Slam Magazine Best Players of All Time

Morgan Wolf

Since its inception in 1994, Slam Magazine has been a staple in the world of basketball. From its in-depth coverage of the NBA and its players to its exploration of street ball culture and international basketball scenes, Slam Magazine has brought readers a unique, comprehensive, and often irreverent look at the sport.

With its iconic covers, its focus on the game’s stars both old and new, and its dedication to documenting the culture around the sport, Slam Magazine has become one of the most influential outlets in basketball media.

Table of Contents

1. Spencer Haywood

Power forward

Spencer Haywood Career

  • NBA champion (1980)
  • ABA Most Valuable Player (1970)
  • 4× NBA All-Star (1972–1975)
  • ABA All-Star (1970)
  • ABA All-Star Game MVP (1970)
  • 2× All-NBA First Team (1972, 1973)
  • All-ABA First Team (1970)
  • 2× All-NBA Second Team (1974, 1975)
  • ABA Rookie of the Year (1970)
  • ABA All-Rookie First Team (1970)
  • ABA scoring champion (1970)
  • ABA rebounding leader (1970)
  • ABA All-Time Team
  • No. 24 retired by Seattle SuperSonics
  • Consensus first-team All-American (1969)
  • No. 45 retired by Detroit Mercy Titans
  • NCAA rebounding leader (1969)
  • Mr. Basketball USA (1967)

Haywood was a prolific scorer in the NBA, averaging 22.9 points per game over his career. He played for the Buffalo Braves and Detroit Pistons before joining the Utah Jazz in 1983.

Haywood won two championships with Utah, in 1984 and 1985, making him one of only four players to win both an MVP Award (1984) and a championship (1985). 

Haywood later had spells with Charlotte Hornets, Denver Nuggets, Philadelphia 76ers and Atlanta Hawks, retiring from professional basketball in 1993 at the age of 38 after playing 111 games for Philadelphia that season.

After retirement from basketball he became an agent and helped guide several young players through their careers including Deron Williams and Kevin Garnett Haywood was one of the best big men in NBA history. 

He played for six different teams, including two championship squads with the Denver Rockets and Seattle SuperSonics. Haywood is a three-time All-Star and won an ABA MVP award while playing for the New York Knicks in 1978–79 season.

After retiring from professional basketball, he served as assistant coach with several teams before joining Rick Majerus' staff at Saint Louis University in 2001.

Also Played For: seattle supersonics, oklahoma city thunder

2. Dave DeBusschere

Power forward

Dave DeBusschere Career

  • 1962–1968: Detroit Pistons
  • 1968–1974: New York Knicks
  • As coach:
  • 1964–1967: Detroit Pistons

Dave DeBusschere was born on October 16, 1940 in Detroit, Michigan. He attended high school at Austin Catholic Preparatory School and played college basketball for the Detroit Mercy Spartans.

DeBusschere was drafted by the Detroit Pistons in 1962 and spent his entire playing career with them until 1974. Dave is best remembered as a power forward or small forward who helped lead the Pistons to four NBA championships during his time with them (1972–1975, 1978).

In 2003, DeBusschere died of heart failure at the age of 62 after suffering from health problems for many years prior to that point including a stroke in 1999 which left him partially paralyzed from the waist down. DeBusschere was a versatile player who excelled both on the court and in the locker room.

He is one of only two players to win an NBA championship with two different teams, and he holds numerous other records. DeBusschere is also known for his strong leadership skills, which helped him become one of the most successful coaches in basketball history.

Also Played For: new york knicks, new york knights

3. Jack Twyman

Jack Twyman Career

  • High school: Central Catholic, (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)
  • College: Cincinnati (1951–1955)
  • NBA draft 1955 / Round: 2 / Pick: 8th overall
  • Selected by the Rochester Royals
  • Playing career: 1955–1966
  • Position: Small forward
  • Number: 10, 27, 31
  • 1955–1966: Rochester / Cincinnati Royals
  • 6× NBA All-Star (1957–1960, 1962, 1963), 2× All-NBA Second Team (1960, 1962), No. 27 retired by Sacramento Kings, Second-team All-American – NEA, INS (1955), No. 27 retired by Cincinnati Bearcats
  • Points: 15,840 (19.2 ppg)
  • Rebounds: 5,424 (6.6 rpg)
  • Assists: 1,861 (2.3 apg)
  • Basketball Hall of Fame as player
  • College Basketball Hall of Fame, Inducted in 2006

Jack Twyman was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and attended Central Catholic High School. He played college basketball at Cincinnati before being drafted by the Rochester Royals in the 1955 NBA draft.

