NBA All-Time Teams

Nathan Goergen

Because each lineup is only 5 players and a coach, I made a first team, second team, and third team. Also, since there are a lot of debates on the top players of all time, my top 5 rankings will be in parentheses next to the players name. I also included my favorite moment from each of these players, so if you need some highlights to watch, you got plenty of them.

1st Team

PG – Magic Johnson, Los Angeles Lakers (1979-1991, 1996)

One of the all-time Laker greats, Magic is everything you would’ve wanted from a point guard in that era. A tall, versatile guy who can pass and shoot from mid-range and from the post. He was fast for his height, and he was an amazing playmaker. His career would be cut short after his AIDS diagnosis, but he made a comeback in 1996. He was a 3 time MVP and 12 time all-star with 5 championships. He is currently number 5 on the career assists list.


SG – Michael Jordan (1), Chicago Bulls (1984-1993, 1995-1998), Washington Wizards (2001-2003)

The undisputed greatest of all time in my opinion. He was an amazing player (career stats 30.1 ppg 6.2 rpg 5.3 apg) with an insane work ethic. He went 6-0 in the finals, which was split up into two three peats, and he won the finals MVP every time. He was also a 5 time MVP, 14 time all-star, and 10 time all-NBA first teamer. You can’t beat that. Too bad he ended his career in Washington though, that tainted his legacy.


SF – LeBron James (3), Cleveland Cavaliers (2003-2010, 2014-2018), Miami Heat (2010-2014), Los Angeles Lakers (2018-)

So you may be asking, why is LeBron at 3? LeBron is an amazing player that we are all lucky to witness, but I just don’t see that competitive fire in him that I see with MJ or Kobe. However, I did see that fire in the 2016 finals, but that was it’s peak. However, he is a 3 time champion and finals MVP, a 4 time MVP, and a 16 time all-star, along with being a 12 time all-NBA first teamer. His accolades match Jordan’s and Kobe’s, but you have to look a bit deeper than that.


PF – Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs (1997-2016)

Tim Duncan is underappreciated in today’s NBA. He didn’t have the personality of a top NBA player, but he was a top NBA player. He was a winner, and he played with a great team to get 5 titles, 3 of which he was named MVP. Duncan was a good scorer, but his true talent was in his defense. With 10.8 rpg, he was an elite rebounder as well. Oh yeah, and he won 2 MVP’s and has 15 all-star appearances, just in case you weren’t convinced enough.


C – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (4), Milwaukee Bucks (1969-1975), Los Angeles Lakers (1975-1989)

This is a controversial pick, yes, but it’s not like Kareem isn’t a top 5 center. He played after Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain’s prime, where both of those dominated mainly on their height, but Kareem played mainly in the seventies and eighties, where there were much taller guys. You also can’t teach the skyhook, which might be one of the most brilliant shots invented, and you can’t teach his durability, as he lasted a whopping 20 years in the league. He also won 6 Championships, 2 Finals MVP’s, and 6 MVP’s, along with 19 all-star appearances. He is also the all-time scoring leader (for now).


HC – Phil Jackson, Chicago Bulls (1989-1998), Los Angeles Lakers (1998-2004, 2005-2011)

Phil is a winner, and he is the best coach in NBA history because of his accomplishments. He won 11 Championships, you saw that correctly. He also pioneered the triangle offense, which was vital to the Lakers success in the 2000s. He coached players like MJ, Pippen, Rodman, Kobe, and Shaq, which definitely helps the resume as well. Now his performance as a GM in New York however, all I have to say is stick to coaching.


2nd Team

PG – John Stockton, Utah Jazz (1984-2003)

There are two numbers that define Stockton’s achievements, 15,806 and 3,265. Those are the amount of assists and steals respectively that have made him the all-time leader in assists and steals by wide margins. He was the best playmaker in league history, and a large reason why Karl Malone scored as much as he did. Yes, he won no MVP’s and no championships, but he led the league in assists 9 times and steals twice, and he has 10 all-star appearences, so he definitely belongs here.


SG – Kobe Bryant (2), Los Angeles Lakers (1996-2016)

First off, what happened in January might’ve been the worst thing I’ve experienced as a sports fan. He had so much left to do in life, only for it all to end like it did. It was depressing. Kobe is the only player that you can truly compare to Jordan, because they were very similar to each other. Mamba mentality has inspired so many in the league today, and his legacy will last forever. One MVP, 5 titles, 2 finals MVP’s, and an 18 time all-star, Kobe will be remembered as one of the most clutch and intense players to wear Jerry West on his jersey. The stats don’t do him justice.


SF – Larry Bird (5), Boston Celtics (1979-1992)

A hoosier legend who managed to put Indiana State Basketball in the spotlight, Bird was an extremely successful player, and the best in Celtics history, which is saying something. He was a very traditional small forward who would go 24 10 and 6 for his career, showing his commitment to both sides of the ball. He also controlled the accolades given out in the 80s. He won 3 MVP’s, 2 Finals MVP’s, and 3 titles, along with being a 12-time all-star. The Hick from French Lick has represented Indiana well.


