Sports - All-Time Top NBA MVP's (Any Medium): Doyle Collection Image Gallery
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (born Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor Jr.; April 16, 1947) is an American retired professional basketball player who played 20 seasons in the National Basketball Association (NBA) for the Milwaukee Bucks and the Los Angeles Lakers. During his career as a center, Abdul-Jabbar was a record six-time NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP), a record 19-time NBA All-Star, a 15-time All-NBA selection, and an 11-time NBA All-Defensive Team member. A member of six NBA championship teams as a player and two more as an assistant coach, Abdul-Jabbar twice was voted NBA Finals MVP. In 1996, he was honored as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History. NBA coach Pat Riley and players Isiah Thomas and Julius Erving have called him the greatest basketball player of all time. After winning 71 consecutive basketball games on his high school team in New York City, Alcindor was recruited by Jerry Norman, the assistant coach of UCLA, where he played for coach John Wooden on three consecutive national championship teams and was a record three-time MVP of the NCAA Tournament. Drafted with the first overall pick by the one-season-old Bucks franchise in the 1969 NBA draft, Alcindor spent six seasons in Milwaukee. After leading the Bucks to its first NBA championship at age 24 in 1971, he took the Muslim name Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Using his trademark "skyhook" shot, he established himself as one of the league's top scorers. In 1975, he was traded to the Lakers, with whom he played the final 14 seasons of his career and won five additional NBA championships. Abdul-Jabbar's contributions were a key component in the "Showtime" era of Lakers basketball. Over his 20-year NBA career, his teams succeeded in making the playoffs 18 times and got past the first round 14 times; his teams reached the NBA Finals on 10 occasions. At the time of his retirement at age 42 in 1989, Abdul-Jabbar was the NBA's all-time leader in points scored (38,387), games played (1,560), minutes played (57,446), field goals made (15,837), field goal attempts (28,307), blocked shots (3,189), defensive rebounds (9,394), career wins (1,074), and personal fouls (4,657). He remains the all-time leader in points scored and career wins. He is ranked third all-time in both rebounds and blocked shots. In 2007, ESPN voted him the greatest center of all time, in 2008, they named him the "greatest player in college basketball history", and in 2016, they named him the second best player in NBA history (behind Michael Jordan) Abdul-Jabbar has also been an actor, a basketball coach, and a best-selling author. In 2012, he was selected by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to be a U.S. global cultural ambassador. In 2016, President Barack Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Charles Wade Barkley (born February 20, 1963) is an American retired professional basketball player who is currently an analyst on Inside the NBA. Nicknamed Chuck, Sir Charles, Street Beef, and The Round Mound of Rebound, Barkley established himself as one of the National Basketball Association's most dominant power forwards. An All-American power forward at Auburn University, he was drafted as a junior by the Philadelphia 76ers with the 5th pick of the 1984 NBA draft. He was selected to the All-NBA First Team five times, the All-NBA Second Team five times, and once to the All-NBA Third Team. He earned eleven NBA All-Star Game appearances and was named the All-Star MVP in 1991. In 1993 with the Phoenix Suns, he was voted the league's Most Valuable Player, and during the NBA's 50th anniversary, named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History. He competed in the 1992 and 1996 Olympic Games and won two gold medals as a member of the United States' "Dream Team". Barkley is a two-time inductee into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, being inducted in 2006 for his individual career, and in 2010 as a member of the "Dream Team". Barkley was popular with the fans and media and made the NBA's All-Interview Team for his last 13 seasons in the league. He was frequently involved in on- and off-court fights and sometimes stirred national controversy, as in March 1991 when he spat on a young girl while attempting to spit at a heckler,]and as in 1993 when he declared that sports figures should not be considered role models. Though shorter than the typical power forward, Barkley used his strength and aggressiveness to become one of the NBA's most dominant rebounders. He was a versatile player who had the ability to score, create plays, and defend. In 2000, he retired as the fourth player in NBA history to achieve 20,000 points, 10,000 rebounds and 4,000 assists. Since retiring as a player, Barkley has had a successful career as an NBA analyst. He works with Turner Network Television (TNT) alongside of Shaquille O'Neal, Kenny Smith, and Ernie Johnson as a studio pundit for its coverage of NBA games and is a spokesman for CDW. In addition, Barkley has written several books and has shown an interest in politics. In October 2008, he announced that he would run for Governor of Alabama 2014, but he changed his mind in 2010.
Larry Joe Bird (born December 7, 1956) is an American retired NBA basketball player. He won three NBA championships in 1981, 1984, and 1986 with the Boston Celtics. He has also won the NBA MVP award three times, in 1984, 1985, and 1986 as a Celtic. He played college basketball at Indiana State University where he developed a rivalry and friendship with Los Angeles Lakers star Magic Johnson when he faced him in the 1979 NCAA national championship game and three NBA championship series (1984, 1985 and 1987). He has been described as one of the greatest basketball players and greatest shooters of all time. Bird was nicknamed Larry Legend and The Hick from French Lick, after his hometown in Indiana. He was also called Kodak by his first NBA coach, Bill Fitch, because Bird could form pictures in his head of the plays on the basketball court. Finally, he was nicknamed The Great White Hope. In 1992, Bird was a member of the United States men's national basketball team. The team was one of the most famous teams in US Olympic history, known as "The Dream Team." The team captured the gold medal after going undefeated. In 1997, Bird became the head coach of the Indiana Pacers. He was also President of the Pacers (2000-2012, 2013-2017). He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006.
