out the window. Jordan starred in Space jam and had a great player in Bugs bunny thus lowering him straight down to the 4th spot. Wait imma drop him to 10 since he also had daffy duck.

September 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGreat article

We bash Melo all the time on this blog. Keep coming back!

I appreciate your complete lack of specifics, better facts, better context for the facts, etc. Really adds to a discussion that's steeped heavily in facts if one actually considers the links that are attached to this article and that it stems from.

September 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterZachariah Blott

Do you consider amare Stoudemire an effective player based with your criteria?lets see,stat got hurt in 09with eye surgery,suns miss playoffs.stat returns next season and suns lose in round three four two. When stat leaves phoenix,they lose more than win.dont blame stat for the new yorj struggles as melo is the one who cant play with any teammates,and jacks up too many shots.stat was in tears and punched glass after playin with melo.

September 19, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterbasketball guru

I do not consider Amar'e an effective player. I've personally bashed NY thinking they got two stars in Melo and Amar'e many times.

September 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterZachariah Blott

How can you bash Oscar Robinson like that sayin he was a bad player and all..if you say he was a bad player,then how come he averaged a triple double for five seasons .no one in NBA history has done it.if no one before him,after him has done it,that means it must be tough and a special player to do so?? I think you overrate your intelligence

September 19, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterilya77

You do realize that Oscar placed 3rd in the MVP vote the year he averaged a triple-double? Third! That's how dominant that mighty triple-double was when he did it.

If your fallback is individual stats with no examination of their context or how they helped his team win, or why everyone hated playing with him, why he was traded while still really good statistically, why the teams he lead consistently underperformed, why he never had big games or moments in the playoffs, etc, then you may be missing the point of this series. Anyone as enamored with individual stats as you better have Elvin Hayes in their top-10 (8th in pts, 4th in rebs). I bet you don't, though, and you shouldn't because he was a terrible teammate and is not who anyone could or would ever build a lasting contender around (just like Oscar and the under-performing Royals). So on some level you realize straight-up stats don't work...now it's just a matter of digging much much deeper for much much longer and you too will be able to seamlessly consider context and relevancy of stats and other facts when researching hoops. Context and relevancy - that's it right there.

September 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterZachariah Blott

why did you say charles barkley was a choker and your words "u do realize that when peak Barkley had the most talent around him (in Phoenix), he sabotaged his team in the playoffs by trying to prove he was a do-it-all great?"as someone who grew up watching barkley play, i disagree. Barkley's peak was actually during the late 80's and early 90's w/the Sixers. He was still great in Phoenix (as evidenced by his MVP award in 1993!) but he was a much better player in Philadelphia, and his stats show this.

The Sixer's squads in the late 80's/early 90's ranged from average to just plain terrible, yet Barkley still somehow led them to the Atlantic division title in 1990! He also was second in MVP voting that year (he had the most 1st place votes!)

You seem to ignore many of Chuck's great playoff performances in Phili, but rather than list them all I'll just focus on the two you mentioned ...

The 1990 series w/the Cavs is very misleading ...

You do realize this is the same Cavalier team that came within a Michael Jordan buzzer beater of beating the Chicago Bulls the year before?

The reason their record was lower was due to injuries, but they were peaking by the playoffs, and had ended the season on a winning streak. The Cavs also had 3 multiple All Stars in Mark Price, Brad Daugherty, and Larry Nance! Who did Barkley have?

The Bucks series was a big upset. The Bucks were a genuine Eastern conference threat during that stretch (just see how many division titles they won in a row!) The fact that Barkley's team not only beat them, but swept them was huge!

As far as his tenure w/the Suns, he beat an impressive 1993 Sonics team led by Gary Payton Shawn Kemp and coach George Karl. They were an extremely tough opponent, as they were throughout most of the 90's. The lost to the Bulls in the finals (as did everyone), and the next 2 yrs. they lost to the eventual champion Rockets in thrilling 7 game series.

September 19, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterilya77


as ive said for the millionth time I cant answer what I deem birther type questions. the advantages applies to every laker on your list, not just kobe. Even if ythe question was serious how does one intelligently respond to a writer asking about playoff reffing. I notice you didn't bring that up when discussing shaq.

