It’s one thing to be a good player but it’s another whole different to be able to lead your team to success on a consistent basis, especially if you take into notice that just 8 teams per conference make the playoffs every season.
A lot of things can go wrong throughout a full 82-game NBA regular season. Coaches and executives being fired, players getting hurt or traded, or even bad luck. That’s why it’s pretty hard to keep a playoffs streak going for a very long time.
That’s why just a handful of players have been able to make the playoffs during most of their careers. More impressively, they managed to do it over many consecutive seasons. Today, we’ll honor them by talking about the top 10 NBA players with the longest playoff streaks of all-time.
10. Clyde Drexler – 15 Seasons
There was a time when people actually debated whether Clyde Drexler was as good – or even better – as Michael Jordan. Needless to say, the debate was settled in no time but still, Drexler is one of the greatest shooting guards in the history of the game.
Clyde the Glyde led his Blazers to the NBA Finals in 1992. Moreover, he made the playoffs 15 straight years from 1982-83 to 1997-98, the first 11 with the Blazers and the final four with the Houston Rockets, even winning an NBA Championship in 1995.
9. Shaquille O’Neal – 15 Seasons
There’s a reason why they called Shaquille O’Neal the M.D.E (Most Dominant Ever). He had the Midas touch and turned almost every team on his career in a contender. Later on, he joined very good teams like the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics.
Shaq made the playoffs from 1993-94 to 2007-08 with the Orlando Magic, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, and Phoenix Suns. His streak was interrupted just one season, as he made it back for the final two years of his career. Oh, he also won 4 rings with 3 Finals MVPs, so there’s that.
8. Manu Ginobili – 16 Seasons
It seems like we don’t talk about Manu Ginobili enough nowadays. He’s got a strong case for being the greatest Sixth Man in the history of basketball. He was an extension of Gregg Popovich on the court and his two-way expertise always came in huge for the Spurs, especially in the playoffs.
Ginobili made it to the playoffs in all 16 seasons he played in the NBA, obviously, all of them with the Spurs. He helped the team win 4 rings from 2002 to 2018, averaging 14.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.8 assists, and 1.3 steals per game in the postseason.
7. Scottie Pippen – 16 Seasons
We talk a lot about Michael Jordan but what about Scottie Pippen? There wouldn’t have been 6 rings without Pippen’s top-tier defense and timely scoring, even if he often got hurt in the playoffs. He was a pivotal part of the Bulls’ project.
More impressively, Pippen never missed the playoffs until the final year of his career. Either with the Bulls, Blazers, or Rockets, you knew Scottie was going to be around. He won 6 NBA Championships but somehow never got the nod for Defensive Player of the Year.
6. Robert Horry – 16 Seasons
Robert Horry may not have the most impressive stats in the league but don’t let the numbers fool you. He was a born winner, a hard-working 3-and-D player who all Championship teams wanted on their roster, especially come playoffs time.
‘Big Shot Bob’ had a feel for knocking down clutch shots and made the playoffs on every single season of his 16-year career. He played for the Rockets, Suns, Lakers, and Spurs, winning 7 NBA Championships and playing a huge part in all of them.
5. Jason Kidd – 17 Seasons
Death, taxes, and Jason Kidd making the playoffs. Kidd was one of the most efficient, consistent, durable, and reliable players in the league. His craftiness in both ends of the floor often made everybody around him better and he was the ultimate floor general.
It took him a while but once he finally made the playoffs, he never missed them until his retirement in 2013. He played for the Suns, Nets, Mavericks, and Knicks in the postseason, winning the ring with Dallas after losing a couple of NBA Finals with New Jersey.
4. Tony Parker – 17 Seasons
To this day, I still can’t fathom the fact that Tony Parker didn’t retire as a member of the San Antonio Spurs. He played under Gregg Popovich’s tutelage for 17 years just to have a one-year stint with the non-contending Charlotte Hornets.
Had he decided to stay put, Parker would have made it to the playoffs 18 times. Instead, his streak ended at ‘just’ 17. He won 4 NBA Championships with the Spurs, including the Finals MVP award in 2006-07. He always took his game to a whole new level in the playoffs.
3. Tim Duncan – 18 Seasons
The man, the legend, the ultimate Spur. Tim Duncan never missed the playoffs throughout his 18-year career and is perhaps the main responsible for the team becoming the winningest franchise of his time. He led them to those 5 rings.
Moreover, Duncan was a 3-time Finals MVP and was a Ray Allen three-pointer away from retiring with a perfect 6/6 in the NBA Finals. It’s crazy that we don’t mention his name when we talk about the GOAT debate. He has the numbers to back his case up.
2. Karl Malone – 19 Seasons
NBA fans aren’t fond of Karl Malone for his issues off the court (and they’re right to feel that way) but basketball-wise, there’s no denying that he was one of the greatest, most dominant players to ever set foot on an NBA hardwood.
Malone’s relentless scoring and strong presence in the paint helped the Utah Jazz make the playoffs from 1985-86 to 2002-03. Then, he made it to the Finals with the infamous Lakers’ Fab Four. He made the playoffs every season of his career but lost the 3 Finals he played in.
1. John Stockton – 19 Seasons
You can’t talk about Karl Malone without bringing John Stockton’s name into the conversation. He’s the most durable point guard ever, the all-time leader in assists (15,806) and has a strong case at being the best playmaker in the history of basketball.
More impressively, Stockton led the Utah Jazz to the playoffs 19 straight years, one of them even before Karl Malone arrived. He never missed the playoffs and averaged 13.4 points and 10.1 dimes a game, including playoff runs of 13.7, 14.8, and 15.0 assists per game.
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