You can't help but think of certain players when a franchise's name is mentioned. Every team doesn't have a LeBron James or a Michael Jordan, but they still have a GOAT in their own right.
Atlanta Hawks - Bob Pettit
Pettit spent his whole career representing the Milwaukee and St Louis Hawks, retiring three years before the franchise moved to Atlanta. The power forward scored over 20,000 points, averaging 26.4 points and 16.2 rebounds per game, grabbing the most boards for the Hawks in franchise history. He led the team to their only NBA championship in 1958.
Boston Celtics - Bill Russell
Russell was two places below Larry Bird on our all-time list, but to say he isn't the best Celtic ever could potentially spark a violent mob outside the Planet Sport headquarters.
The legendary center won a colossal 11 championships in his 13-year career, averaging 22.5 rebounds per game.
Brooklyn Nets - Jason Kidd
The Nets have never won a championship, but Kidd led them to back-to-back NBA Finals, including their first-ever in 2002.
The point guard was a five-time All Star, six-time All-Defensive and two-time All-NBA First Team as a Net.
Charlotte Hornets - Kemba Walker
Founded in 1988, the Hornets are one of the youngest teams in the league. With zero division titles, let alone championships, they have not had the most successful time.
Walker has the most points and minutes played for Charlotte and left for the Boston Celtics in 2019 after being picked number nine in the 2011 draft.
Chicago Bulls - Michael Jordan
Jordan led the Bulls to all six of their title triumphs. He's the NBA GOAT, let alone the best to represent the Chicago Bulls.
Cleveland Cavaliers - LeBron James
Another obvious choice, James was drafted by the Cavaliers at number one in 2003 and after a spell with the Miami Heat, he came back to win the franchise their only championship in 2016.
Dallas Mavericks - Dirk Nowitzki
Another team with one title, Nowitzki was the main reason for the Mavericks' success in 2011.
The German power forward was named MVP in 2007 and played 51,368 minutes for Dallas - over 21,000 minutes more than Rolando Blackman, who is second all-time in minutes played.
Nowitzki is also miles ahead at the top of the list for points scored with 31,560. Blackman is second again, with 16,643.
Denver Nuggets - Alex English
Nikola Jokic is well on his way to be the GOAT for the Nuggets, but we'll give him a few more years.
English leads the Nuggets in points scored and games played, guiding Denver to the playoffs in nine consecutive seasons, reaching the Western Conference Finals in 1985.
Detroit Pistons - Isiah Thomas
Thomas spent his entire 13-year career in Detroit, leading them to two championships as part of the 'Bad Boy' Pistons.
An excellent scorer, defender and playmaker, Thomas is one of the best point guards of all time.
Golden State Warriors - Wilt Chamberlain
Not Steph Curry, Chamberlain is the best ever to play for the Warriors.
Wilt is not in the top ten for games played, but is second for points scored in the franchise's history. He was a freak of nature, averaging 41.5 points and 25.1 rebounds per game as a Warrior.
Houston Rockets - Hakeem Olajuwon
Olajuwon steered the Rockets to their only championships in 1994 and 1995 and leads the team in multiple records, including: games played, field goals made, points, offensive rebounds, defensive rebounds, steals and blocks.
One of the greatest defenders to play the game, Olajuwon was picked number one by the Rockets in 1984, two picks ahead of Michael Jordan.
Indiana Pacers - Reggie Miller
Miller was a sharp shooting demon in his career and has his number 31 jersey retired by the Pacers.
The five-time All Star has the most games played for Indiana by over 500, made 2,560 three pointers and scored over 25,000 points, also leading the franchise in assists and steals.
Los Angeles Clippers - Bob McAdoo
McAdoo was selected number two by the Buffalo Braves (now the Clippers) in 1972 and averaged 28.2 points per game in 334 games.
He won three straight scoring titles for the Braves. In 1974-75, the big center averaged 34.5 points and 14.1 rebounds a night as he was named MVP.
Los Angeles Lakers - Magic Johnson
The Lakers have had some terrific players wear purple and gold over the years, but none better than Magic.
The point guard made 10,141 assists, 1,724 steals and scored 19.5 points per game as he won five NBA titles.
Memphis Grizzlies - Zach Randolph
It was a tough choice between Marc Gasol and Randolph for this one, with the latter just getting the nod.
Randolph scored 9,261 points in 551 games for the Grizzlies and was a nightmare to play against on a nightly basis due to his incredible presence on defence.
His number 50 is the only jersey retired by Memphis.
