Getting on the top 10 NBA players list is hard to attain. There are a lot of skills involved – ball handling, three-point and field goal prowess, assists, blocks, leadership, defense, temperament on the court, longevity, and above all, positive influence on the public.
Top 10 NBA players possess both physical and emotional credentials. They ought to be on top of the line in both departments.
They don’t only play the sport of basketball with excellence but they also love it. Out of the court, they should also exemplify moral to a certain extent and manifest philanthropic leadership.
The top 10 NBA players earn much more money than us, ordinary mortals could ever dream of in our lifetime. It is their generosity back to their chosen communities and causes that make them greater.
Top 10 NBA players usually play fifteen years or more in the NBA. In the end, they reluctantly retire and separate themselves from the league that they love. They come back as coaches, executives, or team owners. The NBA will always be a part of their legacy.
Here are the top 10 NBA players
1. Michael Jordan
Anyone who knows his hoops but doesn’t know Michael Jordan must have lived under a rock. This guy ironically has an NBA emblem on his forehead.
He perfected the triangle offense of his long time coach Phil Jackson and gave the Chicago Bulls six championship rings. Jordan also won every conceivable award from the NBA. He was also a slam dunk dynamo and a triple-double king.
Life after the NBA
Jordan is happy now that China’s Supreme Court ruled in his favor in a long-running trademark dispute. This effectively stops a Chinese sportswear firm from illegally using his Chinese name in their marketing schemes.
His net worth, attributed to ongoing contracts with Nike and his ownership stake in the Charlotte Hornets which is $1.9 billion. He has also done business with brands such as Haines, Gatorade, Coca-Cola, Upper Deck, Wheaties, Chevrolet, and others.
2. Kobe Bryant
The Black Mamba. Straight out of a Philadelphia high school into the NBA. He said he never regretted his decision because he felt in his guts he was ready for the NBA.
But he would never advise any high school kid to take the short cut route he did. “You have to be ripe; you have to be under the tutelage of the best mentors.”, he said.
For him, the best road to the NBA is still through four years of college. But in 2004, the NBA did just that. They stopped the high school to the NBA route. Instead, they replaced it with the One and Done Rule.
Aspirants for the draft have to play minimum college ball for one year before becoming eligible. Kobe was never dependent on the team players to get championship rings.
He is so confident in his own skills that when his teammates became lacklustre on the floor, he transforms into a one-man army.
Kobe accomplished 5 championships in a 20 year pro career with the Los Angeles Lakers.
His recent death from a helicopter crash together with his daughter Gianna made his memory even more legendary and iconic. At the progress she was showing in basketball, coached by her Dad, she would have made waves in the WNBA.
Shortly after Kobe’s death, Nike released the Mamba Fury – to fulfill the wishes of Kobe’s fans for more Bryant memorabilia.
3. Lebron James
Like Kobe Bryant, he went straight out of high school into the NBA. He looks mean but his style of play is so humble and meek. The player who defends him never gets the elbow or a shove that is purely malicious and intentional.
“I firmly believe that [LeBron James] is the best basketball player in the history of the game.”— First Take (@FirstTake) April 14, 2020
Former “Bad Boy” Piston, and Michael Jordan opponent, Bill Laimbeer. pic.twitter.com/9aTQgnW3n4
Lebron James’ wingspan is wide and his moves are quick. What we call easy jumpers for him is simply that easy. He jumps from one team to another, just as easy as changing his shirt.
But do not fault him for that because he has given his teams the championships. These teams are the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Miami Heat. So, that gives justice to his team hopping.
He made these two teams experience eight consecutive NBA finals (2011 – 2018). Splitting 4 years each for Cleveland and Miami.
James, to date, has three NBA championships and two Olympic gold medals. He also garnered four NBA MVP awards and three Finals MVP awards.
The Cavaliers and the Heat enjoyed 8 consecutive NBA Finals (splitting 4 each, with James in their roster, from 2011-2018).
This year 2020, he is on the threshold of putting his current team, the Los Angeles Lakers, into the playoffs. And as the odds are showing, into the championship. But the dream is being put on hold by the COVID-19 pandemic.
4. Magic Johnson
Tagged as a pure entertainer. It is not written, but he could be the basketball star who saved the NBA and the NCAA. Well, he did it in partnership with Larry Bird. They were the arch rivals of their generation.
Great attention was given to the NCAA Final Four in 1979 where Bird of Indiana State and Johnson of Michigan State collided in the championship. This public focus was unprecedented in college hoops.
Their rivalry spilled over into the NBA when they were drafted in that same year. Johnson donned the Lakers’ purple and yellow and the Celtics’ green.
During this time, the NBA was not doing so well at the tills. And the TV revenues were disappointing. The fans preferred to watch American football and baseball.
The only professional team sport that the NBA was able to edge off in terms of popularity was ice hockey. The NBA was on a delayed telecast basis. Their rivalry caught fire when they played against each other’s team for the championship in 1984, 1985, and 1987. And the NBA’s ascendancy into TV rating royalty started.
Larry Bird and Michael Jordan
Magic’s career was highlighted by his rivalry with two top NBA greats from different generations – Larry Bird and Michael Jordan. When the bitter rivalry was between the Boston Celtics of Bird and the Los Angeles Lakers of Johnson, they each won and grabbed NBA championships from each other (1 for Bird, 2 for Johnson).
