Here is a measurement for the all-time GREATS.
To find out who the best of the best are, add up the total number of titles and MVP trophies (minimum of one MVP trophy. Sorry Robert Horry).
That looks like a good measurement to determine who the BEST EVER are. Only three guys so far have a rank of 10.
Bill Russell leads the pack with 16 (11 titles plus 5 MVP awards).
Next on the list is Kareem with 12 (6 titles and 6 MVP trophies).
Third is Michael Jordan with 11 (6 titles and 5 MVP trophies).
That's it for guys with TEN. Great company there. All around, those could be the top three on many all-time lists.
If that is it, who else gets close?
Magic made a great run at it finishing with 8 (5 titles and 3 MVP awards). So according to this Magic Johnson, at worst, is fourth all-time. Sounds about right to me.
The ORIGINAL point guard Bob Cousy has 7 (six titles and one MVP award).
Wilt has 6 with his two rings and 4 MVP trophies.
Larry Bird also has 6 with 3 titles and three (straight) MVP trophies.
Kobe has had a long, distinguished career is also at 6 all time (1 MVP trophy and 5 rings).
Who else is at 6? Well, that would be TIMMY. 4 titles and 2 MVP trophies for TD.
Shaq, one of the best ever, and probably the fourth best center ever finished his career with a respectable 5 (one MVP trophy and 4 rings).
One of the top all-time greats, but maybe not a top 10 all-time guy is Moses Malone. How does he score here? Well, he gets a 4 for three MVP awards and one title. Looks about right to me.
Hakeem Olajuwon has a respectable three with two titles and an MVP award.
Bob McAdoo is another guy with 3. He had an MVP trophy and then 2 rings as a support guy for the Showtime Lakers.
Bill Walton had an injury-ravaged career but is still on this list with 3. A title and an MVP trophy with his Blazers and then another ring with the Celtics as a sixth man.
That's one heck of a list.
Right now, LeBron James is at 5 with 4 MVP trophies and one title. That would put him in a tie in tenth place with a score of 6. That is one quick measurement to find out that LeBron is indeed one of the league's all time greatest players.
If the Heat win the title this year then that would move him to 6 total which would tie him with Wilt, Larry Bird, Kobe, and Tim Duncan. Can't argue with those guys.
So if everything goes according to plan and LeBron wins back to back titles, there wouldn't be too many guys ahead of him on the list. Ironically, the two guys that would be directly ahead of LeBron at that point would be two of the greatest passers and creators ever in Bob Cousy with 7 and Magic with 8. That looks like it is in reach for LeBron.
However, in order to move into hallowed ground with TEN he would need to get something like 4 rings and 6 MVP awards (to tie Kareem). If he gets that other title this year, then he would need two of each (MVP and titles) over the rest of his career. Then he would join the best of the best of the best (Russell, Kareem, and Mike).
I forgot about Bob Pettit on this list. He has two MVP trophies and one title. 3 puts him into elite company obviously. Not many guys have done that.
Dave Cowens and Willis Reed also have an MVP trophy and two rings.
It looks like not that many guys even have three. And ten is incredible.
hard to add rings with mvp titles... MVP titles are often economical mediatic or strategic decisions for the NBA.
Maybe MJ should have won every mvp title available during the nineties... but you have to "create" or increase some competition. So you share the cake some times.
AND it still depends on what you call VALUABLE (best player or most usefull for his team ?...).
Rings are solid real facts... BUT every ring has not the same taste of greatness. Some years are easy to win with less competition (Those AWFULL Spurs Nets finals). And each player doesn't have the same responsability on this achievement.
"Rings are solid real facts... BUT every ring has not the same taste of greatness. Some years are easy to win with less competition (Those AWFULL Spurs Nets finals). And each player doesn't have the same responsability on this achievement."
There was only one Spurs/Nets final, and that is really not a great example. The Spurs stopped a Lakers team that had won 3-straight that year. There was plenty of competition that season it was just all out west and the real finals was that Spurs-Lakers series. In fact, for many years that has been the case, where a conference final is more compelling than the NBA finals.
