I receive email from readers on a weekly basis asking when I’m going to update my top 100 lists. The most requested is the basketball list. I’ve decided to bow to the pressure of my readership and issue an updated version of the top 100 basketball players of all-time. The same rules apply from the previous lists. If you need a refresher on list criteria, please click here. Without further ado, here are the updated 100 greatest basketball players of all-time.
100 Greatest Basketball Players of All-Time
He'd “cutt” you with a razor on the court and then take you to dinner off of it.
This guy was a first class “bimbo."
Despite his name, Nimphius was prude on, and off, the court.
4. Kurt Rambis
Once blazed through 38 lbs of scotch tape in one season to hold his glasses together.
5. Rory Sparrow
Became the first player in NBA history to be born to bird parents. He honored them by changing his last name from "Winslow" to "Sparrow" on his 18th birthday.
6. Kevin Loder
Although most people remember him for his work as an MTV VJ, Loder was such an important force in the NBA that he closed down two NBA franchises: the San Diego Clippers and the Kansas City Kings.
Overcame arguably the most detrimental last name in basketball history to shoot a robust .519 from the field.
Hastings had a reputation for being a frontcourt bully but he was actually one of the greatest score-o participants the world has ever seen. He took shooting from three feet way to new heights. I know this because a friend was blessed with the knowledge of Hastings at a chance encounter at Dunham Sports.
9. Chuck Nevitt
The original "human victory cigar" was also a great mentor. Nevitt is almost solely responsible for Fennis Dembo becoming the greatest towel waiver in NBA history.
10. Ed Nealy
Honorary member of Chicago's three-headed monster was solely responsible for Chicago's third-straight NBA Title in 1993.
11. Greg Kite
Kite once flew a Kite for an entire 48 minute NBA game without allowing his opponent to score a single point.
12. Randy Wittman
Spun such beautiful poetry that coaches who didn’t even want him on the court actually allowed him to be an on-court player/coach while they went to the bathroom to wipe away their tears.
13. Manute Bol
Bol was so good that he was drafted twice. He also once killed a lion with his bare hands in the middle of an NBA game.
14. Sam Bowie
Bowie is single-handedly responsible for the city of Portland being recognized as one of the luckiest cities in the world. The Blazers nearly made a crippling mistake by selecting Michael Jordan.
15. Devin Durrant
Devin Durrant was very nearly Kevin Durant. He never let the cruelty of the situation bring him down as he went on to a remarkably effective 63-game NBA career.
16. Bill Wennington
One of four members of Chicago's three-headed monster to appear on this list. “Beef” Wennington excelled brilliantly in "fouls per minute."
17. Johnny Newman
Aerodynamic Arsenio Hall hairstyle gave him the extra inches necessary to grind and thrive in the paint.
18. David Wingate
Anyone who collected basketball cards in the early 90s knows of the David Robinson rookie “false positive” all too well. Wingate and Robinson were both “Davids” who played for the Spurs. As the opener was flipping through the pack of cards going from left to right, the “David” and “Spurs” logo was easily identifiable. At that point, the opener had no choice but to hold their breath and hope for the best. And if the opener was lucky, they would be a proud owner of a David Wingate 4th-year card.
19. Michael Jackson
No introduction necessary. Jackson gave up a career with the Knicks to become the King of Pop.
20. Jim Les
The classic example of “Les is more."
21. Pete Myers
“Fistpump Pete.” Perhaps no player in NBA history was more instrumental in cheering on the Chicago Bulls than Pete Myers.
22. Jim Farmer
Gave up a lucrative farming career to cultivate points in the NBA.
23. Donald Royal
Once won a head-to-head vote against Royal Ivey to see who truly was the “Royalty of the NBA.” Not surprisingly, Donald was the winner. Making the selection even more meaningful was that it was voted on by his NBA peers.
24. Chris Dudley
Was such an exemplary strategist that he once turned a career 46% free throw percentage into $34.8 million.
