Poll: The Greatest NBA Player of All Time

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LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers are the NBA champions. This is LeBron’s third title, firmly placing him in some elite company. The question is, has he done enough, accomplished enough, to be considered the Greatest of All Time? The G.O.A.T. That is very much up for debate. Here at Rambling Ever On, we pride ourselves in our ability to create Top Ten lists. And we considered doing that for this conversation.1 We thought it would be more fun if we got our readers involved. Do Bill Russell’s 11 championships put him at the front of the line? Do Michael Jordan’s six NBA Finals MVP’s give him an edge? Does Larry Bird get your vote because he is the greatest ever?2 Does LeBron get strong consideration because of what he just accomplished a few days ago and we lack the ability to see the greater historical context of any current event?

So, the proverbial ball is in your court. Below, you will find a poll with ten NBA greats and one option for “other.” You pick your top three. Not one. Not two. Three. If your choice is not represented in the ten names we came up with, please pick “other” and tell us in the comments who you chose. If you can’t follow these simple directions, then you are just the worst.3 Our preference would be for you to comment below with the three players you picked, but we understand if you don’t have time to do that.4

Let’s do this thing!

 

Who is the greatest NBA player of all time?

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  1. Spoiler alert: We are going to do that eventually.
  2. Kidding…maybe…
  3. Just kidding. You are pretty lame though.
  4. We want you to tell us whom you picked so we can either agree with you or make fun of you.

Staff

We are staff and we are legion.

39 thoughts on “Poll: The Greatest NBA Player of All Time

  • June 22, 2016 at 11:49 am
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    Bill Russell, Michael Jordan, Larry Bird

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  • June 22, 2016 at 11:51 am
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    Per my Bird article I voted for Bird, Magic and Jordan. However, I think LeBron is very close to cracking the Top 3. If I am consistent with my Bird and Magic winning criteria, I have to concede he’s close. He may be there already but it’s hard to say so close to the event that vaulted him so much. But he dominated that 4th quarter without having to score a ton. He handled the ball so much and the block was legendary, and one of the few things I’ve seen where the quick hyperbole reaction was justified.

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  • June 22, 2016 at 12:01 pm
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    MJ, Bird and Kareem. The guy with the most MVP awards most points and 6 titles has to be on there.

    LeBron is closing in on top 5 and has the ability to keep moving up where nobody else on the list can except Duncan technically but he is near the end I think.

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  • June 22, 2016 at 12:09 pm
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    I voted for MJ, Bird, and Duncan.

    I picked Duncan because I think he is the best power forward of all time. He has less championships than Kareem but he never played with another player as good as Magic to help him win those championships.

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  • June 22, 2016 at 12:27 pm
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    I went with Jordan, Bird, and Russell, in that order. As much as I wanted to vote for Wilt and Duncan, I couldn’t get there over the other three and the way they changed the game and influenced the league. I think LeBron may be there someday; as others have commented, I think he’s getting close, but it’s too soon to make that call, IMO. Ask this question in 10 years and he may be there.

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    • June 22, 2016 at 12:38 pm
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      Very fair, well thought out comments. And I’d say that even if you didn’t have Bird!

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  • June 22, 2016 at 12:32 pm
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    Bird, Magic, Jordan

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  • June 22, 2016 at 12:40 pm
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    Jabbar, MJ, Duncan

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  • June 22, 2016 at 12:42 pm
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    MJ, Russell, and LeBron.

    I have LeBron in a 3 way tie with Magic and Bird for third greatest, and since I can’t in good conscience pick Magic over Bird and vice versa, I went with James.

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    • June 22, 2016 at 12:44 pm
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      James is eventually going to be with Bird and Magic to me too and I am not going to be able to deny it. I’ve laid out the criteria and he is matching them. I held on to his postseason flame outs (notably the 11 Finals and the year that the rumor about his mom floated around) but he’s been so clutch for most of the last 5 post seasons I can’t hold those against him too much any more. In 2013 I thought he blew Game 6 but he was impeccable in Game 7.

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      • June 22, 2016 at 1:14 pm
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        Agreed. LeBron might already be there. But it’s so hard to make that kind of call this close to what he just did in the Finals. Also, while I think he has a great resume, getting to 6 straight NBA Finals sounds a little better than it actually is since he has played that entire time in a weak Eastern Conference.

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        • June 22, 2016 at 2:00 pm
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          The 6 straight Finals is overrated to me. Those Indiana and Toronto teams were among the weakest conference Finals participants this century. LeBron has plenty of other resume building achievements he doesn’t need that one.

