Top 10 lists are always controversial and that takes a different dimension when you talk about NBA players. The GOAT debate is a hot topic in the league but that doesn’t raise as many eyebrows as the top 10 best ballers in NBA history. That is indeed a sensitive topic since nobody has the same perception or taste of players.
Fox News gave his two pennies on this matter delivering their own Top 10 NBA players list and as usual, it was controversial. To make things worse, it was not even because of the #1 spot, which belongs to Michael Jordan, followed by LeBron James. Things go wrong when we see #3, which according to FN, belongs to Shaquille O’Neal.
O’Neal’s pure dominance was the reason why the NBA was forced to change its rules. First, when O’Neal was a member of the Orlando Magic in 1993, he made a put-back dunk that was so strong, that it basically broke the backboard, and the goal ended up folding and lowering to the floor. This caused the NBA to have a backup hoop in every arena.
Prior to the 2001-02 NBA season, the league eliminated its illegal defense rules. That allowed teams to use zone defenses, with the only restriction being that no player could stay in the paint for more than three seconds unless he was guarding someone. This made the lane more crowded, and not only did O’Neal have to beat his own man, but he had to overcome the other two or three players that were in defensive help positions. For years, the NBA forced players to either guard their man or double the man with the ball. Any player caught guarding an area and not a man would elicit a technical foul shot. In the ’90s, coaches developed strategies to abuse the man-to-man. Teams would isolate their best scorer in the post with his teammates as far away on the other side of the court as possible, to make it hard to double. It was no coincidence that the rule change came during O’Neal’s prime.
If that’s the argument they need to put Shaq #3, then Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell should share the #1 spot on the list. Yes, Shaq was dominant, along with Jordan he is probably the most dominant player ever in the Finals. Yet, that doesn’t seem to be enough to put him as a top 3 player of all time.
To make things worse, Kobe Bryant ranks 6th on this list. Bryant, regarded as one of the greatest talents the NBA has seen, is considered by many as at least a top 5 player of all time. Well, not for Fox News. After Shaq left the Lakers, Kobe went to win two more titles leading his team to the top of the league.
The rest of the top 10 featured Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (4th), Magic Johnson (5th), Tim Duncan (7th), Wilt Chamberlain (8th), Larry Bird (9th), and Bill Russell (10th).