Your argument is ridiculous because shaq coincided with kobe for many years. All your doing is over emphasizing kobe's negatives as they relate to advanced metrics. The most important thing is KObe always plays to win. If you want to criticize him because he wants to win and be the man more than just win so be it.

But to skew and speculate about other players POSSIBLE success as compared with Kobe's ACTUAL success in a way to leave him out of the top 50 is childish and petty, especially when you use awards and championships attained by others as a positive factor.

My guess is all great players would love playing with someone who wants to win not someone who is just in it for a check, even if they are not getting alll the shots they want.Kobe is a professional that is dedicated to improving his game and keeping himself in top physical shape. I'm sure those same players would get fed up with a petulant child that doesn't dedicate themselves to the game, comes into the season out of shape, and is always getting hurt.

Anyone that chooses to read this blog, even thiose that openly despise Kobe, realizes that any list of top 50 all time NBA players that doesn't include Kobe Bryant isn't valid or credible.

September 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJamesD

Kudos for the balls to get out to the world with this list.

I just think it´s really funny, how so many people jump on u to support kobe. I can´t really prove it - don´t want to dive into the stats this far - but i´m impressed, that your results show the effect kobe has on his teams this drastic.

Could u explain a bit more on the West/Jordan decision?

Russel seams a sure choice, Duncan also when looking to overall effects like D and not only showtime.

I don´t know enough of West to really judge on this, but i always thought, he lost just too often, when a win was rife for the taking.

September 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGOAT


The most important thing is KObe always plays to win.

As opposed to all the other NBA players that play to lose...?

September 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGav

Take a look at this article comparing the 2 and ask any more questions you have after reading it.

The '89-90 Cavs had 0 All-Stars.
The '90-91 Bucks finished 3rd in their division, and they weren't even close.
Try using relevant examples that vaguely fit the facts you're trying to present next time.

Please tell me a birther question that is similar to the one I'm asking you about basketball. I'm really curious what you're getting at.
Here's how it looks like you're approaching this article: You don't like the premise enough that you refuse to even consider how Kobe would fit into it, yet you then want to pick apart how I fit Kobe into it. Are you in or out? If you're out, then you have no place to judge how I've used it to rank individual players.

September 19, 2012 | Registered CommenterZachariah Blott

I just read your article. I must say if you are trying to be controversial then you succeeded. The problem I have is that most of the people telling you how ridiculous your feelings on Kobe are correct. Your piece is nothing but opinion. Someone posted a list of Kobe being the only person not on your list with back to back finals MVPs, etc. That was a very well written response full of facts. No where did I see you address those facts. That makes you a Kobe hater, not unbiased, and therefore your articles are pretty much useless other than for reading some guy's opinion. I mean seriously, your list disagrees with just about everybody attached to basketball be they in the media, on the court as players, managers and coaches. I'm going to pass at taking anything you say about Kobe as unbiased or realistic.

September 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterChuck

I appreciate your comment, but you're walking into a year-long battle with the same basic participants, so you're not seeing major areas that already been addressed over time.

Please take a look at this research I've done over Kobe's career (linked below) that shows that the team consistently improves without him, and it has during every phase of his career. I did a similar study with numerous other stars, and Kobe is the ONLY player who has a team that always gets better when he's hurt (5-2 without him last year, for example). Considering how inefficient his production is, and the fact his statistical and stylistic inefficiency would have no positive effect on any major parts of the Four Factors that the Lakers do well in when they're winning a lot, it's actually quite predictable that LA is better without him. That's a huge problem for someone who is supposedly an all-time great. But check it out and let me know what you think since most Kobe fans/apologists are unaware of any info like this and tend to ignore new and better info as it becomes available (for obvious reasons). Hopefully you are not one of these people.

September 19, 2012 | Registered CommenterZachariah Blott

5 to 2 record is a small sample to take.rember Jeremy lin,he was good for like a month,then became so so afterwarfs.ots a small sample.what matters is finals mvps,rings,what u do in playoffs.u dont have that about Kobe.plus im sure the games he missed were meaningless since playoff seeding was set.lets see Kobe is 5 to 2 in finals,Jerry west is 1 and 9.Kobe delived more than west.im sure lots of players who were great in regular season but sucked in playoffs like Nash would sacrifice season MVP for finals MVP.and I believe those awards are not favortism,as I never saw Jerry Sloan who is a fav coach by many to win coach of year.why do you suppose Lebron said thos season that he cares more about ring than regular season success?because what matters is playoff success and Kobe has two finals mvps to show for it.