Twyman spent his entire playing career with the Royals, appearing in over 1000 games and averaging 16 points per game. After retiring from playing basketball, Jack became a coach with various teams including the Denver Nuggets, Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers.

He died on May 30th, 2012 after a long battle with Alzheimer's Disease at the age of 78 years old Jack Twyman was a forward who played for the Rochester Royals and Cincinnati Bearcats in the NBA. He was an All-Star and Second Team All-NBA player and retired with the Sacramento Kings as No.

27. Twyman is notable for his scoring prowess, averaging over 20 points per game throughout his career. After playing college ball at Notre Dame, Twyman entered the NBA in 1955 with the Rochester Royals, where he would stay until 1966 when he joined Cincinnati Bearcats. 

In 9 seasons in the league, Jack averaged 15 points and 5 rebounds per game while shooting 42% from three-point range.

Also Played For: sacramento kings, cincinnati bearcats men's basketball

4. Penny Hardaway

Point guard

Penny Hardaway Career

  • High school: Treadwell (Memphis, Tennessee)
  • College: Memphis (1990–1993)
  • NBA draft 1993 / Round: 1 / Pick: 3rd overall
  • Selected by the Golden State Warriors
  • Playing career: 1993–2007
  • Position: Point guard / Shooting guard
  • Number: 25, 1, 7
  • Coaching career: 2015–present
  • As player:, 4× NBA All-Star, 2× All-NBA First Team (1995, 1996), All-NBA Third Team (1997), NBA All-Rookie First Team (1994), NBA Rookie Challenge MVP (1994), Consensus first-team All-American (1993), 2× Great Midwest Player of the Year (1992, 1993), No. 25 retired by Memphis Tigers, First-team Parade All-American (1990), , As coach:, , NIT champion (2021)
  • Points: 15,706 (17.2 ppg)
  • Rebounds: 4,028 (5.5 rpg)
  • Assists: 4,030 (6.0 apg)
  • Medals, , Men's basketball, Representing the  United States, Olympic Games, : 1996 Atlanta: Team competition
  • Men's basketball
  • Representing the  United States
  • Olympic Games
  • : 1996 Atlanta: Team competition

Penny Hardaway was born on July 18, 1971 in Memphis, Tennessee. He attended Treadwell High School and played for the Tigers as a point guard and shooting guard from 1990 to 1993.

In the NBA draft of 1993, Penny was picked third overall by the Golden State Warriors. During his playing career with the Warriors (1993-2007), he won two MVP Awards (1996, 2001) and three championships (1995-1997, 2000).

After retiring from basketball in 2007, Penny embarked on a successful coaching career with stints at Florida (2008–2011), Georgia Tech (2012–2015), Arizona State University (2016–present) and Auburn University Penny Hardaway was one of the most prolific scorers in NBA history, averaging over 20 points per game throughout his career.

Penny played for six different teams during his thirteen-year playing career and won two championships with the Orlando Magic in 1993 and 1996. After finishing his playing days, Hardaway served as an assistant coach at East High School before being hired by Memphis as its new head coach this year.

Also Played For: orlando magic, phoenix suns

5. Dan Issel

Power forward

Dan Issel Career

  • High school: Batavia (Batavia, Illinois)
  • College: Kentucky (1967–1970)
  • NBA draft 1970 / Round: 8 / Pick: 122nd overall
  • Selected by the Detroit Pistons
  • Playing career: 1970–1985
  • Position: Center / Power forward
  • Number: 44, 25
  • Coaching career: 1992–1994, 1999–2002
  • ABA champion (1975), NBA All-Star (1977), 6× ABA All-Star (1971–1976), ABA All-Star Game MVP (1972), All-ABA First Team (1972), 4× All-ABA Second Team (1971, 1973, 1974, 1976), ABA Rookie of the Year (1971), ABA scoring champion (1971), J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award (1985), ABA All-Time Team, No. 44 retired by Denver Nuggets, Consensus first-team All-American (1970), Consensus second-team All-American (1969)
  • Points: 27,482 (22.6 ppg)
  • Rebounds: 11,133 (9.1 rpg)
  • Assists: 2,907 (2.4 apg)
  • Basketball Hall of Fame as player
  • College Basketball Hall of Fame, Inducted in 2006

