Top 50 NBA Legacies of All Time (2014)

Making a top 50 legacy list isn’t easy.  In fact, it’s an automatic way for people to get angry at you.  I’ve based this top 50 list off of what I know, what I’ve seen and what I’ve researched.  Feel free to leave a comment saying whether you agree / disagree and what your own top 20 list would be (or 50 if you want).

Some of the players on the list are still active in the NBA and therefore their position on this list will likely change in the near future.

If you’d like to look at my top 50 players list from last year you can do so here

Please note that I am strictly talking about what a player has done on the basketball court. Not impact on the game of basketball, not how many sneakers they’ve sold or how many kids shout their name every time their commercial comes on the TV.

  • A number within a bracket indicates how many places a player has advanced due to their play last season (2013 – 14 NBA regular season, post season and NBA Finals).
  • An green name indicates an active player.

2014 All time NBA Legacy

  1. Michael Jordan
  2. Kareem Abdul Jabbar
  3. Wilt Chamberlain
  4. Shaquille O’Neal
  5. LeBron James (+1)
  6. Tim Duncan (+2)
  7. Larry Bird
  8. Magic (Earvin) Johnson
  9. Hakeem Olajuwon
  10. Bill Russell
  11. Oscar Robertson
  12. Moses Malone
  13. Jerry West
  14. Kobe Bryant
  15. Karl Malone
  16. Charles Barkley
  17. Kevin Garnett
  18. David Robinson
  19. Julius Erving (Dr J)
  20. Dirk Nowitzki
  21. George Mikan
  22. Bob Petit
  23. Dwyane Wade
  24. Isiah Thomas
  25. Clyde Drexler
  26. Elgin Baylor
  27. John Stockton
  28. Gary Payton
  29. John Havlicek
  30. Bob Cousy
  31. Rick Barry
  32. Patrick Ewing
  33. Bob McAdoo
  34. Neil Johnston
  35. George Gervin
  36. Elvin Hayes
  37. Scottie Pippen
  38. Kevin Durant (New addition)
  39. Dominique Wilkins
  40. Jerry Lucas
  41. Walt Frazier
  42. Willis Reed
  43. Jason Kidd
  44. Chris Paul (New addition)
  45. Allen Iverson
  46. Steve Nash
  47. Nate “Tiny” Archibald
  48. Dolph Schayes
  49. Walt Bellamy
  50. Pete Marvich (Pistol Pete)

New Additions / New Rankings

LeBron James at #5 – Although he ended this season without a championship he did move up a lot of lists in terms of all-time totals, passing both Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in regular season total assists as well as moving into 10th all time in total post season assists.  He led the Heat to their 4th consecutive finals appearance and finished 2nd in MVP voting this season.  His continued dominance in the NBA shows that he is one of the greatest players to ever play.

Tim Duncan at #6 – I want to make this clear; Duncan moving up my list is not just due to him winning a 5th ring.  Duncan’s longevity has been amazing and this post-season he set a lot of career milestones:

  • All-time leader in post season minutes
  • All-time leader post-season double-doubles
  • Second in post season defensive win shares
  • Second in post season win shares

This in addition to him already being first in post season blocks, fifth in post season points and third in post season total rebounds.

I do think Hakeem was a better raw player than Duncan, but a case can be made that Duncan has a better legacy, hence why I’ve moved him ahead of Hakeem.

Kevin Durant at #38 – The first of two new appearances in my top 50 list this year; Kevin Durant.  KD has only been in the league for seven seasons but has already led his team to the finals, won 4 scoring titles, led the NBA in total points 5 times, finished second in MVP voting three times and won an MVP.  Not to mention making multiple all NBA teams.  KD will certainly (barring a career ending injury) move up this list, he’s still only 25 and has a long way to go.

Chris Paul at #44 – Chris Paul has, in my opinion, been the best point-guard in the game since 2008.  His continued high level of play on both sides of the ball has led to him being one of the best point-guards to play the game.

Take the list for what it is, it’s just merely my opinion.  As I stated in the introduction, please feel free to comment with your own personal list.

You can follow me on twitter: @SwishNBA



10 thoughts on “Top 50 NBA Legacies of All Time (2014)

  1. Here’s my top 20 list:

    1. Michael Jordan
    2. Kareem Abdul Jabbar
    3. Magic Johnson
    4. Wilt Chamberlain
    5. Larry Bird
    6. Kobe Bryant
    7. Tim Duncan
    8. Shaquille O’Neal
    9. LeBron James
    10. Bill Russell
    11. Hakeem Olajuwon
    12. Oscar Robertson
    13. Moses Malone
    14. Jerry West
    15. Karl Malone
    16. Charles Barkley
    17. Elgin Baylor
    18. Kevin Garnett
    19. Julius Erving
    20. David Robinson


  2. 1. KAJ
    2. Wilt
    3. MJ
    4. Magic
    5. Bird
    6. Russell
    7. Oscar
    8. LeBron
    9. Hakeem
    10. Shaq
    11. Duncan
    12. Moses
    13. West
    14. Karl
    15. Barkley
    16. Baylor
    17. Petit
    18. Kobe
    19. Garnett
    20. Havilcek
    21. Robinson
    22. Stockton
    23. Dr. J
    24. Mikan
    25. Wade


