Ever since its inception 71 years ago (as BAA), the NBA has produced a surreal collection of talent - iconic players whose moves and performances have been instrumental in transforming the sport into the modern spectacle that it is today. This list of Basketball legends contains both the well-known heroes of the past as well as the rising superstars of the current era. Rank these players in the order you think they ought to be and help create the most definitive list of "Greatest Players in the history of NBA". Source(s): Wikipedia, NBA.com
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Michael Jeffrey Jordan (born February 17, 1963), also known by his initials, MJ, is an American retired professional basketball player, businessman, and principal owner and chairman of the Charlotte Hornets of the National Basketball Association (NBA). Jordan played 15 seasons in the NBA for the Chicago Bulls and Washington Wizards. His biography on the NBA website states: "By acclamation, Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time." Jordan was 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.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (born Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor Jr.; April 16, 1947) is an American retired professional basketball player who played 20 seasons in the National Basketball Association (NBA) for the Milwaukee Bucks and the Los Angeles Lakers. During his career as a center, Abdul-Jabbar was a record six-time NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP), a record 19-time NBA All-Star, a 15-time All-NBA selection, and an 11-time NBA All-Defensive Team member. A member of six NBA championship teams as a player and two as an assistant coach, Abdul-Jabbar twice was voted NBA Finals MVP. In 1996, he was honored as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History. NBA coach Pat Riley and players Isiah Thomas and Julius Erving have called him the greatest basketball player of all time.
LeBron Raymone James (born December 30, 1984) is an American professional basketball player for the Cleveland Cavaliers of the National Basketball Association (NBA). James has won three NBA championships, four NBA Most Valuable Player Awards, three NBA Finals MVP Awards, two Olympic gold medals, an NBA scoring title, and the NBA Rookie of the Year Award. He has also been selected to 13 NBA All-Star teams, 13 All-NBA teams, and six All-Defensive teams, is the Cavaliers' all-time leading scorer, and is the NBA career playoff scoring leader.
Earvin "Magic" Johnson Jr. (born August 14, 1959) is an American retired professional basketball player and current president of basketball operations of the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He played point guard for the Lakers for 13 seasons. After winning championships in high school and college, Johnson was selected first overall in the 1979 NBA draft by the Lakers. He won a championship and an NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award in his rookie season, and won four more championships with the Lakers during the 1980s. Johnson retired abruptly in 1991 after announcing that he had contracted HIV, but returned to play in the 1992 All-Star Game, winning the All-Star MVP Award. After protests from his fellow players, he retired again for four years, but returned in 1996, at age 36, to play 32 games for the Lakers before retiring for the third and final time. Johnson's career achievements include three NBA MVP Awards, nine NBA Finals appearances, twelve All-Star games, and ten All-NBA First and Second Team nominations. He led the league in regular-season assists four times, and is the NBA's all-time leader in average assists per game, at 11.2. Johnson was a member of the 1992 United States men's Olympic basketball team ("The Dream Team"), which won the Olympic gold medal in 1992. After leaving the NBA in 1992, Johnson formed the Magic Johnson All-Stars, a barnstorming team that travelled around the world playing exhibition games. Johnson was honored as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History in 1996.
Shaquille Rashaun O'Neal, Ed.D (born March 6, 1972), nicknamed "Shaq", is an American retired professional basketball player and rapper, currently serving as a sports analyst on the television program Inside the NBA. Listed at 7 ft 1 in (2.16 m) tall and weighing 325 pounds (147 kg), he was one of the heaviest players ever to play in the NBA, where he played for six teams throughout his 19-year career. O'Neal's individual accolades include the 1999–2000 MVP award, the 1992–93 NBA Rookie of the Year award, 15 All-Star game selections, three All-Star Game MVP awards, three Finals MVP awards, two scoring titles, 14 All-NBA team selections, and three NBA All-Defensive Team selections. He is one of only three players to win NBA MVP, All-Star game MVP and Finals MVP awards in the same year (2000); the other players are Willis Reed in 1970 and Michael Jordan in 1996 and 1998. He ranks 8th all-time in points scored, 6th in field goals, 14th in rebounds, and 8th in blocks. Largely due to his ability to dunk the basketball, O'Neal also ranks third all-time in field goal percentage (58.2%). O'Neal was elected into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2016. He was elected to the FIBA Hall of Fame in 2017.
