Michael Jeffrey Jordan is a former American professional basketball player, active businessman, and majority owner of the Charlotte Bobcats. His biography on the National Basketball Association (NBA) website states, “By acclamation, Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time. Jordan was one of the most effectively marketed athletes of his generation and was instrumental in popularizing the NBA around the world in the 1980s and 1990s.
After a standout career at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he led the Tar Heels to a National Championship in 1982, Jordan joined the NBA’s Chicago Bulls in 1984. He quickly emerged as a league star, entertaining crowds with his prolific scoring. His leaping ability, illustrated by performing slam dunks from the free throw line in slam dunk contests, earned him the nicknames “Air Jordan” and “His Airness”. He also gained a reputation for being one of the best defensive players in basketball.In 1991, he won his first NBA championship with the Bulls, and followed that achievement with titles in 1992 and 1993, securing a “three-peat”. Although Jordan abruptly retired from basketball at the beginning of the 1993–94 NBA season to pursue a career in baseball, he rejoined the Bulls in 1995 and led them to three additional championships as well as an NBA-record 72 regular-season wins in the 1995–96 NBA season. Jordan retired for a second time in 1999, but returned for two more NBA seasons in 2001 as a member of the Washington Wizards.
Jordan’s individual accolades and accomplishments include five MVP awards, ten All-NBA First Team designations, nine All-Defensive First Team honors, fourteen NBA All-Star Game appearances, three All-Star Game MVP awards, ten scoring titles, three steals titles, six NBA Finals MVP awards, and the 1988 NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award. He holds the NBA records for highest career regular season scoring average and highest career playoff scoring average (33.45 points per game). In 1999, he was named the greatest North American athlete of the 20th century by ESPN, and was second to Babe Ruth on the Associated Press’s list of athletes of the century. He was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame on April 6, 2009 and was inducted on September 11, 2009.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (born Ferdinand Lewis “Lew” Alcindor, Jr., April 16, 1947) is an American retired basketball player, coach, actor, and author. During his career with the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers from 1969 to 1989, Abdul-Jabbar scored more points than any other player in league history, won six NBA championships and a record six regular season MVP Awards. In college at UCLA, he played on three championship teams, and his high school team won 71 consecutive games.
Kareem Abdul Jabbar was the highest scoring player in NBA history with 38,387 points. Jabbar stood 7’2” tall and along with Magic Johnson he dominated the 80’s era. He is best remembered for his signature skyhook shot that had his competitors confused for a long time. Not as dynamic as Johnson, Jabbar made his dominance presence felt in every game that he played. He retired with 6 NBA championships and 6 NBA MVP titles.
Wilton Norman “Wilt” Chamberlain was an American professional NBA basketball player for the Philadelphia/San Francisco Warriors, the Philadelphia 76ers and the Los Angeles Lakers; he also played for the Harlem Globetrotters. The 7 foot 1 inch Chamberlain, who weighed 250 lbs as a rookie before bulking up to 275 lb and eventually over 300 lb with the Lakers, played the center position and is considered by his contemporaries as one of the greatest and most dominant players in the history of the NBA.
Chamberlain holds numerous official NBA all-time records, setting records in many scoring, rebounding and durability categories. Among other notable accomplishments, he is the only player in NBA history to average more than 40 and 50 points in a season or score 100 points in a single NBA game. He also won seven scoring, nine field goal percentage, and eleven rebounding titles, and once even led the league in assists. Although suffering a long string of professional losses, Chamberlain had a successful career, winning two NBA titles, earning four regular-season Most Valuable Player awards, the Rookie of the Year award, one NBA Finals MVP award, and being selected to 13 All-Star Games and ten All-NBA First and Second teams. Chamberlain was subsequently enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1978, elected into the NBA’s 35th Anniversary Team of 1980, and chosen as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History of 1996.
Chamberlain was known by various nicknames during his basketball playing career. He hated the ones that called attention to his height such as Goliath and Wilt the Stilt, which was coined during his high school days by a Philadelphia sportswriter. He preferred The Big Dipper, Dippy or Dipper, all of which were inspired by his friends who saw him dip his head as he walked through doorways. He was also called the Chairman of the Boards.