25. Jack Haley
Was a member of Chicago’s vaunted three-headed monster for one game. As the saying goes, though, “once a member of the three-headed monster, always a member of the three-headed monster.”
26. Will Perdue
Perhaps the most accomplished member of the three-headed monster. Perdue led the Bulls to three consecutive NBA Titles from 1991-93. He then went on to mentor Tim Duncan and resurrect the flailing career of David Robinson in San Antonio.
27. Vinny Del Negro
"Of the Black" was so silky smooth that he could smoke a doob in one hand and dunk on you with the other.
28. Fennis Dembo
Dembo was arguably the greatest towel twirler in NBA history. One can only wonder how much better he would’ve gotten had he waved his towel for more than one season.
29. Pervis Ellison
Nobody tried harder to shed an unwanted nickname than “Never Nervous” Pervis Ellison. Not one to let others dictate his state of mind, Ellison played nervously on purpose just to spite the people who gave him his nickname.
30. Tom Hammonds
“Hambone” spent much of his career announcing Notre Dame games from the end of the bench.
31. Pooh Richardson
Despite hellacious gas problems that caused him to head to the dressing room every 14 minutes, Pooh thrived as a merciless distributor of the ball.
32. Lance Blanks
You never know if a gun shoots blanks unless you're willing to fire it. Blanks left no doubt that there was nothing in the chamber.
33. Luc Longley
Double L was the sexy accent of the Bulls three-headed monster. He was also the Will Perdue and subsequent MVP of the Bulls’ second three-peat.
34. Adam Keefe
It's difficult to tell if Keefe is more known for being a menace in the paint or being a "W" away from infamy.
35. Oliver Miller
Miller derived much of his talent from eating college teammates Todd Day and Lee Mayberry.
Most thought Mornginstar's fate was sealed the day the NBA decided to play its games after noon. Clearly, most were wrong.
37. Geert Hammink
Was so good in college that LSU urged Shaquille O'Neal to turn pro so Hammink could run the show.
38. Yinka Dare
A man with priorities. I once asked him for his shoes following a game. His response would've made Socrates smile. "What will I wear for the next game?"
The most unheralded member of Chicago’s three-headed monster to go along with a nickname well earned from what I hear.
40. Wesley Person
Was so good that video game programmers had no choice but to make sure he never missed a shot in NBA LIVE '95.
Once played Olivier St. John to a draw in a game of one-on-one.
42. God Shammgod
Basketball Jesus has nothing on this guy. Heck, Jesus himself has nothing on this guy.
Say his name three times in the mirror and you'll get dunked on for eternity. Countless NBA centers have doubted the legend and, as I type this, they are currently and repeatedly getting dunked on by Michael Olowokandi.
44. Jonathan Bender
Was so dominating on the court that he is the subject of M. Knight Shyamalan's forthcoming "The Last Airbender."
45. Frederic Weis
Although Weis never actually played in the NBA, he was such a selfless basketball player that he allowed Vince Carter to posterize him with the "Le Dunk de la mort."
46. Chris Mihm
Mihm's the word on this elite big who scorched the league for a .337 field goal percentage in 1998--an impressive feat for a center.
47. Brian Cardinal
The shrewdest of negotiators--Cardinal has amassed over $30 million in career earnings with a .412 career field goal percentage.
48. Loren Woods
Became the first woman to play and dunk in an NBA game.
49. Dajuan Wagner
Scored more points in a high school game than he did in his last two NBA seasons combined. That stat is a little misleading because he once scored 5,000 points in a high school game.
50. Jewish Jordan
JJ was destined to break Kareem's scoring records but chose religious obedience over superstardom.
51. Dan Dickau
"The Dick" or "DDs" as he was often referred to was so sought after that he was traded eight times.
52. Rafael Araujo
This former 8th overall pick out of BYU was so Mormon that he was born in Brazil.
53. Daniel Ewing
The son of J.R. Ewing, Daniel overcame the pitfalls of growing up under the shadow of a famous father to dominate the NBA.
54. Jon Koncak
Koncak was so physical that writers often subconsciously replaced the "c" with a "t" in his last name.