Wilton Norman Chamberlain (August 21, 1936 – October 12, 1999) was an American basketball player. He played for the Philadelphia/San Francisco Warriors, the Philadelphia 76ers, and the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association (NBA); he played for the University of Kansas and also for the Harlem Globetrotters before playing in the NBA. The 7 foot 1 inch Chamberlain weighed 250 pounds as a rookie before bulking up to 275 and eventually to over 300 pounds with the Lakers. He played the center position and is widely considered one of the greatest and most dominant players in NBA history. Chamberlain holds numerous NBA records in scoring, rebounding, and durability categories. He is the only player to score 100 points in a single NBA game or average more than 40 and 50 points in a season. He also won seven scoring, eleven rebounding, nine field goal percentage titles and led the league in assists once. Chamberlain is the only player in NBA history to average at least 30 points and 20 rebounds per game in a season, a feat he accomplished seven times. He is also the only player to average at least 30 points and 20 rebounds per game over the entire course of his NBA career. Although he suffered a long string of professional losses, Chamberlain had a successful career, winning two NBA championships, earning four regular-season Most Valuable Player awards, the Rookie of the Year award, one NBA Finals MVP award, and being selected to 13 All-Star Games and ten All-NBA First and Second teams. Chamberlain was subsequently enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1978, elected into the NBA's 35th Anniversary Team of 1980, and chosen as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History of 1996.
William Felton Russell (born February 12, 1934) is an American retired professional basketball player. Russell played center for the Boston Celtics of the National Basketball Association (NBA) from 1956 to 1969. A five-time NBA Most Valuable Player and a twelve-time All-Star, he was the centerpiece of the Celtics dynasty, winning eleven NBA championships during his thirteen-year career. Russell holds the record for the most championships won by an athlete in a North American sports league (tied with Henri Richard of the National Hockey League). Before his professional career, Russell led the University of San Francisco to two consecutive NCAA championships (1955, 1956), and he captained the gold-medal winning U.S. national basketball team at the 1956 Summer Olympics. Russell is widely considered one of the best players in NBA history. He was between 6 ft 9 in (2.06 m) and 6 ft 10 in (2.08 m) tall with a 7 ft 4 in (2.24 m) wingspan. His shot-blocking and man-to-man defense were major reasons for the Celtics' success. He also inspired his teammates to elevate their own defensive play. Russell was equally notable for his rebounding abilities. He led the NBA in rebounds four times, had a dozen consecutive seasons of 1,000 or more rebounds, and remains second all-time in both total rebounds and rebounds per game. He is one of just two NBA players (the other being prominent rival Wilt Chamberlain) to have grabbed more than 50 rebounds in a game. Though never the focal point of the Celtics' offense, Russell also scored 14,522 career points and provided effective passing.
Kobe Bean Bryant (born August 23, 1978) is an American retired professional basketball player and businessman. He played his entire 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He entered the NBA directly from high school and won five NBA championships with the Lakers. Bryant is an 18-time All-Star, 15-time member of the All-NBA Team, and 12-time member of the All-Defensive team. He led the NBA in scoring during two seasons, and ranks third on the league's all-time regular season scoring and fourth on the all-time postseason scoring list. He holds the NBA record for the most seasons playing with one franchise for an entire career, and is widely regarded as one of the greatest basketball players of all time. Bryant is the first guard in NBA history to play for at least 20 seasons. At 34 years and 104 days of age, Bryant became the youngest player in league history to reach 30,000 career points. He became the all-time leading scorer in Lakers franchise history on February 1, 2010, when he surpassed Jerry West. Following his second year in the league, Bryant was chosen to start every All-Star Game until his retirement for a record 18 consecutive appearances, and his four All-Star MVP Awards are tied for the most in NBA history. At the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics, he won gold medals as a member of the U.S. national team. Sporting News and TNT named Bryant the top NBA player of the 2000s.
