May 23, 2024
NBA GOAT Debate

The NBA, rather than being a great association for basketball, is also such a platform where many dedicated players have shown their extraordinary talents and received appreciation from the sport lovers and gained popularity worldwide. Like in every other hyped up sport, the GOAT(greatest of all time) Debate is also an intriguing topic in the world of basketball.

Defining the best player in the history of the NBA is not an easy task, but the analysis of a lot of relevant factors can make this subjective endeavour really interesting. Hence, let’s dive into this thrilling debate, where legends collide, eras intersect, and basketball greatness knows no bounds.

Ranking the Top 10 based on each player’s best 5 continuous seasons:

#Michael Jordan(1987-1992):

Michael Jordan

Regular season statistics: 32.5 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 6.4 apg, 1.0 bpg, 2.8 spg, 53.1 FG%
Playoff statistics: 34.5 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 6.8 apg, 51.3 FG%,
Awards/Recognition: Two NBA titles, two Finals MVPs, three MVPs, five All-Stars, one All-Star Game MVP, five All-NBA 1st Team selections, one Defensive Player of the Year award, five All-Defensive 1st Team selections, two Slam Dunk titles, one Olympic gold.
Overall Goat Ranking: No.1

#LeBron James(2008-2013):

LeBron James

Regular season statistics: 27.8 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 7.3 apg, 0.9 bpg, 1.7 spg, 51.8 FG%
Playoff statistics: 28.3 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 6.4 apg, 1.0 bpg, 1.8 spg, 49.3 FG%
Awards/Recognition: Two NBA titles, two Finals MVPs, four MVPs, five All-Stars, one All-Star Game MVP, five All-NBA 1st Team selections, five All-Defensive 1st Team selections, one Olympic gold.
Overall GOAT ranking: No.2

#Kareem Abdul-Jabbar(1970-1975):

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Regular season stats: 30.8 ppg, 15.5 rpg, 4.3 apg, 3.4 bpg, 1.2 spg, 55.3 FG%
Playoff stats: 28.5 ppg, 16.8 rpg, 4.0 apg, 2.4 bpg, 1.2 spg, 49.8 FG%
Accolades: One NBA title, five All-Stars, three MVPs, five All-Stars, four All-NBA 1st Team selections, one All-NBA 2nd Team selection, two All-Defensive 1st Teams, two All-Defensive 2nd Teams.
Overall GOAT ranking: No. 3

#Magic Johnson (1985-1990):

Magic Johnson

Regular season stats: 19.7 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 12.5 apg, 0.4 bpg, 1.7 spg, 53.1 FG%
Playoff stats: 19.6 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 13.6 apg, 0.4 bpg, 1.7 spg, 53.0 FG%
Accolades: Two NBA titles, two Finals MVPs, three MVPs, five All-Stars, one All-Star Game MVP, five All-NBA 1st Team selections.
Overall GOAT ranking: No. 4

#Bill Russell(1961-1966):

Bill Russell

Regular season stats: 15.5 ppg, 23.8 rpg, 4.7 apg, 43.6 FG%
Playoff stats: 18.7 ppg, 25.7 rpg, 5.2 apg, 45.8 FG%
Accolades: Five NBA titles, three MVPs, five All-Stars, two All-NBA 1st Team selections, three All-NBA 2nd Team selections.
Overall GOAT ranking: No. 5

#Wilt Chamberlain(1965-1970):

Wilt Chamberlain

Regular season stats: 25.6 ppg, 23.2 rpg, 6.5 apg, 59.0 FG%
Playoff stats: 20.6 ppg, 25.4 rpg, 5.2 apg, 54.7 FG%
Accolades: One NBA title, three MVPs, four All-Stars, three All-NBA 1st Team selections.
Overall GOAT ranking: No. 6

#Larry Bird(1983-1988):

