During the 1997 NBA All-Star game, the league celebrated the top 50 players in league history. The stars assembled at halftime and were ushered onto the stage for a group photo that captured the historic moment.
The NBA’s 50 greatest players gathered during the 1997 NBA All-Star game.
The late great Wilt Chamberlain was present, along with Boston Celtics legend Bill Russell and Philadelphia 76ers legend Julius “Dr.J” Erving. Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, and Magic Johnson were some of the other notable players present at the celebration.
Twenty years have passed since the greatest players in league history were exalted into basketball lore. Great players have emerged since that celebration, some transcendent players have entered the league and have made basketball history, winning championships and MVP awards and further globalizing the NBA game.
This list illustrates the next ten players that should be added to the existing 50 greatest in NBA history.
CAREER STATS: 25 PPG / 4.7 APG / 5.2 RPG
It was easy to start off the list with the “Mamba”. Perhaps the best scoring guard the league has ever seen since Michael Jordan. Bryant is a five-time NBA champion and two-time finals MVP and a regular season MVP.
Kobe retired in 2016, third on the NBA’s all-time scoring list with (33,643) total points. Bryant had a storied career in the league, his competitive vigor and work ethic was legendary, leaving behind a legacy of winning and excellence on the basketball court.
CAREER STATS: 19 PPG / 10.8 RPG / 2.2 BPG
The “Big Fundamental” is considered to be the greatest power forward in NBA history. Duncan is a five-time NBA champion, three-time finals MVP and a two-time regular season MVP.
The dominant power forward led the San Antonio Spurs to a decade of greatness and championship contention. Duncan was a 15-time All-Star and became the only player in NBA history to be named to All-NBA first and All-NBA defensive teams in 13 seasons.
CAREER STATS: 27.1 PPG / 7 RPG / 7.2 RPG
Based on what Lebron James has accomplished so far in his career, the “King of Akron” is already deserving to be on this list. Lebron is a three-time NBA champion coupled with three finals MVPs, James has been to the NBA finals a record six times in a row and seven overall.
The four-time league MVP is 32-years of age and is still adding to his legacy. Lebron is a five-time NBA All-Defensive first team player, further proving his all-around ability as a basketball player.
CAREER STATS: 26.7 PPG / 6.2 APG / 2.2 SPG
Also known as “The Answer”, Iverson was a cultural icon and the best small player in his era. Known for his quick handles and ambidextrous crossovers, Iverson made a career of scoring while playing against giants around him.
Iverson was recently inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, the culmination of a great career. Despite his inability to win a championship, Iverson was an 11-time All-Star, a four-time NBA scoring champion and led the NBA in steals three years in a row.
CAREER STATS: 17.8 PPG / 10 RPG / 1.4 BPG
The “Big Ticket” started his career with the Minnesota Timberwolves and was an instant life changer for the franchise. The fiercely competitive power forward revolutionized his position in the NBA, earning him MVP honors in 2004.
The trade to the Boston Celtics won him his first and only championship in 2008, alongside Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. Garnett was a 15-time All-Star and a nine-time NBA All-Defensive first team player during his illustrious 21-year career in the league.
CAREER STATS: 21.8 PPG / 7.8 RPG / 2.5 APG
The German power forward has played for the Dallas Mavericks since 1998, becoming one of the best shooting forwards the NBA has ever witnessed. Nowitzki is a threat on the outside and possesses solid post moves to compliment his great shooting.
Dirk led the Mavericks to a championship in 2011, earning him his first title and finals MVP. He won league MVP in 2007 and achieved the 50-40-90 statistic, which means Nowitzki’s shot over 50% from the field, 40% from the three-point line and 90% from the free throw line during that season. Nowitzki is a 13-time All-Star and a four-time All-NBA first team player.
CAREER STATS: 16.3 PPG / 6.7 APG / 3.9 RPG
Fittingly named the “Glove” for his defensive excellence, Peyton was known for shutting down his opponents during his prime years with the Seattle Supersonics. He is the only point guard in NBA history to win defensive player of the year. Gary was named to nine All-NBA defensive first teams, a nine-time NBA All-Star and an NBA champion in 2006 with the Miami Heat during the latter years of his career.
Peyton was also known for his trademark trash talk on the court, which irritated and intimidated most of his opponents. Gary was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013.
CAREER STATS: 23.3 PPG / 5.7 APG / 4.5 RPG
“Flash”, he was called in 2006 by his then-teammate Shaquille O’Neal. Wade is a three-time NBA champion with the Miami Heat, where he established himself as one of the best scoring guards in the NBA. During his tenure with the Heat, Wade teamed up with Lebron James and Chris Bosh to form their super team in 2010.
They went on to win two titles and contend for a four-year stretch that was remarkable. This season witnessed Wade leave the Heat and sign with his hometown Chicago Bulls. Wade is a 12-time NBA All-Star, a Finals MVP, and an NBA scoring champion.
CAREER STATS: 24.8 PPG / 6.7 RPG / 2.5 APG
The “Human Highlight Film” was the high-flying small forward playing for the Atlanta Hawks during the 80’s and early 90’s. Perhaps best known for his amazing dunks and his duel’s with Michael Jordan in the NBA slam-dunk contest, splitting wins with Jordan and winning another, Wilkins was a great scorer during that era as well.
He was a 9-time NBA All-Star and a scoring champion, Wilkins ended his career with (26,668) points scored, Dominique never won a championship during his career but was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006.
CAREER STATS: 20.7 PPG / 9.8 RPG / 1.4 BPG
Chris Webber was a versatile center that played both sides of the ball, making him offensively and defensively effective. Webber had his best years with the Sacramento Kings, leading them to contention in a stacked western conference with multiple powerful teams during the early 2000’s.
Webber was a five-time All-Star, an NBA rookie of the year and a former number one draft pick in the NBA. He currently works for TNT/NBA broadcasting, providing color commentary as well.
This list was put together based on the player’s overall body of work. Compiling championships, MVPs and career averages.
Give us your feedback on who you think should be on the list.