Timothy Theodore Duncan (born April 25, 1976) is an American retired professional basketball player who played his entire 19-year career with the San Antonio Spurs of the National Basketball Association (NBA). Widely considered to be the greatest power forward of all time, he is a five-time NBA champion, two-time NBA MVP, three-time NBA Finals MVP, NBA All-Star Game MVP and NBA Rookie of the Year. He is also a 15-time NBA All-Star and the only player to be selected to both the All-NBA and All-Defensive Teams in all of his first 13 seasons. Duncan started out as a swimmer and only began playing basketball in ninth grade after Hurricane Hugo destroyed the only Olympic-sized pool on his home of Saint Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. He played for St. Dunstan's Episcopal High School, and had a college career with the Wake Forest University Demon Deacons, winning the Naismith College Player of the Year, USBWA College Player of the Year, and John Wooden awards in his final year. Duncan graduated from college before entering the 1997 NBA draft as the number one pick.
Larry Joe Bird (born December 7, 1956) is an American professional basketball executive, former coach and former player, most recently serving as president of the Indiana Pacers in the National Basketball Association (NBA). Since retiring as a player for the Boston Celtics, he was a mainstay in the Indiana Pacers organization, but stepped down from the position of president following the first-round of the 2017 Eastern Conference playoffs. Drafted into the NBA sixth overall by the Boston Celtics in 1978, Bird started at small forward and power forward for thirteen seasons, spearheading one of the NBA's most formidable frontcourts that included center Robert Parish and power forward Kevin McHale. Bird was a 12-time NBA All-Star and was named the league's Most Valuable Player (MVP) three consecutive times (1984–1986). He played his entire professional career for Boston, winning three NBA championships and two NBA Finals MVP awards. He was a member of the 1992 United States men's Olympic basketball team ("The Dream Team") that won the gold medal at the 1992 Summer Olympics. Bird was voted to the NBA's 50th Anniversary All-Time Team in 1996 and inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1998 (and was inducted again in 2010 as a member of the "Dream Team").
Hakeem Abdul Olajuwon (born January 21, 1963), formerly known as Akeem Olajuwon, is a Nigerian-American former professional basketball player. From 1984 to 2002, he played the center position in the National Basketball Association (NBA) for the Houston Rockets and the Toronto Raptors. He led the Rockets to back-to-back NBA championships in 1994 and 1995. In 2008, he was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, and in 2016, he was inducted into the FIBA Hall of Fame. Listed at 7 ft 0 in (2.13 m) (but standing closer to 6 ft 10 in (2.08 m) by his own admission), Olajuwon is considered one of the greatest centers ever to play the game. He was nicknamed "The Dream" during his basketball career after he dunked so effortlessly that his college coach said it "looked like a dream." Born in Lagos, Nigeria, Olajuwon traveled from his home country to play for the University of Houston under head coach Guy Lewis. His college career for the Cougars included three trips to the Final Four. Olajuwon was drafted by the Houston Rockets with the first overall selection of the 1984 NBA draft, a draft that included Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, and John Stockton. He combined with the 7 ft 4 in (2.24 m) Ralph Sampson to form a duo dubbed the "Twin Towers". The two led the Rockets to the 1986 NBA Finals, where they lost in six games to the Boston Celtics. After Sampson was traded to the Warriors in 1988, Olajuwon became the Rockets' undisputed leader. He led the league in rebounding twice (1989, 1990) and blocks three times (1990, 1991, 1993). Despite very nearly being traded during a bitter contract dispute before the 1992–93 season, he remained in Houston where in 1993–94, he became the only player in NBA history to win the NBA MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, and Finals MVP awards in the same season. His Rockets won back-to-back championships against the New York Knicks (avenging his college championship loss to Patrick Ewing), and Shaquille O'Neal's Orlando Magic. In 1996, Olajuwon was a member of the Olympic gold-medal-winning United States national team, and was selected as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History. He ended his career as the league's all-time leader in blocks (3,830) and is one of four NBA players to record a quadruple-double.
