In time for its 50th anniversary, the NBA put together a list with the 50 greatest players in league history. That was 19 years ago and obviously a lot has happened in the NBA ever since.
The league’s Top 50 list needs an update and we want you, HoopsHype readers, to vote on who should be removed from it and who should be added.
Below, you will see 15 names from the original list that perhaps should no longer be in it and another 15 that we think could be in the mix for Top 50 ever.
Who belongs and who doesn’t? Make your picks.
Dave Bing: An accident when he was a kid damaged his vision permanently, but he became one of the biggest stars of the NBA in the 70’s regardless. A high-scoring combo guard with excellent all-around skills, he averaged 20-plus points and 5-plus assists six times with the Pistons. Has been a very successful businessman and politician after retirement.
Kobe Bryant: Perhaps the best shooting guard not named Michael Jordan in the history of the game. Tremendous competitor who was a fixture in the All-NBA 1st Team and in the playoffs in late May and early June. Not the easiest guy to play with, but that’s often the case with supremely talented players with outstanding work ethic. Five championship rings, two Finals MVPs, one regular season MVP.
Billy Cunningham: Only 17 players have averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds in their NBA careers. Cunningham is one of them and he did that while playing for a fantastic Philadelphia 76ers team. A fierce competitor, he played just 11 seasons at the pro level. Enough time to win an NBA title, make the All-NBA 1st Team three times and earn MVP honors at the ABA once.
Dave DeBusschere: Considered one of the best defensive players of all time, Big D won two championships with the Knicks, made the All-Defensive 1st Team six times and the All-Star Game on eight occasions. He was such a great leader that he became the youngest coach in NBA history at 24, when he was handed the coaching job by the Pistons.
Adrian Dantley: He got buckets. The talented and smooth Dantley averaged 30-plus points four straight seasons in Utah and retired with a career shooting percentage of 54 percent, which is almost unheard of for a wing player that shot a lot. Never won the NBA title as he was moved to Dallas by Detroit in the controversial Mark Aguirre trade in 1989. His omission from the original Top 50 list in 1996 was a head-scratcher.
Tim Duncan: A superstar since his rookie season, Tim Duncan will probably retire an All-Star caliber player. He’s the main reason why San Antonio has been the most successful NBA team of the post-Jordan era. High basketball IQ, incredible fundamentals, toughness and no ego. A dream for any coach. The best power forward ever?
Kevin Durant: You can make an argument that he’s still too young and hasn’t accomplished enough to merit Top 50 consideration, but you know he’s probably going to be considered one of the best ever eventually (health permits). A scoring machine like we’ve seen few in history. Can hit shots from anywhere on the court and make it look easy. The championship ring has eluded him so far and still has ways to go defensively.
Kevin Garnett: Tenacious competitor. Not much of a go-to scorer compared to other NBA luminaries, but he brought it of both ends of the court consistently. Nobody has made more money than him in league history, but you will not hear many complaints about it. He’s that respected.
Hal Greer: Fantastic two-way player who spent his entire career with the same franchise (Nationals/Sixers). One of the best jump shooters of his time, Greer made the All-Star Game 10 straight times and won the NBA championship as Wilt Chamberlain’s sidekick in 1967. That Sixer team was the only one who beat the Celtics in a playoff series in the 60’s.
Allen Iverson: The best player under six feet in basketball. Practice was not his thing, but what a gamer. Played his heart out every night and scored like few others in a sport of giants. Shooting percentages were not that impressive and neither was his coachability.
LeBron James: Unless you’re hating, you have to admit he’s going to be in the discussion for best player of all time. A superior physical specimen with dribbling, driving and passing skills that are not common for someone his size. A triple-double threat every night. Would make a contender out of pretty much any team.
Sam Jones: Replaced NBA legend Bill Sharman in the Celtics’ backcourt and ended up becoming an NBA legend himself. His quickness, outside shooting and clutch play were key assets for the almost unbeatable Boston team of the 60’s. Second-winningest player in league history with 10 NBA championship rings – same as the Bulls and Warriors combined.
Jason Kidd: Proved you can dominate without scoring. Outside shot was suspect for most of his career, but he still got it done with great court vision and excellent rebounding and defense at the point guard position. Was the best PG in the game at the beginning of this century and won the NBA title at the twilight of his career in Dallas.
