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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. jsebastiao - Aug 21, 2013 at 2:05 PM

    Jordan, bird, magic

  2. wvuandsteelers - Aug 21, 2013 at 2:06 PM

    I think you put Jordan at the top and then pick from Kareem, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. Dr. J was great, but he’s not with those guys (I would put him below LBJ and Kobe).

    • jimeejohnson - Aug 21, 2013 at 9:35 PM

      Oh yes Dr. J is with those guys, or any guys. The guy is not a legend for nothing. He made Kobe look average. Unless you actually saw The Doctor play, you cannot assess how amazing he actually was. There’s no Michael Jordan without Dr. J, and one could argue that The Doctor had a greater impact on the game than MJ. I won’t, but you could!

  3. norcalsportsknowledge - Aug 21, 2013 at 2:13 PM

    Dr. J
    Oscar Robinson

    I didn’t see wilt or Oscar play, but there numbers are the most dominate I’ve seen. Jordan is the best I’ve seen and the Dr. is my all time favorite. IMO the Dr. was better than Bird and Magic and it took me a long time to admit Joran was better then him. Kareem was just a beast.
    Russell was another guy I didn’t see, but respect his knack for winning.

    2nd team ( my life time):
    Lebron (soon to move up)
    Tim Duncan
    Kevin Garnett

    Honorable mentions:
    Jason Kidd
    Gary Payton – underrated
    Charles Barkley
    (IMO) Moses Malone over Carl Malone

  4. freudnumb - Aug 21, 2013 at 2:13 PM

    Jordan. Hakeem. Kareem.

  5. dondada10 - Aug 21, 2013 at 2:36 PM

    1. Michael Jordan
    2. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
    3. Bill Russell

  6. chi01town - Aug 21, 2013 at 2:38 PM

    Micheal Jordan
    Magic Johnson
    Larry Bird
    in that order but its hard to leave out a lot of other players. so just out of respect Im going to name a few more DR. J.. Pippen.. and Patrick Ewing

  7. buffalo65 - Aug 21, 2013 at 3:01 PM

    Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady and Mo-Pete…raps rule. .

  8. ProBasketballPundit - Aug 21, 2013 at 3:03 PM

    Top 3 irrational confidence players:

    1. Raymond Felton
    2. Jordan Crawford
    3. Nick Young

    Honorable mention to Nate Robinson. My GOAT list would have to include the greatest team player in NBA history so… Bill Russell 3rd, Magic, MJ. Although Bird & Kareem are fine picks after MJ too.

  9. worldbfree4me - Aug 21, 2013 at 3:12 PM

    What about Bill Russell? Bron must be too young too remember! 

    Sent from my Galaxy S®III

  10. benjamincharlesparho - Aug 21, 2013 at 3:30 PM

    Michael, Jordan, and MJ

    • 00maltliquor - Aug 22, 2013 at 11:50 PM

      Nah. Air Jordan, His Airness, and Mike.

  11. dirtydavis - Aug 21, 2013 at 3:36 PM

    TOP 3 GOAT

    1. Kermit Washington
    2.Luke Walton
    3. Mbenga

    • jimcourter - Aug 21, 2013 at 11:55 PM

      Why not Kelly Tripuka?

  12. skinsfanwill - Aug 21, 2013 at 3:45 PM

    The only man to average a triple double for an entire season, Oscar Robertson,
    All time blocks leader and originator of the Dream shake, Hakeem Olajuwan
    An the GOAT, Michael Jordan.

  13. savvybynature - Aug 21, 2013 at 4:13 PM

    Magic wasn’t a good enough defender to make the top 3 imo.
    Dr. J was great and a revolutionary type player, but he spent too much of his prime in an inferior league (the ABA) to really say he was a top 3.
    Also, Dr. J didn’t have a good enough playoff resume. He still had some great moments and games, don’t get me wrong, but when you are talking all-time top 3 you have to nitpick.

    • jimeejohnson - Aug 21, 2013 at 9:30 PM

      Inferior league? That’s a good one.