Oscar Palmer Robertson (born November 24, 1938), nicknamed "The Big O", is an American former National Basketball Association player who played for the Cincinnati Royals and Milwaukee Bucks. The 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m), 205 lb (93 kg) Robertson played point guard and was a 12-time All-Star, 11-time member of the All-NBA Team, and one-time winner of the MVP award in 14 professional seasons. In 1962, he became the first player in NBA history to average a triple-double for a season. In the 1970–71 NBA season, he was a key player on the team that brought the Bucks their only NBA title. His playing career, especially during high school and college, was plagued by racism. Robertson is a two-time Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inductee, having been inducted in 1980 for his individual career, and in 2010 as a member of the 1960 United States men's Olympic basketball team and president of the National Basketball Players Association. He also was voted one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History in 1996. The United States Basketball Writers Association renamed their College Player of the Year Award the Oscar Robertson Trophy in his honor in 1998, and he was one of five people chosen to represent the inaugural National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame class in 2006. He was ranked as the 36th best American athlete of the 20th century by ESPN.
David Maurice Robinson (born August 6, 1965) is an American former professional basketball player, who played center for the San Antonio Spurs in the National Basketball Association (NBA) for his entire career. Based on his prior service as an officer in the United States Navy, Robinson earned the nickname "The Admiral". Robinson is a 10-time NBA All-Star, the 1995 NBA MVP, a two-time NBA Champion (1999 and 2003), a two-time Olympic Gold Medal winner (1992, 1996), a two-time Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inductee (2009 for his individual career, 2010 as a member of the 1992 United States men's Olympic basketball team), and a two-time U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame inductee (2008 individually, 2009 as a member of the 1992 Olympic team). He is widely considered one of the greatest centers in both college basketball and NBA history. To date, Robinson is the only player from the Naval Academy to play in the NBA.
Jerry Alan West (born May 28, 1938) is an American retired basketball player who played his entire professional career for the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association (NBA). His nicknames included Mr. Clutch, for his ability to make a big play in a clutch situation, such as his famous buzzer-beating 60-foot shot that tied Game 3 of the 1970 NBA Finals against the New York Knicks; The Logo, in reference to his silhouette being incorporated into the NBA logo; Mr. Outside, in reference to his perimeter play with the Los Angeles Lakers; and Zeke from Cabin Creek, for the creek near his birthplace of Chelyan, West Virginia. West played the small forward position early in his career, and he was a standout at East Bank High School and at West Virginia University, where he led the Mountaineers to the 1959 NCAA championship game. He earned the NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player honor despite the loss. He then embarked on a 14-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, and was the co-captain of the 1960 U.S. Olympic gold medal team, a squad that was inducted as a unit into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010. West's NBA career was highly successful. Playing the guard position, he was voted 12 times into the All-NBA First and Second Teams, was elected into the NBA All-Star Team 14 times, and was chosen as the All-Star MVP in 1972, the same year that he won the only title of his career. West holds the NBA record for the highest points per game average in a playoff series with 46.3. He was also a member of the first five NBA All-Defensive Teams (one second, followed by four firsts), which were introduced when he was 32 years old. Having played in nine NBA Finals, he is also the only player in NBA history to be named Finals MVP despite being on the losing team (1969). West was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1980 and voted as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA history in 1996.
Julius Winfield Erving II (born February 22, 1950), commonly known by the nickname Dr. J, is an American retired basketball player who helped popularize a modern style of play that emphasizes leaping and playing above the rim. Erving helped legitimize the American Basketball Association (ABA) and was the best-known player in that league when it merged with the National Basketball Association (NBA) after the 1975–76 season. Erving won three championships, four Most Valuable Player Awards, and three scoring titles with the ABA's Virginia Squires and New York Nets (now the NBA's Brooklyn Nets) and the NBA's Philadelphia 76ers. He is the sixth-highest scorer in ABA/NBA history with 30,026 points (NBA and ABA combined). He was well known for slam dunking from the free throw line in slam dunk contests and was the only player voted Most Valuable Player in both the ABA and the NBA. Erving was inducted in 1993 into the Basketball Hall of Fame and was also named to the NBA's 50th Anniversary All-Time team. In 1994, Erving was named by Sports Illustrated as one of the 40 most important athletes of all time. In 2004, he was inducted into the Nassau County Sports Hall of Fame. Many consider him one of the most talented players in the history of the NBA; he is widely acknowledged as one of the game's best dunkers. While Connie Hawkins, "Jumping" Johnny Green, Elgin Baylor, Jim Pollard and Gus Johnson performed spectacular dunks before Erving's time, "Dr. J" brought the practice into the mainstream. His signature dunk was the "slam" dunk, since incorporated into the vernacular and basic skill set of the game in the same manner as the "crossover" dribble and the "no look" pass. Before Julius Erving, dunking was a practice most commonly used by the big men (usually standing close to the hoop) to show their brutal strength which was seen as style over substance, even unsportsmanlike, by many purists of the game.