PF – Karl Malone, Utah Jazz (1985-2003), Los Angeles Lakers (2003-2004)

There is only one person who has scored more points than Karl Malone, and that is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Despite never winning a ring and a disastrous life off the court (he was the father of three illegitimate children, one with a 13 year old when he was 20, and he denied all claims before a paternity test was done), Malone won 2 MVP’s and 14 all-star appearences, along with averaging 25 ppg and 10.1 rpg. If he was a bit more accomplished defensively, he would’ve been placed ahead of Duncan.


C – Shaquille O’Neal, Orlando Magic (1992-1996), Los Angeles Lakers (1996-2004), Miami Heat (2004-2008), Phoenix Suns (2008-2009), Cleveland Cavaliers (2009-2010), Boston Celtics (2010-2011)

Unfortunately, Shaq isn’t good at everything (ex. Kazaam and Rap Career), but he is an amazing basketball player. The diesel is perhaps the most dominant player in NBA history, as it was a man against boys when he was on the court. He faded out a bit at the end of his career, but he was still able to win an MVP and 4 championships, 3 of which he was the MVP in. He was also a 15 time all-star, averaged 23.7 ppg 10.9 rpg and 2.3 bpg, along with an amazing 52.7% from the free throw line.


HC – Red Auerbach, Washington Capitols (1946-1949), Tri-Cities Blackhawks* (1949-1950), Boston Celtics (1950-1966)


3rd Team –

PG – Steve Nash, Phoenix Suns (1996-1998, 2004-2012), Dallas Mavericks (1998-2004), Los Angeles Lakers (2012-2015)

It was either him or Jason Kidd, No matter who you think should’ve won the MVP’s in 2005 and 2006, Nash won them. I would compare him to John Stockton. An amazing playmaker that could never get a ring. He actually never appeared in the finals. He was also one of the league’s best three point shooters at that time, so he was able to thrive in D’Antoni’s legendary seven second offense. Nash was my favorite player when I was younger, and I fell in love with basketball because of him (My favorite number is still 13), so I may have some bias here, but to me, he just edges out Kidd. The MVP’s help.


SG – Ray Allen, Milwaukee Bucks (1996-2003), Seattle SuperSonics** (2003-2007), Boston Celtics (2007-2012), Miami Heat (2012-2014)

Ray Allen was the definition of a ring chaser back when he was playing. He joined both the Celtics and the Heat to win titles, where he won two. Allen, along with Reggie Miller were also formerly known as the best three point shooter of all time before Curry came along, but Allen was able to popularize the shot in the 2000s. Averging 18.9 ppg, 4.1 rpg, and 3.4 apg in his career, Allen managed to pick up 10 all star appearances on top of his rings.


SF – Julius Erving, Virginia Squires (ABA) (1971-1973), New York Nets (ABA)*** (1973-1976), Philadelphia 76ers (1976-1987)

Dr. J. The man that brought the dunk contest to the NBA, and was able to showcase a flashier and more entertaining game of basketball that was a fresh look for the NBA, a game of fundamentals. Erving was an ABA star and because of him, he raised the value of the league, which allowed 4 ABA teams to join the NBA (Pacers, Nets, Nuggets, and Spurs). He had a plethora of accolades. In the ABA, Erving won 2 Titles, 3 MVP’s, and had 5 all-star appearences. In the NBA, he won another title, another MVP, and another 11 all-star appearances. He finished his career with 24.2 ppg, 8.5 rpg, and 4.2 apg. Erving also did a reverse baseline move that is still one of the most impressive plays in basketball.


PF – Kevin Garnett, Minnesota Timberwolves (1995-2007, 2015-2016), Boston Celtics (2007-2013), Brooklyn Nets (2007-2013)

KG was one of the most intense players of the 2000s. The 2004 NBA MVP and 15 time all-star was the best to ever play for the Timberwolves, and it isn’t even close. He was a nightmare on defense, and another amazing rebounder, averaging 10 rpg on top of the 17.8 ppg he averaged in his career. He was one of the first big successes to be drafted out of high school, and his career peaked in his first season in Boston, where he won his first and only ring.



C – Hakeem Olajuwon, Houston Rockets (1984-2001), Toronto Raptors (2001-2002)

The Dream was one of two players to be drafted ahead of Michael Jordan, but there is still a valid case why he should’ve gone number one overall. He is the best player in Rockets history, so I think the pick was worth it. Olajuwon could score in so many ways, and he was as dominant as Kareem and Shaq in his prime. He controlled the paint, averaging 11.1 rpg and 3.1 bpg, along with 21.8 ppg. He won an MVP, two titles, where he was named the MVP in each, was an all-star 15 times, and led the league in blocks three times. He is definitely deserving of this spot.


HC – Pat Riley, Los Angeles Lakers (1981-1990), New York Knicks (1991-1995), Miami Heat (1995-2003, 2005-2008)

A 5 time champion and 3 time coach of the year, Pat Riley is now a top executive in the league, as he is the president of the Miami Heat. What was great about Riley was that he always showcased his players strengths, he never stuck to a system and tried to force it down his players throats. Because his players were doing what they do best, he was extremely successful.

*- The Tri-Cities Blackhawks are now known as the Atlanta Hawks.

**- The Seattle SuperSonics are now known as the Oklahoma City Thunder.

***- The New York Nets would become the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets.


Stats from Basketball Reference and Wikipedia