  14. antistratfordian - Aug 21, 2013 at 4:19 PM

    This is actually a really clever ranking from LeBron. When you put Dr. J in the top three it’s not about statistics or championships but influence. There probably isn’t another player who did more to create the modern game than Julius Irving. That’s greatness personified. I can dig it.

    Bird was just so complete. Natural leader, born winner. He could score inside, he could score outside, gobbled boards, he had eyes in the back of his head & unlike Magic he actually played defense. He and Magic obviously made the assist fashionable in a time when everyone just wanted to dunk like Dr. J. You can’t really argue against anyone who has him in their top 3-5.

    My personal top 3 is probably Jordan, LeBron and the third is a rotating mix of Wilt, Kareem, Bird, Magic, Russell and Oscar.

  15. 2bemoore43 - Aug 21, 2013 at 4:30 PM

    Hakeem, Kareem, & Wilt

    • sportsfan18 - Aug 21, 2013 at 8:04 PM

      Well it’s fine to like players, but when one is objective and compares actual stats, well Hakeem doesn’t match up to MJ.

  16. kingcrusher - Aug 21, 2013 at 5:52 PM

    These “who was the greatest” are kind of silly, but fun to see what people’s opinions are. People, there are no WRONG answers with opinions.

    My top three of all time is very easy:

    Very simple for me.

  17. mitchem85 - Aug 21, 2013 at 6:23 PM

    Agree with lebron

  18. sfsugator - Aug 21, 2013 at 7:19 PM

    Michael Jordan is greatest player of all time. plain and simple. Your high if you think other wise.

  19. chicagofan - Aug 21, 2013 at 7:27 PM

    Bird over Magic? Dream on. I would recommend checking out the Magic Video from last week here on PBT for doubters–Magic is the best Point guard of all time. Jordan is the greatest player and the best 2 guard of all time. Russell is hard to leave off the top 5 list. Jabbar was outstanding but other centers can claim to be as good. Bird was great but not in the top 5 of all time. Dr J was also great but not as versatile as some other great small forwards. If you start with Magic and MJ and any combination of other great players and you have an unbeatable squad. For example, try beating Magic, MJ, Pippen Karl Malone and Shaq and substitute any other 3 you may chose. Magic , MJ, Kobe, Bird and Chamberlain etc

  20. jimcourter - Aug 21, 2013 at 9:12 PM

    My 3: Bill Russell, Bill Russell, Bill Russell

    • jimcourter - Aug 21, 2013 at 11:53 PM

      . . . which is why LBJ never should have chosen the number 6. As far as I’m concerned, 6 should be retired by the league, just as 42 has been from the Majors.

  21. jimeejohnson - Aug 21, 2013 at 9:29 PM

    Who could forget the Big O: Oscar Robertson? He was as unstoppable as anybody ever was.

    • 00maltliquor - Aug 22, 2013 at 11:51 PM

      I know, he always gets left out. Top 10 for me.

  22. nightrain42 - Aug 21, 2013 at 9:49 PM

    Magic, Wilt, Bird

  23. soopreme - Aug 21, 2013 at 10:34 PM

    1. Jordan
    2. Karreem
    3. Lebron

  24. soopreme - Aug 21, 2013 at 10:38 PM

    And I am old enough to have seen Oscar Roberson play.

  25. qedfyi - Aug 21, 2013 at 10:43 PM

    The first superstar was Mikan, 5 rings in 6 years, forced paint from 6 to 12 feet, invented 3-point line. Cousy was great. MJ lost 3 eastern finals in a row to Pistons. MJ, Dr. J and Bird were phenomenal with the ball, but greatness also means smarts, locker-room presense, league leadership, personal integrity. If we want hightlight reels then let’s watch Blake Griffith dunk. The three LeBron picked were legendary ball-handlers, but to be honest I believe that’s school-yard-type basketball. I have no 3 greatest players in mind, but if I did it would include many more qualities than just having the best stats.

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