Dwyane Tyrone Wade Jr. (born January 17, 1982) is an American professional basketball player for the Cleveland Cavaliers of the National Basketball Association (NBA). After a successful college career at Marquette, Wade was drafted fifth overall in the 2003 NBA draft by the Miami Heat. He was named to the All-Rookie team and the All-Star team the following twelve seasons. In his third season, Wade led the Heat to their first NBA championship in franchise history and was named the 2006 NBA Finals MVP. At the 2008 Summer Olympics, Wade led the United States men's basketball team, commonly known as the "Redeem Team", in scoring, and helped them capture gold medal honors in Beijing, China. In the 2008–09 season, Wade led the league in scoring and earned his first NBA scoring title. With LeBron James and Chris Bosh, Wade helped guide Miami to four consecutive NBA Finals from 2011 to 2014, winning back-to-back championships in 2012 and 2013. In 2016, Wade departed the Heat in free agency to play for his hometown Chicago Bulls, then leaving them after one season to join the Cavaliers.
Scottie Maurice Pippen (born September 25, 1965) is an American former professional basketball player who played in the National Basketball Association. Nicknamed "Pip," he is most remembered for his time with the Chicago Bulls, the team with which he won six NBA titles. Pippen, along with Michael Jordan, played an important role in transforming the Bulls team into a championship team and for popularizing the NBA around the world during the 1990s. Considered one of the best small forwards of all time, Pippen was named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team eight consecutive times and the All-NBA First Team three times. He was a seven-time NBA All-Star and was the NBA All-Star Game MVP in 1994. He was named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History during the 1996–97 season, and is one of four players to have his jersey retired by the Chicago Bulls (the others being Jerry Sloan, Bob Love, and Michael Jordan). He played a main role on both the 1992 Chicago Bulls Championship team and the 1996 Chicago Bulls Championship team which were selected as two of the Top 10 Teams in NBA History. His biography on the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame's website states, "The multidimensional Pippen ran the court like a point guard, attacked the boards like a power forward, and swished the nets like a shooting guard." During his 17-year career, he played 12 seasons with the Bulls, one with the Houston Rockets and four with the Portland Trail Blazers, making the postseason sixteen straight times. Pippen is the only NBA player to have won an NBA title and Olympic gold medal in the same year twice (1992, 1996). He was a part of the 1992 U.S. Olympic "Dream Team" which beat its opponents by an average of 44 points. Pippen was also a key figure in the 1996 Olympic team, alongside former Dream Team members Karl Malone, John Stockton, and Charles Barkley as well as newer faces such as Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway and Grant Hill. He wore number 8 during both years.
Kevin Maurice Garnett (born May 19, 1976) is an American former professional basketball player who played for 21 seasons in the National Basketball Association (NBA). He played the power forward and center positions. In high school, Garnett was a 1995 McDonald's All-American at Farragut Career Academy and won a national player of the year award. He entered the 1995 NBA draft, where he was selected with the fifth overall pick by the Minnesota Timberwolves and became the first NBA player drafted directly out of high school in 20 years. Garnett made an immediate impact with the Minnesota Timberwolves, leading them to eight consecutive playoff appearances. In 2004, he led the Timberwolves to the Western Conference Finals and won the NBA Most Valuable Player Award. Garnett has been named to 15 All-Star Games, winning the All-Star MVP award in 2003, and is currently tied for third-most All-Star selections in NBA history. He was named the NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 2007–08, and has been selected nine times for All-NBA Teams and 12 times for All-Defensive Teams. Garnett also holds several Timberwolves franchise records. In 2007, after 12 seasons with the Timberwolves, Garnett joined the Boston Celtics in a blockbuster trade. In his first year with the Celtics, he helped lead them to the NBA championship, while also finishing in third place for the MVP award. In 2013, Garnett was included in a second headline trade that sent him to the Brooklyn Nets with longtime Celtic Paul Pierce. In 2015, Garnett was traded back to Minnesota. He announced his retirement from professional basketball in September 2016.
