The NBA has been around since 1946, and many great players have come and gone since then. As a result, today we will discuss the best retired NBA players. The NBA is a massive concentration of great athletes. A total of 4509 players have appeared on an NBA roster. As a result, ranking players based on large numbers is always difficult.
Because the style of play evolves with each generation, comparing multiple eras becomes more difficult. For example, today’s game style is dominated by shooters, whereas centers dominated the game a few years ago.
With all of these different sets of skills, IQ, athleticism, and play style, comparing and ranking the best players is difficult, even for retired NBA players. This article, on the other hand, includes players from each year. Without further ado, let’s take a quick look at the name.
13 Greatest Retired NBA Players
13. Paul Pierce
In the early 2000s, “The Truth” truly asserted its dominance. He rebuilt a championship-caliber team with the Boston Celtics. A super team was formed by Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rand, Ray Allen, and himself. They had a lot of success with the roster, but their time was up much sooner than expected.
As a result, Pierce only won one championship as a member of the Boston Celtics in 2008. Similarly, he received the final MVP award for his outstanding performance. In addition, the small forward was all about buckets. During his 15-year career with the team, he led the team in scoring and free throws made.
Similarly, he is one of three Celtics players with over 20,000 career points. Larry Bird and John Havlicek are the other two. He also played for the Brooklyn Nets, Washington Wizards, and Los Angeles Clippers, among others. He is also a ten-time All-Star and a member of the NBA 75th Anniversary Team.
12. Ray Allen
Allen held this title before Steph Curry claimed the title of the best shooter in the league. Sugar Ray held the NBA record for the most three-pointers made until Curry broke it in 2021. Nonetheless, he is regarded as one of the greatest shooters of all time. Allen was a valuable member of every team. During his prime, he was pursued by nearly every NBA team.
Ray, on the other hand, was very particular about where he wanted to be. As a result, he only played for great teams like Boston, Miami, Milwaukee, and Seattle. Similarly, he has two NBA titles with Boston and Miami. He is well-known for his clutch three-pointer that saved Miami’s playoff run.
Furthermore, he had quick success in Boston with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. Nonetheless, they were unable to overcome LeBron’s Heat after the 2009 season. As a result, Allen decided to switch teams and join the Heat. Unfortunately, this action has strained relations between Garnett and Pierce.
Overall, he is not only the greatest shooter in NBA history but also one of the best retired NBA players.
11. Steve Nash
Steve Nash, the current head coach of the Brooklyn Nets, used to cause havoc in the league as a guard. In his 19-year career, he never won a championship. Nonetheless, he won two rings as a consultant for the Golden State Worriers. Furthermore, as the Nets’ head coach, he is poised to win multiple rings.
He is also a two-time NBA MVP and an eight-time NBA All-Star. His final years were spent with the Lakers, with whom he built a super team. Nonetheless, that team failed miserably to make a mark in the league. Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Paul Gasol, and Metta World Peace make up the team.
All of these players combined to form a fantastic team. They had high hopes for the team, but the chemistry was lacking. Aside from that, Nash is regarded as a Suns legend. Despite failing to win the championship, Steve came close most of the time.
Similarly, he is one of the league’s most intelligent players. As a result, Nash is a member of the NBA 75th Anniversary Team.
10. Vince Carter
Vince Carter would be the face of longevity if it had a face. Instead, he has been the league’s sole player for the past 22 seasons. In addition, he played in the league for four decades. Carter put on his jersey and was ready to fight every night from 1999 to 2020. It’s surprising to see him play for such a long time. Even his body holding up for such a long time is a miracle.
Despite his lengthy season, he never won an NBA championship or the league MVP. However, he is well respected throughout the NBA for his incredible dedication. Similarly, his famous signature dunks from the NBA Slam Dunk Contest in 2000 are still remembered and recreated to this day.
He played for eight different teams during his career. Furthermore, if his body hadn’t given up on him, he’d still be jumping with the majority of young players. Even at the end of Carter’s career, Vince was not afraid to show off his hoops. He used to dunk with the same zeal he had when he was younger.
As a result, Carter is regarded as one of the best retired NBA players.
9. Dwyane Wade
The NBA as we know it today was shaped by the flash. The 1990s were dominated by dominant centers and power forwards. People like Wade and Iverson, on the other hand, demonstrated that height isn’t the only requirement for being a great basketball player. Wade won an NBA championship for the Miami Heat three years after joining the team.
While most rookies were figuring out their roles, Wade rose to become his team’s youngest leader. Not to mention, he was named Finals MVP. Wade also became the ninth guard in NBA history to win Finals MVP. Although the award was mostly given to centers or forwards, guards were rarely given it.