This is not a bad system but really gives an advantage to old timers. These guys had fewer teams to compete against and thus a statistically greater chance of winning titles and MVPs. I think the reality is we cannot determine who the greatest players are by numbers, we have to look at both their statistical accomplishments as well as the intangible ones. Outside of Jordan, compiling 9 others to make a top-10 isn't so hard, but ordering them becomes almost completely subjective.
bottom line from what people have said there is no good stat that puts people in the right order. Lebron is the best of his generation, jordan was the best of his generation. Kareem was the best of his generation. Bill russell was the best of his generation. those four to me are the top players ever. It is very hard to compare them because the NBA has changed so much since bill russell entered the NBA almost 60 years ago.
Cousy kind of screwed up the ranking a bit. he is an all-time great but more like top 20 or top 25 than top 10. But, you still have Russell, Kareem, MJ, and Magic ahead of him. No arguments in the 5 through six range with Wilt, Bird, Kobe, Tim Duncan, Shaq, and LeBron James.
If you look at the all-time great passers and creators you can create a list of Cousy (the original), Magic, and LeBron. The Big O is also a good one. His one title and one MVP award would probably place him a bit low here. That would still put him ahead of Jerry West (a title and no MVP), Stockton (no titles or MVP's), and Karl Malone (two MVP awards, no rings).
Moses Malone and Hakeem look like they are ranked about right. Same with Bill Walton. Cowens, Pettit, and Willis Reed also have respectable showings that reflect favorably on their Hall of Fame careers.
I forgot about David Robinson. He had an MVP award so with his two titles his rating of 3 puts him in some very nice company with some of the best centers ever (just not one of the Big Three Plus Shaq).
This ranking might put Bob McAdoo too high, but he could really score and had some great seasons stat wise.
All the guys on this list were very good. The guys with 5 or higher were awesome, and the guys with 10 or more -- impeccable.
Or you could watch them play basketball to determine who the best basketball player is.
K I will just turn on my tv an watch Wilt play....
For those not fortunate enough not to be able to watch all these guys play basketball live and in person, another way to rank these guys would be to add up MVP awards, titles, AND Finals MVP awards. This would be a better judge of the modern era since the Finals MVP trophy wasn't given until 1969. It leaves out Bill Russell who never won one of these, but it also takes out Bob Cousy who might be a bit inflated in the previous rankings. It also leaves off Bob McAdoo who was more of a role player on his title teams.
Here is the list:
Michael Jordan 17 (5 MVP's, 6 titles, 6 Finals MVPS)
Kareem 14 (6 MVPs, 6 titles, two Finals MVP trophies)
Magic 11 (5 titles, 3 MVPs, 3 Finals MVPs)
Tim Duncan 9 (4 rings, 2 MVP awards, 3 Finals MVP honors)
Larry Bird 8 (3 titles, 3 MVPs, 2 Finals MVPs)
Shaq 8 (4 titles, 1 MVP, 3 Finals MVPs)
Kobe 8 (5 titles, 1 MVP, 2 Finals MVPs)
Wilt 7 (2 titles, 4 MVPs, one Finals MVP)
LeBron James 6 (4 MVP trophies, one title, one Finals MVP)
Willis Reed 5 (2 titles, two Finals MVP's, one regular season MVP)
Hakeem Olajuwon 5 (2 titles, 2 Finals MVPs, one regular season MVP)
Moses Malone 5 (3 regular season MVPs, one title, one Finals MVP)
Bill Walton 4 (two titles, one Finals MVP trophy, one regular season MVP)
Wes Unseld 3 (a ring, a Finals MVP award, and a regular season MVP)
Dirk Nowitzki 3 (one MVP, one title, one Finals MVP)
That's it. That's your list. No frauds here. 3 guys with a total of 10 or more (Jordan, Kareem, and Magic) which looks right to me. Duncan just behind those guys with 9. Bird, Shaq, and Kobe at 8. Wilt at 7. Followed by LeBron (6 and counting).
