The National Basketball Association (NBA), a professional basketball league in North America, introduces the world with an incredibly gifted athletic persona who leaves their mark in the world. Since its establishment in 1946, it gave opportunities to hundreds of basketball enthusiasts and helped them rise to heights. Few of them are considered as the greatest of all time with their own legacy. Here are the top five NBA players, who gave remarkable game playing and contribution in the field.
1. Michael Jordan
Considered the greatest player of all time, Jordan was integral in helping to popularize the NBA around the world in the 1980s and 1990s while becoming a global cultural icon in the process. Being born in Brooklyn, Jordan led the Bulls to six NBA championships, winning six Finals MVP awards and five regular-season MVP honors. His brilliance in the field earned him the title of the 20th century's greatest North American athlete by ESPN. Jordan was twice inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, once in 2009 for his individual career and again in 2010 as part 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.
2. LeBron James
Widely considered as one of the greatest NBA players in history, James holds an impressive and unique record for any NBA player. Playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat, and Los Angeles Lakers, James is the only player in NBA history to have won NBA championships with three franchises as Finals MVP. He has competed in ten NBA Finals, including eight consecutive with the Heat and Cavaliers from 2011 through 2018. His accolades include four NBA championships, four NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP) Awards, four Finals MVP Awards, and two Olympic gold medals. During his 17-year career, James has been selected to the All-NBA First Team a record 13 times, made the All-Defensive First Team five times, and has played in 16 All-Star Games, in which he was selected All-Star MVP three times. His tactics, games, and honors speak for him while continues to be an idol for the generation
3. Magic Johnson
Earvin "Magic" Johnson Jr., regarded as the best point guard of all time, is honored as the 50 greatest players in NBA history (1996). Playing for the Lakers for 13 different seasons, he won three NBA MVP Awards, nine NBA Finals appearances, twelve All-Star games, and ten All-NBA First and Second Team nominations. 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 traveled around the world playing exhibition games. 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". His bravery to break free from stereotypes regarding HIV AIDS after his announcement in 1993 is highly appreciated to date while he continues to advocate for the cause.
4. Kobe Bryant
Nicknamed as “Black Mamba”, Bryant was born in Philadelphia and partly raised in Italy who went to become one of the most treasured players of Lakers and one of the greatest in NBA history. Bryant helped the Lakers win five NBA championships, and was an 18-time All-Star, a 15-time member of the All-NBA Team, a 12-time member of the All-Defensive Team, the 2008 NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP), and a two-time NBA Finals MVP. Bryant also led the NBA in scoring twice and ranks fourth on the league's all-time regular-season scoring and all-time postseason scoring lists. Bryant died at age 41, along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others, in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California in 2020. His death was mourned all over the world with several tributes and memorials, including renaming the All-Star Game MVP Award in his honor.
5. Shaquille O’ Neal
Born in New Jersey and, having played for six teams over his 19-year career in the National Basketball Association, O'Neal is regarded as one of the greatest basketball players of all time. He played from 1992-96 for Orlando Magic; 1996-2004 for Los Angeles Lakers; 2004-08 for Miami Heat; 2008-09 for Phoenix Suns; 2009-10 for Cleveland Cavaliers; 2010-11 for Boston Celtics. O'Neal's individual accolades include the 1999–2000 Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award, the 1992–93 NBA Rookie of the Year award, 15 All-Star Game selections, three All-Star Game MVP awards, three Finals MVP awards, two scoring titles, 14 All-NBA team selections, and three NBA All-Defensive Team selections. He is one of only three players to win NBA MVP, All-Star Game MVP, and Finals MVP awards in the same year (2000). O'Neal was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2016 and to the FIBA Hall of Fame in 2017. The fun-loving big man released four rap albums and used his jolly personality to become a global pitchman and analyst.