Kobe Bean Bryant (born August 23, 1978), often known mononymously as Kobe, is an American former professional basketball player. He played his entire 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association(NBA). He entered the NBA directly from high school and won five NBA championships. Bryant is an 18-time All-Star, 15-time member of the All-NBA Team, and 12-time member of the All-Defensive team. He led the NBA in scoring during two seasons and ranks third on the league's all-time regular season scoring and fourth on the all-time postseason scoring list. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest basketball players of all time. Bryant is the first guard in NBA history to play at least 20 seasons. Bryant is the son of former NBA player Joe Bryant. He enjoyed a successful high school basketball career at Lower Merion High School in Pennsylvania, where he was recognized as the top high school basketball player in the country. Upon graduation, he declared for the 1996 NBA draft and was selected by the Charlotte Hornets with the 13th overall pick; the Hornets then traded him to the Lakers. As a rookie, Bryant earned himself a reputation as a high-flyer and a fan favorite by winning the 1997 Slam Dunk Contest, and he was named an All-Star by his second season. Despite a feud between the two players, Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal led the Lakers to three consecutive NBA championships from 2000 to 2002. In 2003, Bryant was accused of sexual assault, but the charges were eventually dropped and a civil suit was settled out of court. After the Lakers lost the 2004 NBA Finals, O'Neal was traded to the Miami Heat and Bryant became the cornerstone of the Lakers. He led the NBA in scoring during the 2005–06 and 2006–07 seasons. In 2006, he scored a career-high 81 points against the Toronto Raptors, the second most points scored in a single game in league history behind Wilt Chamberlain's 100-point game in 1962. Bryant was awarded the regular season's Most Valuable Player Award (MVP) in 2008. After the Lakers lost in the 2008 NBA Finals, Bryant led the team to two consecutive championships in 2009 and 2010, earning the Finals MVP Award on both occasions. He continued to be among the top players in the league through 2013, when he suffered a torn Achilles tendon at age 34. Although he recovered from that injury, he suffered season-ending injuries to his knee and shoulder, respectively, in the following two seasons. Citing his physical decline, Bryant retired after the 2015–16 season. At 34 years and 104 days of age, Bryant became the youngest player in league history to reach 30,000 career points. He became the all-time leading scorer in Lakers franchise history on February 1, 2010, when he surpassed Jerry West. During his third year in the league, Bryant was chosen to start the All-Star Game, and he would continue to be selected to start that game for a record 18 consecutive appearances until his retirement. His four All-Star MVP Aw
Wilton Norman Chamberlain (August 21, 1936 – October 12, 1999) was an American basketball player who played as a center and is considered one of the greatest players in history. He played for the Philadelphia/San Francisco Warriors, the Philadelphia 76ers, and the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He played for the University of Kansas and also for the Harlem Globetrotters before playing in the NBA. Chamberlain stood 7 ft 1 in (2.16 m) tall, and weighed 250 pounds (110 kg) as a rookie before bulking up to 275 and eventually to over 300 pounds (140 kg) with the Lakers. Chamberlain holds numerous NBA records in scoring, rebounding, and durability categories. He is the only player to score 100 points in a single NBA game or average more than 40 and 50 points in a season. He won seven scoring, eleven rebounding, nine field goal percentage titles and led the league in assists once. Chamberlain is the only player in NBA history to average at least 30 points and 20 rebounds per game in a season, which he accomplished seven times. He is also the only player to average at least 30 points and 20 rebounds per game over the entire course of his NBA career. Although he suffered a long string of losses in the playoffs, Chamberlain had a successful career, winning two NBA championships, earning four regular-season Most Valuable Player awards, the Rookie of the Year award, one NBA Finals MVP award, and was selected to 13 All-Star Games and ten All-NBA First and Second teams. He was subsequently enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1978, elected into the NBA's 35th Anniversary Team of 1980, and in 1996 he was chosen as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History.
Robert Joseph Cousy (born August 9, 1928) is an American retired professional basketball player. Cousy played point guard with the Boston Celtics from 1950 to 1963, and briefly with the Cincinnati Royals in the 1969–70 season. Making his high school varsity squad as a junior, he went on to earn a scholarship to the College of the Holy Cross, where he led the Crusaders to berths in the 1948 NCAA Tournament and 1950 NCAA Tournament, and won NCAA All-American honors for three seasons. Cousy was initially drafted by the Tri-Cities Blackhawks as the third overall pick in the first round of the 1950 NBA draft, but after he refused to report, he was picked up by Boston. He had an exceptionally successful career with the Celtics, leading the league an unprecedented 8 straight years in assists, playing on six NBA championship teams, and being voted into 13 NBA All-Star Games in his 13 full NBA seasons. He was also named to 12 All-NBA First and Second Teams and won the 1957 NBA Most Valuable Player Award. En route to his assist streak that was unmatched either in number of crowns or consecutive years, Cousy introduced a new blend of ball-handling and passing skills to the NBA that earned him the nickname "The Houdini of the Hardwood". Also known as "Cooz", he was regularly introduced at Boston Garden as "Mr. Basketball". After his playing career, he coached the Royals for several years, capped by a seven-game cameo comeback for them at age 41. Cousy then became a broadcaster for Celtics games. Upon his election to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1971 the Celtics retired his No. 14 jersey and hung it in the rafters of the Garden. Cousy was named to the NBA 25th Anniversary Team in 1971, the NBA 35th Anniversary Team in 1981, and the NBA's 50th Anniversary All-Time Team in 1996, making him one of only four players that were selected to each of those teams. He was also the first president of National Basketball Players Association. On August 22, 2019, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Donald Trump.
