The HyperTexts

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?

THE GREAT GOAT DEBATE

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, admittedly unscientific attempt at a consensus poll, based on what some of the greatest players in NBA history have said on the subject ...

In the votes section, you can see who voted for whom. After I was accused of "lying" by various trolls, I started hyper-linking to interviews, so there is now plenty of evidence in the votes section, including Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen both naming Wilt Chamberlain first when the GOAT issue was raised.

Perhaps most surprising are the all-time great players who didn't get a single GOAT vote: Vince Carter, Kevin Durant, Patrick Ewing, Kevin Garnett, James Harden, Elvin Hayes, Allen Iverson, Jason Kidd, Moses Malone, Reggie Miller, Dirk Nowitzki, Chris Paul, Paul Pierce, David Robinson, David Thompson, Wes Unseld, Dwyane Wade, Bill Walton, Russell Westbrook and Dominique Wilkins. That just shows how incredibly tough the competition is.

The ring
thing
is mostly bling.
—Michael R. Burch

Before I reveal the results of my poll, let me say that I think "rings" have been vastly overrated in the great GOAT debate. Here are some quick observations about Michael Jordan and his six rings: (1) If rings are so important, Bill Russell and several other Celtics have a lot more rings than MJ and one of them must be the GOAT. (2) MJ didn't win a ring until he had teammates like Scottie Pippen, Horace Grant, Bill Cartwright, John Paxson and B.J. Armstrong. And even then it took time for that team to jell. Before he had such support, MJ played on four losing teams and lost two playoff series to the Celtics and two more to the Pistons. MJ didn't win a ring until his seventh season, and he definitely didn't do it on his own. Therefore, MJ himself proves that the "ring thing is mostly bling." (3) MJ was 0-6 in playoff games against Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics. He didn't win a single game. Does that make MJ less great, or does it simply mean the Celtics had the better team? The answer seems obvious. (4) As Scottie Pippen pointed out in an interview, MJ would not have been as great without him, just as he would not have been as great without MJ. And the proof is in the pudding, since MJ never beat a dominant team in the playoffs or made it to the NBA finals until he had a solid supporting cast. (5) The Bulls were 40-42 in 1986-1987, with MJ scoring 37.1 ppg. They lost 0-3 in the first round of the playoffs to the Celtics. The next year, with MJ having close to the same stats, the Bulls improved to 50-32, largely due to the addition of Pippen, Grant and Sam Vincent. The next two years the Bulls added key pieces in 7-1 center Bill Cartwright and guard B.J. Armstrong. By 1990-1991 the "big four" of Jordan, Pippen, Grant and Cartwright had jelled and were the team's leading scorers, with Jordan scoring less with better support. That team swept through the playoffs 15-2 and became world champions. But the biggest difference was not in MJ's game, but in his teammates' games. They helped make MJ a winner, and he was never a winner on his own. If the Bulls hadn't drafted Pippen and Grant, would MJ be a lesser player, or would he just be unlucky, like other great players who failed to win six rings through no fault of their own? Also, please note that when Bill Russell won 11 rings in 13 years, all five Celtics starters were hall-of-famers and they had other hall-of-famers on the bench. That was the deepest NBA team of all time.

The All-Time NBA GOATs, by Consensus
an informal poll conducted by Michael R. Burch

(#1) Wilt Chamberlain (68 votes) per MJ, Scottie, Kobe, Shaq, Kareem, Bill Russell
(#2) Michael Jordan (44) is a strong second
(#3) Larry Bird (35) they called him Larry Legend for a reason
(#4) Magic Johnson (34) they called him Magic for a reason
(#5) Bill Russell (34) the all-time king if rings are the thing
(#6) Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (25) the all-time point king
(#7) Oscar Robertson (25) the original triple-double machine
(#8) Jerry West (24) the LOGO with the three-pointer? OMG!
(#9) LeBron James (21) and still climbing in this poll
(#10) Elgin Baylor (18) the prototype for Dr. J, MJ and Kobe
(#11) Kobe Bryant (14) the Black Mamba
(#12) Shaquille O'Neal (11) the most dominant NBA big since Wilt
(#13) Tim Duncan (11) the Big Fundamental
(#14) Julius Erving (10) forever known as Dr. J
(#15) Hakeem Olajuwon (9) the Dream was a nightmare for opponents
(#16) Pistol Pete Maravich (8) imagine the Pistol with the three-pointer!
(#17) Bob Pettit (4) the NBA's forgotten superstar
(#18) Charles Barkley (3) the Round Mound of Rebound
(#19) Karl Malone (3) the Mailman always delivered
(#20) John Stockton (3) but one vote was by his partner Karl Malone
(#21) Scottie Pippen (3) but one vote was by his partner Michael Jordan
(#22) Stephen Curry (3) but one vote was by his partner Draymond Green
(#23) George Mikan (2) another forgotten superstar
(#24) Steve Nash (2) made defenders' teeth gnash
(#25) Nate Archibald (2) was nicknamed "Tiny" but played big

Players with one GOAT vote each: Rick Barry, Bob Cousy, Adrian Dantley, Walt Frazier, Kevin Garnett, George Gervin, Artis Gilmore, John Havlicek, Connie Hawkins, Kyrie Irving, Bernard King, Meadowlark Lemon, Kevin McHale, Willis Reed, Dennis Rodman, Dolph Schayes, Isiah Thomas, Nate Thurmond, Lenny Wilkins, James Worthy

DARK HORSES

With the three pointer and their ball-handling and passing abilities, two players who would soar on this list would be Jerry West and Pete Maravich.

NBAmath.com has an excellent discussion of why Jerry West has been vastly underrated and rightly belongs in the GREAT GOAT DEBATE. Fast facts about Jerry West: He was the first-ever draft pick of the Los Angeles Lakers and played for them his entire NBA career. West was an All-Star every year of his 14-year career. He was called "Mr. Outside for his outside shooting and "Mr. Clutch" for making big shots under pressure. He led the Lakers to nine NBA finals. He averaged 27.0 points per game in the regular season and 29.1 in the playoffs. In six games in a 1965 playoff series against the Baltimore Bullets, with Lakers star Elgin Baylor sidelined, West averaged an otherworldly 46.3 points per game and led his undermanned team to victory. That is the highest playoff series scoring average in NBA history. In 1969 he averaged 37.9 points in the NBA finals and was the only player from a losing team ever named finals MVP. West was a great defensive player who made five All-Defensive teams, and four first teams, despite the ADT not being created until the last five years of his career. The NBA only began tracking steals officially the last year of West's career, when he was 35 years old. He averaged a stellar 2.6 steals per game at age 35, so what was he averaging when he was younger, quicker and faster?

Pete Maravich, the original runner and gunner 40 years ahead of his time, has been called the Pistol, the Master of Improvisation, the Pioneer of Playmaking, "sweet" (Isiah Thomas), a "true entertainer" (Dave Bing), an "artist" (Rich Kelley), and "scary good." Dale Brown charted all the Pistol's shots from his college days and concluded that he would have made 13 threes per game, averaging 57 points per game. In an NBA game the Pistol once scored 68 points without a three. With his height, athleticism, flexibility, dexterity, ball-handling skills and outside shooting, what Pistol Pete could have done with the three-pointer boggles the mind.

Elgin Baylor averaged 27 points and 13.5 rebounds playing forward at 6'5" as the prototype for future high-wire acts like Dr. J and Michael Jordan. In an interview available on YouTube, Jerry West called Baylor "magnificent" and said he "gets little or no credit for being as great as he was." I agree. And I agree with Michael Lee, who wrote: "The numbers Baylor produced are still strong enough to elucidate his greatness: the first player to score more than 70 points in a game, the only player to surpass 60 points in a Finals game, the third-highest scoring average in NBA history, the only player shorter than 6-foot-6 to rank in the top 10 all-time for rebounds per game. Hangtime? That started with Baylor. The dribble move known as the Euro step, where you take a step in one direction, then take another across your body to hold off a defender? Baylor was doing that six decades ago." Lee also pointed out that the term "superstar" was coined to describe Baylor's brilliance. Or, as Jim Alexander wrote: "Baylor was the first GOAT, a 6-foot-5, 225-pound bundle of athleticism who, as Lakers TV analyst Stu Lantz put it, 'was hang-timin' before hang-timin' was hang time.' All of those things that Julius Erving, Michael Jordan and scores of their imitators have done through the years in basketball? Elgin did most of them first. Maybe not the takeoff from the free-throw line to dunk, but he was the pioneer when it came to the rest. In fact, Baylor might have been the inspiration for the late Chick Hearn’s line about two guys going up, one to take a shot and the other to contest it, and the defender 'getting off on the fourth floor.'" Baylor has also been called "the Charlie Parker of basketball" and "poetry in motion."

