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LeBron says three greatest NBA players: Jordan, Dr. J, Bird (VIDEO)

Aug 21, 2013, 12:03 PM EDT

It’s not easy to name just three players as the greatest of all time, not if you are really a student of the game. You can make an argument for a lot of guys.

LeBron James struggled with it when asked by Fox Sports. But he ultimately settled on Michael Jordan, Julius “Dr. J” Erving, and Larry Bird.

My three? Jordan, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

But that leaves off guys like Bill Russell or Wilt Chamberlain or others that should be on that top tier. Our personal biases and preferences come into play with a list like this (even though we like to argue them as fact). Leave your three in the comments.

Hat tip to SLAM.

  1. thenew013 - Aug 21, 2013 at 12:10 PM

    Too easy. LeBron, Wade, Bosh jk jk

    • thenew013 - Aug 21, 2013 at 12:13 PM

      I’ve only followed basketball for about ten years now so i would say from what I know LeBron, Kobe, Duncan.

      • dirtydavis - Aug 21, 2013 at 3:24 PM

        Agreed!!! I’ve been watching basketball for 17 years

        My top 3

        Michael Jordan

        Kobe/Shaq ( I don’t know who to chose)


    • fanofevilempire - Aug 21, 2013 at 2:09 PM

      Kwame Brown, Eddie Curry and Jeremy Linn.

  2. raiderdan69 - Aug 21, 2013 at 12:14 PM

    My top 3 – Jordan, Magic, Bird
    Top 5 – Kareem, Russell
    Top 10 – Chamberlain, Kobe, Duncan, Hakeem, Shaq

    • 00maltliquor - Aug 22, 2013 at 11:30 PM

      You got the top 10 right in my eyes, just not the pecking order. Although I maaay just have to throw in Oscar Robertson and Jerry West in…….just don’t know for the life of me who to leave out just to sneak those 2 in!

  3. rodge1 - Aug 21, 2013 at 12:21 PM


    In that case it should be LeBron, Shaq, and Duncan…

    • 00maltliquor - Aug 21, 2013 at 1:44 PM

      Kobe, LeBron, Shaq. Duncan honorable mention. It would be ignorant to leave Kobe out, hate him or love him.

      • gettinbuckets513 - Aug 21, 2013 at 9:03 PM

        No Jordan, really. Lol

      • 00maltliquor - Aug 22, 2013 at 11:22 PM

        @ buckets

        It was a comment to the guy who said he has only been watching basketball for the last ten years, so that’s my top 3 for the last ten years smart guy.

    • fanofevilempire - Aug 21, 2013 at 1:59 PM

      Kobe has more rings, 5 and you leave him out?

  4. kb2408 - Aug 21, 2013 at 12:24 PM

    I can agree with MJ, Magic and Kareem being the three greatest ever. But if the question is who is the greatest basketball player ever, from high school to the end of his NBA career, the answer is Kareem. He was dominant in high school, dominant in college (on the greatest college team ever), and dominant in the NBA.

    • adamsjohn714 - Aug 21, 2013 at 1:44 PM

      Don’t limit it to high school. He was 6′ tall in kindergarten.

    • kb2408 - Aug 21, 2013 at 1:52 PM

      If KAJ was in high school today with the internet, AAU, 24 hr sports channels, etc. the coverage would be unheard of.

    • asimonetti88 - Aug 21, 2013 at 3:27 PM

      I think no matter what you have to have Michael Jordan and Magic. The third spot… Bird, Dr. J and Kareem are all fine answers in my opinion.

    • dirtydavis - Aug 21, 2013 at 3:27 PM

      Good point!
      “Top 3 basketball ballers since the get go”

      1. Kareem
      2. Magic
      3 Michael Jordan

  5. mp4philly - Aug 21, 2013 at 12:26 PM

    Evan Turner, Spencer Hawes and Justin Holliday.

    • dondada10 - Aug 21, 2013 at 2:33 PM

      Who the hell is Justin Holliday?

      • asimonetti88 - Aug 21, 2013 at 3:18 PM

        A guy. A… cool guy.

  6. GT - Aug 21, 2013 at 12:27 PM

    Jordan, Russell, Bird (bird is my bias choice)

  7. bucrightoff - Aug 21, 2013 at 12:29 PM

    Jordan is obvious. Gotta take Wilt in my opinion. And I think I’d take Bird too but I love the Big O and think he deserves a lot more love in these conversations.

  8. jbeagles23 - Aug 21, 2013 at 12:34 PM

    Where are the knick fans to say melo. Andrea and jr?