Karl Anthony Malone (born July 24, 1963) is an American retired professional basketball player. Nicknamed "The Mailman", Malone played the power forward position and spent his first 18 seasons (1985–2003) in the National Basketball Association (NBA) with the Utah Jazz and formed a formidable duo with his teammate John Stockton. Malone also played one season for the Los Angeles Lakers. Malone was a two-time NBA Most Valuable Player, a 14-time NBA All-Star, and an 11-time member of the All-NBA first team. He scored the second most career points in NBA history (36,928) (second behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), and holds the records for most free throws attempted and made, in addition to co-holding the record for the most first team All-NBA elections in history (tied with Kobe Bryant and LeBron James). He is considered one of the best power forwards in NBA history.
John Houston Stockton (born March 26, 1962) is an American retired professional basketball player. He spent his entire professional playing career as a point guard for the Utah Jazz of the National Basketball Association (NBA), from 1984 to 2003. Stockton is regarded as one of the best point guards of all time, holding the NBA records for most career assists and steals by considerable margins. He is a ten-time NBA All-Star, and a two-time Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inductee (in 2009 for his individual career, and in 2010 as a member of the 1992 United States men's Olympic basketball team ("Dream Team").
Dirk Werner Nowitzki (German pronunciation: [ˈdɪʁk ˈvɛʁnɐ noˈvɪtski]) (born June 19, 1978) is a German professional basketball player for the Dallas Mavericks of the National Basketball Association (NBA). An alumnus of Röntgen Gymnasium and the DJK Würzburg basketball club, Nowitzki was chosen as the ninth pick in the 1998 NBA draft by the Milwaukee Bucks and immediately traded to the Mavericks, where he has played since. Listed at 7 ft 0 in (2.13 m), Nowitzki is considered to be one of the greatest power forwards of all time. He is also one of only seven players ever to play at least 20 seasons in the NBA. Nowitzki has led the Mavericks to 15 NBA Playoffs (2001–2012; 2014–2016), including the franchise's first Finals appearance in 2006 and only championship in 2011. He is a 13-time All-Star, a 12-time All-NBA Team member, and the first European player to start in an All-Star Game, as well as the first to receive the NBA Most Valuable Player Award (2007). Nowitzki is the highest-scoring foreign-born player in NBA history and the sixth player to achieve over 30,000 regular-season points. He is also one of seven players who achieved a 50–40–90 season (2007). He is the first Maverick voted onto an All-NBA Team and holds several all-time Mavericks franchise records. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Nowitzki are the only players to achieve four consecutive 30-point, 15-rebound post-season games (2001–2002). Nowitzki is the only player to record at least 30,000 points, 10,000 rebounds, 3,000 assists, 1,000 steals, 1,000 blocks and 1,000 3-point field goals. Nowitzki led the German national basketball team to a bronze medal in the 2002 FIBA World Championship and silver in EuroBasket 2005, and was the leading scorer and MVP in both tournaments. He was named the Euroscar European Basketball Player of the Year by the Italian sports newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport for five years running from 2002 to 2006 and again in 2011. He was also named the Mister Europa European Player of the Year by the Italian sports magazine Superbasket in 2005, and the FIBA Europe Men's Player of the Year twice in 2005 and 2011. On December 18, 2011, Nowitzki was named the 2011 German Sports Personality of the Year, the first basketball player to receive the award. On December 10, 2012, he became the first non-American player to receive the Naismith Legacy Award.
