The ’90s is thought to have the greatest selection of Hall of Famers ever. This is mainly because Michael Jordan played and dominated it with 6 NBA titles, although other great players dominated and held their own as well. The ’90s is regarded as the best era mainly because it had a mix of physicality and aggressiveness that seems to be lacking in today’s game, while also containing some of the most skilled and athletic talents ever.
To narrow down the greatest players of all time, it is time to rank the 10 best NBA players between 1990 and 1999. By taking winning, skills, and overall impact of the game into account; here are the 10 greatest players during the ’90s.
Clyde Drexler just misses out on this list because the 90’s era was simply full of dominant players. Clyde was one of the best shooting guards in the NBA although he was often overshadowed by the great Michael Jordan. Still, Drexler held his own by making 5 All-Star Teams and also being the MVP runner-up in the 91-92 season.
10. Gary Payton
The Glove is one of the best defensive players of all time. Along with Shawn Kemp, Payton led the SuperSonics to the NBA Finals in the 95-96 season only to fall short to MJ and the Bulls. Payton was a special leader on both ends, especially defensively, and is one of the top-2 point guards during the 90’s era. With a game that could translate any era, Payton was an easy inclusion on this list.
Payton made 5 All-Star Teams and 6 All-NBA Team Selections with 6 All-NBA Defensive Teams. The 1995 Defensive Player of the Year Award just shows how in a nutshell, Payton was the best defensive point guard in the NBA during that time.
9. John Stockton
Point guard extraordinaire John Stockton is without a doubt one of the best floor generals ever. Alongside Karl Malone, Stockton helped the Utah Jazz make 2 NBA Finals appearances through his playmaking and defense. Stockton had zero weakness on the floor as he was also a terrific shooter and leader, and was a load to handle for any defender.
Stockton’s status as one of the greatest overall point guards was evident in the ’90s. He made a total of 8 All-Star Teams with 9 All-NBA Team Selections and 4 All-Defensive Team Selections. Clearly, Stockton was the best point guard of the 90’s decade.
8. Patrick Ewing
The New York Knicks legend is one of the 10 greatest players in the 90’s without a doubt. Ewing had leadership qualities about him that were very impressive, considering how he carried the Knicks to the NBA Finals only to lose to the Chicago Bulls. Ewing was a beast on both ends of the floor and is still recognized as one of the best players to have never won an NBA title.
Ewing won the league MVP in 1993, while also making 8 All-Star Teams and 7 All-NBA Team Selections (3 First Team). The Knicks legend also has the 1991 All-Star Game MVP to his name, capping off a tremendous decade for him.
7. Shaquille O’Neal
Shaquille O’Neal will also appear on the greatest players in the 2000’s list because he was simply transcendent as a big man. 90’s Shaq was also young Shaq with the Orlando Magic, where he was simply a force to be reckoned with. O’Neal became the franchise player and led the Orlando Magic to the NBA Finals to play against the Houston Rockets although they ended up getting swept.
The most physically dominant player in the league, Shaq immediately made his presence known with the Rookie of the Year Award in 1992 and later made 6 All-Star Teams with 6 All-NBA Team Selections as well.
6. Scottie Pippen
The sidekick to Michael Jordan, Pippen was the second main reason why the Chicago Bulls were as dominant as they were alongside Phil Jackson. Pippen is one of the best defensive players ever and was an incredible talent on the floor due to his playmaking and overall game. In many ways, Pippen approached the game like LeBron James in terms of setting up teammates and finishing at the rim.
Pippen won 6 NBA titles and made 9 All-Defensive Teams which automatically includes him on this list, and he deserved to be in the top 10 list of 90’s players without a doubt.
5. David Robinson
The Admiral is a Spurs legend and also one of the best leaders ever. Robinson won an NBA title with the San Antonio Spurs during the ’90s, with his ability to score and defend reigning supreme. Robinson had a first-ballot Hall of Fame career that involved a ton of dominance during the ’90s, and he makes the top-5 in an all-time great list.
Robinson was a special player, and he is one of the greatest two-way players in history. He won the Defensive Player of the Year Award in 1991, the MVP in 1994, and won the NBA title in 1999. Robinson made a total of 8 All-Star Teams with 8 All-NBA Team Selections during this period.
4. Charles Barkley
Charles Barkley does not get enough credit for being one of the 5 greatest players in arguably the best era of basketball. Barkley was simply unstoppable, and he even managed to lead the Phoenix Suns to the NBA Finals against MJ and the Bulls. Unfortunately, he never won an NBA title but Barkley is regarded as one of the best big men ever.
Barkley captured the 1993 MVP Award and also made 8 All-Star Teams with 7 All-NBA Team Selections. While only 3 of the All-NBA Teams were First Team Selections, Barkley did also capture the All-Star Game MVP in 1991.
3. Karl Malone
Quite possibly a top-2 power forward of all time, Karl team ran riot in the league with his ability to get buckets. The Mailman was a sensational scorer from mid-range and in the post, using a mix of incredible physicality and skill to his advantage. His duo alongside John Stockton remaining one of the best ever, Malone led the Utah Jazz to 2 NBA Finals appearances in the 90’s era, losing both times to Michael Jordan and the Bulls.s
Malone captured the MVP Award on two separate occasions, while also making 9 All-Star Teams with 10 All-NBA First Team Selections. The 1993 All-Star Game MVP capped off an incredible run of dominance by The Mailman.
2. Hakeem Olajuwon
Unsurprisingly, Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon cracks the top 2 of the greatest 90’s players ever. This is because Hakeem delivered two straight NBA titles for the Houston Rockets when Michael Jordan retired to play baseball. Hakeem did it all for Houston, and his two-year run is regarded as one of the most iconic phases in NBA history. Olajuwon wasn’t only a great scorer but also an exceptional leader and defensive player.
Hakeem ran riot in the ’90s, winning an MVP and the Defensive Player of the Year twice. Hakeem also made 7 All-Star Teams and 8 All-NBA Teams with 3 First Team Selections. 2 Finals MVP Awards places Hakeem far and away the 2nd greatest player in the ’90s behind one man.
1. Michael Jordan
No player dominated the 90’s like Michael Jordan. He captured 6 NBA titles in the decade, including 6 Finals MVPs. Jordan was the main man on a mission during the era which included some of the best players in NBA history. MJ left no doubt to the NBA world that whenever he suited up for the Bulls, he had the best chance of winning and no one could stop him.
Beyond the 6 titles and 6 Finals MVPs, Jordan also won 4 MVP Awards and made 7 All-Star Teams with 7 All-NBA First Team Selections. Add in 7 All-Defensive First Team Selections and 2 All-Star Game MVPs and you have yourself the single greatest player in the ’90s.