Other players who seem undervalued according the NBAmath.com include Bob Pettit, Wes Unseld, Walt Frazier, Charles Barkley, Clyde Drexler, David Robinson, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Karl Malone, Scottie Pippen and Jason Kidd.

Other dark horses include: Kevin Durant (especially after his 49-17-10 triple-double with Kyrie Irving out and James Harden hobbled in the 2021 playoffs), George Mikan (the first superstar center who led his team to five championships in effectively six years with three of the highest win share seasons in NBA history), 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), Bernard King (when healthy), Bill Walton (when healthy)

The All-Time NBA Team, by Consensus

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

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

Let's give the NBA players their due, because it is very hard to argue against this Dream Team. Also, please note how tight the race is, after the top two.

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. Fans do like to be entertained!

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, Elgin Baylor and Gail Goodrich. That team won 33 games in a row, finished 69-13, and won the NBA championship. Goodrich led 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, 19.2 rebounds and 4.0 assists, 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 (just nine games) 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. That team finished 81-16 including the playoffs.

Wilt Chamberlain is the "missing link" to the previous best NBA team, the 1966-1967 Philadelphia Warriors, who finished 68-13 in the regular season, swept through the playoffs 11-4, and averaged 125.2 points per game with a 9.4 point differential. They were number one in offensive rating, and number three in defensive rating. Chamberlain was phenomenal, averaging 24.1 ppg, 24.2 rpg, shooting a spectacular .683 from the field, and leading the NBA in assists with 702 while averaging 7.8 apg. That star-studded team included Billy Cunningham, Hal Greer, Chet Walker, Wali Jones, Luke Jackson and Larry Costello. It finished 79-17 including the playoffs.

And thus another argument for Wilt Chamberlain as the NBA GOAT is that when he had a great supporting cast, he did sacrifice scoring for his teams and twice set records for the most wins in a season, and also set a consecutive game winning streak that still stands. Also, let it be noted that the Big Dipper led both teams in win shares, despite his greatly reduced shooting. Furthermore, Chamberlain is second only to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in career win shares, but Kareem and Michael Jordan remained their teams' primary scorers until nearly the end of their careers, while Chamberlain voluntarily sacrificed his scoring after his age 29 season. If he had kept shooting, no one would be remotely close in points or win shares. Also, while we're talking about win shares, let it be noted that the best win share seasons are dominated by Chamberlain (five of the top eleven seasons), Jabbar (three of the top seven seasons), and George Mikan (three of the top twelve seasons). Michael Jordan has only only one of the top ten win share seasons.

But for most of his career Wilt was not playing with the best teammates. Here is how some of the GOAT candidates stack up, based on teammates with PER in parens, and HOF=Hall of Fame, WS=Win Shares, AS=All-Star, AD=All-Defensive Team:

Bill Russell had a team of hall of famers: Bob Cousy, Sam Jones, Tom Heinsohn, Bill Sharman, John Havlicek, Frank Ramsey, K. C. Jones, Don Nelson, Bailey Howell, Clyde Lovellette, so it's no surprise they won 11 championships in 13 years
Michael Jordan had Scottie Pippen (HOF, WS#45), Dennis Rodman (HOF, WS#118), Horace Grant (WS#51, AS, 4xAD), Toni Kukoc (HOF), Steve Kerr (the all-time leader in three-point accuracy), B. J. Armstrong, Ron Harper
Larry Bird had Robert Parish (HOF, WS#27), Kevin McHale (HOF, WS#81), Dennis Johnson (HOF), Dave Cowens (HOF), Nate Archibald (HOF), Bill Walton (HOF), Danny Ainge (AS)
Kareem (13) had Magic (15, WS#24), Oscar Robertson (24, WS#12), Marques Johnson (75), James Worthy (187), Jamaal Wilkes (HOF), Michael Cooper (8xAD)
LeBron James (2) had/has Anthony Davis (3), Dwyane Wade (22), Kyrie Irving (31), Kevin Love (51), Chris Bosh (69), Russell Westbrook (76), Carmelo Anthony (96), Ray Allen (142)
Kevin Durant (8) had/has James Harden (11, WS#31), Stephen Curry (16), Russell Westbrook (26), Kyrie Irving (31), Klay Thompson, Draymond Green
Kobe (27) had Shaq (4, WS#13), Pau Gasol (49, WS#32), Robert Horry (7 rings and known as "Big Shot Rob"), Derek Fisher, Rick Fox, Glen Rice, Lamar Odom, Andrew Bynum
David Robinson (5) had Tim Duncan (14, WS#7), Kawhi Leonard (23), LaMarcus Aldridge (63), Manu Ginobli (73), Tony Parker (154)
Julius Erving (20) had Moses Malone (36, WS#15), George McGinnis (79), Bobby Jones (HOF), Maurice Cheeks (HOF), Doug Collins (4xAS)
Hakeem Olajuwon (19) had Charles Barkley (12, WS#18), Clyde Drexler (55, WS#37), Ralph Sampson (HOF), Otis Thorpe (AS), Robert Horry, Kenny Smith, John Lucas

With the Lakers, Wilt's best partner was Jerry West (28) but he ranks below most of the "second men" above, and the rest of the Lakers don't show up in the top 200 for PER. Gail Goodrich is a distant 184 in win shares. And yet that team set the record for consecutive wins (33) not only for the NBA, but for all major professional sports.

With the Warriors and 76ers, prior to the 1966-1967 76ers breakthrough mentioned above, Wilt's best partners were Paul Arazin (not in the top 200), Tom Gola (not in the top 200), Hal Greer (not in the top 200) and Chet Walker (barely in, at 195), and the problem was that they were going up against the best NBA team of all time, the one at the top of my list.

This information comes from an article published by BasketballReference.com: According to career win shares per minute, Russell's teammates were worth 8.10 WS per 3,000 minutes played over Russell's career, while Chamberlain's were worth 6.06 over his career. That works out to Russell's teammates being worth 11 more victories per year, a substantial difference. "And in the playoffs since 1957, teams with 10-12 more regular-season wins than their opponent won 71 of 85 series (83.5%). So should it have been any surprise that Russell and the C's were coming out ahead of Chamberlain's Warriors & Sixers?" Russell had the advantage of playing with four of the top 50 players up to that point in time: Cousy, Sharman, Havlicek and Sam Jones. Heinsohn would be in some top 50's and not far out in most others. Frank Ramsey, Don Nelson and K. C. Jones are members of the HOF. In some of those championship years the Celtics had five starters averaging 15 to 22 points per game, with two hall-of-famers coming off the bench. In 1966-67 they had three players average over 20 points per game. In 1960-61 they have six players average over 15 points per game. In multiple seasons they had seven players average over 10 points per game. It was the best and most well-rounded team in NBA history; it was cohesive because there was no free agency; it had the best defensive center of all time who didn't have to score a ton for the team to win; it had some of the most accurate shooters of that era in Sharman, Nelson and Sam Jones; and it had the best system with the best coach in Red Auerbach. And some of the less-heralded players were damn good in their assigned roles: Tom Sanders, Jim Loscutoff, Willie Naulls, Larry Siegfried, Mel Counts, Wayne Embry. It was a team with only major strengths and no major flaws to be exploited.

