There are many NBA players who have been considered "iron men". For many players, playing in most of the games during a successful NBA career is enough to earn iron-man status, while other players were able to consistently average over 40 minutes of playing time each game. In either case, these players, who could play in or remain in almost every game, shared one thing in common. They could all make their impact felt in a game, and the more games or minutes they played, the more of an impact they often made.
Bill Russell, John Havlicek and Wilt Chamberlain played an awful lot of minutes during each NBA season. In the 1961-62 NBA season, Chamberlain played in all 92 of his teams games, averaging 48.5 minutes played per game during the regular season and 48 minutes played per game during the playoffs. This was quite an incredible feat, but still couldn't measure up to the feat of A.C. Green. Green holds the NBA record for consecutive games played, with 1,192, played mostly in the uncomfortable confines of the paint. Both of these players were terrific athletes who also came into each NBA season in outstanding shape.
They are just a few examples of the top 20 players who were, or currently are, iron-men of the NBA. They play with nicks and bruises, find their second wind during closely contested overtime games, and consider a complete season to be an 82-game affair. They might have experienced different levels of success in their NBA careers, but one big thing they shared in common was their tendency to make their impact felt during the course of a regular season, as well as during the course of a game. Their inclusion on this list is a testament to the shape they were in as well as the mental and physical toughness that helped them each fight through fatigue.
20 20. Charles Oakley, F/C - Five Different NBA Teams
19 19. Cliff Robinson, F/C - Five Different NBA Teams
18 18. Kevin Garnett, F/C - Minnesota Timberwolves, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets
17 17. John Havlicek, F - Boston Celtics
16 16. Andre Miller - Seven Different NBA Teams
15 15. Gary Payton, G - Five Different NBA Teams
14 14. Reggie Miller, G/F - Indiana Pacers
13 13. Bill Russell, C - Boston Celtics
12 12. Buck Williams, F - New Jersey Nets, Portland Trailblazers, New York Knicks
11 11. Wilt Chamberlain, C - Philadelphia/San Francisco Warriors, Philadelphia 76ers, Los Angeles Lakers
10 10. Terry Tyler, F - Detroit Pistons, Sacramento Kings, Dallas Mavericks
9 9. Karl Malone, F - Utah Jazz, Los Angeles Lakers
8 8. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, C - Millwaukee Bucks, Los Angeles Lakers
7 7. Elvin Hayes, F/C - San Diego/Houston Rockets, Baltimore/Capital/Washington Bullets
6 6. John Stockton, G - Utah Jazz
5 5. Dolph Schayes, C - Syracuse Nationals, Philadelphia 76ers
4 4. Robert Parrish, C - Golden State Warriors, Boston Celtics, Charlotte Hornets, Chicago Bulls
3 3. Johnny Kerr, F/C - Syracuse Nationals, Philadelphia 76ers, Baltimore Bullets
2 2. Randy Smith, G - Five Different NBA Teams
1 1. A.C. Green, F - Los Angeles Lakers, Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks, Miami Heat
A.C. Green was part of the Los Angeles Lakers dynasty with Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and James Worthy, who won back to back titles in 1987 and 1988. Green did much of the Lakers' dirty work like rebounding, guarding the post, and having the task of shutting down or containing the other team's best forward. Green finished his career with averages of 9.6 points and 7.4 rebounds per game, but was worth far more for his consistency and dependability, than his points scored. Green set an NBA record that still stands today, with a streak of 1,192 consecutive games played. He missed three games in his second season in the league, finishing with an astonishing 1,278 games, while only missing three games! Many in the league gave him the adopted name, "Iron Man", for his ability to suit up and keep going during his streak. Thanks to his record and nickname, he tops this list.
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