HoopsVibe Very Quick Call: It’s hard enough to pick one player off this list.
This final list of six contains the only remaining players who deserve to be mentioned and considered.
Hakeem Olajuwon– Career Averages: 21.8 ppg, 11.1 rpg, 3.1 bpg, 2.5 apg, 1.7 spg
Olajuwon won two NBA Championships and appeared in a third. In 18 seasons he was a 12 time all-star, two time NBA Finals MVP and two time Defensive Player of the Year. In 1993-94 Olajuwon became the only player in NBA history to win the MVP, Defensive Player of the Year and Finals MVP all in the same season. Olajuwon is also the NBA’s all-time leader in blocked shots.
Bob Cousy– Career Averages: 18.4 ppg, 7.5 apg, 5.2 rpg
Cousy led the NBA in assists for eight straight years from 1952 to 1960. The “Houdini of the Hardwood” changed his position in a way that Wilt Chamberlain or Oscar Robertson changed the center or forward positions, respectively. In his 14 year career he was a 13 time all-star, won six NBA titles, one MVP, and two All-Star Game MVP’s. Cousy’s ability to dribble the basketball was unprecedented to that point in the NBA’s development. The speed at which he played the game, and success he had, dictated a complete overhaul in the style of play that was dominant at the time. In 1954 Cousy organized and served as president of the NBA Players association until 1958. The NBA was the first of the four major sporting leagues to start a trade union and Cousy was the instigator.
Karl Malone– Career Averages: 25.0 ppg, 10.1 rpg, 3.6 apg, 1.4 spg
In 19 seasons Malone was an all-star 13 times. A two time MVP of the regular season, he was also the MVP of the All-Star Game twice as well. The greatest knock on Malone is that he never won an NBA titles, though he did appear in the Finals three times. Malone scored the second most points in NBA history. Malone averaged 20+ points a game for 17 straight seasons and retired at the age of 40.
Jerry West– Career Averages: 27.0 ppg, 6.7 apg, 5.8 rpg
“Mr. Clutch” was so valuable to his era that the current NBA logo is modeled after his silhouette. West led the NBA in scoring once and assets one time as well. In 14 seasons he was an all-star every season and was on the NBA All-Defensive team four times. He won one NBA title, one NBA Finals MVP award and one NBA All-Star Game MVP. After retiring as a player he became the Lakers GM prior to the 1983 season and won three titles in the next six years. But in his most masterful work in the same offseason he traded for Kobe Bryant, signed free agent Shaquille O’Neal, and signed coach Phil Jackson. The rest is NBA history.
David Robinson– Career Averages: 21.1 ppg, 10.6 rpg, 3.0 bpg, 2.5 apg, 1.4 spg
“The Admiral” was an all-star 10 times in 14 seasons led the league in rebounds once, blocks once and won one scoring title. In the 1993-94 season Robinson and Shaquille O’Neal were going head to head for the scoring title down to the final game of the season. In that game, Robinson scored 71 points to secure the title. Robinson won two NBA titles, an MVP award and an NBA Defensive Player of the Year award.
LeBron James– Career Averages: 27.6 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 6.9 apg, 1.7 spg, 0.8 bpg
Now that “King James” has actually won a title he finally enters the discussion. Has there ever been a player as freakishly gifted and well-rounded as LeBron? He doesn’t do a single thing poorly. He shoots free throws well (74%) and rarely turns the ball over (3.3 topg).
Based on feedback, the consensus for second greatest NBA player ever is its Wilt, then Kareem; do any of these final six players usurp the title of “Second Greatest Ever” from Wilt??
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