David William Cowens (born October 25, 1948) is an American retired professional basketball player and NBA head coach. At 6'9", he played the center position and occasionally played power forward. Cowens spent most of his playing career with the Boston Celtics. He was the 1971 NBA Rookie of the Year and the 1973 NBA Most Valuable Player. Cowens won NBA championships as a member of the Celtics in 1974 and 1976. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1991. Cowens has held numerous NBA head coaching positions. Most recently, Cowens served as an assistant coach and then as a special assistant to Detroit Pistons President of Basketball Operations Joe Dumars.
Timothy Theodore Duncan (born April 25, 1976) is an American professional basketball coach and former player who is an assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs of the National Basketball Association (NBA) He spent his entire 19-year playing career with the Spurs. Duncan started out as an aspiring swimmer and did not begin playing basketball until ninth grade when Hurricane Hugo destroyed the only available Olympic-sized pool in his homeland of Saint Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. In high school, he played basketball for St. Dunstan's Episcopal. In college, Duncan played for the Wake Forest Demon Deacons, and in his senior year, he earned the John Wooden Award as well as Naismith College Player of the Year and USBWA College Player of the Year. After graduating from college, Duncan went on to win NBA Rookie of the Year after being selected by San Antonio with the first overall pick in the 1997 NBA draft. Widely regarded as the greatest power forward of all time as well as one of the greatest basketball players in NBA history he is a five-time NBA champion, a two-time NBA MVP, a three-time NBA Finals MVP, a 15-time NBA All-Star, and the only player to be selected to both the All-NBA and All-Defensive Teams for 13 consecutive seasons.
Julius Winfield Erving II (born February 22, 1950), commonly known by the nickname Dr. J, is an American retired basketball player who helped popularize a modern style of play that emphasizes leaping and playing above the rim in his career at the ABA and the NBA. Erving helped legitimize the American Basketball Association (ABA) and was the best-known player in that league when it merged into the National Basketball Association (NBA) after the 1975–76 season. Erving won three championships, four Most Valuable Player Awards, and three scoring titles with the ABA's Virginia Squires and New York Nets (now the NBA's Brooklyn Nets) and the NBA's Philadelphia 76ers. He is the eighth-highest scorer in ABA/NBA history with 30,026 points (NBA and ABA combined). He was well known for slam dunking from the free throw line in slam dunk contests and was the only player voted Most Valuable Player in both the ABA and the NBA. The basketball slang of being posterized was first coined to describe his moves. Erving was inducted in 1993 into the Basketball Hall of Fame and was also named to the NBA's 50th Anniversary All-Time team. In 1994, Erving was named by Sports Illustrated as one of the 40 most important athletes of all time. In 2004, he was inducted into the Nassau County Sports Hall of Fame. Many consider him one of the most talented players in the history of the NBA; he is widely acknowledged as one of the game's best dunkers. While Connie Hawkins, "Jumping" Johnny Green, Elgin Baylor, Jim Pollard, and Gus Johnson performed spectacular dunks before Erving's time, Erving brought the practice into the mainstream. His signature dunk was the "slam" dunk, since incorporated into the vernacular and basic skill set of the game in the same manner as the "crossover" dribble and the "no look" pass. Before Erving, dunking was a practice most commonly used by the big men (usually standing close to the hoop) to show their brutal strength which was seen as style over substance, even unsportsmanlike, by many purists of the game. However, the way Erving utilized the dunk more as a high-percentage shot made at the end of maneuvers generally starting well away from the basket and not necessarily a "show of force" helped to make the shot an acceptable tactic, especially in trying to avoid a blocked shot. Although the slam dunk is still widely used as a show of power, a method of intimidation, and a way to fire up a team (and spectators), Erving demonstrated that there can be great artistry and almost balletic style to slamming the ball into the hoop, particularly after a launch several feet from that target.
Kevin Maurice Garnett (born May 19, 1976) is an American former professional basketball player who played for 21 seasons in the National Basketball Association (NBA). Known for his intensity, defensive ability, and versatility, Garnett is considered one of the greatest power forwards of all time. He is one of four NBA players to win both the Most Valuable Player and the Defensive Player of the Year awards.[n 1] In high school, Garnett was a 1995 McDonald's All-American at Farragut Career Academy and won a national player of the year award. He entered the 1995 NBA draft, where he was selected with the fifth overall pick by the Minnesota Timberwolves and became the first NBA player drafted directly out of high school in 20 years. Garnett made an immediate impact with the Minnesota Timberwolves, leading them to eight consecutive playoff appearances. In 2004, he led the Timberwolves to the Western Conference Finals and won the NBA MVP Award. Garnett has been named to 15 All-Star Games, winning the All-Star MVP award in 2003, and is currently tied for third-most All-Star selections NBA history. He was named the NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 2007–08, and has been selected nine times for All-NBA Teams and 12 times for All-Defensive Teams. Garnett also holds several Timberwolves franchise records. In 2007, after 12 seasons with the Timberwolves, Garnett joined the Boston Celtics in a blockbuster trade. In his first year with the Celtics, he helped lead them to the NBA championship, while also finishing in third place for the MVP award. In 2013, Garnett was included in a second headline trade that sent him to the Brooklyn Nets with longtime Celtic Paul Pierce. In 2015, Garnett was traded back to Minnesota. He announced his retirement from professional basketball in September 2016.
