I've created TWO different lists for my Top 5 in the NBA. LeBron, while he is the goat of his era, did NOT make my cuts. I will say, however, that he was in deep consideration and i fully understand anyone having him in the top 2. There's plenty of ways you could've gone here, but I will preface my list by saying this about cross-era comparison:
Players from today, play the way they play because of the evolution of the game. Someone like Stephen Curry would not dribble the way he does or shoot the style in which he does in 1965. Conversely, Bob Cousy wouldn't be as simple of a player in today's era. He would have a similar skill-set to those playing today. This criteria did not play much of a factor in my list, however, it should ALWAYS be considered in responses to my list or in any cross-era comparison in any sport. Let's dive into the lists:
The two lists are:
Top 5 All-Time Best Players EVER in NBA History
Top 5 PERSONAL Favorite Players All-Time (not best, favorite)
Top 5 All-Time:
I know the absence of LeBron James will automatically make people skeptical of this list. Note: I did not leave him out because of my bias towards Jordan. I truly feel that when Kobe and LeBron share a court, that Kobe is the guy I'd prefer on my team. LeBron is a Swiss-army knife and can do it all. I get that. When compared to Kareem and Timmy, I feel their ability to just plain win outdoes LeBron's ability to do the same. And yes, LeBron has stats that will back his ability to win just as much as those two players, but I prefer the 6 titles and dominance of Kareem, and the consistency Duncan provided while winning across decades on balanced teams. You cant talk dominance without mentioning Shaq, who I, and most, feel is the most dominant player of all-time. He was more than just a big body. He was skilled in the paint with both hands both offensively and defensively, and as a scorer and passer. Again, I can see the argument for LeBron anywhere on the top five outside of number one. I can't be convinced he's ahead of Jordan.
My Personal Favorites:
*Sixth Man: Hakeem Olajuwon
I believe I do a great job of remaining objective in life and sports. This was not the time for that. As a lifelong Celtics fan, I had to include both stars of my lifetime. Larry Bird got me into basketball. I grew up an hour away from The Garden and that's all anyone would talk about, Larry Legend. Paul Pierce makes my number one spot for obviously the same reasons. He carried me through a decade-plus of memories. I have Jordan at the 3 spot, but honestly I didn't even want to include him in this list because he transcends the game. But nevertheless, he's at my 3 spot because of Reggie. My family loves the Knicks. Although I love New York, I love being the enemy even more, especially in a house full of Celtics haters. This birthed my love for Jordan, Reggie, and Olajuwon. Kobe in the 5 spot, again for obvious reasons. If you love Jordan, you likely love Kobe. Their hand and hand and even as a Celtics fan I refuse to leave him off my list.
Let me know your lists in the comments!