For most basketball fans, when asked about who the greatest player in NBA history is, you’ll often hear one of two names: Michael Jordan or LeBron James.
It’s a contentious and seemingly generational debate as to who’s No. 1, to be sure, but Jordan and James have generally separated themselves from their peers. (Jordan was the ultimate winner; James is the ultimate stat stuffer and league’s all-time leading scorer.)
Given that, virtually every basketball fan’s top five players of all time will assuredly involve those two. A lot of people’s top three players list would involve Jordan and James. And a good number of people’s top two players list would be made up of just those two.
For one of the NBA’s most pioneering legends, Julius “Dr. J” Erving, one of those aforementioned superstars doesn’t even crack his top 10 — and it’s not the guy who’s undefeated in the NBA Finals.
Erving triggered a fair amount of outrage when he gave his list of the top 10 players in NBA history during a wide-ranging interview with NBA content creator and personality Joy De’Angela.
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Here are the 10 greatest players in NBA history, in no particular order, according to Erving:
- Michael Jordan
- Bill Russell
- Magic Johnson
- Karl Malone
- Wilt Chamberlain
- Elgin Baylor
- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
- Jerry West
- Oscar Robertson
- Nate Archibald
Some notable exclusions include the aforementioned James, Larry Bird, Hakeem Olajuwon, Tim Duncan, Stephen Curry, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant.
Do you think LeBron James is a top ten all-time player in NBA history?
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The only two active players that would generally be in these types of historic conversations are James and Curry, a four-time champion who has a statistical case for greatest shooter of all time.
And Erving noted that as the reason why he wouldn’t even consider James and Curry for his list.
Dr. J’s Top 10 All Time list is gonna rub ALOT of people the wrong way.
FULL INTERVIEW OUT NOW: https://t.co/0AR6rVChTu pic.twitter.com/cgmgyw9Le9
— Joy De’Angela (@joydeangela) July 29, 2023
“Oh, no, he hadn’t even played long enough,” Erving dismissively said when asked about Curry’s inclusion, or lack thereof, on the list. “He’s got to finish his career.”
With particular fixation on James, Curry and Bird, critics online were swift to condemn Erving’s list.
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old heads lists will always be blinded by nostalgia
— hex (@hexvvs) July 30, 2023
“old heads lists will always be blinded by nostalgia,” one response with over 4,000 likes (and counting) said.
This is why you should stop taking former players seriously. They say these things for interactions knowing they can get away with it because people give them undue credibility
— GOAT James (@BronToAD) July 30, 2023
Another highly liked response from an obvious LeBron James fan account claimed that “this is why you should stop taking former players seriously. They say these things for interactions knowing they can get away with it because people give them undue credibility.”
As to whether or not Erving’s credibility is “undue,” that’s a curious distinction given that Dr. J was, in many ways, the prototype for Jordan. And Jordan was, in turn, the player James has most desperately wanted to emulate.
Erving was one of the original high-flying, athletic showmen when it came to the NBA (and now defunct ABA). That flair for the spectacular that Erving helped usher in is absolutely embedded in the fabric of players like Jordan, and thus James, as well.We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards. Facebook
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Bryan Chai has written news and sports for The Western Journal for more than five years and has produced more than 1,300 stories. He specializes in the NBA and NFL as well as politics.
Bryan Chai has written news and sports for The Western Journal for more than five years and has produced more than 1,300 stories. He specializes in the NBA and NFL as well as politics. He graduated with a BA in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona. He is an avid fan of sports, video games, politics and debate.
Class of 2010 University of Arizona. BEAR DOWN.
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