Kevin Wayne Durant (born September 29, 1988) is an American professional basketball player for the Golden State Warriors of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He has won an NBA championship, an NBA Most Valuable Player Award, the Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award, the NBA All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award, four NBA scoring titles, the NBA Rookie of the Year Award, and two Olympic gold medals. Durant has also been selected to seven All-NBA teams and eight NBA All-Star teams. Durant was a heavily recruited high school prospect who was widely regarded as the second-best player in his class. He played one season of college basketball for the University of Texas, where he won numerous year-end awards and became the first freshman to be named Naismith College Player of the Year. In 2007, he was selected as the second overall pick by the Seattle SuperSonics in the NBA draft. After his rookie season, the team relocated to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder. Behind Durant's leadership and his pairing with All-Star guard Russell Westbrook, the Thunder emerged as a perennial title contender, advancing as far as the NBA Finals in 2012, where they were ousted by the Miami Heat. He played nine seasons in Oklahoma City before signing with the Warriors in 2016, winning the championship in his debut season with the team.
Reginald Wayne Miller (born August 24, 1965) is an American retired professional basketball player who played his entire 18-year National Basketball Association (NBA) career with the Indiana Pacers. Miller was known for his precision three-point shooting, especially in pressure situations and most notably against the New York Knicks, for which he earned the nickname "Knick Killer". When he retired, he held the record for most career 3-point field goals made. He is currently second on the list behind Ray Allen. A five-time All-Star selection, Miller led the league in free throw accuracy five times and won a gold medal in the 1996 Summer Olympics. Miller is widely considered the Pacers' greatest player of all time. His No. 31 was retired by the team in 2006. Currently, he works as an NBA commentator for TNT. On September 7, 2012, Miller was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Elgin Gay Baylor (born September 16, 1934) is an American former basketball player, coach, and executive. He played 13 seasons as a small forward in the National Basketball Association (NBA) for the Minneapolis / Los Angeles Lakers, appearing in eight NBA Finals. Baylor was a gifted shooter, strong rebounder, and an accomplished passer. Renowned for his acrobatic maneuvers on the court, Baylor regularly dazzled Lakers fans with his trademark hanging jump shots. The No. 1 draft pick in 1958, NBA Rookie of the Year in 1959, 11-time NBA All-Star, and an 10-time member of the All-NBA first team, he is regarded as one of the game's all-time greatest players. In 1977, Baylor was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Baylor spent 22 years as general manager of the Los Angeles Clippers. He won the NBA Executive of the Year Award in 2006, before being relieved of his duties shortly before the 2008–09 season began.
Charles Wade Barkley (born February 20, 1963) is an American retired professional basketball player who is currently the analyst on Inside the NBA. Nicknamed "Chuck", "Sir Charles", and "The Round Mound of Rebound", Barkley established himself as one of the National Basketball Association's dominant power forwards. An All-American center at Auburn, he was drafted as a junior by the Philadelphia 76ers with the 5th pick of the 1984 NBA draft. He was selected to the All-NBA First Team five times, the All-NBA Second Team five times, and once to the All-NBA Third Team. He earned eleven NBA All-Star Game appearances and was named the All-Star MVP in 1991. In 1993, he was voted the league's Most Valuable Player and during the NBA's 50th anniversary, named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History. He competed in the 1992 and 1996 Olympic Games and won two gold medals as a member of the United States' "Dream Team". Barkley is a two-time inductee into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, being inducted in 2006 for his individual career, and in 2010 as a member of the "Dream Team". Barkley was popular with the fans and media and made the NBA's All-Interview Team for his last 13 seasons in the league. He was frequently involved in on- and off-court fights and sometimes stirred national controversy, as in March 1991 when he spat on a young girl while attempting to spit at a heckler, and as in 1993 when he declared that sports figures should not be considered role models. Short for a power forward, Barkley used his strength and aggressiveness to become one of the NBA's most dominant rebounders. He was a versatile player who had the ability to score, create plays, and defend. In 2000, he retired as the fourth player in NBA history to achieve 20,000 points, 10,000 rebounds and 4,000 assists.
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