Top 10: The Most Successful Black NBA Players

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Black players dominate the National Basketball Association (NBA). Over the years, they have produced unbelievable performances that have won them championships and elite status in and out of the game. 

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We’ll look at the careers of some of the most successful black NBA players including Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Bill Russel and Magic Johnson.

Also on the list is the late Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, Tim Duncan, Wilt Chamberlain and Hakeem Oluwajaan. These are African American players who have played professional basketball over the years.

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1. Michael Jordan

No surprises here. MJ, as he was known, is the most successful black NBA player. He played for the Chicago Bulls and the Washington Wizards. His hay days came with the Bulls, with whom he won six championship rings, was named the Most Valuable Player (MVP) five times, and made it into the 75th-anniversary team. 

More impressive is that between his six rings, he left the game to play baseball. That’s how good he was. MJ knew where the basket was and always led his team to victory.

2. LeBron James

Top 10: The Most Successful Black NBA Players
LeBron James playing for Cleveland Cavaliers. Image Source: Wikimedia licenced under CC BY 2.0

When you think about the most successful black NBA players, LeBron James is the first name to come to mind. Many budding stars fail to live up to expectations, but LeBron continues to. He’s won four championship rings with two different teams. His first two came when playing for the Miami Heat in 2013 and 2014 and then in 2016 with the Los Angeles Lakers and most recently with the Cleveland Cavaliers. 

3. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

He was once the NBA’s leading all-time scorer until LeBron James happened. That doesn’t rob Kareem Abdul-Jabbar of a spot on the most successful black NBA players list. It just shows how high he set the bar at 38,387. 

He won six championship rings:

  • 1971: Milwaukee Bucks five with Los Angeles Lakers
  • 1980: Los Angeles Lakers
  • 1982: Los Angeles Lakers
  • 1985: Los Angeles Lakers
  • 1987: Los Angeles Lakers
  • 1988: Los Angeles Lakers

He was also named MVP six times and made it to the NBA team list 15 times. 

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4. Bill Russell

Bill Russel holds the record for the most NBA championship rings with 11, which is why he’s one of the most successful black NBA players. He played for the Boston Celtics during his 13 seasons in the competition. Russel retired with five MVP awards and made it into the NBA team selection team 11 times.

5. Magic Johnson

At 6’9, Magic Johnson was the tallest point guard, and he went on and towered (excuse the pan) the league. He won five championship rings.

  • 1980: Los Angeles Lakers
  • 1982:  Los Angeles Lakers
  • 1985:  Los Angeles Lakers
  • 1987:  Los Angeles Lakers
  • 1988:  Los Angeles Lakers

His career was cut short after he announced that he’d contracted HIV and thus retired in 1991. 

6. Kobe Bryant

Top 10: The Most Successful Black NBA Players
Kobe Bryant representing LA Lakers. Image Source: Wikimedia licenced under CC BY 2.0

The late Kobe remains one of the most successful black NBA players of all time. The Black Mamba, as he was referred to, won five championship rings with the Los Angeles Lakers. 

1999: Los Angeles Lakers

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2000: Los Angeles Lakers

2001: Los Angeles Lakers

2008: Los Angeles Lakers

2009: Los Angeles Lakers

He coined the famous phrase Mamba Mentality and demonstrated it through his playing. He left a lasting legacy in the sport and one that a lot of players might never overshadow. 

7. Shaquille O’Neal

Top 10: The Most Successful Black NBA Players
Shaqueill O’Neal at an NBA game. Image Source: Wikimedia licensed under CC BY 3.0

O’Neal won four championship rings throughout his career. He played for six teams:

  • Los Angeles Lakers
  • Orlando Magic
  • Miami Heat
  • Phoenix Suns
  • Cleveland Cavaliers
  • Boston Celtics. 

Despite his four championship rings, he played in six finals. He scored a total of career points 28, 596 and left the sport in 2011.

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8. Tim Duncan

A five-time winner of the NBA Championship, Tim Duncan turned out for the San Antonio Spurs from his debut in 1997 to his retirement in 2016. He won the NBA Most Valuable Player of the Year award twice. 

Duncan was known for doing the simple things right and for his prowess in defending. He scored a career total of 26, 496 points which is why he is part of the most successful black NBA players list of all time.  

9. Wilt Chamberlain

Top 10: The Most Successful Black NBA Players
Wilt Chamberlain posing. Image Source: Wikimedia licenced under CC BY 2.0

For all intents and purposes, Wilt Chamberlain did things at his time that not many could do. Even though he only won two championship rings, which are not as many as the others, he still got impressive records. For example, he scored 100 points in a single NBA game, a record that only Kobe Bryant came close to when he scored 81.

10. Hakeem Olajuwon

The Nigerian-American lived up to his nickname, ‘The Dream.’  Although he only won two championship rings in 1994 and 1995 with the Houston Rocket, he left an indelible mark in the game. 

He was the Most Valuable Player in both seasons, made it into the NBA All-Star team 12 times, and made a record number of blocks in the game, 3,830. He left the game in 2002, having managed to record his name in the most successful black NBA players list.

The NBA continues to produce many outstanding black guys playing major league baseball, and we are here for it. Do you agree with our list of the most successful black NBA players? Who can you add to the list?

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