Allen Ezail Iverson (born June 7, 1975), nicknamed "the Answer", is an American former professional basketball player. He played 14 seasons in the National Basketball Association (NBA) at both the shooting guard and point guard positions. Iverson was an 11-time NBA All-Star, won the All-Star game MVP award in 2001 and 2005, and was the NBA's Most Valuable Player (MVP) in 2001. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2016. Iverson attended Bethel High School in Hampton, Virginia, and was a dual-sport athlete. He earned the Associated Press High School Player of the Year award in both football and basketball, and won the Division AAA Virginia state championship in both sports. After high school, Iverson played college basketball with the Georgetown Hoyas for two years, where he set the school record for career scoring average (22.9 points per game) and won Big East Defensive Player of the Year awards both years. Following two successful years at Georgetown, Iverson declared eligibility for the 1996 NBA draft, and was selected by the Philadelphia 76ers with the first overall pick. He was named the NBA Rookie of the Year in the 1996–97 season. Winning the NBA scoring title during the 1998–99, 2000–01, 2001–02, and 2004–05 seasons, Iverson was one of the most prolific scorers in NBA history, despite his relatively small stature (listed at 6 feet, 0 inches, or 183 centimeters). His regular season career scoring average of 26.7 points per game ranks seventh all-time, and his playoff career scoring average of 29.7 points per game is second only to Michael Jordan. Iverson was also the NBA Most Valuable Player of the 2000–01 season, and led his team to the 2001 NBA Finals the same season. Iverson represented the United States at the 2004 Summer Olympics, winning the bronze medal. Later in his career, Iverson played for the Denver Nuggets, Detroit Pistons, and the Memphis Grizzlies, before ending his NBA career with the 76ers during the 2009–10 season. He was rated the fifth greatest NBA shooting guard of all time by ESPN in 2008. He finished his career in Turkey with Besiktas in 2011. He returned as a player-coach for 3's Company in the inaugural season of the BIG3.
Earvin "Magic" Johnson Jr. (born August 14, 1959) is an American retired professional basketball player and former president of basketball operations of the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He played point guard for the Lakers for 13 seasons. After winning championships in high school and college, Johnson was selected first overall in the 1979 NBA draft by the Lakers. He won a championship and an NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award in his rookie season, and won four more championships with the Lakers during the 1980s. Johnson retired abruptly in 1991 after announcing that he had contracted HIV, but returned to play in the 1992 All-Star Game, winning the All-Star MVP Award. After protests from his fellow players, he retired again for four years, but returned in 1996, at age 36, to play 32 games for the Lakers before retiring for the third and final time. Johnson's career achievements include three NBA MVP Awards, nine NBA Finals appearances, twelve All-Star games, and ten All-NBA First and Second Team nominations. He led the league in regular-season assists four times, and is the NBA's all-time leader in average assists per game, at 11.2. Johnson was a member of the 1992 United States men's Olympic basketball team ("The Dream Team"), which won the Olympic gold medal in 1992. After leaving the NBA in 1992, Johnson formed the Magic Johnson All-Stars, a barnstorming team that travelled around the world playing exhibition games. Johnson was honored as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History in 1996. Johnson became a two-time inductee into the Basketball Hall of Fame—being enshrined in 2002 for his individual career, and again in 2010 as a member of the "Dream Team".He was rated the greatest NBA point guard of all time by ESPN in 2007. His friendship and rivalry with Boston Celtics star Larry Bird, whom he faced in the 1979 NCAA finals and three NBA championship series, are well documented.
