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Ranking the top 10 players in NBA history - find out if your pick makes the cut

Who is the best player in NBA history? Check out Planet Sport's definitive list as we rank the top 10 of all time.

It's the ultimate sporting topic for discussion in your local bar, 'who is the best?'. It doesn't matter what the sport, everyone has an opinion. Even if the people you are having the debate with know precious little about the sport in question, they will still have an view and will always be ready to throw a big name player into the mix.

Planet Sport's basketball expert Jason Soutar has been pouring over the form and the history books to deliver his vote - and his reasons why - on the top 10 best players in NBA history.

10) Tim Duncan

'The Big Fundamental' retired in 2016 and is now a member of the NBA Hall of Fame. Duncan is a 15x All Star, 5x NBA champion, 15x All-NBA, 15x All-Defensive, 1998 Rookie of the Year, 3x Finals MVP and 2x league MVP. He averaged 19 points per game, 10.8 rebounds per game and shot over 50% from the field in his 1392-game career.
Duncan was arguably in his prime in the early 2000s and became the main man for the San Antonio Spurs as David Robinson approached his retirement.
The power forward/center is one of the most consistent and underrated players of all time.
He was named Finals MVP as he won his first championship in his second season in the NBA, and was a huge part of the Spurs' success as they won the title in 2014.
His longevity, consistency, incredible ability on both defense and offense, reliability, loyalty and professionalism make him a shoo-in for our top 10.

9) Wilt Chamberlain

Wilt was an absolute freak of nature and was ahead of his time in terms of his athleticism.
'The Big Dipper' is a 13x All Star, 7x scoring champion, 2x NBA champion, 10x All-NBA, 4x MVP, 11x rebounding champion, 1960 ROY, 2x All-Defensive, 1x Finals MVP and a Hall of Famer.
He averaged 30.1 PPG, 22.9 RPG and shot 54% from the field in his 1045-game career.
Chamberlain holds the record for the most points in a single NBA game (100) and averaged over 50 PPG in the 1961/62 season. He is the only player to average over 40 PPG in a season, and he did it twice.
He is the only player to average at least 30 PPG and 20 RPG in a season, and he did that SEVEN times. If this debate was based on statistics alone, Wilt would be the GOAT.

8) Bill Russell

Russell and Chamberlain were great rivals during their illustrious careers. What gives Russell the edge here the fact that he has more rings than he has fingers.
The Boston Celtics legend is a 12x All Star, 11x NBA champion, 11x All-NBA, 5x MVP, 4x rebounding champion, 1x All-Defensive, a Hall of Famer and had the Finals MVP award named after him.
He averaged 15.1 PPG, 22.5 RPG and shot 44% from the field in his 963-game career.
It is worth mentioning that the All-Defensive team was introduced in Russell's last season in his playing career. He is one of, if not the best, defender of all time and many people believe he is the GOAT due to the amount of championships he won.
The only players to come close to Russell in this regard is his old team-mates. The closest non-Celtic to his 11 rings is Robert Horry with seven.
His dominating defensive play overshadows his offensive ability, with his 7'4" wingspan helping him block shots for fun and his rebounding and overall defensive ability is the reason the Celtics were so successful during his playing career.

7) Kobe Bryant

Kobe was a winner. His 'mamba mentality' allowed him to have a psychological edge over any opponent and he knew how to make it count.
Bryant is a 18x All Star, 2x scoring champion, 5x NBA champion, 15x All-NBA, 12x All-Defensive, 1x MVP, 2x Finals MVP and a Hall of Famer.
He averaged 25 PPG and shot close to 45% from the field in his 1346-game career.
Bryant won three championships alongside Shaquille O'Neal and there was a genuine belief that he wouldn't add to his ring collection after the big center left the Los Angeles Lakers in 2004.
However, he went back-to-back in '09 and '10 as the undisputed main man in LA.
He was a scoring beast and one of the best defensive guards to ever play the game of basketball.
His mentality, as aforementioned, gave him an incredible edge, much like it did for Michael Jordan.
Bryant was a hero for Team USA in '08 and '12 and dropped a staggering 81 points in a match against the Toronto Raptors in 2006.

6) Larry Bird

'Larry Legend' is another Celtics star to make our top 10.

Bird is a 12x All Star, 3x NBA champion, 10x All-NBA, 1980 ROY, 3x All-Defensive, 2x Finals MVP, 3x MVP and a Hall of Famer.
He averaged 24.3 PPG, 10 RPG and shot 49.6% from the field in his 897-game career.
Bird is one of the best shooters in NBA history and was an absolute demon from three-point range; even winning the three-point contest without taking his warm-up jacket off in 1988.
He spent his whole playing career in Boston where he established himself as the best player in the franchise's history, ahead of Bill Russell - for us, anyway.
He is the only forward to win three consecutive MVP awards and formed arguably the greatest front court in NBA history alongside forward Kevin McHale and center Robert Parish.

