Loyalty is something you don’t find so often in major sports, especially in the NBA, where players always tend to pursue their own personal agenda even if that means leaving their respective teams.
Other times, general managers decide to move on from some players even against their own will, so they’re forced to play elsewhere rather than finishing their entire career with the very same franchise.
However, over the course of history, we’ve seen some of the best hoopers in the world play for the same team throughout their entire career, and today, we’ll let you know about the top 15 players that never left their franchise.
Honorable Mention: Bob Pettit
15. John Stockton
John Stockton was a late bloomer, and little did they know that he’ll wind up being one of the greatest point guards in the history of the game. He was a lockdown defender, and a dime-machine as well.
Stockton was never able to lead his Utah Jazz to the NBA Championship, as he fell against Michael Jordan in the NBA Finals. Unlike Karl Malone, he stood there for 19 seasons from 1984 to 2003. He led the league in dimes 9 times and twice in steals.
14. James Worthy
Back in the day, James Worthy was considered to be the best scoring forward in the league, and some even argued he was the greatest ever in that spot for his ability to torch opposing defenders.
Worthy had quite a successful NBA career. He played for 12 years with the Los Angeles Lakers and led them to 3 NBA Championships. He also won 1 Finals MVP and made it to 7 All-Star Games.
13. Elgin Baylor
Elgin Baylor can make a strong case for the greatest player never to win an NBA title in the history of the game. He was so unlucky, the Lakers actually won the Championship the very same year he decided to retire.
Still, Baylor was one of the most dominant scorers in the league throughout his entire career. Over a 14 year span, he led the Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers in scoring, made it to 11 All-Stars, 10 All-NBA teams, and won the Rookie of the Year Award.
12. Dirk Nowitzki
Dirk Nowitzki is probably the last great loyal player. He was a true leader on and off the hardwood, and constantly gave up a lot of money in order for the Mavericks to put more talent around him.
Dirk is by far the best player in Mavericks history. For 20 years, they trusted him, and he paid them back with an NBA Championship, 1 MVP, and one signature shot that made him the guy that changed the way the power forward position was played.
11. Isiah Thomas
We don’t talk about Isiah Thomas enough nowadays, but truth to be told, he was one of the first truly dominant two-way point guards ever, and the main responsible for the Detroit Pistons’ early success.
Thomas stayed in the league for 13 full seasons, all of them at Motor City as their undisputed leader and Michael Jordan’s nightmare. Over that span, he led them to a couple of Championships, led the league in dimes twice and made it to 12 All-Stars.
10. Willis Reed
The New York Knicks own most of their glory to Willis Reed, one of the first dominant big men in the history of the game, and the guy that really put them on the map during the league’s early stages.
The Captain was a driving force in both sides of the glass and he spent his entire 10-year career with the Knicks. Over that span, he led them to a couple of NBA Championships with 2 Finals MVPs and the Rookie of the Year Award.
9. David Robinson
David Robinson was the first great San Antonio Spurs player and the guy that pretty much paved the way for Gregg Popovich’s process to succeed. The rest, as you may know by now, is history.
Robinson was physical and dominant as a defender and a crafty and strong scorer in the other end of the floor. Throughout his 14 year career, he won a couple of Championships, led the league in scoring, boards, and blocks once, and won the ROY and the DPOY.
8. Jerry West
Long before Michael Jordan’s surge, the undisputed best shooting guard ever was Jerry West, and by a long shot. With his crafty moves, West made his way into becoming the NBA logo we know nowadays thanks to his scoring ability and suffocating defense.
He’s the only guy in NBA history to win the NBA Finals MVP despite being in the losing team, and also won 1 Championship and the Scoring title after leading the Lakers for 14 straight seasons.
7. Julius Erving
For all of you that don’t know it, Julius Erving was a major influence for some of the best hoopers in the history of the game (like Michael Jordan) yet he doesn’t get enough credit for what he did in the court.
As a matter of fact, he actually played for the New Jersey Nets before playing for the Philadelphia 76ers, but the Nets were an ABA team back them, so the Sixers were his only NBA team. Over 11 seasons, he led the Sixers to 1 Championship.
6. John Havlicek
John Havlicek was one of the best ever. He always did what was best for his team, and didn’t mind coming off the bench or starting because he always knew how to make a strong impact on both ends of the floor.
Hondo played for 15 seasons with the Boston Celtics and helped them win 8 NBA Championships. Also, he made it to 8 All-Defense teams, 11 All-Stars and even won 1 Finals MVP award.
5. Tim Duncan
Other than Gregg Popovich, Tim Duncan is the only person to have played a huge part in all of the 5 NBA Championships the Spurs have won as an organization, and he’s acknowledged as their best player in franchise history after 19 seasons with the team.
Duncan’s relentless work ethic made him one of the best big men to ever lace them up. He was a dominant defender but could also score with ease thanks to his unorthodox bank shots. He won 5 rings, the ROY, 2 MVPs, 3 Finals MVPs and made it to 15 All-Defense teams.
4. Bill Russell
While most people don’t give Bill Russell enough credit for all of his accolades, he’s still the winningest player in the history of the game and deserves a lot of recognition for that, as he’s not likely to lose such distinction.
Russell made the Boston Celtics the great franchise they’re nowadays. Over 13 seasons with the team, he led them to 11 of their 17 Championships. Also, he led the league in boards 4 times and won 5 MVPs.
3. Larry Bird
After Bill Russell went down, Larry Bird outplayed him for the best player in Celtics history distinction, even if he wasn’t nearly half as successful as Russell when it comes to Championships.
Bird spent his entire 13-year career with the Celtics and led them to 3 NBA Championships. Also, he won the ROY, 2 Finals MVPs and 3 regular season MVPs, while making it to 3 All-Defense teams.
2. Magic Johnson
Magic Johnson is considered to be the best point guard in the history of the game and for good reason. He owns the highest assists per game average ever and was the best and craftiest playmaker we’ve ever seen.
His ability to play and guard one through five paved the way for him to win 5 Championships in Los Angeles. He played there for 12 straight seasons before retiring for 3 years and then making a 1 season comeback. He led the league in dimes 4 times, twice in steals, won 3 MVPs and 3 Finals MVPs as well.
1. Kobe Bryant
And finally, the best player to spend his entire career with just one NBA franchise is Kobe Bryant, the greatest hooper in Los Angeles Lakers history and a regular name in the GOAT conversation.
Throughout a 19 season span, the Black Mamba dominated basketball and led the post-Showtime Lakers to 5 Championships. Also, he won 1 MVP, 2 Finals MVPs, 2 Scoring Titles, and made it to 12 All-Defense teams.