Michael Jordan became basketball’s ultimate legend pretty much out of the way, and his legacy is something that may never be achieved by any other athlete of any other discipline through history.
MJ took the league for assault and became almost unanimously the greatest basketball player in the history of this beautiful game, with every player coming after him trying to emulate what he accomplished.
Naturally, we believe there’s never going to be another Michael Jordan or a player that may even come close to him but is kind to unfair that due to his dominance, people tend to forget other great ballers that thrived before his time.
That’s why today, we’re going to pay our respects to former basketball legends, letting you know about the top 10 players of the pre-Michael Jordan era in the NBA.
10. John Havlicek
If it wasn’t for John Havlicek, perhaps the Boston Celtics wouldn’t be so dominant back in the day, as the guard/forward made such a huge impact in both ends of the hardwood to make things way so easy for all of the players around him.
Havlicek made it to 8 All-Defensive teams and even won an NBA Finals MVP, and his great offensive skill set made him leave career averages of 20.8 points, 6.3 rebounds, 4.8 dimes and 1.2 steals per contest. Also, the Hall of Famer won 8 NBA Championships and made it to 11 All-Star games.
9. Jerry West
Before Michael Jordan’s surge, Jerry West was considered to be the greatest shooting guard of all times, and his crafty moves and ability to put defenders on skates even granted him the chance to be immortalized as the NBA’s logo.
West was always the smartest and clutchest guy on the floor, both on offense and defense. Throughout his career, “Mr. Clutch” averaged 27 points, 5.8 rebounds, 6.7 dimes and 2.6 steals per game, making it to 5 All-Defensive teams, 14 All-Stars and leading the Lakers to 1 Championship earning the Finals MVP honors. Also, he led the league in scoring and also in assists once.
8. Oscar Robertson
Long before Russell Westbrook, there was Oscar Robertson, AKA “The Big O”, a dominant point guard able to fill up all of the stat sheet categories on any given night, and the first player ever to average a triple-double for a full season.
Robertson was so athletic and fast and will always have his way regardless of who was guarding him. Next to Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), he led the Bucks to the Chip, won the Rookie of the Year, led the league in dimes 6 seasons, won 1 MVP and made it to 12 All-Stars, posting career averages of 25.7 points, 7.5 rebounds and 9.5 assists per game.
7. Julius Erving
Before everybody tried to copy Michael Jordan’s moves, all the young kids wanted to be just like Dr. J, an athletic dunker and scorer that was considered to be the greatest small forward in the history of the game.
Julius Erving was pretty much a walking highlight film and was even able to lead the Philadelphia 76ers to the ring back then in the 1982-83 season. Over his career, he averaged 24.2 points, 8.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game, also winning a couple of ABA Championships, 4 MVPs, 1 All-Defensive squad and 16 All-Stars.
6. Moses Malone
There have been few big men as offensively skilled as Moses Malone was back in the day, and he was by far the most dominant rebounder of his era, leading the league in total boards in 6 different occasions as a member of the Utah Stars, Spirits of St Louis, Buffalo Braves, Houston Rockets, Philadelphia 76ers, Washington Bullets, Atlanta Hawks, Milwaukee Bucks and San Antonio Spurs.
Big Mo was the perfect complement for Dr. J en route to the 1982-83 Championship, and he was able to post career averages of 20.3 points, 12.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.3 blocks per game, making it to 13 All-Stars, winning 3 MVPs and 1 Finals MVP, as well as to a couple of All-Defensive teams.
5. Wilt Chamberlain
Wilt Chamberlain was by far the most dominant player of his era, up to the point where he pretty much forced the league into changing game rules in order to make it fairer for anybody who had the bad luck to play against him.
Wilt the Stilt still holds the record for scoring on a single game with his 100 point performance, winning the ROY, 4 MVPs, 2 NBA Championships, 1 Assist Title, 7 Scoring Titles, 11 Rebound Titles, 4 MVPs, 1 Finals MVP, 13 All-Stars and 2 All-Defensive teams, averaging 30.1 points and 22.9 rebounds a game throughout his career.
4. Bill Russell
If all we care about when talking about the GOAT is Championships, then Bill Russell has to be by far the greatest player in basketball history, completely dominating basketball early stages as a defensive standout with the ability to completely own the glass.
Russell led the Boston Celtics to 11 NBA Championship over a 13 season span, led the league in boards in 4 different seasons, won 5 MVPs, made it to 1 All-Defensive squad and to 12 All-Stars. Throughout his career, he averaged 15.1 points and 22.5 rebounds.
3. Larry Bird
Larry Bird looked like a slow and unathletic guy, but that was nowhere near the truth, as he was so skilled and crafty that he was virtually unstoppable for the time being. Also, his ability to shoot off balance from beyond the arc granted Celtic fans a lot of great times.
Over his 13 year career, Larry Legend averaged 24.3 points, 10 rebounds, 6.3 assists, 1.7 steals and 0.8 blocks per game, leading the Celtics to 3 NBA Championships, making it to 3 All-Defensive squads, winning the ROY, 3 MVPs and 2 Finals MVPs.
2. Magic Johnson
Magic Johnson is by far the greatest point guard in the history of the NBA, even holding the All-Time record for assists per game average, and his height and wingspan allowed him to play an guard all 5 spots on the court with great ease.
Johnson was the best passer you’ll ever see and seemed to have eyes on the back of his head as well. Being a triple-double machine, Johnson averaged 19.5 points, 7.2 rebounds and 11.2 assists per game to go along with 1.9 steals. Throughout his career, he won 5 NBA Championships, 3 MVPs, 3 Finals MVPs, led the league in steals twice and 4 times in assists, and also made it to 12 All-Star games.
1. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
And the greatest player of the Pre-Michael Jordan era definitely has to be Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who still owns the 1st spot in the All-Time scoring list, and one of the most offensively gifted and talented players to ever set foot on a basketball court ever since his UCLA years.
His signature skyhook carried him 6 NBA Championships, 19 All-Star games, 11 All-Defensive teams, the Rookie of the Year, 6 MVPs, 2 Finals MVPs, 1 Rebound title, 2 Scoring titles, 4 Block titles and the Hall of Fame, posting career averages of 24.6 points, 11.2 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 2.6 blocks per game.