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  • June 22, 2016 at 1:42 pm
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    It seems that we have quite a few people only casting one or two votes. Did you miss the instructions? Vote for three. This works better when you follow instructions. I did warn people that they would be called “lame” if they didn’t vote correctly.

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  • June 22, 2016 at 1:48 pm
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    MJ, Russell, and Lebron. I have not been a Lebron fan at all over his career. But I recognize greatness. What he did with Cleveland, to immediately make them a contender the past 2 seasons, and finally win after a 52 year city drought puts him into the top 3 of all time in my book. MJ and Russell are clearly 1 and 2. But to go to a non-playoff team and immediately take them to back-to-back NBA finals and win in the historic way in which he did with what he had to work with–WOW!!! He’s already been to 7 NBA finals, which in the modern NBA is unbelievable, with 3 finals MVP’s. What more does he have to prove? But just in case he does have to prove more to some people, he’s still got 3-4 more good years to do so and add to his legacy of dominance.

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  • June 22, 2016 at 1:49 pm
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    Shaq is clearly 10 on this list, at least to me. I am surprised that Wilt has not received any votes. He was so dominant statistically I figured he would get some support. I guess fewer titles hurt his case.

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    • June 22, 2016 at 1:56 pm
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      Wilt is the Dan Marino of basketball. Oh wait a second…Wilt actually won a title?!?! Nevermind.

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      • June 22, 2016 at 1:58 pm
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        I will cut you. Cyberly. (This is a joke for anyone not familiar with the marathon QB debates I have had with David and just about every one else!)

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    • June 22, 2016 at 1:57 pm
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      I didn’t vote for Wilt because he was so awful in Conan the Destroyer.

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      • June 22, 2016 at 2:14 pm
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        That is valid, but Jordan’s performance in Space Jam did not exactly remind anyone of Denzel either.

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        • June 22, 2016 at 2:20 pm
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          Compared to Wilt’s performance, Jordan was working at De Niro/Pacino levels.

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  • June 22, 2016 at 2:12 pm
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    No offense people, but how in the world is Kobe getting more votes than Bird? Fess up. I need to know who to put on my “lame” list. :)

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  • June 22, 2016 at 6:33 pm
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    I think centers should be on a list of their own. They should be excluded from lists like this. They benefit from a thing that people have no control over…genetics. They are big, that’s their gift. You don’t have the stories about shooting 1,000 FT like Bird. Or the being cut from HS basketball like Jordan. I worked for a coach who played for the Celtics in the early mid 80’s. He would tell all the post players in college. If you’re big and you can average 10 plus rebounds a game you’ll make a million dollars. So I’ve always wanted to see centers have their own list.

    That being said, I think James put himself in the top three. I’ve always had MJ, Magic, Bird. But now I’m putting James in the top three. Simply because I think he’s done more with less. And because he had probably the most impressive plays I’ve ever seen on a basketball court and both stemmed from defense.

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    • June 22, 2016 at 6:52 pm
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      Interesting take for sure. James’ doing more with Less is a huge point of bumping him up to me. But I think Bird was like that too. It’s pretty funny to see Boston’s win totals before his career, during his career and after. It’s a bell curve. Reggie Lewis dying affected the ‘after’ but still, he was an automatic 20-30 extra wins.

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    • June 22, 2016 at 11:40 pm
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      I agree with your assessment on Lebron. He has proven to be one of the best offensively and defensively. He has had 3 of the most memorable blocks in NBA finals history. That’s the ultimate reason I moved him ahead of Magic/Bird. As good as they were defensively (“Bird steals it!!!) , I can’t imagine either one of them chasing Steph Curry and Clay Thompson around for 4 quarters. He’s more versatile defensively than either Magic or Larry. And Lebron has done “more with less” over his career more than anyone else in league history. To me that gives him the edge over the Magic/Larry duo.

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    • June 24, 2016 at 2:39 pm
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      I’m not sure we can use genetics as an argument against including centers in the top ten, but then include someone like LeBron who won the genetic lottery.

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      • June 24, 2016 at 4:13 pm
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        Russell is 6’9″ and a center so we shouldn’t include him. Bird, Magic and even LeBron are all 6’9″ as well and they are included because they play other positions. I don’t think it makes sense to pick and choose based on position or how tall someone is whether they are an all time great.

