No sport grew as quickly in the second half of the 20th century as basketball. Thanks in large part to the NBA, basketball became one of the biggest sports in the world and reached a global status in an incredibly quick time.
Between 1950 and 2000, the NBA became a phenomenon, with several players from across the world wanting to come to the United States to play among the best in the world.
These 50 years saw some of the greatest players of all time. But perhaps none more successful than Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Michael Jordan. Between the three players, they won 23 NBA championships, almost half of the available titles.
Bill Russell was the first among the 3 stars to make it to the NBA. Russell entered the league in 1956 and immediately went on to find success.
By the time he called time on his career, he was an 11-time NBA champion, the most in history by an individual player.
As for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, he had a near-20 year career in the NBA, where he won 6 NBA championships, 5 MVPs, and retired with the most total career points in history, something no one has been able to surpass since.
As for Michael Jordan, he is the player credited with bringing the NBA to the global stage. Because of his unbelievable talent, Jordan became must-see, and the world took notice of one of the greatest athletes of all time.
MJ won 6 NBA championships and dominated the 1990s as the single most dominant player in the NBA until he retired in 1998.
For their contributions to the sport of basketball, Russell, Kareem, and Jordan were included in Sports Illustrated's Athletes Of The Century list in 1999.
The picture of these athletes will go down as one of the most iconic in history. But Jordan has had experience being in iconic pictures.
The snap of Jordan, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Moses Malone, and Carmelo Anthony is one basketball fans will truly cherish.
The magazine recognized pioneers in different sports across the world and included the three all-time greats among the elite.
This recognition was highly deserved for all 3 players, as they played a crucial role in transforming the sport of basketball and bringing it to the world stage.