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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

NBA Marks Half-Century By Honoring Its 50 Greatest

NEW YORK -- Some were so good their nicknames alone bring back memories: Wilt, Dr. J, Cooz, Magic, Pistol Pete, Pearl, Hondo, Tiny.

Others needed no more mention than their first names: Michael, Charles, Larry, Hakeem, Shaquille, Scottie.

And on the 50th anniversary of the NBA, the league announced they were among the 50 all-time greatest players.

As for who was the best of all, five players who can make a stake to that claim -- Oscar Robertson, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, George Mikan and Julius Erving -- were on hand for the announcement and diplomatically ducked that particular question.

"I don't think there is one,'' Russell opined. "Nobody could ever play better than Oscar. Period. To say who was the best player is impossible.''

Chamberlain, who scored 100 points in a March 2, 1962, game has heard the topic discussed countless times.

"It's up to the fans to decide who in their opinion is the best player,'' he said.

Other players on the list were, Charles Barkley, Clyde Drexler, Patrick Ewing, Michael Jordan, Karl Malone, Hakeem Olajuwon, Shaquille O'Neal, Robert Parish, Scottie Pippen, David Robinson, John Stockton, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Nate Archibald, Paul Arizin, Rick Barry, Elgin Baylor, Dave Bing, Bird, Chamberlain, Bob Cousy, Dave Cowens, Billy Cunningham, Dave DeBusschere, Erving, Walt Frazier, George Gervin, Hal Greer, John Havlicek, Elvin Hayes, Magic Johnson, Sam Jones, Jerry Lucas, Moses Malone, Pete Maravich, Kevin McHale, George Mikan, Earl Monroe, Bob Pettit, Willis Reed, Robertson, Russell, Dolph Schayes, Bill Sharman, Isiah Thomas, Nate Thurmond, Wes Unseld, Bill Walton, Jerry West, Lenny Wilkens and James Worthy.

"It'd be a hell of a thing to pick a starting five out of that group,'' Mikan said.