Michael Jordan and LeBron James are the obvious favorites when it comes to the public’s opinion on the best and most influential players in the history of the NBA, but basketball has evolved into a world-class sport thanks to the efforts and talent of other players as well. Many of them are now mostly forgotten, but their contribution is hard to overestimate.
One of the most transformative defenders in history, Bill Russell played in the 1960s for the Boston Celtics and he was the leading force that brought the franchise 11 championships in 13 years.
Not only does Bill boast astonishing statistics and an impressive average of 22.5 rebounds per game, but he changed the view of defensive playing forever. He demonstrated the potential of blocking the offensive shots, which at the time was a visionary breakthrough.
Combining mind-blowing career statistics and influential changes to the way the free agency works, Oscar Robertson is another player from the 1960s. He was nicknamed “the Big O” and played for the Cincinnati Royals and the Milwaukee Bucks.
The name of another you can find out here.
The 14-time MVP and the first-ever player to achieve the triple-double, Oscar did not stop at the game itself. He was an important part of the antitrust suit that caused a major reform of free agency and the way draft works, which increased player salaries.
The 1960s were extremely fruitful. Wilt Chamberlain is our final pick for the most influential player, but the adjective that comes to mind as a more accurate description is ‘insane’. What can possibly make it not an exaggeration?
1962 marked the year when Wilt Chamberlain set a record for the most points in a single game – on March 2, he scored 100 points, and nobody has even come close to that ever since.
Wilt is also holding the record for the highest per-season scoring average with 50.36 points per game. Each of the top four scores belongs to Chamberlain, leaving Michael Jordan biting the dust in the fifth place with an average of 37.09. What’s more, Wilt set those records during his first four seasons in the NBA!
The current state of the NBA provides enough exciting teams, record-setting games, and talented players who may one day become the best in history. But let’s not forget those who came before the likes of LeBron James and Coby O’Brien, as their genius contributed to making basketball into what it is today.
Leave a comment if you have an overlooked player who you think is worthy of standing alongside the giants.
What do you think about these NBA players from the past?
Also, you can read Secrets of Success of the Shortest Player in NBA History.