In order to stand out from the pack in the NBA, players need to work harder than everybody, need to want it more than everybody, must be more talented and disciplined than everybody. Nonetheless, they also need an ultimate gift to make them special.
Over the course of history, a handful of players have been able to dominate due to their special strength that always give them the upper hand over most ballers, and that’s precisely the thing why they’re remembered the most.
That’s why today, we’re going to ignore pretty much every other aspect of their game and talk exclusively about the biggest strength of 10 of the greatest basketball players this game has ever seen.
10. LeBron James: Versatility
LeBron James is one of the most well built and most durable athletes the world has ever seen. He’s a hard worker and has been able to live up to the hype that surrounded him ever since day one.
But, what makes him so special is his versatility, as he’s a guy that’s able to play and guard all 5 spots in the court. He can score, run the offense, grab boards, go back on defense and fill the entire stat sheet on a nightly basis, posting career averages of 27.2 points, 7.4 boards, 7.2 dimes, 1.6 steals and 0.8 blocks a game.
9. Shaquille O’Neal: Physicality
Shaquille O’Neal is the most dominant big man in the history of this game and it’s not even close, as you were going to pay the price if you were brave enough to try and defy the Big Diesel.
His physicality made him a man among kids, constantly bullying his way around the paint, mastering the art of positioning and then making the most of his huge body to crush every opposition in both sides of the hardwood. He shattered backboards with ease and even led the league in scoring twice despite being a big man.
8. Larry Bird: Clutch
Today fans don’t know how great Larry Bird used to be and often tend to think old hoops fans are just overreacting, but truth to be told, Larry Legend was one of the most influential players of all times.
Bird always came through when it mattered the most, especially from three-point land, being one of the first guys to consistently use the three-pointer as a reliable offensive weapon. If you needed a game-winning shot, Larry Legend was your man.
7. Stephen Curry: Shooting
Stephen Curry was just a 3-star recruit in high school and was snubbed from a few Division I colleges before he took the NCAA for assault and climbed all the way to the 7th spot in the NBA Draft. Now, he’s emerged to become the greatest shooter in the history of the game. His high ark and release make his shots unblockable, and he pretty much has unlimited range.
He’s something we’ve never seen and likely won’t see again. He’s one of the few members of the 50-40-90 club, shoots over 43% from three for his career, and knocks down 3.4 triples a night, something that makes Ray Allen look like an amateur.
6. John Stockton: Passing
John Stockton was a late bloomer and up to this date, it’s a shame that young point guards aren’t studying his game more, as they all want to be the scoring first kind of playmakers nowadays.
Stockton was the ultimate pass-first guy, a mastermind when it came to finding spots to throw a dart and set his teammates up, being one of the best passers to ever set foot on an NBA hardwood. Stockton led the league in dimes 9 straight seasons and is the league’s all-time leader in assists with over 15 thousand assists.
5. Hakeem Olajuwon: Defense
If Shaquille O’Neal was the most dominant big man, then Hakeem Olajuwon has to be the most talented two-way big man ever, considering all the ballerina-like moves he used to do in the post to embarrass his defenders.
Moreover, he was a lockdown rim protector that wasn’t going to let anybody get an easy bucket or layup. Hakeem is the league’s all-time leading shot blocker, but could also guard all the way to the perimeter as well. He made 9 All-Defensive teams, led the league in blocks 3 times, and recorded 3830 swats throughout his career.
4. Kobe Bryant: Mentality
Kobe Bryant is the greatest player in Los Angeles Lakers history, a pure s.corer that would never back down of a challenge and that was keen and desperate to win more than anything else in the world.
His ‘Mamba Mentality’ became his legacy, up to the point where young ballers try to live up to that way of thinking. Kobe’s mindset was never to be altered, he was there to win, and wasn’t going to let anything or anyone, not even his teammates, stand in the way.
3. Kevin Durant: Scoring
Kevin Durant is some kind of unicorn. He’s got to be from outer space or something, as I just can’t fathom the fact that this 7 footer is able to do the things he does with the rock in his hands. I just can’t.
Durant has the offensive skill set of a guard and the length of a center, being one of the most gifted and unstoppable scorers this game has ever seen thanks to his consistency from all three levels. Up to this day, he holds 4 scoring titles, averaging over 27 points a night throughout his career.
2. Magic Johnson: Passing
Magic Johnson is the greatest point guard in the history of the game, and not only because of the fact that his height always gave him a huge size advantage over his defenders and could guard multiple spots.
What made Magic such a unique talent was his passing, as, more than just setting his teammates up, he did it in such a flashy, entertaining and creative way that fans and rivals didn’t have another choice but to clap their hands. Also, he holds the record for dimes per game in the league, averaging 11.2 assists a night with over 10 thousand dishes throughout his career.
1. Michael Jordan: Scoring
And obviously, we saved the best for last. Michael Jeffrey Jordan, the greatest player of all times, the guy that changed basketball culture, a guy nobody will ever even come close to his greatness.
One of the thousands of things that made His Royal Airness so special was his unstoppable scoring instinct, the millions of ways he had to contour his body down the lane and finish, the fact that he was constantly getting beaten up but still managed to score. Off the dribble, from three, laying it up, you name it, he’s the best scorer ever. Throughout his career, he averaged 30.1 points a game en route to 10 scoring titles (7 straight and then 3 straight).