Famous Basketball Players Of All Time
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The famous basketball Players of all time are those who have marked their legacy on the sands of time. These NBA players draw a lot of speculations about who should be at the top of the pyramid.

This list of famous basketball players of all time includes both active and retired players who remain evergreen in the minds and hearts of fans. While there are currently more than a hundred famous basketball players of all time, including active players like Stephen Curry, Dwayne Wade, Dirk Nowitzki, Steve Nash, LeBron James…etc, this list is made of only twelve players ranked on the list of fifty greatest in the NBA history.

Famous Basketball Players Of All Time

12. Hakeem Olajuwon

Famous Basketball Players Of All Time

Born: January 21, 1963

Birthplace: Lagos, Nigeria

Nationality: Nigerian, American

Teams: Houston Rockets, Toronto Raptors

Position: Center

Height: 2.13 m (7ft 1in)

At such a thunderous height, Hakeem Abdul Olajuwon became the only player in NBA history to win the Defensive Player of the Year, NBA MVP and Finals MVP awards in the same season.

The Dream as he is nicknamed, retired from the game with series of awards and achievements including Olympic gold medals and induction into both the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (2008) and FIBA Hall of Fame (2016).

11. Kobe Bryant

Famous Basketball Players Of All Time

Born: August 23, 1978

Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States of America

Nationality: American

Number: 24

Teams: Los Angeles Lakers

Position: Point guard, Shooting guard, Swingman

Height: 1.98 m (6ft 5in)

Kobe Bean Bryant enjoyed a successful NBA career right from high school and into the big league before his retirement in 2016 from his 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers. Widely regarded as one of the greatest basketball players of all time, Kobe Bryant is the first guard in NBA history to play at least 20 seasons. He is shrouded in legacy, earning honors and respect of top players in the game. Players like Dwyane Wade, Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, and Dirk Nowitzki described Bryant as their generation’s version of Micheal Jordan.

10. Shaquille O’Neal

Born: March 6, 1972

Birthplace: Newark, New Jersey, United States of America

Nationality: American

Teams: Phoenix Suns, Orlando Magic, Los Angeles Lakers

Position: Center

Height: 2.16 m (7ft 1in)

Shaquille Rashaun O’Neal is retired but his legacy keeps shining as he enjoys complete fame and fortune. Inducted into both the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (2016) and FIBA Hall of Fame (2017), The Big Aristotle, considering he was one of the tallest and heaviest (325 pounds/147 kg) players in the history of the NBA, is widely considered one of the greatest and famous players in NBA history.

Besides basketball, O’Neal is a rapper with four rap albums to his credit, an actor, a media personality, a TV host, the general manager of Kings Guard Gaming of the NBA 2K League, a businessman, and an investor.

9. Larry Bird

Famous Basketball Players Of All Time

Born:  December 7, 1956

Birthplace: West Baden Springs, French Lick Township, Indiana

Nationality: American

Teams: Boston Celtics

Position: Small forward, Power forward

Height:  2.06 m (6ft 8in)

From playing basketball (1979–1992) to coaching (1997–2000), Larry Joe Bird remains the only person in NBA history to be named Rookie of the Year, Regular Season MVP, Finals MVP, All-Star MVP, Executive of the Year and Coach of the Year.

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame recipient ranks eighth among NBA career playoff steals leaders by total steals (296). 

8. Oscar Robertson

Famous Basketball Players Of All Time

Born: November 24, 1938

Birthplace: Charlotte, Tennessee, United States of America

Nationality: American

Teams: Cincinnati Royals, Milwaukee Bucks

Position: Point guard, Shooting guard

Height: 1.96 m (6ft 4in)

The Big O, as he is nicknamed, is 4th among NBA career free throw scoring leaders with a total of 7,694 free throws. After retirement Oscar Robertson continues to enjoy the fame that comes with his legacy as one of the greatest and still famous basketball player of all time.

Robertson was a one-time winner of the MVP award in 14 professional seasons, a 12-time All-Star and 11-time member of the All-NBA Team. His 18 inches bronze statue was specially crafted by Harry Weber, the world-renowned sculptor in 2004.

7. Bill Russell

12 Famous Basketball Players Of All Time

Born: February 12, 1934

Birthplace: West Monroe, Louisiana, United States of America

Nationality: American

Teams: Boston Celtics

Position: Center

Height: 2.08 m (6ft 8in)

William Felton Russell remains one of the famous basketball of all time with strings of complex accomplishments and legacy. For one, he ranks first among NBA players with most championships; a total of 11 championships won.

The Boston Celtic legend was honored with a statue in City Hall Plaza, in 2013, plus series of awards. He made history as the first black coach to ever win a major professional sports championship.

6. Julius Erving

Famous Basketball Players Of All Time

Born: February 22, 1950

Birthplace: Roosevelt, New York, United States of America

Nationality: American

Teams: Philadelphia 76ers, New York Nets

Position: Small forward

Height: 2.01 m (6ft 9in)

Inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame (1993), Julius Winfield Erving II a.k.a Dr. J made it to top twelve on this list for several reasons. For starters, he is the reason modern style of leaping and playing above the rim as well as the slam dunk became popular. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Erving has a place in South Philadelphia and was the only player voted Most Valuable Player in both the ABA and the NBA. With 30,026 points in both NBA and ABA combined, he made it to the 8th spot on the list of highest scorers in ABA/NBA history.

