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Who is the NBA's GOAT: Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Oscar Robertson, Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, Julius Erving?

Who is the NBA's GOAT, the player who is the Greatest of all Time? Let's let the best-informed people vote: the players themselves. This is an informal, unscientific attempt at a consensus poll, based on what some of the greatest players in NBA history have said on the subject ...

There are some surprises: votes for Meadowlark Lemon, Nate Archibald, Adrian Dantley, John Stockton and Scottie Pippen. Great players, no doubt, but surprises nonetheless.

Perhaps just as surprising are the all-time great players who didn't get a single vote for GOAT: Charles Barkley, Rick Barry, Vince Carter, Bob Cousy, Kevin Durant, Patrick Ewing, Walt Frazier, Kevin Garnett, George Gervin, James Harden, John Havlicek, Elvin Hayes, Allen Iverson, Jason Kidd, Bernard King, Karl Malone, Moses Malone, Pistol Pete Maravich, Kevin McHale, George Mikan, Reggie Miller, Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki, Chris Paul, Bob Pettit, Paul Pierce, David Robinson, Isiah Thomas, David Thompson, Dwyane Wade, Bill Walton, Russell Westbrook and Dominique Wilkins.

The All-Time NBA GOATs, by Consensus

(#1) Wilt Chamberlain (27 votes)
(#2) Michael Jordan (22)
(#3) Larry Bird (16) 
(#4) Magic Johnson (12)
(#5) Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (11)
(#6) Bill Russell (10)
(#7) Oscar Robertson (10)
(#8) LeBron James (10)
(#9) Shaquille O'Neal (9)
(#10) Jerry West (6) and Tim Duncan (tie)

High Honorable Mention: Elgin Baylor (averaged 27 points and 13.5 rebounds), Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Julius Erving, Hakeem Olajuwon

Dark Horses: Kevin McHale (Charles Barkley repeatedly said that McHale was the best player he ever played against because he was impossible to stop on offense and was very difficult to score against), Pete Maravich (unstoppable with the three-pointer and his ball-handling skills), Bernard King (when healthy), Bill Walton (when healthy), Rick Barry

According to the consensus above, the all-time NBA team, with starters listed first, would be ...

The All-Time NBA Team, by Consensus

Center: Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Russell, Shaquille O'Neal, Hakeem Olajuwon
Shooting Guard: Michael Jordan, Jerry West
Point Guard: Magic Johnson, Oscar Robertson, Pistol Pete Maravich
Power Forward: Larry Bird, Tim Duncan, Karl Malone
Small Forward: LeBron James, Elgin Baylor, Kobe Bryant, Julius Erving

When the fans vote, according to Ranker, the player who jumps the highest in the rankings is the crowd-pleasing Dr. J, who is second only to MJ.

According to these player rankings, the greatest NBA team of all time may have been the 1971-1972 Los Angeles Lakers team that featured Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West and Elgin Baylor. That team won 33 games in a row, finished 69-13, and won the NBA championship. The trio of superstars had a great supporting cast, with Gail Goodrich leading the team in scoring at 25.9 points per game. West was just a tick behind at 25.8 ppg and averaged 9.7 assists per game. Jim McMillian averaged 18.8 ppg and 6.5 rebounds. Chamberlain averaged 14.8 points and 19.2 rebounds with a sterling .649 field goal percentage. Happy Hairston averaged a perfectly symmetrical 13.1 points and 13.1 rebounds. Baylor, at the tail end of his amazing career, averaged 11.8 points and 6.3 rebounds in limited service before retiring. The Lakers averaged 121.0 points per game, with a 12.3 point differential. They led the NBA in points, field goals, rebounds, assists and fewest personal fouls, while finishing second in field goal percentage (.490), free throws attempted and free throws made. On the defensive side, they gave up the fewest free throws attempted and made, while holding opponents to a dismal .432 field goal percentage. They were number one in offensive rating, and number two in defensive rating.

Here are the GOAT votes:

Wilt Chamberlain (30)
Michael Jordan (22)
Larry Bird (16)
Magic Johnson (12)
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (11)
Bill Russell (10)
Oscar Robertson (10)
LeBron James (10)
Shaquille O'Neal (9)
Jerry West (6)
Tim Duncan (6)
Hakeem Olajuwon (5)
Elgin Baylor (4)
Kobe Bryant (4)
Julius Erving (3)
Pistol Pete Maravich (2)
Scottie Pippen (1)
John Stockton (1)
Nate Archibald (1)
Adrian Dantley (1)
Stephen Curry (1)
Steven Nash (1)
Meadowlark Lemon (1)