Michael Jeffrey Jordan (born February 17, 1963), also known by his initials, MJ, is an American former professional basketball player who is the principal owner and chairman of the Charlotte Hornets of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He played 15 seasons in the NBA for the Chicago Bulls and Washington Wizards. His biography on the official NBA website states: "By acclamation, Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time." He was one of the most effectively marketed athletes of his generation and was considered instrumental in popularizing the NBA around the world in the 1980s and 1990s. Jordan played three seasons for coach Dean Smith at the University of North Carolina. As a freshman, he was a member of the Tar Heels' national championship team in 1982. Jordan joined the Bulls in 1984 as the third overall draft pick. He quickly emerged as a league star and entertained crowds with his prolific scoring. His leaping ability, demonstrated by performing slam dunks from the free throw line in Slam Dunk Contests, earned him the nicknames Air Jordan and His Airness. He also gained a reputation for being one of the best defensive players in basketball. In 1991, he won his first NBA championship with the Bulls, and followed that achievement with titles in 1992 and 1993, securing a "three-peat". Although Jordan abruptly retired from basketball before the beginning of the 1993–94 NBA season, and started a new career in Minor League Baseball, he returned to the Bulls in March 1995 and led them to three additional championships in 1996, 1997, and 1998, as well as a then-record 72 regular-season wins in the 1995–96 NBA season. Jordan retired for a second time in January 1999, but returned for two more NBA seasons from 2001 to 2003 as a member of the Wizards. Jordan's individual accolades and accomplishments include six NBA Finals Most Valuable Player (MVP) Awards, ten scoring titles (both all-time records), five MVP Awards, ten All-NBA First Team designations, nine All-Defensive First Team honors, fourteen NBA All-Star Game selections, three All-Star Game MVP Awards, three steals titles, and the 1988 NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award. He holds the NBA records for highest career regular season scoring average (30.12 points per game) and highest career playoff scoring average (33.45 points per game). In 1999, he was named the greatest North American athlete of the 20th century by ESPN, and was second to Babe Ruth on the Associated Press' list of athletes of the century. Jordan is a two-time inductee into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, having been enshrined in 2009 for his individual career, and again in 2010 as part of the group induction of the 1992 United States men's Olympic basketball team ("The Dream Team"). He became a member of the FIBA Hall of Fame in 2015.
Karl Anthony Malone (born July 24, 1963) is an American retired professional basketball player. Nicknamed "The Mailman", Malone played the power forward position and spent his first 18 seasons (1985–2003) in the National Basketball Association (NBA) with the Utah Jazz and formed a formidable duo with his teammate John Stockton. Malone also played one season for the Los Angeles Lakers. Malone was a two-time NBA Most Valuable Player, a 14-time NBA All-Star, and an 11-time member of the All-NBA first team. His 36,928 career points scored rank second all-time in NBA history behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and he holds the records for most free throws attempted and made, in addition to being tied for the second-most first-team All-NBA selections with Kobe Bryant and behind LeBron James. He is considered one of the greatest power forwards in NBA history. Malone played college basketball at Louisiana Tech University. In his three seasons with Louisiana Tech, he helped the Bulldogs basketball team to its first-ever NCAA tournament in 1984 and to first place in the Southland Conference in 1985. The Utah Jazz drafted Malone in 1985 with the 13th overall pick in the first round. Malone appeared in the playoffs every season in his career, including the NBA Finals in 1997 and 1998 with the Jazz. He played his final season with the Los Angeles Lakers, with whom he played his third Finals in 2004. Malone has the most career postseason losses of any NBA player ever, with 95. Malone also competed with the United States national team in the Summer Olympic Games of 1992 and 1996; in both years he won gold medals. After retiring from the NBA, Malone joined the staff of the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs basketball team in 2007 and was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010 twice – for his individual career, and as a member of the 1992 United States men's Olympic basketball team.
Moses Eugene Malone (March 23, 1955 – September 13, 2015) was an American basketball player who played in both the American Basketball Association (ABA) and the National Basketball Association (NBA) from 1974 through 1995. A center, he was named the NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP) three times, was a 12-time NBA All-Star and an eight-time All-NBA Team selection. Malone led the Philadelphia 76ers to an NBA championship in 1983, winning both the league and Finals MVP. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 2001. Malone began his professional career out of high school after he was selected in the third round of the 1974 ABA Draft by the Utah Stars. He was named an ABA All-Star as a rookie and played two seasons in the league until it merged with the NBA in 1976. He landed in the NBA with the Buffalo Braves, who traded him after two games to the Houston Rockets. Malone became a five-time All-Star in six seasons with the Rockets. After leading the NBA in rebounding in 1979, he was named league MVP for the first time. He led the Rockets to the NBA Finals in 1981, and won his second MVP award in 1982. Traded to Philadelphia the following season, he repeated as MVP and led the 76ers to the 1983 championship. In his first of two stints with Philadelphia, he was an All-Star in each of his four seasons. Following another trade, Malone was an All-Star in his only two seasons with the then Washington Bullets (today's Wizards). He signed as a free agent with the Atlanta Hawks, earning his 12th straight and final NBA All-Star selection in his first season. In his later years, he played with the Milwaukee Bucks before returning to the 76ers and completing his career with the San Antonio Spurs. Malone was a tireless and physical player who led the NBA in rebounding six times, including a then-record five straight seasons (1981–1985). Nicknamed the "Chairman of the Boards" for his rebounding prowess, he finished his career as the all-time leader in offensive rebounds after leading both the ABA and NBA in the category a combined nine times. Combining his ABA and NBA statistics, Malone ranks ninth all-time in career points (29,580) and third in total rebounds (17,834). He was named to both the ABA All-Time Team and the NBA's 50th Anniversary All-Time Team.
Robert Allen McAdoo (born September 25, 1951) is an American former professional basketball player and coach. He played 14 seasons in the National Basketball Association (NBA), where he was a five-time NBA All-Star and named the NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP) in 1975. He won two NBA championships with the Los Angeles Lakers during their Showtime era in the 1980s. In 2000, McAdoo was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. McAdoo played at the center and power forward positions. In his 21-season playing career, he spent 14 seasons in the NBA and his final seven in the Lega Basket Serie A in Italy. McAdoo is one of the few players who have won both NBA and the FIBA European Champions Cup (EuroLeague) titles as a player. He later won three more NBA titles in 2006, 2012 and 2013 as an assistant coach with the Miami Heat.