55. Uwe Blab
Blessed with the "gift of blab", Uwe often talked his opponents into mental breakdowns and then dunked on them.
56. Benoit Benjamin
Was so gifted as a youngster that his father changed the pronunciation of his name ala Joe Theisman. His parents ditched the common French pronunciation of “Benoit” for the phonetic version to rhyme with "anoint." As a result, Benjamin grew to 7'0 tall and was anointed the “King of the NBA.”
57. Joe Wolf
Wolf became the first Werewolf to start an NBA game.
58. Hot Rod Williams
Earned his nickname by taking a charge from a 1949 Mercury Hot Rod. His career arc nosedived after the collision but he limped away the proud owner of a flashy nickname.
59. William Bedford
Following a successful NBA career, Bedford was traded to the Lonestar Stabbers of the Texas State Federal Prison league where he has thrived under the alias "Inmate 675328."
60. Dave Corzine
There is a famous story in NBA circles that Dave Corzine was set to become the greatest player in NBA history but was so secure with himself that he allowed a teammate--Michael Jordan—the honor instead.
61. Pete Incaviglia
Was such a good baseball player that his baseball career ranks as one of the top 100 basketball careers of all-time.
62. Scotty Brooks
Ran into trouble with the law following a splendid basketball career. He was sent away to Shawshank State Prison where upon his release found it difficult to re-acclimate himself into society and thusly ended his life but not before etching, "Brooks was here" into the very wood beam that he hung himself on.
63. Danny Schayes
Danny was actually a better player than his legendary father (Dolph) but, out of respect for him, played worse on purpose to preserve his legacy.
64. Lloyd Batts
This guy was flatout bats.
Initially went by just Ruben Boumjte when he entered the league but, after seeing how awesome he was, league officials demanded that he become Boumjte squared, or the more familiar Boumjte-Boumjte.
66. Primoz Brezec
Brezec was straight-up gangster. Among many honors, he scored the first points in Charlotte Bobcat history which is generally recognized as one of the greatest accomplishments in the NBA record books.
67. Harold Miner
Miner's basketball exploits were so legendary that he was affectionately referred to as “Baby Jordan” after the legendary Jordan Knight of New Kids on the Block.
68. Antoine Carr
Although not as famous as his brother, Lloyd, Antoine was not only a force in the paint but a purveyor of sweet goggles.
69. Rex Chapman
While a litany of former NBA players have fallen victim to inconsistent play following changed hairstyles, Chapman bucked the trend by flourishing with every new do. He was just as good under “normal haircut” as he was under “ridiculously dyed red hair” and “bald.”
70. Doug Christie
Christie was so devoted to the game of basketball that he once went 8 minutes without talking to his wife.
71. Billy Curley
Curley was so focused on the court that he once scored a basket by simply asking the ball to throw itself into the hoop. Even more remarkable, he was fouled on the play.
72. Andrew Declercq
Despite a remarkable basketball career, Declercq will best be remembered for ending apartheid in South Africa.
73. Blue Edwards
Theodore "Blue" Edwards was the Joseph "Blue" Pulaski of the NBA.
74. Howard Eisley
One aspect of Eisley's NBA career that is often overlooked is the fact that he succeeded despite spending half of his career touring with the Eisley brothers.
75. Stan Love
In 2005, Mike Love—Stan’s brother—filed a lawsuit against fellow Beach Boys member Brian Wilson for, among other things, being one of the greatest songwriters of all-time. Stan Love was such an awesome basketball player, that he didn't do the same thing to Michael Jordan.
76. Tom Hagan
Could've been even higher on the list had he not abruptly retired after one season to become the consigliere to the Corleone family.
In the face of nothing but dissenting opinion, Wingfield went pro after his freshman season at Cincinnati. The result was a mathematical match made in heaven as Wingfield became one of just a handful of NBA players to match his number of career starts with the round he was drafted in.
78. Mike Iuzzolino
One of only 18 players in NBA history with a last name beginning with "I", Mike proved that while there isn't an "I" in team, there is one in both "Mike" and "Iuzzolino."