As mentioned previously, when Wilt had teammates capable of scoring, and he could play more like Bill Russell, focusing on rebounding, assists and defense, his teams twice set NBA records for wins. Why hadn't Wilt won titles before? He simply hadn't had teammates who could compete with those great Celtics teams. To win a title is not just a question of how good your team is, but also of how good the opposing teams are. Michael Jordan didn't win a ring in his first six years because the Celtics and Pistons had better teams. Wilt didn't win his first ring for a number of years for the same reason.

Wilt has three of the top ten individual seasons for PER; Michael Jordan has two; LeBron has two; the others are by Nikola Jokic, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Stephen Curry. No other player is in the top 15, so these are the most dominant players of all time according to PER. But only Wilt made the decision to deliberately stop trying to score. So he was the most dominant player of all time in a "career" that only spanned seven years. And let's not forget that when Wilt was scoring 40 to 50 points per game, he was doing it against double- and triple-teaming, while being brutalized on a regular basis. Earl Strom, a legendary NBA referee, said, "If we called all the fouls on Wilt, we wouldn't have a game!"

And now, without futher ado, here are the GOAT votes summarized, then followed by each individual's vote and in many cases, what the voters said. Who did the greatest players vote for? Michael Jordan voted for Wilt Chamberlain in a roundabout way, by naming him first in a GOAT discussion, and so did his most famous teammate, Scottie Pippen, more directly. Chamberlain's nemesis at center, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar voted for Wilt, and so did Kareem's hall-of-fame teammate Oscar Robertson, the original triple-double machine and perhaps the best guard ever. Kobe voted for Wilt and so did his teammate Shaquille O'Neal. Karl Malone named Wilt number one, and so did his hall-of-fame partner John Stockton, the all-time assist leader. Other all-time greats who named Wilt number one or first on their "short lists" include Dr. J, Rick Barry, Walt Frazier (who called Wilt "the only superman to play the game"), Clyde Drexler, Gary Payton and James Harden.

Methodology: This is not a perfect science. Some players have voted for more than one player and some have cast different votes for different players at different times. But just to mention a player in a GOAT decision is a mark of great honor, so I include ALL names mentioned and ignore slight imperfections here and there. The goal is to discover and uncover the larger trend. If MJ mentions Wilt first in a GOAT discussion, that seems like a strong point in Wilt's favor to me. If MJ mentions Jerry West second, that is good enough for me. If he mentions someone else first later, I will also give that player a vote.

THE COMPLETE GOAT VOTES

Here are the individual GOAT picks, with the cumulative totals for each nominee in parentheses. The term AC means "already counted" if someone names the same player in more than one interview.

Wilt Chamberlain: Meadowlark Lemon (1) but later Wilt will vote for seven NBA stars, noted herein
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at 4:00 of this interview compilation: Wilt Chamberlain (1) was "unbelievable" with Bill Russell (1) and Oscar Robertson (1)
In another interview Kareem said that Bill Russell "terrorized" the NBA for 13 years
Oscar Robertson: Wilt Chamberlain (2), Elgin Baylor (1), Jerry West (1), LeBron James (1), Kobe Bryant (1)
Larry Bird: Michael Jordan (1) but he would later say the record book makes it "obvious" that Wilt was the GOAT
Scottie Pippen at :40 of this interview compilation: Wilt Chamberlain (3)
Michael Jordan at 1:30 of this interview compilation: 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 and Jerry West.” I take those two names to be deeply significant to Jordan, who's a student of the game, and those names do count as votes in my methodology, which is not an exact science but a different way to look at trends in the larger picture. I count ALL votes for the top contenders and look for the larger trend: who is named the most when the GOAT question comes up?

In an interview John Salley said the Jerry West was Michael Jordan's favorite player.

Shaq: Hakeem Olajuwon (1) but he later named Wilt Chamberlain at least twice as the greatest and called him "the most dominant player ever"
Rick Barry at 5:00 of this interview compilation: "There's no one close, no one, to what Wilt Chamberlain did in his career" (5)
Walt Frazier at 1:30 of this interview compilation: Wilt Chamberlain is the only superman to play the game (6), Bill Russell (2), Michael Jordan (2)

Legendary coach Tex Winters explains at 1:00 of this interview why college basketball rules were changed after he watched Chamberlain play in a scrimmage as a college freshman. Winters was chairman of the NCAA rules committee at the time, and he admitted that he was "instrumental" in changing two rules after seeing the young Superman in action. Winters said that on foul shots Chamberlain would take three running steps from behind the foul line and dunk the ball! (No running the length of the court like Michael Jordan.) The other rule change was not allowing the ball to be thrown over the backboard for an alley-oop on out-of-bounds plays. Winters also said that the other coaches all conceded the next three conference championships to Kansas, after Chamberlain became eligible as a sophomore.

Bill Walton: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (3) but "Wilt Chamberlain, oh my gosh!"
George Gervin: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1)
Isiah Thomas: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (2), LeBron James (2) and later in this poll Isiah will add a third name
"Dr. J" Julius Erving: Wilt Chamberlain (7), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (3), Bill Russell (3), Elgin Baylor (2), Jerry West (3), Oscar Robertson (2)

Dr. J also spoke very highly of Connie Hawkins (1) and pointed out that by the time he played in the NBA he was 30 years old and had bad knees. Dr. J furthermore pointed out that there was legacy for his style of play that started with Elgin Baylor, then was passed down to Hawkins, then to himself, then to Michael Jordan, then to Kobe Bryant and currently to LeBron James.

Bob Cousy: Michael Jordan (2)
Magic Johnson at 5:30 of this interview compilation: Michael Jordan (3) but he said "There will never, ever be another Wilt Chamberlain"
Hakeem Olajuwon: Michael Jordan (4) but he also named Wilt Chamberlain, noted below
Bill Russell: Michael Jordan (5), Oscar Robertson (3) but on numerous occasions he named Wilt (documented here and tallied later because I am tallying the votes in chronological order in order to keep the running scores correct, and I found the quotes in question years after I started this scorecard)

Bill Russell's quotes about Wilt Chamberlain and their rivalry and close friendship:

Bill Russell: He [Wilt] thought, and rightfully so, that he was the greatest basketball player who ever lived. [At the beginning of this interview compilation.]

"Nobody seems to appreciate what an incredible player Wilt was," Russell said at 1997 All-Star Game when the league named and honored its 50 greatest players. "He was the best player of all time because he dominated the floor like nobody else ever could. To be that big and that athletic was special."

"I'm probably the only person on the planet who knows how good you really are." – Bill Russell to Wilt Chamberlain in his autobiography Go Up for Glory, pg. 100

"Wilt is playing better than I used to: passing off, coming out to set up screens, picking up guys outside, and sacrificing himself for team play." – Bill Russell, quoted in Great Moments in Pro Basketball by Sam Goldaper, pg. 24

"If the referee is calling the game loose, then everyone gets away with more, so you have to handle your own man accordingly, unless it’s Wilt Chamberlain. Him, you just don’t handle. He’s too strong. The best you can do is make him work hard."

"Because I knew Wilt as I did, I was always seeking to take advantage of his good nature. I did whatever I could to make sure I would never get him angry or fired up, as I knew he would destroy me if I did."

"After I played him for the first time, I said, 'Let's see. He's four or five inches taller. He's 40 or 50 pounds heavier. His vertical leap is at least as good as mine. He can get up and down the floor as well as I can. And he's smart. The real problem with all this is that I have to show up!'"

"The first time I ever played Wilt he destroyed me so bad that he put enough fear into my heart that I was going to do anything to beat Wilt."

''The saving thing about playing against Wilt, who was so physically imposing, is that I can't recall hearing about anything where Wilt tried to hurt anybody. I also knew that I could knock him over and hard foul him, but that he would not get up after I fouled him and fight me.'' – Bill Russell, in Giants of The Game: Russell and Chamberlain [and at :45 of this interview clip]

''I don't sleep a couple of days because I remember some of the games against Wilt when he scored 62 points against me and got 55 rebounds on my head.'' – Bill Russell, in Giants of The Game: Russell and Chamberlain

"People say it was the greatest individual rivalry they've ever seen. I agree with that. Let me assure you that if either Wilt's or Russ's coach had ever told one of them he couldn't guard the other guy, he would have lost that player forever."

