Nothing is more controversial than discussing who are the numbers two through 10 best players in NBA history. Why did we leave number one off? If you don’t know who the consensus number one is and likely will be for a long time, you probably live on the moon. Or Mars. Or Moron Mountain. Actually, if you are from Moron Mountain then you know too, what with your team getting schooled by the dude in Space Jam.

But we digress–here are the top ten players in NBA history.

10. Larry Bird

Larry Bird helped not only to revitalize a tem which had fallen far from grace, but his rivalry with number 6 on our list helped to bring the league itself back into the good graces of fans.

9. Julius Erving

Dr. J pretty much invented the modern game, what with his high-flying style and above-the-rim skills. Sure, he probably couldn’t hang with some of the other players on this list in some street ball, but he ran the league for the better part of two decades.

8. Shaquille O’Neal

Yeah, we know the dude was a terrible free-throw shooter, kind of a jerk to teammates, and often played overweight, but with his physical presence alone he could take over a game. Imagine what he could have done had he stayed in shape.

7. Wilt Chamberlain

Speaking of dudes who could take over a game, Wilt the Stilt was legendary for his prowess both on and off the court. Averaging 50 points per game alone puts him on this list without even trying.

6. Magic Johnson

Well, obviously Magic was going to be on here. As mentioned above, his rivalry with Larry Bird helped to revitalize the NBA, and he has more rings to show for it, with his one for the thumb.

5. Kareem Abdul Jabbar

Dude has six championships under his belt, he invented a shot, and he was in the league for a lot longer than most of the others with a mind goggling, er boggling, 17 years of domination.

4. Tim Duncan

Speaking of guys with some stamina, Tim Duncan had a technical style that allowed him to not only make the San Antonio Spurs a perennial contender, but he brought defense back to a league in which absurdly high scores had become the norm.

3. Bill Russell

While Kareem invented the skyhook, and The Big Fundamental reinvented defense, Bill Russell actually invented defense. No, seriously, he invented blocking shots. That’s kind of a big deal, and it earned him 11 rings.

2. Lebron James

In pure raw skillset and the ability to play both sides of the court and take over not only a game, but an entire season, King James sometimes gets bumped to number one among the younger set. They’re wrong, but we can see where they’re coming from.

1. Michael Jordan

Was there any doubt that its Air Jordan, who not only reinvented the game but also how licensing works? Really, the only flaw in his game was that he had a heck of a time keeping that tongue in his mouth. The consensus number one on any list, it’s unlikely he will lose his throne anytime soon.

(Cropped image courtesy MGoBlog via Flickr.)