January 17, 2019

SLAM List: The 100 best NBA players of all-time (2018 full list)

2018/05/02 10:26 am 10:26 am10:26 am0 0 comments

In late February 2018, SLAM Magazine published out their top 100 NBA basketball players of all-time in their latest issue. Obviously, the list caused controversy, as most lists do, but this particular list seemed to rankle more than usual. The good news was that it was printed on glossy paper, so that tempered the online rage by a significant measure.

Well, that didn’t last too long. Two months later, SLAM finally began counting down the list online last week, and the response has been similarly received, but magnified 100x because it was now available online and angry fans could seamlessly comment and digitally lay on the hate. It wasn’t just the LeBron vs Kobe faction, but the Kobe vs. Larry Bird faction. And does Kevin Durant already deserve to be the 13th best player of all-time?

SLAM’s Full List of the Top 100 NBA Players Ever

Anyways, take a look at SLAM’s full list of the 100 best NBA players ever below. For good measure, we included a column that shows where ESPN ranked their top 100 from 2016 to give you a sense of why lists are subjective.

SLAM'S TOP 100 NBA PLAYERS ALL-TIME (2018)
SLAM Player ESPN Rank
1 Michael Jordan 1
2 LeBron James 3
3 Magic Johnson 4
4 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 2
5 Kobe Bryant 12
6 Shaquille O'Neal 9
7 Bill Russell 7
8 Wilt Chamberlain 5
9 Tim Duncan 8
10 Larry Bird 6
11 Oscar Robertson 11
12 Hakeem olajuwon 10
13 Kevin Durant 22
14 Moses Malone 15
15 Julius Erving 14
16 Jerry West 13
17 Isiah Thomas 26
18 Elgin Baylor 24
19 Steph Curry 23
20 Charles Barkley 18
21 Karl Malone 16
22 Scottie Pippen 25
23 Dwyane Wade 27
24 John Havlicek 28
25 John Stockton 19
26 Kevin Garnett 21
27 Dirk Nowitzki 17
28 Allen Iverson 46
29 David Robinson 20
30 Patrick Ewing 32
31 Jason Kidd 35
32 Rick Barry 37
33 Elvin Hayes 40
34 Steve Nash 30
35 Chris Paul 29
36 Walt Frazier 38
37 Russell Westbrook 49
38 Bob Cousy 39
39 Gary Payton 41
40 Kevin Mchale 31
41 Dominique Wilkins 44
42 Wes Unseld 53
43 Clyde Drexler 36
44 George Gervin 47
45 George Mikan 33
46 James Worthy 43
47 Willis Reed 48
48 Nate Archibald 76
49 Bill Walton 42
50 Earl Monroe 60
51 Bernard King 54
52 Dave Cowens 55
53 Jerry Lucas 79
54 Robert Parish 57
55 Reggie Miller 51
56 Bob Petit 34
57 Tracy McGrady 63
58 Ray Allen 50
59 Dennis Rodman 64
60 James Harden 97
61 Pete Maravich 71
62 Paul Pierce 45
63 Connie Hawkins N/A
64 Nate Thurmond 92
65 Sam Jones 78
66 Bob McAdoo 52
67 Tony Parker 58
68 Bob Lanier 68
69 Dolph Schayes 74
70 Vince Carter 69
71 Walt Bellamy N/A
72 Manu Ginobili 61
73 Dennis Johnson 84
74 David Thompson 82
75 Billy Cunningham 88
76 Kawhi Leonard #N/A
77 Adrian Dantley 72
78 Alonzo Mourning 65
79 Artis Gilmore 70
80 Dikembe Mutombo 73
81 Grant Hill 80
82 Kyrie Irving N/A
83 Joe Dumars 77
84 Chris Mullin 83
85 Giannis Antetokoupo N/A
86 Dave Bing N/A
87 Alex English 62
88 Chris Webber 66
89 Dwight Howard 67
90 Hal Greer N/A
91 Jack Twyman N/A
92 Penny Hardaway N/A
93 Pau Gasol 56
94 Sidney Moncrief 81
95 Carmelo Anthony 59
96 Tim Hardaway N/A
97 Dave Debusschere 85
98 Spencer Haywood N/A
99 Lenny Wilkens 93
100 Shawn Kemp 100

All it takes is a quick glance to see that there’s a lot of potential points of contention. Does Giannis Antetokounmpo deserve to be on the list after a couple seasons of good play – especially above players that played full, accomplished careers like Chris Webber, Carmelo Anthony and Spencer Haywood? Dominique Wilkins (#41) over Clyde Drexler (#43), and Jason Kidd over both (#31)? Not to mention, is Jason Kidd really the 31st best player in NBA history? No doubt, he is in the discussion for the top 100, but #31 — that’s just four spots below Dirk Nowitzki, whom is one of six NBA players that has ever scored 30,000 points! Questionable at very best.

SLAM’s List is More Polarizing Than Others

Unlike other lists, I think this list was clearly made with some intent to incite. At #20 is Charles Barkley one spot above Karl Malone is almost like the authors winking at us with a sly smile. The general consensus with experts was that Malone was the better player of the two in both success and accomplishments — especially considering that neither won an NBA championship. It feels like this list was made by an ignorant millennial schooled in the art of click bait and Twitter.

When comparing to ESPN’s #NBARank list from just a couple years ago, it’s odd to that SLAM’s list includes Connie Hawkins and Walt Bellamy, while ESPN’s doesn’t.  Outside of those two, for the most part were players that were on SLAM’s list and not ESPN’s were players that were on the fringe already (Chauncey Billups and Mark Price), or whose careers slowed (Blake Griffin, Kevin Love and Chris Bosh).

It’s been about six years since SLAM last released their top NBA players list. The last time the basketball culture released a list like this, they went H.A.M. with a list of the 500 top NBA player of all time in 2011.

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