In 2003, Slam Magazine’s Top 75 Greatest Players Of All Time: Michael Jordan No. 1, Wilt Chamberlain No. 2, Magic Johnson No. 5

In 2003, Slam Magazine’s Top 75 Greatest Players Of All Time: Michael Jordan No. 1, Wilt Chamberlain No. 2, Magic Johnson No. 5

SLAM Magazine’s top 75 players of all time in 2003 shows how narratives in basketball change over time.

 

 

Any list that seeks to rank the greatest players in NBA history will always be fluid as more players rise up the all-time rankings with every passing season. Stephen Curry is now considered a top-10 player of all time, even though he may not have been in that mix after the end of the 2021 season.

 

Time changes how we perceive stars, even after they retire. This was evident with SLAM Magazine’s 2003 compilation of the top 75 players in NBA history. Even though they had Michael Jordan as the No. 1 option, the rest of the list would look very different today. This was their top 10.

 

1. Michael Jordan

 

2. Wilt Chamberlain

 

3. Oscar Robertson

 

4. Bill Russell

 

5. Magic Johnson

 

6. Larry Bird

 

7. Kareem-Abdul Jabbar

 

8. Jerry West

 

9. Shaquille O’Neal 

 

10. Julius Erving

 

11. Elgin Baylor

 

12. Hakeem Olajuwon

 

13. Karl Malone

 

14. Bob Petitt

 

15. John Havlicek 

 

16. Moses Malone

 

17. Isiah Thomas

 

18. John Stockton

 

19. Charles Barkley

 

20. Walt Frazier

 

21. Rick Barry

 

22. Bob Cousy

 

23. Elvin Hayes

 

24. Dave Cowens

 

25. George Gervin

 

26. Kevin McHale

 

27. Dominique Wilkins

 

28. Patrick Ewing

 

29. Willis Reed

 

30. Wes Unseld 

 

31. George Mikan 

 

32. Earl Monroe 

 

33. Nate Thurmond

 

34. Dolph Schayes

 

35. Walt Bellamy

 

36. David Robinson

 

37. Billy Cunningham

 

38. Paul Arizin

 

39. Dave DeBusschere

 

40. Alex English

 

41. Scottie Pippen

 

42. Nate Archibald

 

43. Adrian Dantley

 

44. Clyde Drexler

 

45. Bernard King

 

46. Bob McAdoo

 

47. Gary Payton

 

48. Artis Gilmore

 

49. Jerry Lucas

 

50. Pete Maravich

 

51. Hal Greer

 

52. Reggie Miller

 

53. Allen Iverson

 

54. Dan Issel

 

55. Tim Duncan

 

56. Robert Parish

 

57. James Worthy

 

58. Sam Jones

 

59. Kobe Bryant

 

60. Lenny Wilkens

 

61. Jason Kidd

 

62. Bob Lanier

 

63. Dennis Johnson 

 

64. Chris Webber

 

65. Chris Mullin

 

66. Mark Aguirre

 

67. Connie Hawkins

 

68. Spencer Haywood

 

69. Dennis Rodman

 

70. Kevin Garnett

 

71. Dave Bing

 

72. Alonzo Mourning

 

73. Bill Walton

 

74. Grant Hill

 

75. Tracy McGrady

 

The list had many interesting selections, such as Allen Iverson at No. 53, Tim Duncan at No. 55, Kobe Bryant at No. 59, Kevin Garnett at No. 70, and even Tracy McGrady at No. 75. 

 

Many players have risen over time due to how their legacy has aged as time has passed. At least MJ was No. 1 then and is considered No. 1 in Fadeaway World’s top 75 players of all-time list as well, though LeBron James is in the mix now.

 

Why Are Retired Players Ranking Differently Now?

 

Players like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain, and Oscar Robertson were retired before 2003 but they are ranked differently nowadays. Kareem is usually considered the third-greatest of all time, with Chamberlain and Robertson usually finding a place somewhere in the top 10 or just outside of that. 

 

Kareem’s 24.6 points, 11.2 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and 2.6 blocks per game career average, six championships, six MVPs, and his status as the all-time leading scorer until very recently have aged well as accomplishments. It’s ensured his place in the top five of virtually every all-time list, including Fadeaway World’s all-time GOAT pyramid. 

 

The focus on championship success for all-time players is far greater now. Wilt averaged 30.1 points, 22.9 rebounds, and 4.4 assists per game for his career, but his Finals record of 2-4 is held against him. The mythical nature of his stats are also being challenged more often now, but there will be a fair number of records that’ll always be held by Wilt the Stilt.

 

Robertson had made NBA history by averaging a triple-double for a season, something he did multiple times. At the time, his all-around versatility was considered an incredible tool. Now, we have seen Russell Westbrook not only break his all-time triple-double record but average it over a full season four times as compared to Oscar’s one. Robertson’s lack of championships as compared to Kareem and other modern greats has docked him in all-time positions as time has passed. Robertson averaged an incredible 25.7 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 9.5 assists per game for his career but won just one title. 

 

There are plenty of modern-era players that would be considered top 75 players, as even the NBA admitted with their 75th Anniversary List. LeBron, Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kawhi Leonard, and many more have earned their places on this list. 

 

A top 75 all-time list could look very different by the end of even 2025, let alone 2033. The likes of Luka Doncic, Jayson Tatum, and many others are gunning for their place on the list in the future.

 

 

Ishaan Bhattacharya is a staff writer at Fadeaway World, based in Mumbai, India. With keen expertise in NBA journalism, Ishaan has enriched his articles with insights gained from his previous role in corporate communications for NBA India and other notable sports brands. At Fadeaway World since March 2022, he has quickly become recognized for his unique take on the NBA, including exclusive interviews and on-the-ground reporting. Beyond sports, Ishaan is an avid gamer and passionate content creator, continually connecting with audiences across multiple platforms.

 

Gideon Canice

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