This article was borne out of the question many NBA fans have asked themselves this postseason; if Kobe wins his sixth title this season, does that put him on the same level as Michael Jordan?
I don’t think it does, but he’s about as close as anyone else. Picking the greatest basketball player of all time is easy because not only did MJ change the way the game was played, but he made an equal impact on popular culture as a whole. Remember the gold chain? How many dudes rocked the bald head thanks to MJ? Before “Air Jordan’s” the concept of “basketball shoes” barely existed and weren’t even seen as a specialty industry.
But what’s really difficult is picking the second best player of all time. Everything from era of play, position and impact upon the game has to be considered. With that in mind, here are the first five players that come to mind for me as potentially the second best NBA player of all time, in no particular order;
Kobe Bryant– Career Averages: 25.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 4.7 apg
Currently playing in his 15th NBA season, Bryant is a 13 time all-star, has led the league in scoring twice, won the MVP award once, the All-Star Game MVP four times, and has won five NBA titles.
Wilt Chamberlain– Career Averages: 30.1 ppg, 22.9 rpg, 4.4 apg
“The Big Dipper” is the only player to ever average 40 ppg or 50 ppg for an entire NBA season. In 14 seasons be played in 13 all-star games, won seven scoring titles, led league in field goal percentage nine times, won 11 rebounding titles, and even led the league in assists in 1967-68. Chamberlain won two NBA titles which weren’t enough for most of his detractors, claiming this proved he as more concerned with individual success. Wilt was on par with MJ as far as influence felt off the court, becoming a best-selling author and starring in “Conan the Destroyer” opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Bill Russell– Career Averages: 15.1 ppg, 22.5 rpg, 4.3 apg
Five time NBA MVP, 12 time all-star and 11 time NBA Champion in 13 NBA seasons. His 11 titles are tied for most ever by an athlete in any North American sports league. Russell is known historically as a defensive specialist and elite shot blocker, but still averaged 15.1 ppg in 963 games.
Tim Duncan– Career Averages: 20.6 ppg, 11.4 rpg, 3.1 apg, 1.9 bpg
“The Big Fundamental” is a 13 time all-star, has won two MVP awards, three NBA Finals MVP awards and four NBA titles. Has also made the NBA All-Defensive team eight times. Interestingly, Duncan has never led the league in any individual category.
Oscar Robertson– Career Averages: 25.7 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 9.5 apg
“The Big O” as many people know is the only player in NBA history to average a triple double for an entire season as he did in 1961-62. But what’s really interesting is that he almost did it for an additional four seasons. In 1960-61 he was .03 assists per game short. In 1962-63 he was .05 assists per game short. In 1963-64 he was just .001 rebounds per game short. In 1964-65 he fell one rebound per game short. Meanwhile he averaged over 30 ppg per season which to me is maybe the most remarkable five year span an NBA player ever had. Robertson was a 12 time all-star, won one MVP award and one NBA title. Equally important was his lawsuit against the NBA which made free agency possible.
Hoopsvibe fans, of these five players, who is the second best NBA player of all-time? Check back tomorrow for five more.