This list puts LeBron at number 9 in the modern(ish) era. Then Willis Reed, Moses Malone, and Hakeem Olajuwon in a three way tie for tenth place.
This is an ELITE list to say the least. Only 15 guys. And LeBron is one of them.
If LeBron wins another title this year and a Finals MVP (if everything goes according to plan) that would bump King James to a grand, all-around total of 8 to tie him with Bird, Shaq, and Kobe (three of the modern greats) for fifth place.
To show you how great Jordan was, in order to pass MJ, LeBron would need to not only win the title and the Finals trophy this year, he would also have to sweep all three awards (MVP, Championship, Finals MVP) the next to years (to give him 16) and then win AT LEAST one more ring, MVP, or Finals trophy.
You could narrow down this list even more by only including guys who also won Rookie of the Year awards. This would mean that you not only dominated the league for an entire year, won at the highest level, and played the best basketball when everything was on the line, you also had to play at an ELITE level right off the bat.
That would remove even a guy like Magic Johnson from this list (he lost to Larry Bird for ROY) and Hakeem (lost to MJ for ROY).
The new list:
Jordan 18 (17 plus his ROY award)
Tim Duncan 10
Larry Bird 9
Willis Reed 6
Wes Unseld 4
This list of greats is now down to 9 guys.
Either way, LeBron is one of the all-time greats, but still trails a guy like Michael Jordan or even some of the league's great centers. You can also look at these lists just to see how dominant Tim Duncan has been. No matter how you look at it, Tim Duncan is one of the handful of all-time greats.
any list that talks about all time greats without bill russell is wrong, a small list is not better, stop trying to narrow down the list it does nothing, you cant penalize a guy for being around when a trophy wasnt given out. The finals MVP is named after bill russell
Finally, if you ALSO add Olympic gold medals to the list then you eliminate even more guys and you get a better look at who the modern era greats were.
Two old school guys didn't get Olympic golds. No Wilt. Kareem boycotted the games. Reed and Unseld don't have Olympic medals either.
As a member of the '84 team and the Dream Team, Michael Jordan is still at the head of the pack (an even smaller list too).
Michael Jordan 20
Tim Duncan 11
Larry Bird 10
Shaquille O'Neal 10
LeBron James 9
You can't make a list of modern greats without those guys. There are only FIVE GUYS on this ELITE list combining all four major awards: regular season MVP, NBA championship, Finals MVP, and Olympic gold medals. This list tells you how great Jordan was. It also says, these are the six all-around greats of the modern era. It makes Duncan's career stand out. It also tells you that if LeBron wins the title and Finals MVP award again this year, it would tie him for second (with Duncan), trailing only MJ.
By any metric LeBron is one of the best ever. And, he still has time. Tim Duncan is quietly having a career where he is not only top 10 all time, he may also be a top 5 guy when it is all said and done. Another title this year (which would be his fifth) would obviously move him up the ranks. As would another Finals MVP (which would give him four).
Timmy D should be in the discussion as one of the best bigs ever. At first they had the Big Three of Wilt, Russell, and Kareem. Well, I think they need to enlarge that to the Big Five of Wilt, Russell, Kareem, AND Duncan and Shaq. Shaq, as the modern day Wilt, with Duncan being the modern day Kareem. And, like Russell, Duncan is the modern day big man winner (combining size, talent, offense, defense, basketball IQ, and leadership).
Maybe just MVPs and Finals MVPs? These are individual awards (but you still do need great teammates) while a ring is a team award.
I'd personally say award value goes Finals MVP > MVP >> Rings with everything else pretty second tier (DPOY and All-NBA may worth a decent fraction).
Rings without a Finals MVP for that year aren't anywhere near as impressive to me. If you aren't the best player during the most important games you will ever play, I don't really think you get to take credit for the championship in a greatest of all time conversation.
I agree with the individual award/team award bit. Rings without finals mvps really outta not count for that much in these sorts of conversations.