Stephen John Nash OC OBC (born 7 February 1974) is a Canadian former professional basketball player. Nash played 18 seasons in the National Basketball Association (NBA) where he was an eight-time NBA All-Star and a seven-time All-NBA selection. Twice, Nash was named the NBA Most Valuable Player while playing for the Phoenix Suns. He currently serves as senior advisor of the Canadian men's national team and as a player development consultant for the Golden State Warriors. After a successful high school basketball career in British Columbia, Nash earned a scholarship to Santa Clara University in California. In his four seasons with the Broncos, the team made three NCAA Tournament appearances, and he was twice named the West Coast Conference (WCC) Player of the Year. Nash graduated from Santa Clara as the team's all-time leader in assists and was taken as the 15th pick in the 1996 NBA draft by the Phoenix Suns. He made minimal impact and was traded to the Dallas Mavericks in 1998. By his fourth season with the Mavericks, he was voted to his first NBA All-Star Game and had earned his first All-NBA selection. Together with Dirk Nowitzki and Michael Finley, Nash led the Mavericks to the Western Conference Finals the following season. He became a free agent after the 2003–04 season and returned to the Phoenix Suns. In the 2004–05 season, Nash led the Suns to the Western Conference Finals and was named the league's MVP. He was named MVP again in the 2005–06 season and was runner-up for a third consecutive MVP to Nowitzki in 2006–07. Named by ESPN in 2006 as the ninth-greatest point guard of all time, Nash led the league in assists and free-throw percentage at various points in his career. He is also ranked as one of the top players in NBA league history in three-point shooting, free-throw shooting, total assists, and assists per game. Nash has been honoured for his contributions to various philanthropic causes. In 2006, he was named by Time as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. He was appointed to the Order of Canada in 2007 and invested to the order in 2016, and was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws by the University of Victoria in 2008. Nash has been a co-owner of the Vancouver Whitecaps FC of Major League Soccer (MLS) since the team entered the league in 2011. From 2012 to 2019, he served as general manager of the Canadian men's national team, for whom he played from 1991 to 2003, making one Olympic appearance and being twice named FIBA AmeriCup MVP.
Dirk Werner Nowitzki (German pronunciation: ['d??k 'v??n? no'v?tski]) (born June 19, 1978) is a German retired professional basketball player. An alumnus of Röntgen Gymnasium and the DJK Würzburg basketball club, Nowitzki was chosen as the ninth pick in the 1998 NBA draft by the Milwaukee Bucks and was immediately traded to the Dallas Mavericks, where he played his entire 21-year National Basketball Association (NBA) career. In the NBA, he won the league Most Valuable Player (MVP) award in 2007, was an NBA champion in 2011, and was a 14-time All-Star. Listed at 7 ft 0 in (2.13 m), Nowitzki is widely regarded as one of the greatest power forwards of all time and he is considered by many to be the greatest European player of all time. Nowitzki led the Mavericks to 15 NBA playoff appearances (2001–2012; 2014–2016), including the franchise's first Finals appearance in 2006 and its only NBA championship in 2011. Known for his scoring ability, his versatility, his accurate outside shooting, and his trademark fadeaway jump shot, Nowitzki won the NBA Most Valuable Player Award in 2007 and the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award in 2011. Nowitzki's NBA career has been filled with accomplishments. He is the only player ever to play for a single franchise for 21 seasons. Nowitzki is a 14-time All-Star, a 12-time All-NBA Team member, the first European player to start in an All-Star Game, and the first European player to receive the NBA Most Valuable Player Award. Nowitzki is the highest-scoring foreign-born player in NBA history. He is the first Maverick voted onto an All-NBA Team and holds several all-time Mavericks franchise records. On December 10, 2012, he became the first non-American player to receive the Naismith Legacy Award. As of March 18, 2019, Nowitzki stood sixth on the list of National Basketball Association career scoring leaders
Hakeem Abdul Olajuwon (born January 21, 1963), formerly spelled (and still pronounced as) Akeem Olajuwon, is a Nigerian-American former professional basketball player. From 1984 to 2002, he played the center position in the National Basketball Association (NBA) for the Houston Rockets and the Toronto Raptors. He led the Rockets to back-to-back NBA championships in 1994 and 1995. In 2008, he was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, and in 2016, he was inducted into the FIBA Hall of Fame. Listed at 7 ft 0 in (2.13 m) Olajuwon is considered one of the greatest centers ever to play the game. He was nicknamed "The Dream" during his basketball career after he dunked so effortlessly that his college coach said it "looked like a dream. Born in Lagos, Nigeria, Olajuwon traveled from his home country to play for the University of Houston under head coach Guy Lewis. His college career for the Cougars included three trips to the Final Four. Olajuwon was drafted by the Houston Rockets with the first overall selection of the 1984 NBA draft, a draft that included Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, and John Stockton. He combined with the 7 ft 4 in (2.24 m) Ralph Sampson to form a duo dubbed the "Twin Towers". The two led the Rockets to the 1986 NBA Finals, where they lost in six games to the Boston Celtics. After Sampson was traded to the Warriors in 1988, Olajuwon became the Rockets' undisputed leader. He led the league in rebounding twice (1989, 1990) and blocks three times (1990, 1991, 1993). Despite very nearly being traded during a bitter contract dispute before the 1992–93 season, he remained in Houston where in 1993–94, he became the only player in NBA history to win the NBA MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, and Finals MVP awards in the same season. His Rockets won back-to-back championships against the New York Knicks (avenging his college championship loss to Patrick Ewing), and Shaquille O'Neal's Orlando Magic. In 1996, Olajuwon was a member of the Olympic gold-medal-winning United States national team, and was selected as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History. He ended his career as the league's all-time leader in blocks (3,830) and is one of four NBA players to record a quadruple-double.