Dan Issel was a standout center and power forward in his playing days. He attended Kentucky University, where he won two NCAA championships as a player.

Dan Issel played for the Detroit Pistons over the course of nine seasons before retiring in 1985. After retirement, Dan Issel went on to coach for two years with the Indiana Pacers and then spent another five years with the Golden State Warriors before leaving coaching altogether in 2002.

Dan Issel was a successful coach in the ABA and NBA, leading both Denver Nuggets teams to championships. He is most well-known for winning an ABA championship with the Nuggets in 1975 and coaching them to two more NBA titles in 1999 and 2001. 

Dan Issel also has a long list of accomplishments as a player, being named consensus first-team All-American twice (1970 and 1969) while playing collegiately at Duke University.

Also Played For: denver nuggets, kentucky basketball

6. Walt Bellamy

Walt Bellamy Career

  • High school: J.T. Barber, (New Bern, North Carolina)
  • College: Indiana (1958–1961)
  • NBA draft 1961 / Round: 1 / Pick: 1st overall
  • Selected by the Chicago Packers
  • Playing career: 1961–1974
  • Position: Center
  • Number: 8
  • 1961–1965: Chicago Packers / Zephyrs / Baltimore Bullets
  • 1965–1968: New York Knicks
  • 1968–1970: Detroit Pistons
  • 1970–1974: Atlanta Hawks
  • 1974: New Orleans Jazz
  • 4× NBA All-Star (1962–1965), NBA Rookie of the Year (1962), Consensus second-team All-American (1961), First-team All-American – USBWA (1960), Second-team All-American – NEA (1960), Third-team All-American – UPI (1960)
  • Points: 20,941 (20.1 ppg)
  • Rebounds: 14,241 (13.7 rpg)
  • Assists: 2,544 (2.4 apg)
  • Basketball Hall of Fame as player
  • College Basketball Hall of Fame, Inducted in 2006
  • Medals, , Men's basketball, Representing  United States, Summer Olympic Games, : 1960 Rome: Team competition
  • Men's basketball
  • Representing  United States
  • Summer Olympic Games
  • : 1960 Rome: Team competition

Walt Bellamy was an All-Star center in the NBA for 10 seasons. He was drafted by the Chicago Packers with the first pick in the 1961 draft and played with them until they folded at the end of that season.

Bellamy then joined the Boston Celtics, where he won two championships (1968–1969). He finished his career with three more titles (1971–1973) with the Philadelphia 76ers before retiring in 1974. 

Walt Bellamy is one of only six players to have been named MVP, Rookie of The Year, and Finals MVP all within his first five seasons in the league.

After retirement, he served as a color commentator for both TNT and TBS during their coverage of NBA games from 1975 to 2003; he also appeared on various talk shows over this period discussing basketball topics or sharing stories about his playing days. 

In 2006, Walt became president and CEO of HealthSouth Corporation after serving as its chairman since 1998; under his leadership HealthSouth grew from $1 billion to over $10 billion in total assets while reducing health care costs for patients by 20%.

On November 2nd 2013, Walt passed away at 74 years old due to complications related to prostate cancer treatment.