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  • June 22, 2016 at 9:51 pm
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    Lebron is and all time great, but he is already overrated on most lists. He fills the stat sheet, but when push comes to shove who is usually making the most important shots? Not him. I also hate how he makes no look passes when he doesn’t need to and they look forced, but that is nitpicking. My 3 were Larry, Magic, and Kobe. Kobe and MJ are the same to me and MJ probably should get the nod based on stats, but I’m petty.

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  • June 22, 2016 at 11:25 pm
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    Gowdy, I can’t believe you left Oscar Robertson and Dr. J off the list. Oscar especially is greater than Shaq, Duncan, and Kobe. The list in order for me is MJ, Russell, Lebron, Magic/Bird (I don’t think you can really differentiate one from the other. They re-shaped the NBA together via a rival partnership. They needed each other, and made each other top 5 all-time greats. They must be mentioned together as one and the same.), Kareem, Oscar, Wilt, Kobe, Dr. J, Duncan, Shaq.

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    • June 22, 2016 at 11:29 pm
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      I didn’t compile the list alone. REO is a group of guys who try to make more sense doing things corporately instead of with one person giving their opinion. I did help with it significantly however. Oscar was the last person cut, and it was between him and Shaq. Shaq’s Finals stats threw him over the top I think. Dr. J is extremely overrated to me. Moses Malone would have been my choice for #12 had we gone that deep. He accomplished more than Irving did. I think he was more substance than flash.

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  • June 23, 2016 at 7:05 pm
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    I separate them with this question. Who do I want leading my team in the last 5 minutes with the game on the line? They all have similar stats and each has certain things he does better than the others, so I use that question to whittle my list down. Subjectivity lends itself to more subjectivity. This is why Lebron will probably never be in my top 5. I guess he could become Mr. Clutch in the backend of his career, but I assume he will not. I have never seen a superstar all time great shrink as much as he did in the last series with Cleveland before going to Miami and then again in the first finals with Miami.

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    • June 24, 2016 at 9:34 am
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      He hit a shot vs Orlando in 09. And it was a big shot.

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      • June 24, 2016 at 4:19 pm
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        LeBron also had the highest scoring average in elimination games coming in to this year and he only increased his margin with his finals performance this season. Elimination games are the most pressure packed games you can have and he scores more in them than anyone has EVER. Not to mention his great stats in every other category. I did not pick him top 3 but his lack of a “clutch gene” is a Skip Bayless fabrication.

        That said, his first finals with Miami was not good and he deserves criticism for it. The Boston series in 2010 was when he had a teammate dating his mom and while he may deserve some criticism he also deserves praise for not murdering Delonte West on the court.

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  • June 24, 2016 at 11:16 am
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    I’ll go with Jordan, Chamberlain, and Magic, with Bird a close fourth.

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  • June 25, 2016 at 12:15 pm
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    Skip Bayless is a moron who I quit paying attention to years ago so if we are on the same side of an argument it is by chance. Lebron is a stat machine but I’d be interested to see his 4th qtr numbers in close games. Those, however, can also be deceiving because many times he simply refuses to shoot the ball. It’s like playing hot potato in the 4th qtr.

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    • June 25, 2016 at 1:04 pm
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      I agree that the Delonte West year was awful as was 2011. There are reasons but they are there and they are worse than Bird going 17-42 in the Finals because he shrunk from the moment as you say. But he has wiped that out the last 5 seasons. And at the end of the 4th at times. He beat Ind one year at the end and made a basket to extend a 2 pt lead to 4 in game seven in 2013 inthe last 30 seconds. Even the game he was awful the last 6 minutes–game 6 in 13–he was taking the shots at the end. He’s grown to me in this area.

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  • June 25, 2016 at 1:26 pm
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    According to ESPN lebron coming into this year was 30% in clutch time in the Finals. They didn’t give stats but said it didn’t compare favorably to other greats.

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  • June 25, 2016 at 1:32 pm
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    Lebron is 5-47 to tie or take lead in the last seconds according to ESPN. I think it only stretched last 10 years and only was regular season. Kobe over same stretch was 2x as good.

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    • June 26, 2016 at 10:42 am
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      You know there were stats out there from somebody about how off the “Kobe is the best closer” theory is based on his shooting with the scored tied or within 2 points (or something like that) – he was something like 22%. Doesn’t sound like Top 3! But that was regular season and playoffs. I’m not sure about the 30% for Lebron. I’d be curious what “Clutch time” was. I do know my eyes tell me he comes up big way more often than not in the last 5 years. And even some before that (Orlando 09).

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