Shaquille Rashaun "Shaq" O'Neal (/??'ki?l/ sh?-KEEL; /?æk/ SHAK; born March 6, 1972) is a retired professional American basketball player who is a sports analyst on the television program Inside the NBA on TNT. He is considered one of the greatest players in National Basketball Association (NBA) history. At 7 ft 1 in (2.16 m) tall and 325 pounds (147 kg), he was one of the tallest and heaviest players yet. O'Neal played for six teams throughout his 19-year career. Following his time at Louisiana State University, O'Neal was drafted by the Orlando Magic with the first overall pick in the 1992 NBA draft. He quickly became one of the best centers in the league, winning Rookie of the Year in 1992–93 and leading his team to the 1995 NBA Finals. After four years with the Magic, O'Neal signed as a free agent with the Los Angeles Lakers. They won three consecutive championships in 2000, 2001, and 2002. Amid tension between O'Neal and Kobe Bryant, O'Neal was traded to the Miami Heat in 2004, and his fourth NBA championship followed in 2006. Midway through the 2007–2008 season he was traded to the Phoenix Suns. After a season-and-a-half with the Suns, O'Neal was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2009–10 season. O'Neal played for the Boston Celtics in the 2010–11 season before retiring. O'Neal's individual accolades include the 1999–2000 MVP award, the 1992–93 NBA Rookie of the Year award, 15 All-Star game selections, three All-Star Game MVP awards, three Finals MVP awards, two, 14 All-NBA team selections, and three NBA All-Defensive Team selections. He is one of only three players to win NBA MVP, All-Star game MVP and Finals MVP awards in the same year (2000); the other players are Willis Reed in 1970 and Michael Jordan in 1996 and 1998. He ranks 8th all-time in points scored, 6th in field goals, 15th in rebounds, and 8th in blocks. Largely due to his ability to dunk the basketball, O'Neal also ranks third all-time in field goal percentage (58.2%).O'Neal was elected into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2016. He was elected to the FIBA Hall of Fame in 2017.
Robert Lee Pettit Jr. (born December 12, 1932) is an American retired professional basketball player. He played 11 seasons in the NBA, all with the Milwaukee/St. Louis Hawks (1954–1965). He was the first recipient of the NBA's Most Valuable Player Award. He also won the NBA All-Star Game MVP award four times, a feat matched only by Kobe Bryant. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1970. Pettit was an NBA All-Star in each of his 11 seasons, was named to the All-NBA First Team ten times, and was named to the All-NBA Second Team once. Pettit still holds the top two NBA All-Star Game rebounding performances with 26 in 1958 and 27 in 1962, and has the second highest All-Star Game points per game average with 20.4 (behind only Oscar Robertson). Pettit averaged at least 20 points per game and at least 12 rebounds per game in each of his 11 NBA seasons. He never finished below seventh in the NBA scoring race and no other retired player in NBA history other than Pettit and Alex Groza (who played only two seasons) has averaged more than 20 points per game in every season they've played (note: Michael Jordan averaged exactly 20 points per game in his final season). In 1970, he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Pettit was named to the NBA's 35th Anniversary Team in 1980, and was named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History in 1996.
Willis Reed Jr. (born June 25, 1942) is an American retired basketball player, coach and general manager. He spent his entire professional playing career (1964–1974) with the New York Knicks. In 1982, Reed was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. In 1996, he was voted one of the "50 Greatest Players in NBA History". After retiring as a player, Reed served as assistant and head coach with several teams for nearly a decade, then was promoted to general manager and vice president of basketball operations (1989 to 1996) for the New Jersey Nets. As senior vice president of basketball operations, he led them to the NBA Finals in 2002 and 2003.
Oscar Palmer Robertson (born November 24, 1938), nicknamed "The Big O", is an American retired professional basketball player who played for the Cincinnati Royals and Milwaukee Bucks. The 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m), 205 lb (93 kg) Robertson played point guard and was a 12-time All-Star, 11-time member of the All-NBA Team, and one-time winner of the MVP award in 14 seasons. In 1962, he became the first player in NBA history to average a triple-double for a season. In the 1970–71 NBA season, he was a key player on the team that brought the Bucks their only NBA title to date. His playing career, especially during high school and college, was plagued by racism. Robertson is a two-time Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inductee, having been inducted in 1980 for his individual career, and in 2010 as a member of the 1960 United States men's Olympic basketball team and president of the National Basketball Players Association. He also was voted one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History in 1996. The United States Basketball Writers Association renamed their College Player of the Year Award the Oscar Robertson Trophy in his honor in 1998, and he was one of five people chosen to represent the inaugural National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame class in 2006. He was ranked as the 36th best American athlete of the 20th century by ESPN. Robertson was also an integral part of Robertson v. National Basketball Ass'n of 1970. The landmark NBA antitrust suit, which was filed when Robertson was the president of the NBA Players' Association, led to an extensive reform of the league's strict free agency and draft rules and, subsequently, to higher salaries for all players.