September 20, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterbasketball guru

You are the lil Wayne of journalism.he thinks he is the best rapper alive,but lacks everything from voice,flow,dont write his own stuff.same with you.

September 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAdrian balan

Here read these.jerry west calls Kobe Bryant greatest laker and you seem to have Jerry west as your idol since you always talk about him.he must be doin something right if west has his respect for Kobe considering you like him.and you always mention about personality in judging a player .


September 20, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterilya77


a birther hates the fact that an african american man is president. So they have to find a way to deligitimize his presidency. They make the false argument that he was born outside the US. They attempt to make salient arguments by twisting and skewing facts while ignoring or devaluingthe facts that don't support their thesis that the president wasn't born in AMerica. THis is how you approach Kobe.

Your premise is designed for Kobe not to fit in. Thats why I question it. Its clear that you start out by finding ways to skew your definitions so Kobe is excluded because you dislike the way he plays and have to discredit his accomplishments. Same thing you did with the two guards. What credible blogger does that?

Of course I can criticize your premise because its a false one. WHat premise is valid when it argues the Lakers winning games without Kobe is huge, but SHaq's inability to win withoiut Kobe isn't. The Lakers having a great owner and GM is a negative for Kobe but not for any of the other Lakers in the exact same circumstance. That back to back finals MVP's is a predictor of helping a team win except if it one player.

your prenise, just like the birthers, is that Kobe doesn't belong because you don't like him. Just like the birthers, you have to deal with the fact that you are in the minority, even though it is a vocal one. The rest of us get it, Kobe shoots to much, he takes bad shots, he doesn't pass. he yells at teammates. But his style gets results.

In 2008tim brought a ton of value over Kobe. rignt?

September 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJamesD

Look I am not,a fan of Kobe.he can be cocky and arrogan so you cant say im a Kobe fan who defends hin..however I havlots of respect for him because he competes every game,has the best work ethic,plays through grusome injuries and I would hate to see him leave.thats my two cents.

September 20, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterbasketball guru

That 5-2 from last year is representative of his entire career. He's missed an entire season's worth of games in his career (so a large sample size) and the Lakers consistently get better. Consistently. As for the Finals, teams win and lose them, not individual players. Don't play a game that Robert Horry wins.

Attacking an opinion while presenting zero supporting facts or evidence of any kind doesn't win a discussion. Either you have real reasons to believe what you do (it's called support) that are better than mine or you don't. You don't.

In West's own words "We [he and his siblings] were brought up...(to be) always humble, of having little or no ego, of never bragging on yourself or holding too high an opinion of yourself. I have always embraced these things in my life, particularly humility...I've never placed myself above anyone else. Ever. I wouldn't do that. There were times when I wanted to say I was pretty darn good. I tried not to do that. In those moments when I have slipped, I haven't felt good about myself, and I've taken the words back as quickly as they came out."
Yeah, humble athletes never go too far when singing the praises of others. Thankfully Kobe will never have that problem.

Again, tell me a question a birther would ask that's similar to what I asked you.
"Your premise is designed for Kobe not to fit in." Every other great player fits into my scenario just fine (except those whose connection to a team's success was questionable -- sound familiar?), much like the efficiency of their production and/or their teams' W-L records following their influence and not the surrounding pieces. If you honestly think I spent time trying to develop a method of evaluating players that puts everyone on the same footing and that works for every other great except Kobe, you are insane. You can't find one star to put him next to that isn't in the top-10, so I obviously must have crafted a perfect premise to let everyone else in but that cuts him out. That's some seriously biased crazy talk right there.