The pro basketball player cum businessman is the owner of a Coca-Cola bottling plant in Philadelphia and currently works as a television analyst.

5. Wilt Chamberlin

Famous Basketball Players Of All Time

Born: August 21, 1936

Died: October 12, 1999, Bel-Air, Los Angeles, CA.

Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States of America

Nationality: American

Teams: Philadelphia 76ers, Los Angeles Lakers, Philadelphia Warriors

Position: Center

Height: 2.16 m (7ft 1in)

Wilt Chamberlin may be gone, but his legacy lives on, making him one of the famous basketball players of all time and the 6th highest-scoring NBA player with 31,419 regular career season points.

Among his legacy as a successful basketball player is being the most extraordinary and dominant basketball player in the history of the NBA. Till date, no NBA team or player has reached 100 points field goals per game and the closest any player has reached those points was 81 in 2006 by Kobe Bryant who later said Chamberlain’s record was “unthinkable and “pretty exhausting to think about.”

In all his 14-year NBA career, The Big Dipper never fouled out of a regular season or playoff game. Some will remember him for his role in the movie Canon the Destroyer with Arnold Schwarzenegger.

4. Magic Johnson

Famous Basketball Players Of All Time

Born: August 14, 1959

Birthplace: Lansing, Michigan, United States of America

Nationality: American

Teams: Los Angeles Lakers

Position: Point guard, Power forward

Height:  2.06 m (6ft 8in)

The position of Earvin “Magic” Johnson Jr. among famous basketball players of all time is undisputable judging by his records and influence till date. Johnson ranks 4th among NBA career playoff steals leaders by total steals (358).

His legacy in the game includes twelve All-Star games, three NBA MVP Awards, ten All-NBA First and Second Team nominations and nine NBA Finals appearances. After retirement, Johnson joined the queue of most influential businessmen in America. He is co-investor in a number of sports teams including Los Angeles Dodgers since 2012 and the Los Angeles Sparks since 2014.

See Also: 10 Tallest Celebrities Who Would Make You Feel Like A Dwarf

3. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Famous Basketball Players Of All Time

Born: April 16, 1947 as Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor Jr.

Birthplace: New York City, United States of America

Nationality: American

Teams: Los Angeles Lakers, Milwaukee Bucks

Position: Center

Height: 2.18 m (7ft 2in)

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar might have retired after a thoroughly fulfilling career in basketball, but his legacy as one of the greatest and most famous NBA players keeps thrusting him to the eyes of our generations. Here’s a brief glimpse of what keeps him steady on the list of famous basketball players of all time.

The Tower from Power as he is popularly called holds the record for the 5th most seasons played (20) in NBA history. He won a league-record six MVP awards and is the NBA’s all-time leading scorer with 38,387 points. ESPN named him the best center in NBA history in 2015.

Abdul-Jabbar is the best-selling author of Giant Steps and many others books, a cultural ambassador for the United State and one of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition.

2. LeBron James 

Famous Basketball Players Of All Time

Born: December 30, 1984 (Age 34)

Birthplace: Akron, Ohio, United States of America

Teams: Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat, Los Angeles Lakers

Nationality: American

Position: Small forward, Power forward, Point forward

Number: 6

Height: 2.03 m (6ft 7in)

With his extensive achievements in the NBA including an NBA scoring title, two Olympic gold medals, three All-Star Game MVP awards, three NBA Finals MVP Awards, and four NBA Most Valuable Player Awards, LeBron Raymone James Sr, is definitely giving MJ a run for his position ion the list of most Famous Basketball Players Of All Time.

From prep to pro, James continues to make national headlines and controversial decisions such as dropping out of his first pro team, the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2010, as a free agent to sign with the Miami Heat in what was termed “the most controversial free agent decisions in American sports history.”

Yet while with the Miami Heat in 2012, he won his first NBA championship and later returned to Cavaliers to lead them to their first NBA championship in 52 years.

1. Michael Jordan

Famous Basketball Players Of All Time

Born: February 17, 1963

Birthplace: New York City, United States of America

Nationality: American

Teams: Washington Wizards, Chicago

Position: Shooting guard, Small forward

Height: 1.98m (6ft 5in)

Michael Jeffrey Jordan, a.k.a, MJ, without doubt, takes the lead on the list. According to his biography on the NBA official website, Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time. This acclamation practically makes him famous for life! Why? you might wonder. First, the NBA website has confirmed that he is one of the most effectively marketed athletes of his generation, and was considered instrumental in popularizing the NBA around the world in the 1980s and 1990s.

To cap that legacy, the basketball legend invested his proceeds wisely into the profession he knows best – Basketball. He became the principal owner and chairman of a pro team, Charlotte Hornets.

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