  3. compiling a list of NBA greats is always tough. It really depends on what qualifies a player to be on such a list. If it’s about overall stats, then Kareem or Wilt should be at the top, if it’s about rings then obviously Russell. For me it’s about a combination of both plus who I felt was the best leader, ambassador. Who changed the game and helped make the NBA what it is today? Who meant the most to the game of Basketball? who had the total package? Anyway, here is my list:

    1. Magic
    2. Bird
    3. Jordan
    4. Kareem
    5. Russell
    6. Wilt
    7. Oscar
    8. Lebron
    9. Hakeem
    10. Moses
    11. K. Malone
    12. Baylor
    13. Duncan
    14. Shaquille
    15. Kobe
    16. Stockton
    17. Thomas
    18. Robinson
    19. Barkley
    20. West
    21. Dr. J
    22. Garnett
    23. Dirk
    24. Archibald
    25. Durant

    Without Magic, Bird, & MJ (my top 3). There would be no NBA. It’s them three then everyone else.


  4. all the lists seem right,however,I think basketball tends to be highly ornamental,so it is unproper to rank Lebron before Kobe


  5. Please take the time to read this…. I respectfully disagree with your list based on a “legacy”….because it’s about individual accomplishments rather than “rings”….but I did love some certain rankings on your list.

    Kareem being ranked ahead of Wilt…for what purpose? Longevity?
    Here are some facts:
    Wilt: 7 Scoring Titles – KAJ: 2 Scoring Titles
    Wilt: 11 Rebound Titles – KAJ: 1 Rebound Title
    Wilt: 1 Assist Title – KAJ: 0 Assist Title

    Wilt would’ve gotten numerous block titles also, him and Russell if it were a stat back then, even if Russell grabbed a couple of block titles…Wilt’s amount of blocks would be still superior than Kareem’s.

    After 14 Seasons – If Kareem retired around the same exact as Wilt did:
    Wilt: 30.1 PPG – 22.9 RPG – 4.4 APG – 247.3 WS
    KAJ: 27.3 PPG – 13.2 RPG – 4.1 APG – 226.8 WS

    Career Double Doubles:
    Wilt: 968
    KAJ: 885

    40 Point Games:
    Wilt: 271
    KAJ: 70

    50 Point Games:
    Wilt: 118
    KAJ: 10

    60 Point Games:
    Wilt: 32
    Kareem: 0

    Next: Elgin Baylor being ranked at #26….
    He should be around the Top 20:
    – 3 Seasons averaging over 30 points
    – Most career rebounds by a small forward.
    – Has one of the best career finals statistics ever.

    It’s blasphemous Clyde, Isiah, and Dirk ahead of Elgin Baylor.

    Next: How is Nash ranked #46?
    Nash led the league in assists 5 times….got back2back +50 wins with the Phoenix Suns…if Barkley is in your Top 20, then Nash is around the 30-35 mark….

    Next: GP in the Top 30???? And Fraizer being ranked ranked in the 40s? Fraizer is much better than GP, this is a fact.

    Did I mention Fraizer is a much better rebounder, scorer, more efficient, and generated more win shares in the regular season? They’re an equal defender to me….and I rank Fraizer #26.

    Age 22-29 in Playoffs:
    Payton: 17.0 PPG – 6.0 APG – 3.9 RPG – 45% – 7.8 WS – 17.2 PER
    Fraizer: 20.7 PPG – 6.4 APG – 7.2 RPG – 51% – 15.9 WS – 19.8 PER

    Next: Zeke ahead of Stockton…what a joke.

    Seasons with over 10 assists per game:
    Zeke: 4
    Stockton: 10

    Seasons with over 2 steals per game:
    Zeke: 5
    Stockton: 10

    Playoffs leading in assists:
    Zeke: 0
    Stockton: 5

    I love some aspects of your list like ranking overrated stars such as Russell and Kobe being away from the Top 8. Shaq & LeBron being ranked in the Top 5 & the Admiral being showed loved in the Top 20. It’s a good list, but I would make some adjustments if I were you.


  6. I like some of your rankings, but i tend to respectively disagree on some of them.

    How is Kidd ranked ahead of CP3? Only thing he has is post-season experience ahead of him. CP3 is a better scorer, passer, and a more efficient guard than he is, not to mention is just as a good defender.

    CP3 played more playoff games than Gervin, yet you rank Gervin at #35 and CP3 at #44?

    And if you look up Kobe’s conference finals & semi-finals statistics as a STARTER…he is Top 10.

    Bob Cousy never shot 40% for a season, and you rank him ahead of Steve Nash(#46) who had 4 50/40/90 seasons, brought the Suns to the WCF 4 times in his career, and has 5 assists titles.

    I believe Nash ranks somewhere in the Top 30-35. He averaged 16.3 points, 10.9 assists on 50/40/90 for his entire career with the Suyns & led them into deep playoff runs. Nash being ranked #46 is blasphemous in my opinion.

    And….Bill Russell should be alot lower…like at #14. Only thing he was good at was being a good defender and rebounder, he only averaged 15 points on 44% shooting for his career which is bad for a CENTER.

    Elgin Baylor is Top 20. He averaged 27/13 on 43% shooting…and had one of the best Finals games in history even though he lost majority of them. If Russell is in your Top 10, Baylor is Top 20…and Baylor is just as a good passer as Bill Russell.

    Anyways, I respect your list either way. You are a knowledgeable basketball fan.


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