According to and its progressive GOAT rankings (pGr), the NBA GOATs have been:

George Mikan through 1954
Dolph Schayes from 1955-1964 (10 years)
Bill Russell from 1965-1966
Wilt Chamberlain from 1967-1979 (13 years)
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar from 1980-2014 (35 years)
LeBron James from 2015

Dolph Schayes remained in the pGr top ten until 1982-1983, a remarkable run for someone who is little-known today. Bob Pettit remained in the pGr top ten until 1987-1988, a testimony to how good he was. We do have some serious quibbles with the pGr math, which clearly undervalues Magic Johnson (#8), Larry Bird (#9), Bill Russell (#17), Oscar Robertson (#27) and Jerry West (#28). Were Clyde Drexler and Jason Kidd better than the Big O and the Logo, really?

Here are the individual GOAT picks, with the cumulative totals for each nominee in parentheses:

Wilt Chamberlain: Meadowlark Lemon (1)
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Wilt Chamberlain (1), Bill Russell (1), Oscar Robertson (1)
Oscar Robertson: Wilt Chamberlain (2), Elgin Baylor (1), Jerry West (1), LeBron James (1), Kobe Bryant (1)
Scottie Pippen: Wilt Chamberlain (3)
Michael Jordan: Wilt Chamberlain (4), Jerry West (2)

When an interviewer asked Jordan if he cared about being called the greatest basketball player ever, he replied, “I don’t want it in a sense because I think it disrespects Wilt Chamberlain.”

Shaq: Hakeem Olajuwon (1)
"Dr. J" Julius Erving: Wilt Chamberlain (5), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1), Bill Russell (2), Elgin Baylor (2), Jerry West (3), Oscar Robertson (2)
Gary Payton: Wilt Chamberlain (6), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (2), Bill Russell (3), Magic Johnson (1), Julius Erving (1)
John Stockton: Wilt Chamberlain (7), Michael Jordan (1), Elgin Baylor (3), Larry Bird (1), Magic Johnson (2)
LeBron James: Larry Bird (2), Julius Erving (2), Michael Jordan (2)
Karl Malone: Wilt Chamberlain (8)
Rick Barry: Wilt Chamberlain (9)
Kevin McHale: Wilt Chamberlain (10)
Bill Walton: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (3)
George Gervin: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (4)
Isiah Thomas: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (5), LeBron James (2)
Bob Pettit: Bill Russell (4)
Tracy McGrady: Shaquille O'Neal (1), LeBron James (3), Michael Jordan (3), Magic Johnson (3), Hakeem Olajuwon (2)
Jason Kidd: Shaquille O'Neal (2), Michael Jordan (4), Scottie Pippen (1), John Stockton (1), Tim Duncan (1)
Reggie Miller: Michael Jordan (5), Magic Johnson (4), Larry Bird (3), Hakeem Olajuwon (3)
Jerry West: Michael Jordan (6)
Elgin Baylor: Michael Jordan (7)
Paul Pierce: Michael Jordan (8)
Magic Johnson: Michael Jordan (9)
Larry Bird: Michael Jordan (10)
Hakeem Olajuwon: Michael Jordan (11)
Bill Russell: Michael Jordan (12), Oscar Robertson (3)
Bob Cousy: Michael Jordan (13)
Kevin Garnett: Michael Jordan (14), Jerry West (4), Oscar Robertson (4), Nate Archibald (1), Adrian Dantley (1)
ESPN: Michael Jordan (15), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (6), LeBron James (4), Magic Johnson (5), Wilt Chamberlain (11), Larry Bird (4), Bill Russell (5), Tim Duncan (2), Shaquille O'Neal (3), Hakeem Olajuwon (4)
FOX Sports: Michael Jordan (16), LeBron James (5), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (7), Shaquille O'Neal (4), Tim Duncan (3), Magic Johnson (6), Bill Russell (6), Wilt Chamberlain (12), Larry Bird (5), Hakeem Olajuwon (5)
Ranker (the fans vote): Michael Jordan (17), Julius Erving (3), Bill Russell (7), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (8), Magic Johnson (7), LeBron James (6), Wilt Chamberlain (13), Larry Bird (6), Kobe Bryant (2), Shaquille O'Neal (5)
CBS Sports: Michael Jordan (18), LeBron James (7), Wilt Chamberlain (14), Magic Johnson (8), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (8), Tim Duncan (4), Bill Russell (7), Larry Bird (7), Shaquille O'Neal (6), Kobe Bryant (3)
NBA Logo: Jerry West (5)
Clyde Drexler: Wilt Chamberlain (15) 
Joel Embiid: Wilt Chamberlain (16)
Wayne Embry: Oscar Robertson (5)
Jim Chones: Wilt Chamberlain (17), Bill Russell (8), Elgin Baylor (4), Oscar Robertson (6)
Jarrett Jack: Oscar Robertson (7)
Kyrie Irving: Oscar Robertson (8)
The Top Tens: Michael Jordan (19), Magic Johnson (9), LeBron James (8), Larry Bird (8), Kobe Bryant (4), Wilt Chamberlain (18), Bill Russell (8), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (9), Shaquille O'Neal (7), Oscar Robertson (9)
The Grueling Truth: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (10), Bill Russell (9), Wilt Chamberlain (19)
Legends 100: Michael Jordan (20), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (10), Bill Russell (9), Wilt Chamberlain (20), Tim Duncan (5), Magic Johnson (10), LeBron James (9), Larry Bird (9), Jerry West (6), Shaquille O'Neal (8)
Charles Barkley: Michael Jordan (21), Oscar Robertson (10), Bill Russell (10), Wilt Chamberlain (21), Kobe Bryant (4), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (11)
Statista: Michael Jordan (22), Wilt Chamberlain (22), LeBron James (10), Magic Johnson (11), Larry Bird (10), Stephen Curry (1), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (11), Bill Russell (10), Shaquille O'Neal (9), Tim Duncan (6)
John Salley: Magic Johnson (12)
Tom Aizenberg: Wilt Chamberlain (23)
Jim Flannery: Wilt Chamberlain (24)
David Asch: Wilt Chamberlain (25)
Walt Frazier: Wilt Chamberlain (26)
Bleacher Report: Wilt Chamberlain (27)
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in an interview called Larry Bird his most difficult opponent ("He wore us out" and "could do anything" and was "just ridiculous"): Larry Bird (10)
Isiah Thomas said that if he, Magic, Jordan and Bird were put in the same room together, Bird would probably be the one to emerge "at the end of the day": Larry Bird (11)
Danny Ainge said that Larry Bird was at a "higher level" than other players; for instance he would make a bet to bank a three-pointer during an NBA game, then do it: Larry Bird (12)
Byron Scott in an interview said that Bird told the Lakers a game-ending play would go to him for a three-pointer; it did, and he make the shot anyway: Larry Bird (13)
Dominique Wilkens said "Larry Bird would hit more clutch shots in pressure situations than anyone; he would call the spot!": Larry Bird (14)
Larry Bird (15) and Steve Nash (1) are the only NBA players to make the 50-40-90 club more than once
Magic Johnson said "Larry Bird was so good, it was frightening!": Larry Bird (16)
Bill Walton said that with three-pointers Pete Maravich would have averaged 50 points per game: Pete Maravich (1)
Dale Brown said that with three-pointers Pete Maravich would have averaged 57 points per game: Pete Maravich (2)
Shaq: Wilt Chamberlain was the most dominant player ever (28)
David Stern: Wilt Chamberlain (29)
Earl Monroe: Wilt Chamberlain (30)

