NBA player rankings seem to be all the rage nowadays. With "The Last Dance" giving everyone new-found respect for 90s basketball, it seems these rankings are getting tweaked now more than ever.
ESPN recently did a list of their own, listing the top 75 players in history, in order. Wednesday morning, they released their top-ten.
10. Shaquille O'Neal: The Hall of Fame center transformed the game with a combination of agility and explosiveness and size, the likes of which the league had never seen. A four-time NBA champion and three-time Finals MVP, O'Neal averaged a double-double during a career that spanned almost two decades.
9. Kobe Bryant: For all of his statistical achievements -- the five championships, the 81-point game, the 60-point finale, the league MVP in 2008, the 20 seasons all with the same franchise -- Bryant's lasting legacy is his mental edge and burning desire to master the sport.
8. Tim Duncan: Perhaps the only perceived knock on Duncan's game was that he was boring. He was known as "The Big Fundamental," dominating for nearly two decades on both ends of the floor with textbook simplicity, such as his midrange bank shot and perfect position defense.
7. Larry Bird: Bird and Magic Johnson revitalized the NBA -- and the Celtics-Lakers rivalry. Bird led Boston to five NBA Finals and three championships with a blend of shot-making, passing and his feel for the game.
6. Wilt Chamberlain: Chamberlain was truly ahead of his time. His numbers -- including scoring an NBA-record 100 points in a single game and averaging 50 points per game for an entire season -- are mythical.
Kobe and Shaq just barely squeezing in on the list almost seems like a crime, but when you look at the other names on here, you'll understand why that's the case. Duncan, Wilt, and Bird -- they've all earned these rankings.
But perhaps the most interesting is who they put in their top 5, with some expected and unexpected appearances.
5. Magic Johnson: Johnson revolutionized the game, entering the league as the tallest point guard in league history at 6-foot-9. He was a legendary winner, a transcendent passer, an instant highlight and a triple-double waiting to happen.
4. Bill Russell: The greatest winner in basketball history, Russell claimed 11 titles in 13 years by turning the Celtics into a defensive juggernaut. Russell's defensive acumen and determination made him the perfect foil for Wilt Chamberlain, as well as one of the players from his era who wouldn't have looked out of place in later generations.
3. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: No one in NBA history can match Abdul-Jabbar's lengthy list of achievements. He won a record six MVP awards and was a 19-time All-Star. He won six championships -- with the first and last coming 17 years apart -- and was named to 15 All-NBA teams, with 10 first-team selections.
2. LeBron James: Standing 6-9 and weighing north of 250 pounds with a 40-inch vertical, James' game is built on power, but his passing ability might be his strongest skill. The four-time MVP and three-time champion has reinvented how an athlete's prime should be viewed; he had the Lakers in the thick of a title hunt as a 35-year-old playing in his 17th season.
1. Michael Jordan: The greatest player of all time. Jordan led the Bulls to six NBA championships, winning six Finals MVP awards and five regular-season MVP honors while becoming a global icon on and off the floor.
MJ's place at the top is a given, as is LeBron at second. When it comes to basketball history, there really is nobody else who has come close to those two.
As for fan-favorite Kobe Bryant, his placement at ninth seems to be normal -- but should it be? He was one of the greatest scorers in NBA history, won five titles to show for it, and is maybe the only player to ever match Jordan's "mental" toughness, work ethic, and mentality.
But to each their own, and these types of things are never perfect anyway.