Jordan, Michael Michael Jordan is largely regarded as the best player in the game, and for good reason. "MJ" did all possible in the game, amassing numbers and accolades. Jordan was a perfect 6-for-6 on the game's grandest stage, the NBA Finals, when he also earned Finals MVP. He's only been passed by two players since then: Larry Bird and LeBron James.
James is certainly in the conversation, but it's hard to top Jordan's overall body of work. When you consider that James played only six seasons while Jordan dominated for eight, it's easy to see why many people view Jordan as the greatest player in history.
Here are some other notable names who have been mentioned: Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, Magic Johnson, and Allen Iverson.
Chamberlain and Abdul-Jabbar are considered among the greatest power forwards in NBA history. Both players were dominant offensively and had considerable influence on their teams' games. However, neither man mastered any aspect of the game enough to be considered great overall players.
Russell is known for his dominance on defense and leadership skills. He's also one of only three players to win Olympic gold medals, NBA championships, and NCAA titles (along with Jordan and James).
All of these guys are fantastic, but Kobe Bryant is the best and most famous. Bill Russell was a champion, but Kobe was a greater player, dominating on both sides of the court throughout his career (Bill Russell was primarily a defender). The question isn't whether or not they're equal, it's which one is better: Russell or Bryant? That's like asking which car is better, the Mercedes-Benz SLK or the BMW M3? One is better than another but they're both amazing cars.
He was also more productive than Russell, averaging nearly two points more per game during their careers. Although Russell won more championships (9 to 5), he also has more losses (7 to 4).
Kobe Bryant is in the top three of almost every statistical category there is, so he's absolutely one of the greatest ever.
LeBron James is without a doubt the greatest player in NBA history. He is one of just two players in NBA history to average at least 25 points, six rebounds, and six assists a game (LeBron's figures are 27.1, 7.3, and 7.0), the other being Oscar Robertson. In addition, he is the only player in NBA history to score over 100 points in a single playoff game (111 points). Furthermore, he is the most decorated player in NBA history having won multiple awards including but not limited to: 3 MVPs, 2 Finals MVPs, 1 Triple Crown, 1 Olympic Gold Medal, and 1 World Championship.
James' career is also remarkable because it has lasted so long. Although he came into the league as a 18-year-old rookie, he has already reached the pinnacle of basketball success having played in 6 NBA Finals (winning 5) and earning 5 MVP awards. His accomplishments are especially impressive considering that he has had to deal with numerous injuries throughout his career. He has had several knee surgeries, a hip injury, and a chest infection all before his 25th birthday. Despite these setbacks, he has never missed a game in his entire career.
When it comes to competition, there are many players who have ever lived or still living that could challenge James' claim to being the best player in NBA history. Some names that come to mind are Michael Jordan, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, and Jerry West.