Jerry Lucas: The only player outside of Wilt Chamberlain to average 20 ppg and 20 rpg in two different seasons. Finished his NBA career with an average of 17.0 ppg and one NBA championship with New York. Very good outside shot for a big man.
Pete Maravich: Pistol Pete had almost unparalleled dribbling and shot-making skills. His creativity with the basketball made him one of the most popular players in history. Played just 10 seasons in the NBA and didn’t have much success team-wise. Didn’t win a playoff series till his final year with the Celtics… and he barely played a role in it.
Earl Monroe: Took his playground style to the NBA and was immensely successful with it both in Baltimore and New York, where he won the Knicks’ last NBA title. Averaged 18.8 ppg and 3.9 apg in his 13-year pro career.
Dirk Nowitzki: The only Euro that truly belongs in the conversation when talking about the best players of all time. There’s never been a seven-foot shooter like him. Made shooting over people look easy. In his prime years, the German forward could dominate games offensively, which is exactly what he did in the 2011 Finals.
Steve Nash: Flat-out awesome passer and shooter. Not gifted with great (or even average) physical skills, Nash did it with brains and flair. His Suns played a brand of basketball that was counterculture at a time when pretty much nobody won pretty and he was the one that made everything go. A two-time MVP, the Canadian guard never played at the NBA Finals.
Chris Paul: Has everything you can ask for in a point guard. Terrific playmaker with the ability to hit big buckets in crunch time. His lack of success team-wise (has never made it out of the second round of the playoffs) overshadows how efficient his game is.
Gary Payton: Yeah, he talked a lot. But he walked the talk too. One of the greatest backcourt defensive players, Payton was able to average 20-plus points per contest during his prime years in Seattle. Won the championship as a role player with Miami late in his career.
Paul Pierce: His stats are pedestrian compared to other NBA superstars, but what a competitor. Has supreme confidence in his abilities and shows that come playoff time, where his clutch plays are the stuff of legend. A regular at the All-Star Game, he has never been selected to the All-NBA 1st Team. Won the Finals MVP in 2008, though.
Scottie Pippen: Played in Michael Jordan’s shadow for much of his career, yet managed to shine bright. The do-it-all swingman was instrumental to the Bulls’ six NBA titles. Never averaged more than 22 ppg in a season, but he filled the stat sheet consistently.
Dolph Schayes: One of the game’s stars during the first years of the NBA. Terrific rebounder and quite an offensive threat with that old-school two-handed set shot. Made the 1st of 2nd All-NBA team 12 times.
Bill Sharman: Shot better than 40 percent at a time when few players did. Led the NBA in free-throw shooting percentage seven times, more than any other player in league history. Won four titles next to backcourt teammate and fellow NBA legend Bob Cousy.
Nate Thurmond: Rugged, physical center that averaged 15 rebounds per game in his 14-year NBA career. Had epic battles with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Wilt Chamberlain. He actually outscored the latter in both regular season and playoff matchups.
Wes Unseld: His game was not a thing of beauty, but played his heart out to help his team win. At 6-foot-7, he was undersized for the battle in the paint. Made up for it with great strength and effort. Thirty-four years after his retirement, he’s still at No. 12 in the all-time rebounding list.
Dwyane Wade: Strong and explosive guard who finds the way to the basket like few others. Terrific finisher. Mind-boggling performance at the 2006 Finals. Injuries have limited him the last few years, but remains one of the top shooting guards in the NBA.
Bill Walton: Could have been one of the best big men ever without all those injuries. Accomplished a lot in the 517 he was able to play, though – including two NBA titles, a Finals MVP and a regular season MVP.
Lenny Wilkens: One of the few men inducted to the Basketball Hall of Fame both as a player and a coach. Was a star guard for the Hawks and the Sonics in the 60’s and 70’s and made the All-Star Game nine times.
Dominique Wilkins: Probably the most surprising omission in the original Top 50 list. A superior athlete during his playing days, ‘The Human Highlight Film’ is No. 12 in the NBA all-time scoring list ahead of the likes of Patrick Ewing, Charles Barkley and Elgin Baylor.
Poll, Top, Allen Iverson, Chris Paul, Dirk Nowitzki, Dwyane Wade, Gary Payton, Jason Kidd, Kevin Durant, Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Paul Pierce, Scottie Pippen, Steve Nash, Tim Duncan, Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers, Philadelphia 76ers