William Felton “Bill” Russell is a retired American professional basketball player who played center for the Boston Celtics of the National Basketball Association (NBA). A five-time winner of the NBA Most Valuable Player Award and a twelve-time All-Star, Russell was the centerpiece of the Celtics dynasty that won eleven NBA Championships during Russell’s thirteen-year career. Along with Henri Richard of the National Hockey League’s Montreal Canadiens, Russell holds the record for the most championships won by an athlete in a North American sports league. Before his professional career, Russell led the University of San Francisco to two consecutive NCAA championships. He also won a gold medal at the 1956 Summer Olympics as captain of the U.S. national basketball team.
Russell is widely considered one of the best players in NBA history.Russell was equally notable for his rebounding abilities. He led the NBA in rebounds four times and tallied 21,620 total rebounds in his career. He is one of just two NBA players to have grabbed more than fifty rebounds in a game. Though never the focal point of the Celtics’ offense, Russell also scored 14,522 career points and provided effective passing.
Russell is a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame. He was selected into NBA 25th Anniversary Team in 1971, into NBA 35th Anniversary Team in 1980 and named as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History in 1996, one of only four players that selected into all three teams. In 2007, he was enshrined in the FIBA Hall of Fame. In 2009, the NBA announced that the NBA Finals MVP trophy would be named the Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award in honor of Russell.
Oscar Palmer Robertson , nicknamed “The Big O” or O-Train, is a former American NBA player with the Cincinnati Royals and the Milwaukee Bucks. The 6-foot-5, 220-pound Robertson played the shooting guard/point guard position, and was a twelve-time All-Star, eleven-time member of the All-NBA Team, and one-time winner of the MVP award in fourteen professional seasons. He is the only player in NBA history to average a triple-double for an entire season. He was a key player on the team which brought the Bucks their only NBA championship in the 1970-71 NBA season. His playing career, especially during high school and college, was plagued by racism.
For his outstanding achievements, Robertson was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1980, and was voted one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History in 1996. The United States Basketball Writers Association renamed their college Player of the Year Award the Oscar Robertson Trophy in his honor in 1998, and he was one of five people chosen to represent the inaugural National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame class in 2006.
Robertson was also an integral part of the Oscar Robertson suit of 1970. The landmark NBA antitrust suit, named after the then-president of the NBA Players’ Association, led to an extensive reform of the league’s strict free agency and draft rules and, subsequently, to higher salaries for all players.
Larry Joe Bird is a former American NBA basketball player and coach. Drafted into the NBA sixth overall by the Boston Celtics in 1978, Bird started at small forward and power forward for thirteen seasons, teaming with legendary center Robert Parish and forward Kevin McHale. Due to back problems, he retired as a player from the NBA in 1992. Bird was voted to the NBA’s 50th Anniversary All-Time Team in 1996 and inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1998. He served as head coach of the Indiana Pacers from 1997 to 2000. In 2003, he assumed the role of president of basketball operations for the Pacers, which he currently holds. Larry also is one of only three Celtics who have scored over 20,000 points in their career. The other two are Paul Pierce and John Havlicek.
Allen Ezail Iverson is an American professional basketball player for Beşiktaş in the Turkish Basketball League and the Eurocup. He was selected by the Philadelphia 76ers with the number one pick in the 1996 NBA Draft. He was named the NBA Rookie of the Year in the 1996–97 season. Iverson is an eleven-time NBA All-Star which includes winning the All-Star MVP award in 2001 and 2005.
Winning the NBA scoring title during the 1998–99, 2000–01, 2001–02 and 2004–05 seasons, Iverson has become one of the most prolific scorers in NBA history, despite his small (listed at 6 feet, 0 inches) stature, with a career scoring average of 26.7 points per game, being sixth all-time. Iverson was also the NBA Most Valuable Player of the 2000–01 season and led his team to the 2001 NBA Finals the same season. Iverson represented the United States at the 2004 Summer Olympics, winning the Bronze medal. He also played for the Denver Nuggets, Detroit Pistons and the Memphis Grizzlies, before returning to the 76ers for part of the 2009-10 season.