    • jimeejohnson - Aug 21, 2013 at 12:49 PM

      Knicks fans are thinking of how they won those championships 40+ years ago without a true superstar, although Walt Clyde Frazier was very, very good. Not sure a team like those old Knick squads could win a championship in today’s league of superstars. Even having superstar Carmelo Anthony did not translate into a championship, yet.

      • asimonetti88 - Aug 21, 2013 at 3:25 PM

        No superstar? Walt Frazier, Bill Bradley, Dave DeBusschere, Earl Monroe, Willis Reed and Jerry Lucas are all Hall of Famers…

    • fanofevilempire - Aug 21, 2013 at 2:01 PM

      aha, you made a funny, ah who is your team?

  9. bowwserr - Aug 21, 2013 at 12:40 PM

    thenew013 brings up an interesting topic. Best 3 players AFTER the Jordan era? Would easily be Shaq, LeBraybray, and Duncan. I’d have to say Duncan over Kareem in the all-time conversation too. But I’m sure it’s known around here by now that I tend to have a Duncan/Spurs bias.

  10. ulaanbaatarscot - Aug 21, 2013 at 12:42 PM

    Wilt, magic and Jordan

  11. jimeejohnson - Aug 21, 2013 at 12:43 PM

    Does the answer depend on how long one has followed the game? Or would a knowledgeable fan know the history of the game and the greats that played before s/he was born? Almost impossible to name the top 3; what about Kareem, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, and Magic Johnson? Magic could be on the list instead of Larry Legend, but it was politically correct for LeBron to put the great white hope Bird on the list. One guy’s on everyone’s GOAT list: the great Michael Jordan.

    Glad LeBron left his name off the list. He hasn’t earned it, yet, but if he continues to rack up NBA championships, he will be on the list.

  12. mydoghasfleez - Aug 21, 2013 at 12:48 PM

    Mel Counts, Shawn Bradley, Manute Bol

    • jimeejohnson - Aug 21, 2013 at 12:49 PM

      Skinniest of all time!

  13. elnogo - Aug 21, 2013 at 1:01 PM

    Wow just 3 players ever??? Based on that I think that the most talented time in the NBA was from the 1970- 2000. I would go with MJ, Kareem and The Dr. The doc because even MJ said it. If there was no DR there would be no MJ.

    • dirtydavis - Aug 21, 2013 at 3:35 PM

      Russel 60s
      Kareem 70s
      Magic 80s
      MJ 90s
      Kobe 00s

      Kobe was the best player from 00-10. Try to argue that!!!

      • stoutfiles - Aug 21, 2013 at 3:46 PM

        Kobe wasn’t even the best player on his team until Shaq left. Shaq was a more dominant 00 player than Kobe.

        However, the best choice would be Duncan. Under the radar, best player of the 00 decade.

      • savvybynature - Aug 21, 2013 at 4:10 PM

        It’s a very close call in terms of resume, but I’d build a team around Duncan over Kobe. Defense is always overlooked, and while Kobe was an excellent defender, he never had the impact that Duncan did on that side of the court.
        Elite rim-protecting big men are just a difficult commodity to fill.
        Also, Duncan improved his numbers regular season to playoffs. Kobe had his moments, but Duncan has been more impressive in this area overall.

      • dirtydavis - Aug 21, 2013 at 4:25 PM


        Numbers don’t lie… Kobe’s number are far more Superior than Shaq and Duncan through out 00-10

        Kobe reg season: 28pts 1 steal 5 rbs 5 ast 84 %FT 45 %FG
        Kobe Playoffs: 27pts 1steal 5rbs 5 ast 81%FT 45%FG
        12 first all NBA selections
        8 first All NBA defensive selection


        21pts 2 blks 3 ast 11rbs 68%FT 50%FG
        23pts 2 blks 3 ast 12rbs 67%FT 50%FG
        8 first All NBA selections
        8 first ALL NBA defensive selections

        22pts 2blk 2 ast 10rbs 52%FT 58%FG
        23pts 2blk 2 ast 12rbs 49%FT 55%FG
        7 first All NBA Selections
        0 first ALL defensive selctions

        KOBE ALL DAY SON!!!

      • sportsfan18 - Aug 21, 2013 at 5:08 PM


        You’re right, numbers DON’T lie.

        Finals stats that Shaq and sidekick, mean Kobe played in together…

        1999-2000 vs Indiana Pacers
        Shaq 38ppg 16rpg 2apg 61%FG
        Kobe 15ppg 4rpg 4apg 36%FG

        2000-2001 vs Philadelphia
        Shaq 33ppg 15rpg 4apg 57%FG
        Kobe 24ppg 7rpg 5apg 41%FG

        2001-2002 vs New Jersey Nets
        Shaq 36ppg 12rpg 3apg 59%FG
        Kobe 26ppg 5rpg 5apg 51%FG

        2003-2004 vs. Detroit
        Shaq 27ppg 11rpg 63%FG
        Kobe 23ppg 3rpg 38%FG

        Also, sidekick Kobe shot .174% from 3 pt range in those finals… ouch.