September 20, 2012 | Registered CommenterZachariah Blott

LOL @ Zach quoting West out of context. Here's CONTEXT, West won't include himself because he is humble, BUT, out of the literally thousands of players West could say are the greatest, WEST CHOSE KOBE. Duh!
Quoting Zach:
" If your fallback is individual stats with no examination of their context or how they helped his team win......"
( Like you ignore context? Like your efficiency argument for Kobe, despite the FACTS that he has been double teamed most of his career because newer defenses rely more on zone compared to the historical 1-in-1 defenses that were the norm before the 2000s?) ( Like you ignore the context that Kobe HELPS his team mates be more efficient by drawing defenders?) (Like context that many teams who went against the Lakers when Kobe was sitting underestimated them since Kobe was sitting? AND their normal defensive schemes vs the Lakers revolving around defending Kobe had to be adjusted without knowing how the Lakers would actually perform?)
Your whole premise ignores context about Kobe. Just Kobe. That's what makes you a Kobe hater.
To quote Zach again:
" So on some level you realize straight-up facts don't work.... Now its just a matter of digging much much deeper for much much longer and you too will be able to seamlessly consider context and relevancy of stats and other facts when researching hoops. Context and relevancy - that's it right there."
Try taking your own advise next time BEFORE you contradict yourself.

September 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRaViNuS

Here's how low your understanding of evaluating players is: you wonder why I don't use Win Shares in the evaluation but you want to totally disregard how players affect their teams' Four Factors. What's funny is you probably have no clue why I can totally disregard anything you have to say based on that alone -- you probably thought Win Shares would get you a seat with the grown ups in this conversation. You are so far behind what this conversation is about it's not even funny, and you can't even understand that. I'll have a "best dunk on SportsCenter" debate some other time so that there's something you can appropriately chime in on. It's kinda sad watching you attempt to speak the language of this thread.

September 20, 2012 | Registered CommenterZachariah Blott

How can yoy have Shaq above Hakeem. I recall Hakeem swept shaqs team in finals.

September 20, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterbasketball guru

Wasnt there one game when Kobe had an injury durin Shaq era,and played through it and scored several baskets to win game.didnt Bryant go of
against San Antonio in 08 scoring 41 against san antonios good defense and his team beat San Antonio four to one.

September 20, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterbasketball guru

I originally had Hakeem above Shaq on my center rankings a year ago until I checked their head-to-head stats and Shaq owned him, even in Hakeem's prime during his MVP season and those '95 Finals. All because Houston was a much more cohesive team than what turned out to be a pretty immature Magic team, it doesn't mean Hakeem goes above Shaq on the list.

Their stats in the '95 Finals (which was Hakeem's peak, but pre-Shaq's peak):
Shaquille: 28 ppg (60% FG), 13 rpg, 6.3 apg, 2.5 bpg, 45 mins/gm, 18 fouls (no foul outs)
Hakeem: 33 ppg (48% FG), 9 rpg, 5.5 apg, 2.0 bpg, 45 mins/gm, 18 fouls (no foul outs)

I'm not sure what you're trying to tell me about Kobe, but it sounds like you think he did well in one game while injured (great research) and in one game in 2008. I'm overwhelmed by your evidence.

September 20, 2012 | Registered CommenterZachariah Blott

@Zachariah Blottno one can take you serious.
you have west above jordan? jordan havent lost a single finals series 6- 0and west choked eight times.no way. jordan is better than west in every aspect of the game. You need to understand the players in jordans era were bigger, stronger, quicker, and more athletic. Plus Jordan faced many teams that could paly SERIOUS defense. Remember the bad boy pistons? theyre known for using dirty tacticsJordan had a stomach virus and dropped 63!!!! The fact that Jordan averaged more points against BETTER AND MORE competition proves whos better.
5 days ago

September 20, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterbasketballguru

Well players are now bigger and stronger than they were 20 years ago, so Jordan can't possibly rank higher than 100th or so on the list I guess. Is that what you're saying?

September 20, 2012 | Registered CommenterZachariah Blott

i dont agree at all ......no one did it the way jordan did....he developed him self into a total complete player, he is no.1...REVISE YOUR LIST !!!

September 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCrayton Moyo

Why no Kobe,iverson,Oscar,on list of fifty greatest players. what the hell.Kobe(one of most competivive players ever,had a rare drive to win games,had to overcome.adversity. Oscar(triple double machine,enough said.Iverson(toughest little man.got knocked out ten times a game,had a infamous crossover on Jordan.

September 21, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterjohn

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