"Wilt was the smartest player I played against. I could never play Wilt the same two games in a row because it would not work, and so through the whole time we played against each other every game was different." – Bill Russell, in an interview conducted at his house [at 1:30 of this interview clip]

''I would go over to Wilt's house on Thanksgiving and sleep in his bed, eat his food, and then leave to go the arena to play against him, and then I would beat Wilt. One time Wilt's mother said to Wilt, 'Maybe we should not feed Bill so well the next time he is here!'''

''When Wilt shot that hook-shot of his, I would say are you kidding me?'' – Bill Russell, in a 1997 interview

"When the media compared Wilt and me, I decided that I will never change the way I play for the Celtics to try to match him."

''Wilt called me up one day [when] Sports Illustrated had a cover about Rodman being the best rebounder ever. And Wilt was so annoyed, so he calls me up and asks do I believe this shit, and I said no. Wilt then says to me. 'I grabbed more rebounds in a quarter then he had in a whole game!'"

''Wilt and I chat on the phone now like two old ladies."

At Wilt's funeral, his lifelong on-court rival and personal friend Bill Russell said, "The fierceness of our competition bonded us together for eternity."

But the great Bill Russell also explained why he is a candidate for the NBA GOAT when he said: "The way I played the game, my team wins."

Russell also pointed out that in his era there were only 80 jobs available for NBA players, making the quality higher than in the modern game. With talent watered down between more teams, the competition gets easier.

Gary Payton: Wilt Chamberlain (8), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (2), Bill Russell (4), Magic Johnson (1), Julius Erving (1)
John Stockton: Wilt Chamberlain (9), Michael Jordan (6), Elgin Baylor (3), Larry Bird (1), Magic Johnson (2)
LeBron James: Larry Bird (2), Julius Erving (2), Michael Jordan (7) but also called Wilt a "flat out Monster" with a capital M in a tweet
Kevin McHale: Wilt Chamberlain (10)
Tracy McGrady: Shaquille O'Neal (1), LeBron James (3), Michael Jordan (8), Magic Johnson (3), Hakeem Olajuwon (2)
Jason Kidd: Shaquille O'Neal (2), Michael Jordan (9), Scottie Pippen (1), John Stockton (1), Tim Duncan (1)
Reggie Miller: Michael Jordan (11), Magic Johnson (4), Larry Bird (3), Hakeem Olajuwon (3)
Jerry West: Michael Jordan (12) but said it would be "embarrassing" for centers today to play against Wilt Chamberlain
Elgin Baylor: Michael Jordan (13) but he also said Bill Russell quite emphatically (tallied later in this list)
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 (8), Larry Bird (7), Shaquille O'Neal (6), Kobe Bryant (3)
NBA Logo: Jerry West (5)
Clyde Drexler at :40 of this interview compilation: Wilt Chamberlain (15) 
Joel Embiid: Wilt Chamberlain "has all the records" and "he's the GOAT" (16)
Wayne Embry: Oscar Robertson (5)
Jim Chones: Wilt Chamberlain (17), Bill Russell (9), 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 (10), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (9), Shaquille O'Neal (7), Oscar Robertson (9)
The Grueling Truth: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (10), Bill Russell (11), Wilt Chamberlain (19)
Legends 100: Michael Jordan (20), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (10), Bill Russell (12), Wilt Chamberlain (20), Tim Duncan (5), Magic Johnson (10), LeBron James (9), Larry Bird (9), Jerry West (6), Shaquille O'Neal (8)
Bobby Knight: Jerry West (7)

In an interview viewable on YouTube, Jerry West said that he was friends with Bobby Knight, called him a "basketball genius" and said that Knight had confided to him that he thought the greatest basketball player of all time was Jerry West.

Charles Barkley: Michael Jordan (21), Oscar Robertson (10), Bill Russell (13), Wilt Chamberlain (21), Kobe Bryant (4), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (11)
In an amusing interview Sir Charles Barkley chides Shaq for putting himself above Wilt in the center pantheon, repeatedly saying: "You're not better than Wilt Chamberlain!"
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 (14), 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)

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)
Dominique Wilkens said no one scared him but the one player who worried him was Bernard King (1) because he was "relentless" and could score 30 to 40 points and "there was nothing you could do."
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 (1) would have averaged 50 points per game. Walton also called him a taller, more athletic Steve Nash.
Shaq at :35 of this interview compilation: Wilt Chamberlain was the greatest, the most dominant player ever (28)
David Stern at 2:10 of this interview compilation: Wilt Chamberlain "cast a shadow over our game, a shadow of accomplishment" (29)
Earl Monroe: Wilt Chamberlain (30)
Jalen Rose: Wilt Chamberlain was "the unstoppable force ... he's in a category of his own" (31)
James Harden in this interview compilation: Wilt Chamberlain was "on another level" (32)
Kobe Bryant at :50 of this interview compilation: "Wilt, me, Mike" with Wilt Chamberlain (33) first and Michael Jordan (23) third (self-votes don't count)
Dan Patrick at 2:15 of this interview compilation: Wilt Chamberlain is not acknowledged for how transcendentally great he really was [paraphrase] (34)
Chris Broussard: Wilt Chamberlain was "utterly dominant" and "the greatest athlete to ever play in the NBA" (35)
Peter Maravich: Larry Bird wasn't the best rebounder, passer, dribbler, shooter or scorer ... he was just the very best (17)
Mark Eaton: Wilt Chamberlain was "arguably the greatest basketball player of all time." (36)
Elgin Baylor in an interview on YouTube: Bill Russell (15) first, followed by Jerry West (8) and Oscar Robertson (11)
Wilt Chamberlain in an interview on YouTube named Larry Bird (18) first, followed by Jerry West (9), Elgin Baylor(5), Oscar Robertson (12), Michael Jordan (24), Magic Johnson (13), Charles Barkley (1)

It is important to note that in the interview above, Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell were not allowed to vote for each other, leading to ...

Wilt Chamberlain at 3:45 of this interview compilation: Bill Russell (16)
Allen Iverson: Michael Jordan (25)
NBAmath.com: Jerry West (10) because "West’s year-by-year scores are comparable to those earned by the primary G.O.A.T. contenders"
Kevin Love at 1:00 of this interview compilation: Wilt Chamberlain (37) and 100 points is "hard to fathom"
Hakeem Olajuwon at 1:10 of this interview compilation: Wilt Chamberlain (38)
Kevin Durant at 1:20 of this interview compilation: Wilt Chamberlain (39)
Karl Malone: Wilt Chamberlain (40)
Bleacher Report GOAT analysis: Michael Jordan (26), Kobe Bryant (5), Magic Johnson (14), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (12), Larry Bird (19), Jerry West (11)
Bob Pettit: Bill Russell (17)
Paul Pierce: Michael Jordan (27)
Kevin Durant: Michael Jordan (28), Kobe Bryant (6), Magic Johnson (15), Shaquille O'Neal (10), Tim Duncan (7)
LeBron James at 1:50 of this interview compilation: Wilt Chamberlain was a flat-out monster (41)
Dale Brown said that with three-pointers Pete Maravich (2) would have averaged 57 points per game.
Jerry West at 4:30 of this interview compilation: It would be "embarrassing" for modern centers to face Wilt Chamberlain (42)
Magic Johnson at 5:30 of this interview compilation: "There will never, ever be another Wilt Chamberlain" (43)
Magic Johnson: Wilt Chamberlain (AC) was the first player who made changes, the first dominant player
Giannis Antetokounmpo at 6:00 of this interview compilation: Wilt Chamberlain "has all the records ... That's it. He's the GOAT." (44)
Karl Malone: Wilt Chamberlain (AC), John Stockton (2), Oscar Robertson (13), LeBron James (11), Scottie Pippen (2)
Bill Russell: Wilt Chamberlain (45) on numerous occasions, documented early in this list
Bill Russell: Magic Johnson (16), Michael Jordan (AC), Larry Bird (20), Elgin Baylor (6), Oscar Robertson (AC), Hakeem Olajuwon (6), Bob Pettit (1)

The votes above came in an interview where Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain were not allowed to vote for each other.