        Also, sidekick Kobe took 113 two pt field goal attempts while shooting 38%. Shaq only took 84 shots while shooting 63% from the field… poor guy, I guess Shaq would have had to bring the ball down the court himself to get a few more shots…

        Oh yeah, a bit more on Kobe’s .174% shooting from 3 pt range in these finals. Here is how he did. He shot 4 for 23 from downtown in those games.

        He just kept missing and missing, uh oh I mean he just kept shooting and shooting…

        For his career, Kobe only shoots like 41% in all his finals games…

        After looking up the regular season stats in those first three seasons where Kobe rode Shaq’s coat tails to rings, one will see that numbers don’t lie…

        For Kobe’s first three rings, he was the Scottie Pippen to MJ as in Shaq was the MJ and Kobe was Scottie during the finals where he won his first three rings…

        Pesky numbers and all…

      • sportsfan18 - Aug 21, 2013 at 5:12 PM


        One other thing, I know you’ve included more than 10 yrs in your decade, 00 through 10 which is 11 seasons…

        But still you said Kobe had TWELVE first all team NBA selections…

        How does one get 12 first all team selections in a decade (or even in an 11 yr decade for you)?

      • dirtydavis - Aug 21, 2013 at 6:39 PM


        C’mon man!! We’re talking about seasons here. I ain’t talking Final appearances or single games. Now you’re being selective and that’s kinda childish. I am talking about 10years not a serie(s). Longevity, adversity, milestones. Kobe’s done it all.

      • dirtydavis - Aug 21, 2013 at 6:56 PM


        FIRST ALL NBA SELECTION(s) based through out their entire career. In a 10 year span Kobe still had more selections than any of those two guys.. I dare you to check it out.

        I may have add a 99-00 year. Take that year away and the stat will still remain the same.

        I bet you’re going to use advance stats to down play Kobe. SMH

      • sportsfan18 - Aug 21, 2013 at 7:16 PM


        Just for you… NO advanced stats… here are some accomplishments from stars in the decade from 2000 to 2009.

        I’ll start with Kobe

        2000-2009 Accomplishments

        10-time NBA All-Star
        Two- time scoring champion (2006, 2007)
        Four NBA championships (2000, 2001, 2002, 2009)
        2008 NBA MVP
        2009 NBA Finals MVP
        Five-time All-NBA First Team selection
        Six-time All-NBA Defensive First Team selection
        Olympic Gold Medalist (2008)


        Accomplishments (2000-2009)

        Nine-time NBA All-Star
        Three-time NBA All-Star Game MVP
        Seven-time All-NBA First Team selection
        Four NBA championships (2000, 2001, 2002, 2006)
        Three-time NBA Finals MVP
        2000 NBA MVP
        2000 NBA Scoring Champion

        Pretty close actually. Each had 4 titles, each had a reg season MVP. Yes, Kobe was a 10 time to only a 9 time all star compared to Shaq.

        Kobe was a 6 time all defensive team, kudo’s to Kobe. Kobe was a 5 time 1st team all NBA selection to Shaq’s 7 times but Kobe did have those all defensive first teams…

        Check out Kevin Garnett’s decade…

        Accomplishments (2000-2009)

        10-time NBA All-Star
        Four-time All-NBA First Team selection
        Eight-time All-NBA Defensive First Team selection
        2003 NBA All-Star Game MVP
        2004 NBA MVP
        2006 J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award winner
        2008 NBA Champion
        2008 NBA Defensive Player of the Year
        Olympic Gold Medalist (2000)

        Of course Duncan, 10 time all star, 3 time champ, 2 time league MVP.

        To list points scored, well Kobe has always shot a lot. He scored and averaged that many points that decade because he shot a lot. Shaq was a much more efficient scorer and would have scored as much as Kobe had he shot as much as Kobe.

        Kobe IS an all time great, of that there is no doubt.

        But it is very close and solid arguments may be made for others as the best player of the decade…

      • dirtydavis - Aug 21, 2013 at 8:28 PM

        @ SportsFan

        Amend your one sided stats.