David Maurice Robinson (born August 6, 1965) is an American former professional basketball player, who played center for the San Antonio Spurs in the National Basketball Association (NBA) for his entire career. Based on his prior service as an officer in the United States Navy, Robinson earned the nickname "The Admiral". Robinson is a 10-time NBA All-Star, the 1995 NBA MVP, a two-time NBA Champion (1999 and 2003), a two-time Olympic Gold Medal winner (1992, 1996), a two-time Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inductee (2009 for his individual career, 2010 as a member of the 1992 United States men's Olympic basketball team), and a two-time U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame inductee (2008 individually, 2009 as a member of the 1992 Olympic team). He is widely considered one of the greatest centers in both college basketball and NBA history. To date, Robinson is the only player from the Naval Academy to play in the NBA.
William Felton Russell (born February 12, 1934) is an American retired professional basketball player who played center for the Boston Celtics of the National Basketball Association (NBA) from 1956 to 1969. A five-time NBA Most Valuable Player and a twelve-time All-Star, he was the centerpiece of the Celtics dynasty that won eleven NBA championships during his thirteen-year career. Russell and Henri Richard of the National Hockey League are tied for the record of the most championships won by an athlete in a North American sports league. Russell led the University of San Francisco to two consecutive NCAA championships in 1955 and 1956, and he captained the gold-medal winning U.S. national basketball team at the 1956 Summer Olympics. Bill Russell is regarded by many as one of the greatest basketball players of all time. He is 6 ft 10 in (2.08 m) tall, with a 7 ft 4 in (2.24 m) wingspan. His shot-blocking and man-to-man defense were major reasons for the Celtics' domination of the NBA during his career. Russell was equally notable for his rebounding abilities. He led the NBA in rebounds four times, had a dozen consecutive seasons of 1,000 or more rebounds, and remains second all-time in both total rebounds and rebounds per game. He is one of just two NBA players (the other being prominent rival Wilt Chamberlain) to have grabbed more than 50 rebounds in a game. Russell was never the focal point of the Celtics' offense, but he did score 14,522 career points and provided effective passing. Russell played in the wake of black pioneers Earl Lloyd, Chuck Cooper, and Sweetwater Clifton, and he was the first black player to achieve superstar status in the NBA. He also served a three-season (1966–69) stint as player-coach for the Celtics, becoming the first black coach in North American professional sports and the first to win a championship. In 2011, Barack Obama awarded Russell the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his accomplishments on the court and in the Civil Rights Movement. Russell is one of seven players in history to win an NCAA Championship, an NBA Championship, and an Olympic gold medal. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame. He was selected into the NBA 25th Anniversary Team in 1971 and the NBA 35th Anniversary Team in 1980, and named as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History in 1996, one of only four players to receive all three honors. In 2007, he was enshrined in the FIBA Hall of Fame. In Russell's honor the NBA renamed the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player trophy in 2009: it is now the Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award
Westley Sissel Unseld (born March 14, 1946) is an American former basketball player. He spent his entire NBA career with the Baltimore/Capital/Washington Bullets, and was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1988. Unseld was drafted by the Kentucky Colonels in the 1968 American Basketball Association draft, and was drafted second overall in the first round by the Baltimore Bullets in the 1968 NBA draft. In his first career game, Unseld recorded 8 points and 22 rebounds in a 124-116 win over the Detroit Pistons. On October 19, Unseld recorded his first double-double of his career after recording 13 points and 20 rebounds in a 121-124 loss to the Sixers. On November 22, Unseld recorded 20 points and a career-high 29 rebounds in a 110-121 loss to the Sixers. As a rookie, Unseld helped lead the Bullets (who had finished in last place in the Eastern division the previous year) to a 57–25 record and a division title. Unseld averaged 18.2 rebounds per game that year, and became the second player ever to win the Rookie of the Year Award and the Most Valuable Player Award in the same year (the first to do this was fellow Hall of Famer Wilt Chamberlain). Unseld was also named to the NBA All-Rookie First Team, and also claimed the Sporting News MVP that year. Unseld was one of the best defensive players of his era, and in 1975, he led the NBA in rebounding. The following season, he led the NBA in field goal percentage with a .561 percentage. Unseld took the Bullets franchise to four NBA Finals, and won the championship in 1978 over the Seattle SuperSonics, in which he was named the Finals MVP. He ended his playing career following the 1980–1981 season, and his #41 jersey was retired by the Bullets shortly thereafter.
William Theodore Walton III (born November 5, 1952) is an American retired basketball player and television sportscaster. Walton played for John Wooden and the UCLA Bruins in the early 1970s, winning three successive College Player of the Year Awards. He led the UCLA Bruins to two NCAA Championships in 1972 and 1973. He had a prominent career in the National Basketball Association (NBA), winning an NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP) and two NBA championships. His professional career was significantly hampered by multiple foot injuries, requiring numerous surgeries. Walton was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1993