After two seasons at Georgetown, Iverson was selected first overall by the Philadelphia 76ers in the 1996 NBA Draft. He played with the Sixers for 10 years. During his tenure he was Rookie of the Year, League MVP, 2x All-Star MVP, and led the league in scoring for four years. After his rookie season, during which he led the 76ers in points, assists and minutes, Iverson was named the 1997 NBA Rookie of the Year and was a member of the NBA All-Rookie First Team
LeBron Raymone James is an American professional basketball player for the Miami Heat of the National Basketball Association (NBA). Nicknamed “King James”, he was a three-time “Mr. Basketball” of Ohio in high school, and was highly promoted in the national media as a future NBA superstar while a sophomore at St. Vincent – St. Mary High School. At just 18, he was selected with the number one pick in the 2003 NBA Draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers and signed a shoe contract with Nike before his professional debut. Listed as a small forward, James has set numerous youngest player records since joining the league. He was named the NBA Rookie of the Year in 2003–04, NBA Most Valuable Player in 2008–09 and 2009–10, and has been both All-NBA selection and an All-Star every season since 2005. In 2010, a much-publicized free agency process ended with James going to the Miami Heat. He became the third reigning NBA MVP to change teams and the first since Moses Malone in 1982.
The focal point of the Cleveland offense, James led the team to consecutive playoff appearances from 2006 through 2010. In 2007, the Cavaliers advanced to the Conference Finals for the first time since 1992 and to the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history. James has been a member of the USA national team, winning a bronze medal at the 2004 Olympics and gold at the 2008 Olympics.
Kobe Bean Bryant is an American professional basketball player who plays shooting guard for the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association (NBA). Bryant enjoyed a successful high school basketball career at Lower Merion High School, where he was recognized as the top high school basketball player in the country. He decided to declare his eligibility for the NBA Draft upon graduation, and was selected with the 13th overall pick in the 1996 NBA Draft by the Charlotte Hornets, then traded to the Los Angeles Lakers. As a rookie, Bryant earned himself a reputation as a high-flyer and a fan favorite by winning the 1997 Slam Dunk Contest.
Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal led the Lakers to three consecutive NBA championships from 2000 to 2002. A heated feud between the duo and a lose in the 2004 NBA Finals led to O’Neal’s departure following the 2003–04 season. In 2003, Bryant was accused of sexual assault after having sex with a hotel employee in Edwards, Colorado. In September 2004, prosecutors dropped the case after his accuser refused to testify,and Bryant had to rebuild his image while becoming the cornerstone of the Lakers. He led the NBA in scoring during the 2005–06 and 2006–07 seasons, setting numerous scoring records in the process. In 2006, Bryant scored a career high 81 points against the Toronto Raptors, the second most points scored in a single game in NBA history, second only to Wilt Chamberlain’s 100 point performance. In the 2007–08 season, he was awarded the regular season’s Most Valuable Player Award (MVP). After losing in the 2008 NBA Finals, Bryant led the Lakers to two consecutive championships in 2009 and 2010 and was named NBA Finals MVP on both occasions.
Earvin “Magic” Johnson Jr. is a retired American professional basketball player who played point guard for the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association (NBA). After winning championships in high school and college, Johnson was selected first overall in the 1979 NBA Draft by the Lakers. He won a championship and an NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award in his rookie season, and won four more championships with the Lakers during the 1980s. Johnson retired abruptly in 1991 after announcing that he had HIV, but returned to play in the 1992 All-Star Game, winning the All-Star MVP Award. After protests from his fellow players, he retired again for four years, but returned in 1996 to play 32 games for the Lakers before retiring for the third and final time.
Johnson’s career achievements include three NBA MVP Awards, nine NBA Finals appearances, twelve All-Star games, and ten All-NBA First and Second Team nominations. He led the league in regular-season assists four times, and is the NBA’s all-time leader in assists per game, with an average of 11.2. Johnson was a member of the “Dream Team”, the U.S. basketball team that won the Olympic gold medal in 1992.
Johnson was honored as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History in 1996, and enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002. He was rated the greatest NBA point guard of all time by ESPN in 2007. His friendship and rivalry with Boston Celtics star Larry Bird, whom he faced in the 1979 NCAA finals and three NBA championship series, were well documented. Since his retirement, Johnson has been an advocate for HIV/AIDS prevention and safe sex, as well as an entrepreneur, philanthropist and motivational speaker.