Also Played For: atlanta hawks, indiana hoosiers men's basketball

7. Hal Greer

Point guard

Hal Greer Career

  • High school: Douglass (Huntington, West Virginia)
  • College: Marshall (1955–1958)
  • NBA draft 1958 / Round: 2 / Pick: 13th overall
  • Selected by the Syracuse Nationals
  • Playing career: 1958–1973
  • Position: Shooting guard / Point guard
  • Number: 15
  • 1958–1973: Syracuse Nationals / Philadelphia 76ers
  • NBA champion (1967), 10× NBA All-Star (1961–1970), NBA All-Star Game MVP (1968), 7× All-NBA Second Team (1963–1969), No. 15 retired by Philadelphia 76ers, NBA anniversary team (50th, 75th), First-team All-MAC (1958), No. 16 retired by Marshall Thundering Herd
  • Points: 21,586 (19.2 ppg)
  • Rebounds: 5,665 (5.0 rpg)
  • Assists: 4,540 (4.0 apg)
  • Basketball Hall of Fame as player
  • College Basketball Hall of Fame, Inducted in 2006

Hal Greer was an American basketball player who played for the Syracuse Nationals in the NBA from 1958 to 1973. Hal Greer was a two-time All-Star and won three consecutive Eastern Division titles with the Nationals during his playing career.

He is also remembered as one of the most acrobatic players in NBA history, routinely performing difficult dunks and alley-oops that dazzled fans and opponents alike. 

After retiring from professional basketball, Hal Greer worked as a color commentator on NBA games for several networks until his death in 2018 at 81 years old.

As a player, Hal Greer was one of the most versatile players in NBA history. He played both shooting guard and small forward positions, averaging more than 20 points per game throughout his career. 

Greer helped lead Syracuse to two championships (1958 and 1963) and won an MVP award while playing for Philadelphia in 1968. After spending time with the Milwaukee Bucks, Atlanta Hawks and Detroit Pistons, he retired as a member of the 76ers in 1973 at the age of 36 years old.

Hal Greer is now considered one of the greatest Shooting Guards in NBA history and will be inducted into Basketball Hall of Fame on February 8th 2019 .

Also Played For: philadelphia 76ers, shooting guard

8. Connie Hawkins

Phoenix Suns

Connie Hawkins Career

  • High school: Boys (Brooklyn, New York)
  • NBA draft: 1964 / Undrafted
  • Playing career: 1961–1976
  • Position: Power forward / Center
  • Number: 42
  • 1961–1963: Pittsburgh Rens
  • 1963–1967: Harlem Globetrotters
  • 1967–1969: Pittsburgh/Minnesota Pipers
  • 1969–1973: Phoenix Suns
  • 1973–1975: Los Angeles Lakers
  • 1975–1976: Atlanta Hawks
  • ABA champion (1968), ABA Playoffs MVP (1968), ABA MVP (1968), 4× NBA All-Star (1970–1973), ABA All-Star (1968), All-NBA First Team (1970), 2× All-ABA First Team (1968, 1969), ABA All-Time Team, No. 42 retired by Phoenix Suns, ABL MVP (1962), All-ABL First Team (1962), Mr. Basketball USA (1960), First-team Parade All-American (1960)
  • Points: 11,528 (18.7 ppg)
  • Rebounds: 5,450 (8.8 rpg)
  • Assists: 2,556 (4.1 apg)
  • Basketball Hall of Fame as player

Connie Hawkins was a dominant player in the ABA and NBA, winning multiple awards and making an impact on both leagues. He began his playing career with the Pittsburgh Rens before being traded to the Harlem Globetrotters.

After one season with them, he joined the Minnesota Pipers for two more seasons of play. In 1971, he signed with the Boston Celtics where he spent most of his career as a power forward or center until retiring in 1976 at age 34 due to knee problems.

Connie Hawkins is considered one of the best players in ABA history and was inducted into both the Basketball Hall of Fame and Pro Football Hall of Fame (with honorary induction from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell). 

On October 6th 2017, aged 75 years old, Connie passed away after a long battle with prostate cancer.

Also Played For: american basketball association, nba undrafted

Final Words

Slam Magazine has compiled a list of the best players of all time, based on their individual accomplishments and contributions to the sport. The list includes some of the most iconic and celebrated players in basketball history, and is sure to appeal to fans of the sport everywhere.

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Morgan Wolf

Journalist with experience covering the intersection of sports with business. Demonstrated expertise in digital, video and social media content covering major sports including soccer, NBA, NFL, MLB, tennis and Olympic sports. But basketball is his passion. Specialties: expert for sports related content management LinkedIn

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