Bill Russell

Russell was the ultimate winner in the history of the NBA. He won a league title in all but two of his 13 seasons as a member of the Boston Celtics.

Yes, the NBA consisted of just 8 to 14 teams during this period, so capturing championships was a statistically easier feat for a single franchise, but even that fact doesn’t minimize Russell’s historic accomplishments.

The Celtics had played for 10 seasons before Russell joined the team, never once reaching a championship series in that time. But in his rookie year, Russell completely changed the franchise’s course and established the Celtics as the winningest team in the NBA. 

Tim Duncan

I have a confession to make: even though I’m a lifelong devotee to all Seattle sports team, I had a fan-fling with the San Antonio Spurs teams of the late ‘90s and early 2000s. 

Yes, they played the kind of slow-paced ball that put most fans to sleep by the third quarter, but there was often a thing of pure beauty hidden among the tire-fire of a 78–71 final score

Tim Duncan’s bank shot. In his prime, Duncan, nicknamed “The Big Fundamental” by no less a nickname authority than Shaquille O’Neal, was one of the most sound players of all time.

While his famously vanilla playing style and quiet demeanor kept him from having a cultural impact similar to the other greats, his four championships, 14 All-Star Games, and two NBA MVP awards are indisputable evidence of his fantastic ability.