79. Andrew Lang
Lang was the centerpiece of one of the most lopsided trades in NBA history. The 76ers stole Lang from Phoenix along with Tim Perry and Jeff Hornacek for Charles Barkley.
Although he wasn't a "priest" and he wasn't from Ft. "Lauderdale", he was without question, the greatest basketball player ever named Priest Lauderdale.
81. Marcus Liberty
When the Denver Nuggets handed in their pick in the second round of the 1990 draft, their new General Manager scribbled on the card, "Give me Liberty or give me death." David Stern tried to talk them into "death" but they were hell-bent on Liberty and they were rewarded with a blistering .417 field goal percentage over four years.
82. Don Maclean
Rumor has it that Maclean wrote the words to "American Pie" midair as he dunked over former college teammate Tracy Murray.
Was so valued by the Golden St. Warriors that the franchise forced Don Nelson’s son to learn Lithuanian rather than let this non-English speaking superstar go.
84. Sam Perkins
Perkins was a natural having reportedly slept during 52% of his time on the court. Imagine how good he would've been had he been awake the whole time.
85. Bryant Reeves
Big Country was such an iconic figure in American sports history that Canada made it its mission to build its entire sports program around Reeves. Canada had to play coy since any inkling of suspicion on the part of the United State would've ruined the plan. Canada eventually succeeded in the heist when the Vancouver Grizzlies selected him in the first round of the 1995 draft.
86. J.R. Reid
Reid took the reins from Earvin Johnson as the NBA's magic man. He played 11 seasons in the NBA but nobody had any idea he played more than five. How did he do it? A good magician never reveals his secrets.
87. Tree Rollins
Rollins was literally a tree that teams planted in front of the basket to deter shot attempts. Sadly, he was cut down for firewood following the 1994 season.
88. John Crotty
There’s nothing I can say about John Crotty that hasn’t been said a million times.
89. Otis Thorpe
Was such a respected basketball player that the Vancouver Grizzlies were willing to give up the rights to Darko Milicic six years before he was even drafted just to get their hands on O.T.
With his famous Fu Manchu, “Buddha” was the ultimate intimidator. Every single one of his 14,862 career points came within the first five minutes of the game.
91. Stanley Roberts
Recorded the first NBA Triple Double of its kind when he went for 11 points, 11 rebounds and ate 10 meatball sandwiches in a game against the Pistons in 1993.
92. Mark Aguirre
What he did on the hardwood was impressive but his most notable achievement came when he added an "M" to his last name and went on to hit 583 home runs and break Roger Maris's single season home run record.
93. Mike Smrek
Smrek was the first ogre to suit up for an NBA game. His brother, Mike Shrek, reached international fame when he married Princess Fiona in spite of Lord Farquaad’s best efforts to steal the headlines.
94. Michael Cage
Cage was a two-sport start. Everyone knows about his exploits as a feared NBA baller but most people don't know that he defeated Eric LaSalle in the 1987 World Jheri Curl Championships.
95. Eric Leckner
Leckner broker the lower limit of John Hollinger's PER rating in the 1989 playoffs with Utah. Although the Jazz were swept out of the playoffs, Leckner did his part with a -14.8 PER.
96. Jeff Grayer
In a career full of highs, Grayer will be most remembered for being the grayist player to ever suit up in an NBA game.
97. Jud Buechler
Buechler led the Bulls to back-to-back NBA Championships in '97 and '98.
98. Chris Gatling
I've always said that you can judge a player’s worth by how many times he has been traded. Few players in NBA history were worth more than Gatling who was traded nine times. Interestingly, Gatling was, at one time or another, traded for every player in the NBA.
99. Shawn Bradley
I've always said you can judge a player's worth by how much his sweat glistens. I once asked Shawn Bradley for his shoes. Luckily for me, he threw me his sweaty towel instead. His glisten was magnificent.
100. Gerald Glass
Glass became the first and only player in NBA history to be entirely made of glass.101. April Fools!