All-Time Starting Fives with Optional Sixth Man:

Kobe Bryant: Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Jerry West, Elgin Baylor
Karl Malone: Wilt Chamberlain, John Stockton, Oscar Robertson, LeBron James, Scottie Pippen
Allen Iverson: Stephen Curry, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Shaquille O’Neal
Michael R. Burch: Wilt Chamberlain, Oscar Robertson, Jerry West, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Elgin Baylor
Andrew Vojt: Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Larry Bird Clutch Points: Wilt Chamberlain, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, LeBron James
Clubhouse Chatter: Wilt Chamberlain, Isiah Thomas, Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Oscar Robertson
Chris Mannix: Stephen Curry, James Harden, Larry Bird, LeBron James, Tim Duncan, Scottie Pippen
Mark Bechtel: Steve Nash, Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, LeBron James, Bill Russell, John Havlicek
Michael Shapiro: Stephen Curry, Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Tim Duncan, Shaquille O’Neal, Manu Ginóbili
Jarrel Harris: Stephen Curry, Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Hakeem Olajuwon, Lou Williams
Ben Pickman: Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, LeBron James, Bill Russell, Stephen Curry
Robin Lundberg: Stephen Curry, Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Shaquille O’Neal, Ray Allen
Heatcheck: Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

In the following "best of the decade" rankings, each player appears in only one decade ...