5) Shaquille O'Neal

Shaq is the most dominant player in NBA history, no debate.
O'Neal is a 15x All Star, 2x scoring champion, 4x NBA champion, 1993 ROY, 3x All-Defensive, 3x Finals MVP, 1x MVP and a Hall of Famer.
He averaged 23.7 PPG, 10.9 RPG, 2.3 blocks per game and shot over 58% from the field in his 1207-game career.
'Diesel' bullied every single one of his matchups and enjoyed his best years alongside Kobe Bryant at the Lakers.
They, of course, won three titles in a row between 2000-2002 before being traded to the Miami Heat, where he won his fourth and final chip alongside Dwyane Wade in '06.
Shaq is one of three players to be named league MVP, Finals MVP and All-Star MVP in the same year (2000).
His excellent field goal percentage (third all-time) is largely down to his dominance in the paint and his incredible dunking ability. O'Neal is eighth all-time in points scored and blocks made.

4) Magic Johnson

Magic is he only point guard in this list, showing that he is clearly the best all time in his position.
Johnson is a 12x All Star, 5x NBA champion, 10x All-NBA, 3x Finals MVP, 3x MVP, 4x assist champion, 2x steal champion and a Hall of Famer.
He averaged 19.5 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 11.2 assists per game and shot 52% from the field in his 906-game career.
At 6'9", Magic was very difficult to defend. His athleticism, scoring ability, playmaking, defense, height and wingspan made him a nightmare for any matchup on both ends of the floor.
His career was shorter than it should have been, but that takes nothing away from his legacy.
He leads the NBA all-time in average assists per game and was one of the leaders - alongside long-time rival Larry Bird - of Team USA's iconic 1992 'Dream Team'.

3) Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Abdul-Jabbar's 38,387 points is the most in NBA history.
Kareem is a 19x All-Star, 2x scoring champion, 6x NBA champion, 15x All-NBA, 11x All-Defensive, 1970 ROY, 2x Finals MVP, 6x MVP, 4x blocking champion and a Hall of Famer. He averaged 24.6 PPG, 11.2 RPG and shot 55.9% from the field in his 1560-game career.
Kareem's trademark 'skyhook' shot is the reason he has scored the most points in NBA history.
It was impossible to block (unless you're a 7'7" Bol Bol) and he would simply toy with defenders before releasing the shot that would go through the hoop more times than not.
He guided the Milwaukee Bucks to their first NBA championship in 1974 before he was traded to the Lakers a year later. Abdul-Jabbar won five titles in LA as they dominated the 1980s.
He is not only the all-time leader in points scored, but also games played (1,560), minutes played (57,446), field goals made (15,837), blocked shots (3,189), defensive rebounds (9,394) and career wins (1,074).

2) LeBron James

James is the GOAT to a lot of people, and he is the only active player on this list.
LeBron is a 18x All Star, 1x scoring champion, 4x NBA champion, 17x All-NBA, 2004 ROY, 6x All-Defensive, 4x MVP, 4x Finals MVP, 1x assisting champion and a future Hall of Famer. He averages 27.1 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 7.4 APG and is shooting 50.4% from the field in his career.
LeBron is a physical monster and the greatest athlete in NBA history.
He is 6'9" but has always moved like a point guard, he also has everything a point guard should have, from great on-ball defense to incredible playmaking ability.
He can play any of the five positions on the floor, and has done during his outstanding career.
James was drafted straight out of high school at the age of 18 and instantly made an impact with a below-average Cleveland Cavaliers team.
He carried them to the NBA Finals in 2007, being swept by the Spurs.
He made the controversial decision to join the Miami Heat, with whom he won his first chip in 2012.
His '16 Finals win is his best, however; going back to Cleveland as they made history to come from 3-1 down against the 73-win Golden State Warriors, winning the Cavs their first-ever championship.

1) Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan is the GOAT, and you can see why in more detail here.

MJ is a 14x All Star, 10x scoring champion, 6x NBA champion, 11x All-NBA, 1985 ROY, 9x All-Defensive, 1x Defensive Player of the Year, 5x MVP, 6x Finals MVP, 3x stealing champion and a Hall of Famer.
He averaged 30.1 PPG and shot close to 50% from the field in his 1072-game career.
Jordan can count himself unlucky not to have more MVPs to his name.
He was an excellent defender, probably the best defensive guard of all time, a scoring demon, tremendous athlete and the best player of mind games the league has ever seen.
'Air Jordan' secured a three-peat on two occasions in the '90s and could easily have won every title between 1991-1998 had he not retired before the 93/94 season.
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