Larry Bird

Regular season stats: 27.3 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 6.8 apg, 0.9 bpg, 1.8 spg, 51.2 FG%
Playoff stats: 26.3 ppg, 9.7 rpg, 6.7 apg, 0.9 bpg, 1.9 spg, 48.6 FG%
Accolades: Two NBA titles, two Finals MVPs, three MVPs, five All-Stars, five All-NBA 1st Team selections, three Three-point contest titles.
Overall GOAT ranking: No. 7

#Kobe Bryant(2005-2010):

Kobe Bryant

Regular season stats: 29.8 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 5.0 apg, 0.4 bpg, 1.6 spg, 45.9 FG%
Playoff stats: 29.8 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 5.4 apg, 0.6 bpg, 1.5 spg, 46.7 FG%
Accolades: Two NBA titles, one MVP, two Finals MVPs, five All-Stars, five All-NBA 1st Team selections, five All-Defensive 1st Team selections.
Overall GOAT ranking: No. 8

#Shaquille O’Neal(1997-2002):

Shaquille O’Neal

Regular season stats: 28.2 ppg, 12.0 rpg, 3.1 apg, 2.4 bpg, 0.6 spg, 57.7 FG%
Playoff stats: 29.7 ppg, 13.5 rpg, 2.9 apg, 2.5 bpg, 0.6 spg, 55.7 FG%
Accolades: Three NBA titles, three Finals MVPs, one MVP, five All-Stars, one All-Star Game MVP, four All-NBA 1st Team selections, one All-NBA 2nd Team selections, two All-Defensive 2nd Team selections.
Overall GOAT ranking: No. 9

#Tim Duncan(1999-2004):

Tim Duncan

Regular season stats: 23.3 ppg, 12.5 rpg, 3.4 apg, 2.5 bpg, 0.8 spg, 50.3 FG%
Playoff stats: 24.6 ppg, 14.3 rpg, 4.5 apg, 3.1 bpg, 0.8 spg, 50.4 FG%
Accolades: One NBA title, two MVPs, one Finals MVP, five All-Stars, five All-NBA 1st Team selections, four All-Defensive 1st Team selections, one All-Defensive 2nd Team selection.
Overall GOAT ranking: No. 10

Honourable Mentions:

While the debate for the greatest player continues, it is important to continue with paying tribute to those who narrowly missed the cut. Players like Hakeem Olajuwon, Karl Malone, Stephen Curry, Kevin deserve much recognition for their extraordinary performances and shining careers. It’s a testament to the depth of talent in NBA history.

Michael Jordan VS LeBron James: Who’s the GOAT?

The ESPN Forecast panel was asked a series of questions regarding the GOAT debate. Here are two popular responses-

“At minimum, it’s a debate now. Jordan backers can no longer shout “6-0” and declare it over. Maybe it’s a matter of taste. There is a chance, maybe a good one, that James drives this GOAT conversation closer to a consensus than anyone would have imagined possible a decade ago” – Zach Lowe

“For Jordan partisans, the Bulls’ 6-0 record in Finals series is indisputable proof of his superiority. For James believers, his 10 Finals appearances are emblematic of LeBron’s longer record of accomplishment. But what do LeBron’s and MJ’s overall Finals track records really tell us about the choice between them as the greatest of all time?” – Kevin Pelton

By the numbers:

Michael Jordan vs. LeBron James: Everything you need to know about the NBA GOAT debate

Putting it in short , the NBA GOAT debate is nothing less than a celebration of basketball’s finest and excellence. We’ve skimmed through history and statistics and witnessed and explored legacies. While we may not reach a one and definite answer, we’ve unleashed the layers or factors that make this debate so enduring and captivating.
The NBA’s rich history is a testament to the greatness of its players, and the debate will continue to emerge as new talents evolve and the game itself keeps changing.

Keeping subjective perception aside, it is to say that we respect your opinion. Do you agree with our statement? Is it feasible to compare players from different eras?
Share your opinion and let’s keep the discussion alive!

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