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10 Famous basketball players of all time

famous basketball players of all time

Go into any sports arena, and you’re likely to see some fantastic things that are sure to make your day.  For any enthusiast, the thrill of being at a basketball game is like no other. This is why the sport continues to dominate the sporting news, attract millions in endorsements, and churn out new players every year. We will look at ten famous basketball players of all time, in no particular order of greatness,  and we base our decision on team success, individual accolades and game statistics.

1. Hakeem Olajuwon

Years; 1984 – 2002

Hakeem is known for his ‘dream shake’ move and has influenced players like Kobe Bryant and LeBron James.  He was a great defender and held the record for the most number of blocks at 3830. Other accolades include Finals MVPs, 2 NBA titles, three-time NBA blocks champion.

In 1994 became the only player to win Finals MVP, defensive player of the year, and regular-season MVP.

2. Shaquille O’Neal

Years; 1984 – 2002

Shaquille O’Neal or Shaq is known for his brute strength,  physical size and was instrumental in Los Angeles Lakers NBA championships in the early 2000s.  He was selected to all NBA teams 15 times and is the number five scorer in the league. Other notable accolades include 3 Finals MVPs, 4 NBA titles, one regular season MVP

3. Tim Duncan

Years; 1997- Present

Tim or ‘The Big Fundamental’ played a big role in the four times San Antonio Spurs won the NBA championship. He has 2 MVPs, four titles, 13 straight seasons. Tim has been part of the all-defensive and all-NBA team 14 times. A great player, Tim has a trademark turnaround bank shot that sets him apart from the other players. He is also one of basketball’s most excellent power forward.

4. Wilt Chamberlain

Years; 1959 – 1973

The 7 foot 1 inch Wilt Chamberlain also went by the nicknames ‘The Stilt or Big Dipper.’ He has 11 rebounding titles, seven scoring titles, 100-point game, and four MVPs to his name.  His dominance in the game is unmatched, and he continues to hold the distinction of being one of the top scorers in the NBA.

5. LeBron James

Year; 2003- present

LeBron is a great shooter and defender. He was formerly a dunker and is one of the best-paid players in NBA history. Lebrons accolades include four regular season and three MVPs, 26.8 points, 8.6 rebounds, 7.6 assists, 1.3 steals, 56.7 eFG%, 2.5 net ratings.

He likes to take control of the game and has his place as one of the players with the most point scores.

6. Larry Bird

Year;  1979-1992

Larry Bird was the first member of the 50/90/40 club. He went by the nickname “Larry Legend” and “The Hick from French Lick.” His entire career was made in Boston and watching him play was a pleasure because of his versatility and confident nature. Some of his accolades include 3 MVPs, three NBA titles and Olympic gold.

Larry was a very confident shooter who could beat an opponent even without scoring. He was also an excellent dribbler and could effortlessly penetrate the opposing team’s defense using moves meant to confuse the opponent.  He was well-known for his 3-point shots.  Larry was inducted into the hall of fame as a player in 1998.

7. Michael Jordan

Years; 1984 – 2003

No basketball top player list would be complete without mentioning Michael Jordan. “Air Jordan” or “MJ” is a legend in as far as basketball is concerned and has won five MVPs and ten scoring titles. Michael could dunk from almost any spot, and his fade-away short was something opponents did not want to mess with.

He was known to barrel through the defense straight to the basket with ease.  Michael gave his best to the game at all times, and it made him a top-rated NBA player. His induction into the NBA hall of fame occurred in 2009.

8. Magic Johnson

Year; 1979-1996

Standing at 6 foot 8 inches, Michael played the guard-forward position and became a Hall of Fame member in 2002.  He has 5 NBA titles, 3 MVP awards, Olympic Gold, NCAA title and High School title. With nine times inclusion in all-NBA first team, his moves in the court were magical; thus the nickname” Magic.’

He had a unique way of playing where he would allow his team-mates to score while confusing the defense. The backhand move of passing the ball to his team-mates always saw them score. It was not only about the greatness of his game,  but how he would incorporate his team members into the outcome.

9. Kareem Abdul – Jabbar

Year – 1969-1989

Kareem goes by the alias “Lew or Cap” played the center position. He stood out because of his height which came in at 7 feet 2 inches.  He had a hook shot that was almost 100% accurate, and his dedication to the game was legendary.  Kareem entered the hall of fame in 1995. Some of his accolades include 6 MVP awards, 6 NBA Titles, and Still Owner of all-time scoring record (38,387 points)

10. Patrick Ewing

Year; 1985 – 2002

Patrick Aloysius Ewing was inducted into the hall of fame as a player in 2008.  He played for the New York Knicks and was instrumental in the team’s countless victories.

He was known for his rebounds and gigantic leaps.


Basketball is again that continues to capture the hearts of many fans.  The players are well-known and endorse some of the biggest brands in the market. However, if you want to look at the achievements of the players, we have highlighted above and the amount of dedication towards the game, it is easy to see why anyone would want to associate with these outstanding players.

Our list above is by no means exhaustive because there are so many factors to consider when looking at the greatness of a player; however, we believe that the ones we have highlighted above are truly outstanding basketballers of all time.


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