The RotoWire Blog has been retired.

These archives exist as a way for people to continue to view the content that had been posted on the blog over the years.

Articles will no longer be posted here, but you can view new fantasy articles from our writers on the main site.

The Greatest Basketball Players of All Time

I've been reading Bill Simmons' wonderful new book, The Book of Basketball, over the past few weeks.  It's quite a tome.  He compares it to War and Peace at least once in the book, and he's not kidding.  Lifting up my son puts less strain on my back.

Simmons obviously has an unbelievable memory of NBA history, and what he didn't remember first-hand he surely enjoyed researching (he's apparently the reason ESPN Classic exists).  The real meat of the book, which takes up more than 350 pages, is when he ranks the top 96 NBA players of all time in his proposed Hall of Fame Pyramid (you'll have to read the book to understand his whole Pyramid thing, but let's just say if he ever got to build the Hall of Fame of his dreams it would be like the coolest place ever).

Anyway, nothing too surprising about his rankings - Jordan, Russell, Kareem, Magic, and Bird are the top five - but there are plenty of current players littering the list:

7) Tim Duncan
11) Shaquille O'Neal
15) Kobe Bryant
20) LeBron James
22) Kevin Garnett
29) Allen Iverson
37) Dirk Nowitzki
38) Steve Nash
42) Jason Kidd
53) Dwyane Wade
54) Paul Pierce
63) Ray Allen
75) Tracy McGrady
83) Vince Carter
90) Chris Paul
91) Dwight Howard

Now, you might see this list and say that Chris Paul and Dwight Howard are already better than, say, Vince Carter (or Robert Horry, who at #85 might be the most controversial choice on the list).  You might also say "Bron-Bron is the greatest player ever right now!" or "What more does Kobe have to prove?", but Simmons ranked each player on what they've accomplished and how they fit into an historical context.  Howard and Paul have done nothing yet, at least compared to the all-time greats (also, keep in mind that the book went to print before the Lakers' last title, so Kobe might get bumped up a little if another edition of the book is written).

Simmons definitely considers winning an important - perhaps the most important - part of the equation (Pierce and Allen, with just one title apiece, rank higher than T-Mac, for example), so the rankings will change dramatically if any of the players above finally win the big one.

So you've got 16 players above (or exactly 1/6 of the Hall of Fame).  Are you happy with these rankings?  I feel pretty good about it, though I don't think Vince Carter belongs on the list, and I'd probably switch D-Wade and Nowitzki.  I like that Simmons tried this Herculean task, and ultimately succeeded.  And if he's wrong, he has at least started the argument.  You wanna argue with him?  Write your own book.