In today’s game it is common, and even expected, for players to jump ship and join other teams. The lure of championships, better money, playing alongside certain players and even living in certain cities can prove too tempting for players. This is a shame as it is always positive to see players stick by their team even through the darker days. Loyalty is not too common in basketball, and some players will even controversially join a rival simply to add more championships to their resume (cough, Ray Allen), this obviously never sits well with the fans and even their former teammates and it can tarnish reputations. Changing allegiance does not always have to destroy your reputation however, as a number of the most popular players that you would also consider loyal have changed teams a few times. This includes the likes of Kevin Garnett, Allen Iverson, and Paul Pierce who are all still adored in the city where they established their names.
There are some players that commit to the team and never leave. This is impressive and something that should be celebrated, as to play your entire career in one place means that it is quite likely that there have been some darker days to go along with the positive experiences. These players have probably played under a few coaches in their time and seen dozens of teammates come and go, but one thing that remains is the respect they have from the organization as well as the fans who are always behind a one-team player.
Here are the top 25 one-team players of all-time. A number of these players are still active and are coming towards the end of the career, and it is in these stages where their loyalty will truly be tested as they could look elsewhere to add a championship before they bow out.
*Denotes an active player
25 T14. Manu Ginobli (13 seasons)*
24 T14. Jeff Foster (13 seasons)
23 T14. Isiah Thomas (13 seasons)
22 T14. Kevin McHale (13 seasons)
21 T14. Magic Johnson (13 seasons)
20 T14. Larry Bird (13 seasons)
19 T14. Alvan Adams (13 seasons)
18 T14. Fred Brown (13 seasons)
17 T14. Calvin Murphy (13 seasons)
16 T14. Wes Unseld (13 seasons)
15 T14. Satch Sanders (13 seasons)
14 T14. Bill Russell (13 seasons)
13 T9. Tony Parker (14 seasons)*
12 T9. David Robinson (14 seasons)
11 T9. Joe Dumars (14 seasons)
10 T9. Jerry West (14 seasons)
9 T9. Elgin Baylor (14 seasons)
8 T7. Hal Greer (15 seasons)
7 T7. Dolph Schayes (15 seasons)
6 John Havlicek (16 seasons)
5 Dirk Nowitzki (17 seasons)*
Dirk has notched up an impressive 17 seasons in Dallas, and you can see him remaining for a few more years as he continues to impress. The Mavs have shown intent by surrounding Dirk with talent this season, as he will be desperate to add another ring to his collection before hanging up his boots. Dirk has one title to his name (2011), but there have also been some tough days throughout his 17 season career. This makes his loyalty more impressive, as he certainly could have jumped ship by now, but he is adored by the fans and it is hard to imagine him at another team.
4 T3. Tim Duncan (18 seasons)*
Tim Duncan has been the face of the Spurs for the last 18 years, and that is impressive considering the number of Spurs players on this list. He bridged the gap between David Robinson’s retirement and Ginobli and Parker’s emergence, and it was in this period where he showed his dominance. Duncan has been one of the most consistent players to play the game, with his numbers rarely fluctuating over the last 18 seasons. The skilled power forward has five NBA titles, three NBA finals MVP awards and two regular season MVP awards, among dozens of other personal accolades. He is all about winning however, and this is evident through the 50% pay cut he was willing to take in 2012 to keep the team together.
3 T3. Reggie Miller (18 seasons)
2 T1. Kobe Bryant (19 seasons)*
Although it has been difficult to see Kobe Bryant battle against his body these last few seasons, it is important to remember what an extraordinary career he has had and the entertainment he has brought us. Easily one of the all-time greats, Kobe has proven his credentials time and time again with 5 NBA championships, 2 Finals MVP awards and 1 regular season MVP amongst many more impressive accolades.
1 T1. John Stockton (19 seasons)
One of the greatest point guards to play in the NBA, Utah’s John Stockton is also perhaps the most loyal player of all-time. Unlike most entries on this list, Stockton never won an NBA title which makes his loyalty particularly impressive. He and the Jazz made it to the Finals in 1997 and 1998, but both times they would be denied by Jordan and the Bulls.
Stockton formed perhaps the greatest NBA duo of all-time alongside power forward Karl Malone, with the two of them creating all kinds of problems for defenders as they flawlessly executed the pick and roll. Stockton is the all-time leader in assists and by a large margin, making him a fan and coaches favorite. Although Stockton never won the NBA title, he dazzled crowds, inspired countless players to come after him and gave the Jazz, as well as the NBA, 19 unforgettable seasons.
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