Basketball has come a long way. The game we all love has really changed over the course of years. From the fast-paced offense to a more defensive oriented league, to the run and gun era, the game just isn’t played the way it used to be.
Some players have been so influential that they have even forced the league to change some rules, while others have been successfully adapting and make an adjustment to thrive regardless of when and where they’re playing.
Over-talented players could always dominate regardless of the rules, their teammates or their competition. Today, we’re going to let you know about 15 NBA legends that could dominate in any era.
15. Bill Russell
Well, I don’t honestly believe Bill Russell could “dominate” in any era, but there’s absolutely no reason to believe he wouldn’t be, at least, a top-tier backup center due to his defensive expertise.
Russell was an elite rim protector and rebounder, and even though he didn’t have much competition to begin with, he was a proven winner and a hard working guy that was willing to put his body on the line for his team’s sake.
14. Charles Barkley
Charles Barkley was one of the most dominant scorers of his time, and even though he was vastly undersized and a bit overweight, he was a top-notch rebounder against bigger opposition as well.
Barkley had a decent jump shot and even though he wasn’t much of a three-point shooter, he had the skill set to become a prime small ball center for today’s era. C’mon, Chuck, join the Warriors and get that ring after all.
13. Julius Erving
Before Michael Jordan, every young baller in the world wanted to be just like Dr. Julius Erving was crafty, athletic, explosive and a great entertainer, several features that could make him thrive nowadays as much as he did back in the day.
Erving did much of his damage while driving instead of relying on his jumper, but even though, with his athleticism, length and ability to contour his body down the lane would make him a deadly scorer in today’s NBA.
12. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar paved the way for modern big men, at least offensive wise. Kareem had a never-ending bag of tricks to score, mostly highlighted by his unblockable signature hook shot, a weapon big men still use up to this day.
He may not be as strong as some modern centers, but with his size, offensive repertoire, footwork and defensive expertise, he’d be one of the best centers in modern basketball, especially in all-shooting lineups.
11. Larry Bird
Larry Bird’s game perfectly translates to today’s basketball. He may have not been as fast as today’s ballers, but had a quick trigger, the ability to create his own shot, and a very reliable three-point shot.
Bird is one of the most smarter players in NBA history, and he would be great in any era, especially today when almost everyone can hit the three-point shot.
10. Oscar Robertson
The Big O was Russell Westbrook before Russell Westbrook, an athletic freak and committed rebounder that could walk his way into a triple-double on any given night, even despite playing the point.
Robertson was a proven winner, a crafty scorer, a solid playmaker and an underrated defender, and there’s no reason to believe he wouldn’t be as successful and have the kind of stat lines now as he did back in the day, considering the fast pace modern offense features.
9. Wilt Chamberlain
Wilt Chamberlain was the ultimate freak of nature. He would’ve been as dominant nowadays as he was back in the day because he would still be one of the biggest, strongest and most athletic players in the history of human race.
The league actually had to change the rules to make it fairer for Chamberlain’s rivals, and even though we don’t believe he’d be able to score 100 points in a game nowadays, he’d still be a lock too, at least; average 20-15 a night.
8. Hakeem Olajuwon
Hakeem Olajuwon, is, at least to my eyes; the most talented center ever. His ballerina-like footwork in the paint is still the best I’ve ever seen, let alone his top-notch ability to protect the rim.
Olajuwon’s dream shake is a move that still gets defender all the time and even guards wind up adopting. His length, clutch scoring and defensive awareness would still make him a top-tier big man nowadays.
7. LeBron James
LeBron James is the best small forward to ever set foot on an NBA hardwood. Period. As a matter of fact, we tend to believe that he would’ve been even better back in the day, considering he wouldn’t need to develop his jump shot the way he’s done.
Him being a driver, and as strong as he is, he would’ve been as unstoppable back then than he is now. Also, perhaps he would’ve had a much better record in the Finals, or would at least be considered yet another victim of the Bulls.
6. Shaquille O’Neal
Shaquille O’Neal was by far the most dominant player of his prime, and definitely the most dominant center ever. He just wasn’t going to be denied on either side of the glass, and he was going to let you know about it.
O’Neal could shatter backboards with ease, demolish his rivals and even hurt them when they fouled them due to his abnormally strong body. He was as gifted in the offense as he was a lockdown defender, and there wouldn’t be a center strong enough in today’s basketball to at least try and contain him. He’d just toy with all of them.
5. Tim Duncan
Tim Duncan, AKA the big fundamental, would’ve thrived in any era, pretty much because of his fundamentals. He was a textbook big man that would never make a flashy play but rarely made any mistakes either.
Duncan could swat back-to-back shots on one end, take the ball down court and finish with either hand in the other. He was money from mid-range, and could even guard all the way to the perimeter, being one of the best two-way players ever.
4. Magic Johnson
Magic Johnson is the greatest point guard in the history of the game, and a guy with such an incredible skill set and ability to read opposing defenses would’ve been as good in any single era.
He’s the best passer this game has ever seen, could run the court in the blink of an eye, and could guard and play all 5 spots in the court with ease. He’s a no-brainer to be in this list with that kind of resume.
3. Allen Iverson
Allen Iverson was so freakingly gifted in the offensive end, there wasn’t a single defender that could lock him down. Hell, he even embarrassed Michael Jordan himself during his rookie season by crossing the hell out of him.
Iverson carried a subpar Philadelphia 76ers team all the way to the Finals and he would win an NBA Championship if it weren't Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal. With his ability to create off the dribble, his handles and his crossover, he’d be as good nowadays.
2. Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant was a late bloomer, but his work ethic and a never-ending bag of tricks made him one of the most iconic scorers in the history of the league, even though consistency may be an issue on some nights.
Still, Bryant was a lockdown defender, a committed rebounder, an incredible scorer and even a willing facilitator when surrounded by good players. Love him or hate him, there’s no denying his the greatest Laker ever.
1. Michael Jordan
And obviously, Michael Jordan is a guy that could play in all eras, as he even dominated when coming back from his second retirement to play with the Wizards thanks to his two-way expertise.
Jordan was the peskiest defender, while also being able to put up 30 points a night as if he were playing in his backyard, and even though the league favors shooters instead of drivers nowadays, he’d definitely outplay every single player in the NBA.