The same was true when Johnson (still with the Lakers) caught up with the generation of Michael Jordan for one championship in 1991. Jordan’s Chicago Bulls symphony with Scottie Pippen, Horace Grant, and other notable players got the ring.
5. Larry Bird
One of the great white hopes of the NBA. During his time, Americans mostly hung on Monday Night Football. Or, maybe debate on who got the best batting average in pro baseball.
Basketball was not in the national consciousness – until the Larry Bird – Magic Johnson rivalry came into being, from the NCAA to the NBA.
As for now, the Caucasian players doing well now in the NBA mostly come from Europe. Is it the teamwork culture?
The exciting Blake Griffin is still around, but age is catching up. When push comes to shove, he is arguably one of the top 10 NBA players of all time.
He led the Boston Celtics to three NBA Championships and was named MVP thrice and finals MVP twice. Bird played in 12 All-Star Games and was NBA Three-Point Shooting Champion for three consecutive years.
Larry Bird also earned the Gold Medal playing for the Champion USA Team in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. He was an NBA Coach of the Year in 1998 and mentored the Indiana Pacers towards a berth in the 2000 NBA Finals.
He is inducted in both the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame and the College Basketball Hall of Fame.
6. Stephen Curry
He is one of the most admired basketball personalities of the present generation. Stephen Curry is known for his improbable and impossible three-point shots.
There are situations where you see him being mangled by his defender before he gets the three-point shot out of his hands. But the ball breezed through the net.
He sees the game clock ticking down to the last seconds as he goes down the court. As soon as he steps beyond the half-court line, he shoots the ball and drives the audience crazy! This is because it is a successful three-point shot from way beyond!
He gave his team, the Golden State Warriors, as of the moment, already three NBA championships. In fact, he is called the greatest shooter of all time by many sports analysts.
On his endorsed basketball apparel brand, Under Armour, company executives have allowed him to imprint his favorite Bible verses on the shoes.
The shoe company has since then increased its revenues significantly. Curry magnified the power of the three-point like what Jordan did to the dunk.
Curry is the son of former NBA player Dell Curry and the brother of Seth who also plays in the NBA.
7. Allen Iverson
Iverson’s height is six feet flat. His crossover is really good. In spite of his small size, he gets to detour around the big guys all the time and shove the ball into the basket or he crisscrosses all over the court.
But when he gets near the net, he suddenly hands over the ball to a teammate at his back. That guy then rams the ball into the hoop. Ball handling is excellent.
He never won an NBA championship, but he proved that small guys could be finals contenders. He was nicknamed “The Answer” after he was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers. The team was at the bottom of the standings for a couple of years. So the fans were looking up to him to bring the 76ers back to glory.
His teams, the Philadelphia 76ers and later, the Denver Nuggets, made the playoffs a couple of times during his career. He was NBA MVP in 2001.
Life after NBA
He retired from basketball after playing for a Turkish pro team in 2011. He was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2016.
8. Dirk Nowitzki
He placed Germany on the basketball map.
In the NBA, he gave one championship to his team, the Mark Cuban owned Dallas Mavericks, in the year 2011. But the Mavericks had always been in the playoffs, year after year, in Dirk’s peak.
Apparently, he developed a deep friendship with Mark Cuban and he never left the Mavericks. He played 21 years for Dallas; famous for his one-legged fadeaway jumper that wins games.
Upon retirement in 2019, Nowitzki hinted at the probable possibility that he will partly own the Mavericks with Mark Cuban.
In 2012, he married Jessica Olsson, who is of Swedish and Kenyan heritage. Her twin brothers are professional Swedish soccer players.
9. Vince Carter
The best dunker up to now even though he never won a championship. He encompasses entertainment. NBA is all about entertainment, so top players like Carter will always earn revenues for the league.
The fans in the arena, with popcorn, and the dad, on his favorite couch, fronting the TV, with a beer. They are on the lookout in the NBA for high flying dunkers, no-look passers, and grunting blockers.
Carter was the Slam Dunk Champion in 2000. That same year, he was also part of the Gold Medal USA team in the Sydney Olympics.
Carter is the only player to have played in four consecutive decades – the 1990s, 2000s, 2010s, and 2020s. He is also the only player to play for 22 seasons in the NBA. Presently, at 43 years old, he is the last active player to be born in the 1970s.
His statue was unveiled in his alma mater, Mainland High School located in Daytona Beach, Florida. It is meant to show appreciation for his philanthropic efforts.
10. Giannis Antetokounmpo
He placed Greece on the basketball map. Greece is lucky that this man’s family chose Greece to be their home because they were immigrants from Nigeria.
He started playing basketball for the youth teams in Athens. From those humble beginnings, he had gone all the way to the NBA. Giannis and his Milwaukee Bucks are now giving the league-leading Lebron James and his Lakers some headaches.
Giannis’ combination of size, speed, and ball-handling skills gave him the nickname The Greek Freak.
He played for the Greece National Men’s Under 20 Team in 2012 before applying for the NBA draft in 2013.
Giannis and some of his brothers are all poised to be playing in the NBA. As a matter of fact, two of his brothers are in the NBA right now. And his youngest brother is playing high school hoops.
Thanasis plays with Giannis on the Milwaukee Bucks team. Kostas has been claimed by the Los Angeles Lakers. The youngest, Alex, is finishing high school and selecting a college to play NCAA ball.
The top 10 NBA players mentioned above are, of course, not the only great players in the face of the NBA. Sooner or later, new talents will be included on this list as we are seeing rookies with exceptional game performances.