In 1996, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the National Basketball Association, the 50 Greatest Players in the NBA were chosen. The process was conducted by a panel of media members, former players, coaches, along with current and former general managers. David Stern announced the list on October 29, 1996, at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York. 47 of these player later assembled during the halftime ceremony of the 1997 All-Star Game in Cleveland, and this group included Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, and so many more.
The last active player on this list was Shaquille O'Neal, who retired in 2011. A whole new breed of players have taken over the league since then, and new stars rise with every passing year. There is no doubt that some of the players drafted since 1996 have outplayed many players on the 50 Greatest Players list that was made before their arrival. It's been a long 20 years since these players were chosen, and since then there have been many great additions to the NBA, so it is only fair that these players are recognized as some of the greatest as well. A list of the greatest that doesn't include LeBron James, Kobe Bryant or Stephen Curry, is a list that I feel needs to be updated.
In this article, I have selected 15 players who have distinguished themselves on the court enough during the last 20 years, for me to feel they are qualified to be added. This list will not be going back to players that were snubbed from the first choosing, but looks forward to players that have made a name for themselves since. Some we will all agree on, and others may lead to discussion, but here are my 15 additions to the greatest players in NBA history.
Let the debate begin.
15 Ray Allen
Ray Allen is one of the best shooters of all time. In fact, he continues to hold the NBA record for the most three point shots ever made. Ray made a name for himself early in his career on the Milwaukee Bucks as a reliable shot maker. Allen is most remembered for his time on the 2008 championship Celtics team, where his clutch shooting helped to lead them to his first championship ring.
14 Chris Paul
13 Jason Kidd
12 Dwyane Wade
11 Steve Nash
10 Dennis Rodman
9 Dirk Nowitzki
8 Reggie Miller
The Pacers' franchise all time leading scorer Reggie Miller, is one of the greatest playoff performers ever. He averaged around 30 points in his prime during the playoffs, but he is best known for his demeanor on the court. Miller was outspoken, and never shied away from a fight. This resulted in some memorable feuds against fans, like filmmaker Spike Lee, and entire teams like the New York Knicks.
7 Kevin Garnett
6 Stephen Curry
Wow. It feels like Stephen Curry came out of nowhere to take the league by storm. A skinny shooter from Davidson is now being regarded as possibly the greatest shooter ever. Winning the MVP last year, and on track for it again this year, the sky is the limit for Steph Curry. He holds the NBA record for 3-point shots with an astounding 402 in a one season. He also holds the record for the most consecutive games with a made 3-point shot at 152 games.
5 Paul Pierce
4 Tim Duncan
Nearing the end of his career, we can now start to look back and see how great of a player Tim Duncan really is. A five time NBA Champion, Tim Duncan is looking for his sixth ring this season with the Spurs. Tim Duncan has been with the Spurs his entire career, and it looks like that is never going to change. "The Big Fundamental" is widely regarded as the best power forward of all time.
3 Allen Iverson
The Answer! Pound for pound arguably the greatest NBA player ever, the 6'0" point-guard from Georgetown was a player to remember. Who could forget any of his iconic moments, such as crossing over the great Michael Jordan, or stepping over Tyronn Lou as he led the Sixers to a historic NBA Finals win over the talented 2001 Lakers. He was the scoring champ four times in his career, and the steals leader three times.
2 LeBron James
1 Kobe Bryant
There are no words to describe the impact Kobe Bryant has had on the game of basketball. Respected by all, "The Black Mamba" has always had that killer instinct and work ethic that drove him to be the best. Kobe has reveled in the villain role against every NBA team, as they watched him beat them bucket by bucket. He holds the amazing scoring record second only to Wilt Chamberlin, with 81 points in a single game.
A five time champion, Kobe always wanted more and although he never achieved his sixth ring, even if he had, he would have just set his eyes on his seventh. Locally, in my township, Lower Merion, fans will always remind you that Kobe is from here and fans from everywhere and especially in Los Angeles will always love him. The NBA will surely miss him. Kobe caps off this list.
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