Red Auerbach refused to name an all-time team unless he could pick 12 players, and then snuck in two more!: Bill Russell (18), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (13), Bob Pettit (2), Magic Johnson (17), Michael Jordan (29), Jerry West (12), Larry Bird (21), Elgin Baylor (7), Julius Erving (5), Oscar Robertson (14), Bob Cousy (1), John Havlicek (1), Charles Barkley (2), Karl Malone (1)

Shaq all-time team one: Hakeem (AC), Bill Russell (19), Julius Erving (6), Magic Johnson (18), Michael Jordan (30)
Shaq all-time team two: Hakeem (AC), Kobe Bryant (7), Larry Bird (22), Karl Malone (2), Michael Jordan (AC)
Shaq all-time team three: Wilt Chamberlain (AC), Michael Jordan (AC), Magic Johnson (AC), Karl Malone (AC), Charles Barkley (3) ... After announcing this team, Shaq said everyone else was just copycatting these five, presumably including members of his previous GOAT teams!

Michael Jordan: Magic Johnson (19), Michael Jordan (NC), Hakeem Olajuwon (7), Scottie Pippen (3), James Worthy (1) with the last two looking like "homer" votes

Sir Charles Barkley's updated list: Michael Jordan (AC), Oscar Robertson (AC), Bill Russell (AC), Wilt Chamberlain (AC), Kobe Bryant (AC), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (AC), Magic Johnson (20), Larry Bird (23), Jerry West (13), LeBron James (12), Elgin Baylor (8), Tim Duncan (8)

Magic Johnson: Michael Jordan (31), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (14), Larry Bird (24), Tim Duncan (9), Isiah Thomas (1)

Kobe Bryant: Wilt Chamberlain (46), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (15), Magic Johnson (21), Jerry West (14), Elgin Baylor (9), Michael Jordan (32), Larry Bird (25), Bill Russell (20), Oscar Robertson (15), Bob Pettit (3), Walt Frazier (1)

Kevin McHale:  Bill Russell (21), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (16), Magic Johnson (22), Michael Jordan (33), Larry Bird (26)

Jalen Rose's "Mount Rushmore": Bill Russell (22), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (17), Magic Johnson (23), Michael Jordan (34)

According to NBAmath.com and its Progressive GOAT calculations, George Mikan (1) was the NBA GOAT from 1951-1954
According to NBAmath.com and its Progressive GOAT calculations, Dolph Schayes (1) was the NBA GOAT from from 1955-1964 (10 years)
According to NBAmath.com and its Progressive GOAT calculations, Bob Pettit (4) was in the top ten of its NBA GOAT index from 1955-1988 (a remarkable 34 years!)
According to NBAmath.com and its Progressive GOAT calculations, Wes Unseld (1) was in the top ten of its NBA GOAT index from 1976-1990 (15 years)

Shawn Kemp: Magic Johnson (24) was "the general"
Pat Riley: Magic Johnson (25)
Bijan C. Bayne: the word "superstar" was coined because of Elgin Baylor (10)
The Shadow League: Elgin Baylor (11) was a top five player of all time
Jim Alexander: Elgin Baylor (12) was the first GOAT and "the best player who most of America never saw."
Hot Rod Hundley: Elgin Baylor (13)
Jonny Arnett: Wilt Chamberlain (58) was first in his GOAT series
Jonny Arnett: Elgin Baylor (14) was "the most underrated player of all time"
Dylan Carlson: Elgin Baylor (15) was "the most underrated player in the history of basketball " and he was "raised by wolves"
George Mikan (2) has three of the top twelve win share seasons of all time, third behind only Wilt Chamberlain (47) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (18)
Tom Heinsohn: Bill Russell (23)
Wali Jones at 3:30 of this interview compilation: Wilt Chamberlain (48), Bill Russell (24), LeBron James (13), Michael Jordan (35), Rick Barry (1)
Ralph Sampson: Bill Russell (25) for winning so many championships
Nate Archibald: Lenny Wilkins (1)
Isiah Thomas: LeBron James (AC), Kareem-Abdul Jabbar (AC), Kobe Bryant (7)
Allen Iverson at 5:30 of this interview compilation: Wilt Chamberlain (49)
Nate Thurmond was "in awe" at 6:30 of this interview compilation: Wilt Chamberlain (50)
Blair Floyd at 6:50 of this interview compilation: Wilt Chamberlain (51)
Mo Howard at 7:30 of this interview compilation: Wilt Chamberlain (52)
Chink Scott at 8:00 of this interview compilation: Wilt Chamberlain (53)
Ducky Birts at 39:00 of this interview compilation: Wilt Chamberlain (54)
Magic Johnson at 5:30 of this interview compilation: "There will never, ever be another Wilt Chamberlain" (55)
Bill Walton in an interview about the GOAT: "Wilt Chamberlain, oh my gosh!" (56)
Larry Bird said that opening the record book makes it "obvious" that Wilt Chamberlain (57) was the GOAT
Patrick Ewing: Hakeem Olajuwon (8)
Alex English in an interview mentioned George Gervin (1), Artis Gilmore (1) and Dennis Rodman (1)
Gary Payton: John Stockton (3) was harder to guard than Michael Jordan in this interview where he defended his claim, saying Stockton would get 20 points, 15 assists and 4 steals
Backpicks has made a strong case for Steve Nash (2) to be included in the great NBA GOAT debate in this in-depth analysis (one of the best I've read)
Backpicks also has Kevin Garnett (1) among its top candidates for the NBA GOAT
Rick Carlisle in this interview: Bill Russell (26), Wilt Chamberlain (56), Larry Bird (27) was "the ultimate winner"
Phil Jackson said without hesitation that he would select Bill Russell (27) first in a draft of all-time players
Robert Parrish: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (19)
Larry Bird called Magic Johnson (26) the best player he ever saw in this interview, although at other times he named Wilt Chamberlain (AC) and Michael Jordan (AC)
James Worthy: Magic Johnson (27) was "very demanding" but "made everyone better"
John Starks: Julius Erving (7) was the only model for his game
Earl Monroe: Wilt Chamberlain (AC), Oscar Robertson (16), Magic Johnson (28), (Michael Jordan (36), LeBron James (14), Larry Bird (28), Karl Malone (3)
Rick Mahorn: Willis Reed (1) is the only basketball player who would go on his personal Mount Rushmore
Reggie Miller: Michael Jordan (AC), Magic Johnson (AC), Larry Bird (AC), Hakeem Olajuwon (AC), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (20), Wilt Chamberlain (60), Tim Duncan (9), Bill Russell (28), Kobe Bryant(9)
Giannis Antetokounmpo: Michael Jordan (38), Wilt Chamberlain (AC), LeBron James (16), Kobe Bryant (9), Shaquille O'Neal (11)
The Wilt Chamberlain Archive: Elgin Baylor (16) was "possibly the best all around player ever"
According to John Salley, in private Michael Jordan told his teammates that Oscar Robertson (18) was the greatest player ever
Frank Deford: the term "superstar" was coined for Elgin Baylor (17)
Michael Lee, writing for the Washington Post, extolled the greatness of Elgin Baylor (18):

The numbers Baylor produced are still strong enough to elucidate his greatness — the first player to score more than 70 points in a game, the only player to surpass 60 points in a Finals game, the third-highest scoring average in NBA history, the only player shorter than 6-foot-6 to rank in the top 10 all-time for rebounds per game. Hangtime? That started with Baylor. The dribble move known as the Euro step, where you take a step in one direction, then take another across your body to hold off a defender? Baylor was doing that six decades ago.

