The Best NBA Players Of All Time

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From Mikan to Mike, Baylor to LeBron, the NBA has given a stage to dozens of transcendent athletes whose legacies still resonate and inspire today. As the Finals approach, The Onion looks back at the greatest players to ever take the court.

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Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan

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The famously competitive Jordan once dunked on 6-foot-1 John Stockton and, when a fan yelled “Pick on someone your own size,” came back down the court and murdered the fan.

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LeBron James

LeBron James

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Having already won championships with the Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers, this 16-time NBA All-Star only has to win trophies for 28 more teams to prove he’s the greatest player of all time.

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Bill Russell

Bill Russell

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The 11-time champion’s unprecedented accomplishments are only slightly diminished by the historical fact that most of his NBA opponents looked like Brian Dennehy.

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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

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Revolutionized the league after successfully suing the NBA Board of Governors to allow dunking.

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Wilt Chamberlain

Wilt Chamberlain

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Legend has it that Chamberlain slept with almost 20,000 of his opponents.

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Larry Bird

Larry Bird

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This famous trash talker always backed up what he said, once shooting a three-pointer in Patrick Ewing’s face before declaring, “I will retire having scored 21,791 points.”

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Karl Malone

Karl Malone

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Over two decades, “The Mailman” delivered hard-nosed play combined with—haha, no, no, he’s not on this list but we had you, didn’t we?

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Tim Duncan

Tim Duncan

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A model of consistency who scored exactly 19 points, grabbed 11 rebounds, and dished four assists every single game in his career.

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Magic Johnson

Magic Johnson

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His 13 seasons and four championships with the Los Angeles Lakers earned him just enough capital to finally pursue his lifelong goal of opening a chain of movie theaters.

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James Naismith

James Naismith

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Naismith enjoyed unprecedented dominance of basketball that would never again be achieved during the two-week window between him inventing the sport and him teaching it to someone else.

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Patrick Ewing

Patrick Ewing

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One the most dominant big men to ever play the game, but he will always be haunted by never winning the Super Bowl.

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Hakeem Olajuwon

Hakeem Olajuwon

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This Rockets star and former MVP still operates a big-man camp today where he inspires a new generation of 7-footers to shoot 10 three-pointers a game.

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Charles Barkley

Charles Barkley

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His career took off after demanding a trade from the Philadelphia 76ers in 1992, which kicked off the ongoing, 30-year process.

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Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant

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Former teammates marvel about how they can still hear his voice whispering down and telling them what useless pieces of shit they are.

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