Kobe Bryant tops Sporting News’ list of the 50 greatest players in the NBA today, as selected by a panel of 107 Hall of Famers, major award winners, executives, current players and coaches and other basketball experts.
Bryant beat out LeBron James for the No. 1 spot and received 62 first-place votes. James received 34 first-place votes, and Dwyane Wade, who was third on the list, received 11 first-place votes. Dwight Howard was fourth, and Tim Duncan fifth. Among the NBA legends who filled out ballots for SN were 28 Hall of Famers: Rick Barry, Elgin Baylor, Walt Bellamy, Bill Bradley, Bob Cousy, Dave Cowens, Joe Dumars, Harry Gallatin, Cliff Hagan, Tom Heinsohn, Bob Houbregs, Bailey Howell, Bob Kurland, Earl Lloyd, Bob McAdoo, Dick McGuire, Earl Monroe, Bob Pettit, Jack Ramsay, Frank Ramsey, Arnie Risen, Oscar Robertson, Bill Sharman, Jack Twyman, Dick Vitale, Bobby Wanzer, Jerry West, Lenny Wilkens.
“I think what we’ve seen from Kobe in the last two, three years is that he has become an incredible leader,” Magic Johnson said about Bryant. “That was the only thing he had to do that was left on his resume. Before, there was no question that he was the best basketball player in the world, like he is now. He was dominant every night, but he didn’t take on that leadership role. ... Now, he is the total package.”
— Five players picked: Lakers
— Four players picked: Celtics, Spurs
— Three: Hawks, Pistons, Rockets, Nuggets
— Two: Cavaliers, Grizzlies, Jazz, Magic, Mavericks, Raptors, 76ers, Suns
— One: Bulls, Bucks, Clippers, Heat, Hornets, Nets, Pacers, Thunder, Trail Blazers, Wizards
— None: Bobcats, Kings, Knicks, Timberwolves, Warriors
1. Kobe Bryant, SG, Lakers2. LeBron James, SF, Cavaliers3. Dwyane Wade, SG, Heat4. Dwight Howard, C, Magic5. Tim Duncan, PF, Spurs6. Chris Paul, PG, Hornets7. Kevin Garnett, PF, Celtics8. Dirk Nowitzki, PF, Mavericks9. Carmelo Anthony, SF, Nuggets10. Paul Pierce, SF, Celtics11. Steve Nash, PG, Suns12. Deron Williams, PG, Jazz13. Tony Parker, PG, Spurs14. Brandon Roy, SG, Trail Blazers15. Yao Ming, C, Rockets16. Shaquille O’Neal, C, Cavaliers17. Pau Gasol, PF, Lakers18. Chris Bosh, PF, Raptors19. Amare Stoudemire, PF, Suns20. Chauncey Billups, PG, Nuggets21. Kevin Durant, SF, Thunder22. Manu Ginobili, SG, Spurs23. Jason Kidd, PG, Mavericks24. Tracy McGrady, SG, Rockets25. Joe Johnson, SG, Hawks26. Derrick Rose, PG, Bulls27. Ray Allen, SG, Celtics28. Gilbert Arenas, PG, Wizards29. Ron Artest, SF, Lakers30. Vince Carter, SG, Magic31. Danny Granger, SF, Pacers32. Baron Davis, PG, Clippers33. Devin Harris, PG, Nets34. Ben Gordon, SG, Pistons35. Al Horford, C, Hawks36. Carlos Boozer, PF, Jazz37. Nene, C, Nuggets38. Rajon Rondo, PG, Celtics39. Andre Iguodala, SG, 76ers40. Josh Smith, PF, Hawks41. Rudy Gay, SF, Grizzlies42. Hedo Turkoglu, SF, Raptors43. Lamar Odom, SF, Lakers44. Shane Battier, SF, Rockets45. Elton Brand, PF, 76ers46. Richard Jefferson, SF, Spurs47. O.J. Mayo, SG, Grizzlies48. Charlie Villanueva, PF, Pistons49. Michael Redd, SG, Bucks50. Andrew Bynum, C, Lakers