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.
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.