Miami Heat - Dwyane Wade
Wade won two titles with LeBron James, but did taste success before the King came to Miami, winning the championship in 2006, averaging 34.7 points per game in their Finals series against the Mavericks.
The shooting guard played two strange years elsewhere between 2016-2018 before coming back to the Heat for his last season. He leads the franchise in points scored with 21,556. Nobody else has reached 10k.
Milwaukee Bucks - Giannis Antetokounmpo
In 21/22, Giannis became the Bucks' all-time scoring leader, overtaking the legendary Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. 'The Greek Freak' also leads the franchise in blocks and triple doubles.
Antetokounmpo has spent his whole career in Milwaukee and is a two-time MVP, one-time Defensive Player of the Year, six-time All Star, three-time All-NBA First Team, one-time champion, and is far from finished.
Minnesota Timberwolves - Kevin Garnett
Garnett leads the Timberwolves all time in games, minutes, points, steals, assists, rebounds, blocks, and free throws.
This one is not even close and doesn't need much explaining.
New Orleans Pelicans - Chris Paul
Paul was drafted number four and led the then-Hornets to the playoffs in three of his six years and won at least 37 games every year.
Anthony Davis leads the franchise in a number of records, but the edge goes to CP3, who just beats AD in win shares.
New York Knicks - Patrick Ewing
Ignoring the Ewing Theory, the center did everything he could to bring a third championship to Madison Square Garden.
Walt Frazier was superb and guided the Knicks to two titles in the 70s, but Ewing leads in points scored, blocks, rebounds and games played.
If he wasn't one of many victims of Michael Jordan, Ewing's legacy would be a whole lot different.
Oklahoma City Thunder - Gary Payton
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook put in a wonderful case to be the best Thunder player ever, but counting the SuperSonics era, Payton is the franchise's best ever.
Marcus Smart became the first guard to be named Defensive Player of the Year in 2022 since 'The Glove' won the award in '96. Payton was an incredible defender, great playmaker and a solid scorer. The perfect point guard.
Orlando Magic - Shaquille O'Neal
The most dominant player in NBA history was amazing in his four years in Orlando before he joined the Lakers to win multiple championships.
He averaged 27.2 points per game for the team that drafted him, leading them to their first NBA Finals just six years after becoming a franchise.
Philadelphia 76ers - Julius Erving
There is some stiff competition here, with Wilt Chamberlain and Allen Iverson both coming close to beating Erving, aka Dr J.
In 11 seasons with the Sixers, Erving didn't miss an All-Star Game and was named league MVP in '81. He scored over 18,000 points and is one of the most influential NBA players of all time.
Phoenix Suns - Steve Nash
Nash is one of 11 players to win back-to-back MVP awards and he did so as a Phoenix Sun.
He led the league in assists and averaged over 11 per game in five separate seasons.
The point guard didn't take the Suns to the Finals, unlike Charles Barkley, but was an offensive demon throughout his time in Phoenix.
Portland Trail Blazers - Clyde Drexler
Damian Lillard will likely become the all-time scoring leader for the Blazers, but 'Clyde the Glide' is still the king in that department.
Drexler spent 12 years in Portland, being named an All Star eight times. He can also thank MJ for not winning a championship with the Blazers. In the same season (91/92) he tasted Finals defeats to the Bulls, Jordan pipped Drexler to the MVP award.
Sacramento Kings - Oscar Robertson
Nobody comes close to the Big-O for best player in franchise history.
Robertson had 176 triple doubles - only 162 more than second best - and is miles ahead for assists and points.
San Antonio Spurs - Tim Duncan
Spurs legend Duncan made 15 All-NBA team appearances and was also recognised on an All-Defensive team on 15 occasions.
Duncan won five championships and was named MVP twice during his 19-year Spurs career.
Toronto Raptors - Kawhi Leonard
This could be a controversial decision given the fact Leonard only spent one season in Canada.
But what a season that was. Kawhi took the Raptors to a whole new level, carrying them to their only NBA championship in franchise history. The two-time Defensive Player of the Year averaged 28.5 points per game as the Raptors beat the Warriors in six.
Utah Jazz - Karl Malone
Malone scored an astronomical 36,374 points for the Jazz as he and John Stockton dominated the Western Conference in the '90s.
Malone won two MVP awards and was a 14-time All Star for Utah.
Washington Wizards - Wes Unseld
Unseld was named Finals MVP in '78 as he guided the then-Bullets to their only NBA championship.
He averaged 10.8 points and 14 rebounds per game as he led his team to the Finals on four occasions.
In '69, Unseld was named league MVP and Rookie of the Year; joining Wilt Chamberlain as the only two players to accomplish this feat.
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