Robert Tearney: Oscar Robertson (19) was the GOAT
Legendary UCLA coach John Wooden: “I’ve always considered Oscar Robertson (20) to be the best player in the game, but now I’m not so sure that Larry Bird (29) isn’t.”
Lubyanka Square made a strong argument for Jerry West (15) in "Jerry West: Statistical Anomaly, Dark Horse GOAT"
Backpicks also made a strong argument for Jerry West (16) who "was the original perimeter vortex, pummeling defenses with futuristic scoring and adroit passing. His hair-trigger release and long arms — he was said to have a 6-foot-9 wingspan — allowed him to create his own shot from nearly anywhere."
Nick Smith: Wilt Chamberlain (61) was not only the GOAT, he invented the fade-away jump shot and the finger roll!
Phil Jackson, who played against Wilt and coached Shaq, said Shaq didn't have the athleticism and endurance of Wilt Chamberlain (62) who often played 48 minutes per game and more in overtime.
Doc Rivers said the Hawks feared Kevin McHale (1) more than they feared Larry Bird, and said McHale and Hakeem (9) had the best footwork of any NBA bigs
InsideHoops.com: Jerry West (17): In 60 years no person has performed at a higher level in basketball.
Draymond Green: Michael Jordan (39), LeBron James (17), Kobe Bryant (11), Magic Johnson (29), Stephen Curry (2)

Draymond Green illustrates a problem with some voters, because he said he didn't vote for players he hadn't seen like Wilt Chamberlain.

Earl "the Pearl" Monroe made some astute observations in his discussion of the NBA GOAT and his all-time starting five:

Wilt Chamberlain was "hands down" the best center, and the best player of all time.
Wilt only tried to score for six years, then became an "assist guy" when he was criticized for shooting too much.
And yet Wilt still has 72 records on the NBA books, after 40 years.
"Whatever they said he couldn't do, he did."
(For instance, by becoming the only center to lead the NBA in assists for an entire season.)
Monroe refused to choose between the Big O and Magic at point guard.
Monroe refused to name any shooting guard close to Jordan, saying: "They all wanted to be like him."
When asked about forward close to LeBron, Monroe immediately named Larry Bird without hesitation.

Daily NBA Fact: Magic Johnson (30), Larry Bird (30), Wilt Chamberlain (63), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (20), LeBron James (18), Michael Jordan (40)
Martin Clark: Bill Russell (29), Wilt Chamberlain (64), Jerry West (18), Oscar Robertson (21), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (21), Julius Erving (8), Magic Johnson (31), Larry Bird (31), Michael Jordan (41), Kobe Bryant (12)
On joining the NBA, Patrick Ewing told his friends back home who had dissed Larry Bird (32) that he was "demolishing everyone" and doing it to the best defenders in the league!
Bill Bridges said Jerry West (19) was "Probably the finest basketball player who's ever played the game."
Bob Cousy said Jerry West (20) was "Perhaps the premier guard who's ever played the game."
Tom Heinsohn said Jerry West (21) was "the equal of Michael Jordan."
Pat Riley, comparing Jerry West (22) to Michael Jordan, said: "There wasn't a better clutch player in the history of the NBA than Jerry West."
Klutch2K on YouTube: Wilt Chamberlain (65)
John Havlicek said Oscar Robertson (22) had "no weaknesses" and was "the best player I ever played against."
Jerry West also said Oscar Robertson (23) was "the best player I ever played against."
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar told Dan Patrick that people who called Michael Jordan the best player "probably didn't see Oscar Robertson [AC] play."
Clayton Crowley GOAT series: Bill Russell (30), Wilt Chamberlain (66), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (22), Magic Johnson (32), Larry Bird (33), Michael Jordan (42), LeBron James (19), Tim Duncan (10)
Jonny Arnett GOAT series: Wilt Chamberlain (AC), Bill Russell (31), Kobe Bryant (13), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (23), Magic Johnson (33), Larry Bird (34), Michael Jordan (43), LeBron James (20), Tim Duncan (11)
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: "I have always said that Nate Thurmond (1) was the toughest competitor I ever faced."
John Salley: Julius Erving (9), Oscar Robertson (24), Bill Russell (32), Jerry West (23), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (24), Nate Archibald (2)
Colin Cowherd's ten most important players:  Bill Russell (33), Jerry West (24), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (25), Julius Erving (10), Magic Johnson (34), Larry Bird (35), Michael Jordan (44), Kobe Bryant (14), LeBron James (21), Stephen Curry (3)
Dominique Wilkins: Wilt Chamberlain (67) was "inhuman"
Dave Bing: Wilt Chamberlain (68) was the "most dominant" basketball player of all time.
Charlie Scott: Oscar Robertson (25) was the "perfect" basketball player and his role model. Scott even said that he tried to look and argue like the Big O!
Craig Hodges in an interview said "It's all about winning" and named Bill Russell (34)

Elgin Baylor: [Oscar] Robertson was the best guard I ever played against, Jerry West was the best I ever played with, and Pete [Maravich(3)] is the best I’ve ever seen.
Calvin Murphy: If you haven't seen [Pete Maravich(4)] "you haven't seen the best."

Calvin Murphy, one of the greatest ball handlers in NBA history, said in an interview: You know, in college, Pistol and I fought for the scoring leader in the country, and all three years I was second to Pistol. And I used to make excuses: “The only reason Pistol scored more than me is because his dad coached him,” and so on and so forth, until I got to play against him, and that was a lot of bologna. He was… He was… He was… Goodness gracious, it’s hard to describe somebody that was about 6’6″ or 6’7″ [who] handled the ball as well or better than myself. He just didn’t shoot the basketball, he was a pure shooter. He would pass the ball through the eye of a needle. I got a chance to play with him for the first time in the High School All-American Game in Memphis, and it’s tough. You’re trying to play your game, and you’re watching him. You know, you’re in the back court with him. We were starting guards for the All-American Team, and I got to be great friends with him from that point on. Well, you know, if you can’t beat ’em, you’ve got to join ’em!

Dan Issel: Pete Maravich [5] was the greatest ball-handler and passer I have ever seen.
Steve Nash: We’re all doing things he did first. This sounds like a ringing endorsement for Pete Maravich [6] by perhaps his closest competitor.
Rick Barry: Pete Maravich [7] was the greatest ball handler I’ve ever seen in my life. He could do things with the basketball that were unbelievable.
Bill Walton: Like a master chess player, Pete Maravich [8] saw things that nobody else did.

All-Time Starting Fives with Optional Sixth Man

In an interview where they were not allowed to vote for each other, these were the picks of all-time NBA greats Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell. It was amusing that they started with five players, then six, and kept trying to squeeze in other favorite players. Here are the teams they came up with:

Wilt Chamberlain: Larry Bird (first), Jerry West, Oscar Robertson , Elgin Baylor, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and he also squeezed in Charles Barkley
Bill Russell: Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Elgin Baylor, Oscar Robertson, Hakeem Olajuwon, Bob Pettit

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
Bleacher Report GOAT analysis: Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Larry Bird, Jerry West
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

Best Defenders of All Time

Bill Russell (consensus)
Tim Duncan (fifteen-time NBA All-Defensive Team)
Kevin Garnett (twelve-time NBA All-Defensive Team)
Kobe Bryant (twelve-time NBA All-Defensive Team)
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (eleven-time NBA All-Defensive Team)
Scottie Pippen (ten-time NBA All-Defensive Team)
Gary Payton (nine-time NBA All-Defensive Team)
Hakeem Olajuwon (nine-time NBA All-Defensive Team)
Michael Jordan (nine-time NBA All-Defensive Team)
David Robinson (eight-time NBA All-Defensive Team)
Dennis Rodman (eight-time NBA All-Defensive Team)
Walt Frazier (seven-time NBA All-Defensive Team)
Ben Wallace (four-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year)
Dikembe Mutombo (four-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year)
Joe Dumars (Magic Johnson)
Joe Dumars (Reggie Lewis)
Gary Payton (John Stockton)
Tony Allen (Kobe Bryant)
Nate McMillan (Magic Johnson)
Dennis Johnson (Magic Johnson)
Michael Cooper (Magic Johnson)
Nate Thurmond (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar)
Bob Lanier (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar)

Best NBA Players by Decade

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

According to NBAmath.com 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 great 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?