Best NBA players of the 1950s: George Mikan, Bob Pettit, Paul Arizin, Bob Cousy, Bill Sharman, Bob Davies, Dolph Schayes, Jack Twyman, George Yardley, Maurice Stokes, Joe Fulks, Tom Gola, Harry Gallatin, Vern Mikkelsen, Jim Pollard, Neil Johnston, Clyde Lovellette, Ed McCauley, Chris Hagan, Gene Shue, Willie Naulls, Richie Guerin, Slater Martin, Alex Groza

Best NBA players of the 1960s: Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, Oscar Robertson, Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, Billy Cunningham, Jerry Lucas, Willis Reed, Hal Greer, Dave Bing, Lenny Wilkins, Bailey Howell, Walt Bellamy, Mel Daniels, Sam Jones, Tommy Heinsohn, Chet Walker, Nate Thurmond, Wayne Embry, Dick Barnett, Gus Johnson, Zelmo Beaty, Don Ohl, Terry Dischinger, Dave DeBusschere, Ray Scott

Best NBA players of the 1970s: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Walton, Pete Maravich, Rick Barry, John Havlicek, Moses Malone, Bob McAdoo, Elvin Hayes, David Thompson, Connie Hawkins, George Gervin, Dave Cowens, Walt Frazier, Wes Unseld, Nate Archibald, Bob Lanier, Bob Love, Dave Bing, Earl Monroe, Maurice Lucas, Dan Issel, Lou Hudson, Jeff Mullins, Geoff Petrie, Jo Jo White, Spencer Haywood, Gail Goodrich, Charlie Scott, Sidney Wicks, Cazzie Russell, Rudy Tomjanovich, Calvin Murphy

Best NBA players of the 1980s: Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Moses Malone, Julius Erving, Dominique Wilkins, Isiah Thomas, Kevin McHale, Bernard King, Adrian Dantley, George Gervin, Alex English, James Worthy, George McGinnis, Robert Parrish, Patrick Ewing, Clyde Drexler, Mark Aguirre, Kiki Vandeweghe, Dale Ellis, Sidney Moncrief, Buck Williams, Tom Chambers, Jack Sikma, Dennis Johnson, Doug Collins, Paul Westphal, World B. Free, Mike Mitchell, Marques Johnson, Walter Davis, Reggie Theus, Terry Cummings, Kelly Tripuka

Best NBA players of the 1990s: Michael Jordan, Shaquille O'Neal, Charles Barkley, Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson, John Stockton, Karl Malone, Scottie Pippen, Chris Mullin, Reggie Miller, Gary Payton, Penny Hardaway, Shawn Kemp, Grant Hill, Jason Kidd, Alonzo Mourning, Kevin Johnson, Mitch Richmond, Tim Hardaway, Glen Rice, Joe Dumars, Latrell Sprewell

Best NBA players of the 2000s: Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Garnett, Allen Iverson, Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady, Chris Webber, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Dwight Howard, Allan Houston, Shawn Marion, Jerry Stackhouse, Stephon Marbury, Antawn Jamison, Antoine Walker, Michael Finley, Glenn Robinson, Peja Stojakovich, Amar'e Stoudemire, Gilbert Arenas, Michael Redd, Jalen Rose, Baron Davis, Jamal Mashburn, Chris Bosh, Tony Parker, Ben Wallace

Best NBA players of the 2010s: LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Carmello Anthony, Stephen Curry, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, Paul George, Anthony Davis, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kawhi Leonard, Blake Griffin, Kyrie Irving, Joel Embiid, Damian Lillard, LeMarcus Aldridge, DeMarcus Cousins, Kevin Love, Klay Thompson, Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol, Michael Conley, Brook Lopez, Monta Ellis, Demar DeRozan, Draymond Green, Kemba Walker, Isaiah Thomas, John Wall, Rudy Gay, Jimmy Butler, Kyle Lowry, David Lee, Zach Randolph, Derrick Rose, Danny Granger, Joe Johnson

Up-and-Coming: Tobias Harris, Karl-Anthony Towns, Bradley Beal, Donovan Mitchell, Ben Simmons, Victor Oladipo, CJ McCollum, Devin Booker, Khris Middleton, Kristaps Porzingis, Jayson Tatum, Brandon Ingram, Gordon Hayward, Luka Doncic

Related Pages: All-Time Cincinnati Reds Baseball Team, The Greatest Baseball Infields of All Time, Cincinnati Reds Trivia, Is Mike Trout the GOAT?, Best Baseball Nicknames, Mike Trout Nicknames, Weird Baseball Facts and Trivia, Baseball Hall of Fame: The Best Candidates, Why Pete Rose Should be in the Baseball Hall of Fame, Big Red Machine Chronology, Baseball's All-Time Leaders in WAR per Season, Baseball's All-Time Leaders in WAR7

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