        You completely forgot to add the 09-10. We’re talking 10 year span, not 11 or 9. Having said that. The correct Kobe accomplishments as follows:
        00-01 through 09-10 Accomplishments

        11-time NBA All-Star
        Two- time scoring champion (2006, 2007)
        Five NBA championships (2000, 2001, 2002, 2009)
        2008 NBA MVP
        2009 and 2010NBA Finals MVP
        Six-time All-NBA First Team selection
        Seven-time All-NBA Defensive First Team selection
        Olympic Gold Medalist (2008)

        “To list points scored, well Kobe has always shot a lot. He scored and averaged that many points that decade because he shot a lot. Shaq was a much more efficient scorer and would have scored as much as Kobe had he shot as much as Kobe”

        Well duh!! He is a center. You’re % is a lot higher when you’re in the paint. Since we’re playing the ” what if” game. What if Kobe was as tall as Kareem? Would Kobe break Kareem record?

      • sportsfan18 - Aug 21, 2013 at 9:07 PM


        First, you were listing players and who was the best by each decade, Russel in the 60’s you said, Kareem in the 70’s and so on.

        You listed Kobe for the 00’s. A decade has 10 yrs yet you listed Kobe as a 12 time all first team selections.

        NOW, you stated and I’ll quote you, “We’re talking 10 year span, not 11 or 9. Having said that. The correct Kobe accomplishments as follows:
        00-01 through 09-10 Accomplishments

        11-time NBA All-Star”

        So, in YOUR own words, you’re talking about a 10 year span yet somehow you give Kobe credit for being an all star 11 times in 10 yrs.

        Really, my only point is that you said Kobe was the best player in the 00’s and you told all of “us” out here online to try and argue that.

        Kobe might be the best from the 00’s but an argument may be made for Shaq, Garnett, Duncan etc… It isn’t a landslide for Kobe at all. Shaq matches up with him very well for this decade.

        Lastly, as for the years I was talking about, my totals went from the 10 seasons ending in ’00 through ’09, which equals 10 seasons.

        But the real point is that one may argue that Shaq or Duncan was the player of the decade instead of Kobe and it’s a close argument although I think Kobe would win out, but not in a land slide…

      • asimonetti88 - Aug 22, 2013 at 11:13 AM

        Just out of curiousity, why did you ignore Kobe’s three point numbers during the threepeat, when he shot 11-30 (36.6%)?

        I’m not sure if you watched the 2004 Finals, but Kobe had a pretty good performance. He had arguably been the leader on the team all season, with Shaq and Malone struggling with injuries and age. But in the Finals, he turned in some good performances, and played some tough defense on Rip Hamilton. His performance in Game 2 remains a modern day classic, especially the shot to take the game into overtime and his stellar output in the overtime. He had some struggles, but he still averaged over 20 PPG and put up some tough D on Hamilton. That team had the perfect storm of injuries and bad chemistry on the court, as well as having the misfortune of meeting a very good Pistons squad.

  14. theanswer0381 - Aug 21, 2013 at 1:14 PM

    Jordan, Kobe, Wilt

  15. ron05342 - Aug 21, 2013 at 1:17 PM

    Wilt Chamberlain.

    • jayrodt - Aug 21, 2013 at 3:57 PM

      How this even a question?

  16. bleedburgandyandgold - Aug 21, 2013 at 1:18 PM

    Jordan,Magic and Kareem

  17. bucrightoff - Aug 21, 2013 at 1:25 PM

    Jordan, Wilt, Oscar Robertson. Apologies to Larry Bird

  18. dexregeant - Aug 21, 2013 at 1:32 PM

    I’ve watched and played ball since I can remember but for some reason I’ve always had a hard time giving Big Men the props they probably deserve.

    Dr. J

    A better question is if those 3-5 guys that everyone agrees with will still be there in 50 years.

  19. 00maltliquor - Aug 21, 2013 at 1:34 PM


  20. 00maltliquor - Aug 21, 2013 at 1:36 PM

    It’s too damn hard to do a top 3. Plus when it’s all said and done, LeBron will HAVE to be recognized as top 3-5 also. It’s just waaay to hard to do a top 3.

  21. 00maltliquor - Aug 21, 2013 at 1:42 PM


    Honorable mention (in no order)…

    Big O
    Dr. J

  22. cavemanna - Aug 21, 2013 at 1:42 PM

    Dr J

  23. cavemanna - Aug 21, 2013 at 1:45 PM

    Tim Hardaway
    Damon Stoudamire
    Kenny Anderson

  24. bux1022 - Aug 21, 2013 at 1:56 PM

    Why are you clowns mentioning the Knicks in the first place? PBT SCRUBS!

    • fanofevilempire - Aug 21, 2013 at 2:04 PM

      Knicks will beat your Sacramento Queens 7 days a week.

  25. eagles512 - Aug 21, 2013 at 2:05 PM

    Wilt, Jordan, Magic

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