My Top 10 NBA Players of All Time
by Michael R. Burch

KEY: AD=All-Defensive Team, AS=All-Star Team, WS=Win Shards, apg=assists per game, bpg=blocks per game, fg%=field goal percentage, ppg=points per game, rpg=rebounds per game, spg=steals per game, ts%=true shooting percentage

The NBA average true shooting percentage through 1949 was around 39%, through 1959 it was around 46%, through 1969 it was around 49%, through 1979 it was around 53%, through 1999 it was around 54%, and through 2020 it is around 57%, so a modern player shooting under 57% is below average. This is just a rough guideline.

(*) For these players blocked shots and steals were not recorded and thus their advanced stats are understated

1. Wilt Chamberlain, the NBA GOAT and most dominant player ever: #3 WS/48 (*)
2. Oscar Robertson, the original triple-double machine for five years: #20 WS/48 (*)
3. Jerry West: Mr. Clutch (32.9 ppg in the playoffs) with the three-pointer? #14 WS/48 (*)
4. Michael Jordan, who made OUR tongues hang out with his: #1 WS/48
5. Larry Bird, the NBA's best clutch shooter and trash talker: #23 WS/48
6. Magic Johnson, because they called him Magic for a reason: #7 WS/48, .610 ts%
7. Elgin Baylor, the prototype for Dr. J, MJ and Kobe: 27.4 ppg, 13.5 rpg, 4.3 apg
8. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the all-time points king and a class act: #7 WS/48
9. LeBron James, the best player since MJ, #6 WS/48
10. Bob Pettit, the NBA's forgotten superstar: 26.4 ppg, 16.2 rpg, 3.0 apg, #15 WS/48 (*)

My Top 15 NBA Players of All Time

11. Bill Russell, the all-time king if rings are the thing: #29 WS/48 (*), just .440 fg%
12. Hakeem Olajuwon aka the Dream: 22 ppg, 11 rpg, 3 bpg, #49 WS/48
13. Charles Barkley aka the Round Mound of Rebound: 22 ppg, 12 rpg, 4 apg, #13 WS/48
14. Julius Erving aka Dr. J: 16x-AS, 22 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 4 apg, #30 WS/48, .558 ts%
15. Rick Barry had highs of 35.6 ppg, 10.6 rpg, 6.3 apg, 2.9 spg

"He was a great artist. A Mozart. A Picasso. A Caruso," Rick Barry's former coach, Lou Carnesecca, said. "I'd diagram a play, and Rick would instinctively see four or five options that I'd never even imagined. In 35 years of coaching I've never had another guy like that."

16. Kobe Bryant, aka the Black Mamba: 25 ppg, 5 rpg, 5 apg, but only .447 fg%, .550 ts%
17. Shaquille O'Neal, most dominant center since Wilt: #19 WS/48, .582 fg% 10th all-time
18. David Robinson: 21 ppg, 11 rpg, 3 bpg, #2 WS/48
19. Tim Duncan, the Big Fundamental was a great defender and overall player: #17 WS/48
20. John Stockton, all-time assists & steals leader: #18 WS/48, .608 ts% is 18th all-time
21. Karl Malone aka the Mailman always delivered: 25 ppg, 10 rpg, 3.6 apg, #22 WS/48
22. Kevin McHale had incredible footwork/moves: 17.9 ppg, 7.3 rpg, .605 ts% is 22nd
23. Stephen Curry: .624 ts% is fifth all-time, #21 WS/48, still rising in this ranking
24. Artis Gilmore: #27 WS/48, .623 tsp% is 6th all-time
25. Isiah Thomas was clutch and a great scorer and assist man: 19.2 ppg, 9.3 apg

My Top 50 NBA Players of All Time

26. Steve Nash was 50/40/90 for most of his career: .605 ts% is 22nd
27. Moses Malone aka the Chairman of the Boards: 20.6 ppg, 12.2 rpg
28. Kevin Durant: 27 ppg, 7 rpg, 4 apg,  #12 WS/48
29. Scottie Pippen was a great all-round player but just .473 fg%, .536 ts%
30. Chris Paul aka the Point God: 19 ppg, 10 apg, 5 rpg, 2.5 spg, #5 WS/48, .583 ts%
31. Dolph Schayes: 18.5 ppg, 12.1 rpg, 3.1 apg, #31 WS/48
32. Dominique Wilkins averaged 25+ points for ten consecutive seasons
33. Bill Walton would rank much higher if not for injuries: 19 ppg, 14 rpg, 4 apg, 3 bpg in his prime

"Between that season [1976-1977] and the next, it was probably the greatest stretch of a center that I ever saw play," former NBA player and coach Mike Dunleavy said. "He did virtually everything."

34. Walt Frazier: #51 WS/48, 19 ppg, 6 apg, 6 rpg, .490 fg%, 7xAS, 7xAD
35. George Mikan played only 7 years or he'd rank much higher
36. John Havlicek: 20.8 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 4.8 apg, 8 rings, 13xAS, 8xAD, .439 fg%
37. Pistol Pete Maravich, with the three-pointer? OMG!
38. Kevin Garnett: 18 ppg, 10 rpg, 4 apg, #17 BPM, #40 WS/48
39. Elvin Hayes: 21.0 ppg, 12.5 rpg, 2xAD, .452 fg%
40. Bob McAdoo was the best center of his era, after Kareem
41. Dirk Nowitzki was a 14-time All-Star: 20.7 ppg, 7.5 rpg, #28 WS/48
42. Adrian Dantley: 24.3 ppg, .617 ts% is 11th all-time, #35 WS/48
43. Jason Kidd: #40 BPM, but just .400 fg%, .507 ts%
44. Dwyane Wade : 22 ppg, 5 rpg, 5 apg, but just .554 ts%
45. Jerry Lucas: 17 ppg, 15.6 rpg
46. Bernard King would rank much higher if not for injuries, .562 ts%
47. Patrick Ewing was a premier shot blocker & scorer: 21 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 2.4 bpg
48. George Gervin was a four-time scoring leader who made more than 50% of his shots: 26.2 ppg, .565 ts%

"George could fill up the bucket so fast you would swear it was raining basketballs." — David Thompson

49. Bob Cousy was an eight-time assist leader called the Houdini of the Hardcourt
50. Bob Lanier: #33 BPM, #55 WS/48, .559 ts%

My Top 75 NBA Players of All Time


51. Dave Cowens was a great all-round center/power forward
52. Wes Unseld
53. Chris Mullin: .594 ts% is #36 all-time
54. Shawn Kemp: .555 ts%
55. Dennis Rodman
56. Kevin Johnson: #39 BPM, #48 WS/48, 18 ppg, 9 apg, .585 ts%
57. Neil Johnston: #4 WS/48, super-productive but a shorter career
58. Gary Payton aka the Glove for his elite defense but just .528 ts%
59. Reggie Miller: #52 WS/48, 18.2 ppg, .614 ts% is 14th all-time

"Reggie Miller, is the best shooter that I've ever seen in my life." — Ray Allen

60. Paul Arizin: #37 WS/48, 22.8 PPG, 8.6 RPG
61. Bobby Jones: #35 BPM, #54 WS/48, .607 ts%, great defender
62. Sidney Moncrief: #36 WS/48, .591 ts% is 42nd all-time
63. Dan Issel: #41 WS/48, 22.6 ppg, 9.1 rpg, .560 ts%
64. David Thompson, .567 ts%
65. Nate Archibald: 18.8 PPG, 7.4 APG
66. Manu Ginobili: #34 WS/48, #23 BPM, .582 ts%
67. Sam Jones a premier shooting guard of his era: #38 WS/48
68. Willis Reed (much higher, except for injuries)
69. Connie Hawkins
70. Alonzo Mourning: .583 ts%
71. Walt Bellamy: 20.1 ppg, 13.7 rpg, .554 ts%
72. Zelmo Beaty: 17.1 ppg, 10.9 rpg, #60 WS/48, .554 ts%
73. Robert Parish
74. Clyde Drexler: 20.4 ppg, 6.1 rpg, but just .547 ts%
75. Nate Thurmond averaged a perfectly symmetrical 15 ppg and 15 rpg

My Top 100 NBA Players of All Time

76. Earl Monroe: 18.8 ppg, 3.9 apg, .468 fg%
77. Hal Greer: 19.2 ppg, 4.0 apg, .452 fg%
78. Dave Bing: 20.3 ppg, 6.0 apg, .441 fg%
79. Billy Cunningham: 21.2 ppg, 10.2 rpg, .509 ts%
80. Pau Gasol: #67 WS/48, .565 ts%
81. Paul Pierce: 19.7 ppg, .568 ts%
82. Ray Allen: 18.9 ppg, .580 ts%
83. Vince Carter
84. Alex English
85. Allen Iverson: great volume scorer but not an efficient shooter: .425 fg%, .518 ts%
86. Carmelo Anthony: 22.6 ppg but just .447 fg%, .542 ts%
87. James Worthy, .559 ts%
88. Lenny Wilkens: 16.5 ppg, 6.7 apg, just .432 fg% but great defender, 9xAS
89. Dennis Johnson: .445 fg%
90. George McGinnis: 20.2 ppg, 11.0 rpg, just .448 fg%
91. Grant Hill (higher except for injuries): #43 WS/48
92. Allan Houston
93. Tracy McGrady: #17 BPM but a shorter prime and just .435 fg%, .519 ts%
94. Terry Porter: #46 WS/48, .576 ts%
95. Dave DeBusschere: 16.1 ppg, 11.0 rpg, just .432 fg% but great defender
96. Dale Ellis was one of the first great three-point specialists, .567 ts%
97. Maurice Cheeks: #48 WS/48, .572 ts%
98. Chris Webber: #49 WS/48
99. Chauncey Billups: #44 WS/48, 15.2 ppg, .580 ts%
100. Dikembe Mutombo: #100 WS/48, .573 ts%

HIGH HONORABLE MENTION: 

Danny Ainge
"Dollar" Bill Bradley
Tom Chambers
Tyson Chandler: #93 WS/48, .626 ts% is 4th all-time
Bobby Dandridge
Brad Daugherty: #89 WS/48, 590 ts% is 44th all-time
Vlade Divac
Joe Dumars
Gail Goodrich
Tim Hardaway
Jeff Hornacek: #97 WS/48, .582 ts%
Robert Horry
Bob Love but only .429 fg%
Cedric Maxwell: .629 ts% is 3rd all-time, 12.5 ppg, 6.3 rpg
Shawn Marion
Larry Nance: #45 WS/48, .586 ts%
Tony Parker
Mark Price: .586 ts%
Alvin Robertson
Arvydas Sabonis
Jack Sikma
Kiki Vandeweghe: .594 ts% is 37th all-time
Chet Walker
JoJo White

TOP 100 EXCEPT FOR SHORTER CAREERS AND/OR INJURIES

Manute Bol
Marques Johnson: 20.1 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 3.6 apg
Yao Ming: 19.0 ppg, 9.2 rpg, #24 WS/48, .596 ts%
Geoff Petrie
Ralph Sampson
Paul Westphal: #92 WS/48, .558 ts%
Jamaal Wilkes: 17.7 ppg, 6.2 rpg

STARS OF THE PAST WHO ARE DIFFICULT TO COMPARE TO MODERN PLAYERS

Harry Gallatin: #39 WS/48
Larry Foust: #99 WS/48)
Cliff Hagan
Tom Heinshohn
Bailey Howell: #44 WS/48, 18.7 ppg, 9.9 rpg, .480 fg%
Clyde Lovellette: #47 WS/48, 17.0 ppg, 9.5 rpg
"Easy" Ed Macauley: #25 WS/48, 17.5 ppg, 7.5 rpg
Frank Ramsey: #96 WS/48
Bill Sharman: #45 WS/48
Jack Twyman
George Yardley: #46 WS/48, 19.2 ppg, 8.9 rpg

UP-AND-COMING STARS WHOSE NBA RESUMES ARE CURRENTLY INCOMPLETE

LaMarcus Aldridge (#95 WS/48)
Giannis Antetokounmpo aka the Greek Freak is rapidly climbing in this ranking
Jimmy Butler (#26 WS/48)
Anthony Davis (#16 WS/48)
Paul George #37 BPM
Rudy Gobert: #8 WS/48, #1 .667 ts%
James Harden has been a great offensive player, but about average on defense: #10 WS/48
Al Horford (#90 WS/48)
Dwight Howard (#59 WS/48)
Kyrie Irving: #29 BPM
Nikola Jokic: #8 .617 ts%, 26 ppg, 14 rpg, 8 apg in his prime and rapidly climbing
DeAndre Jordan (#57 WS/48)
Kawhi Leonard has been a great offensive and defensive player, hindered somewhat by injuries: #11 WS/48
Kyle Lowry (#98 WS/48)
Damian Lillard (#50 WS/48)
John Wall is electric, but only .431 fg%, .517 ts%
Russell Westbrook has been a "statistical monster" but not an efficient scorer: .437 fg%, .527 ts%

PLAYERS DEMOTED FOR POOR SHOOTING:

These players would have ranked higher but their poor shooting held them back

Jason Kidd: .400 fg%, .507 ts%
John Wall: .431 fg%, .517 ts%
Allen Iverson: a great volume scorer but not the most efficient shooter with his .425 fg% and .518 ts%
Tracy McGrady: .435 fg%, .519 ts%
Jerry Stackhouse: .409 fg%, .524 ts%
Russell Westbrook has been a "statistical monster" but not an efficient scorer: .437 fg%, .527 ts%
Gary Payton: .466 fg%, .528 ts%
Vince Carter: .435 fg%, .536 ts%
Scottie Pippen: .473 fg%, .536 ts%
Carmelo Anthony: .447 fg%, .542 ts%
Clyde Drexler: .472 fg%, .547 ts%

Kobe Bryant: .447 fg%, .550 ts%, just 248th in ts% and sure to drop out of the top 250 soon
Dwyane Wade: .480 fg%, .554 ts%
Michael Jordan: .497 fg%, .569 ts%, just 111th on the all-time list for ts% and about average for today's NBA
LeBron James: .504 fg%, .587 ts%, LeBron is currently in the top 50 for ts% but is likely to fall out soon

Poor shooters according to raw field goal percentage include: Paul Arizin (42.1), Mookie Blaylock (40.9), Bob Cousy (.375), Baron Davis (40.9), Nick Van Exel (40.5), Derek Fisher (39.9), John Havlicek (43.9), Elvin Hayes (45.2), Bob Love (42.9), Nate Thurmond (42.1)

Who are the really great true percentage shooters among the NBA’s leading scorers? These are the top ten: Stephen Curry (.624), Artis Gilmore (.623), Adrian Dantley (.617), Kevin Durant (.615), Reggie Miller (.614), Charles Barkley (.612), James Harden (.610), Magic Johnson (.610), John Stockton (.608), Kevin McHale (.605), Steve Nash (.605).

The Ring Thing (is entirely Bling)
by Michael R. Burch

The ring
thing
is entirely bling.

Michael Jordan was zero-for-six
against the Larry Bird Celtics;
moreover, he was twice sent home
by Isiah’s Pistons;
his ring case only began to gleam
when he had Horace, Scottie and B.J. on his team.

Thus the ring
thing
is entirely bling.

Rings are won by teams, not individuals. Michael Jordan proves the point. Jordan’s Bulls were 0-6 against the Larry Bird Celtics and lost two more playoff series to the Isiah Thomas Pistons. Were Bird and Thomas the better players, or did they simply have better teams? Jordan didn’t win a ring until he had teammates like Horace Grant, Scottie Pippen and B.J. Armstrong, and even then it took time for that team to jell. Jordan was a transcendentally great player before he won a ring. If he had failed to win rings because he never had good-enough teammates, would that make him a lesser player? Judging individuals by team success or failure makes no sense, unless Jordan was a lesser player for six years while his teams struggled and then he miraculously became the GOAT when more capable players showed up. Ditto for LeBron James. The first thing he does after changing teams is use his influence to get better players to join him. LeBron is not foolish enough to think rings are won by individuals. Bill Russell won more rings because he played on better teams, but Wilt Chamberlain was the NBA GOAT, and all the stats say so.

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

The HyperTexts