As a result, Dwyane winning this award after only three years in the league speaks volumes about his successful career. Overall, he is a Heats legend and a huge role model. His hard work and dedication helped him become a star and one of the best retired NBA players of all time.
8. Tracy McGrady
Tracy McGrady was the first to make a list of offensive threats in the early 2000s. He was an improved offensive weapon with the ability to score from anywhere. If he could only have dealt with championship-caliber teams, he could have helped them achieve their goal faster and more efficiently.
Nonetheless, McGrady has cemented his legacy as the greatest shooter of all time. His best years were spent with the Huston Rockets. With his offensive abilities, he was tearing up the league’s defense. He just couldn’t stop scoring, and when he was double-teamed, Tracy’s teammate Yao Ming finished the job for him.
However, the playoff-contending Rockets team disintegrated due to a lack of good role players and Ming’s frequent injuries. There were even rumors that Tracy was interested in joining Kobe’s Lakers. But that was just a rumor and not much more.
It would have been incredible to see the two best shooters team up. Instead of Klay and Steph from GSW, they would have been known as the original “Splash Brothers.”
7. Kevin Garnett
Garnett has always been known for his battle-hardened victories. He was a fierce competitor who never let his opponent win. His efforts were visible during regular games, where he used to defensively lock a star player. Furthermore, KG used to limit them to fewer offensive points.
He was most well-known during the Boston Celtics’ big three eras. The big three are Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, and himself. They won the 2008 NBA Playoffs with this three-player lineup. They were no longer on top after Ray Allen’s departure and the formation of LeBron’s Heat team.
Nonetheless, the Nets Pierce, himself, and Deron Williams formed another big three. They also had a reliable player in Joe Johnson. They would never be able to beat the LeBron-led Miami Heat. Nonetheless, he has done a lot to establish himself as a great basketball player.
He is a 15-time NBA All-Star, a one-time defensive player of the year, a nine-time All-Defensive First Team selection, and a three-time All-Defensive Second Team selection. If he decided to come out of retirement, he would cause havoc for many active NBA players. Kevin, on the other hand, is one of the best retired NBA players.
6. Dirk Nowitzki
Not only is Nowitzki the greatest European player of all time, but he is also one of the greatest power forwards of all time. His signature one-legged shot sparked a league-wide revolution. Furthermore, his 7-foot height combined with his offensive game makes him an ideal defender.
As a result, prime Nowitzki gave multiple league stars a run for their money. This also contributed to the Mavericks’ victory in the 2011 playoffs. He doesn’t get enough credit for his outstanding performance during the successful playoff run. They not only defeated Kobe’s Lakers but also LeBron’s Heat.
No one expected them to win because they were in the third seat in the West. In addition, the three-headed hydras known as the Heat big three awaited them at the next conference. Despite this, they defeated Miami, winning four of seven games. Of course, he should be credited alongside teammates Jason Kidd and others.
Furthermore, even though he only won one ring, that ring cemented his career as one of the best in the business. He also serves as a special advisor for the Dallas Mavericks. Similarly, he has a strong friendship with his fellow European and NBA rising star Luka Doncic.
5. Allen Iverson
Allen Iverson, born on June 7, 1975, was one of the NBA’s most divisive players in the mid-1990s. He was a cross-over and hooping machine who led the league in scoring four times. Despite his height disadvantage, he was a poor defender and led the league in steals. Overall, AI was the complete package for an elite point guard.
Despite possessing all of the necessary skills, he never won an NBA championship. His failure to win a ring is due to the lack of another star-caliber player on his team.
As a result, Iverson was forced to do more offensive work himself. At the same time, other teams featured numerous star players, such as Kobe and Shaq for the Lakers or Jordan and Pippen for the Bulls. As a result, he couldn’t keep up with these elite duos on his own. As a result, he ended his NBA career without a ring. Nonetheless, he won the hearts of his fans with his crazy hands.
Many fans dubbed him the “point god” because his game was so good. Outside of the basketball court, he was a fashion icon and a magnet. He is responsible for many NBA trends, such as shooting headbands and wristbands.
4. Tim Duncan
Tim Duncan is a true Spurs legend who has been with the team through all of its ups and downs. In three different decades, he contributed to the Spurs’ dynasty. Duncan hung around long enough in the late 1990s, early 2000s, and mid-2010s to be dubbed the greatest power forward.
His presence in the game always tipped the scales in his favor. His long stretched arms were capable of stopping and scoring the ball at any time. Furthermore, no one was able to stop his mid-range game. Tim’s go-to move for scoring was banging the ball off the glass.
He was so good at the go-to move that he rarely missed. Similarly, his height of six feet eleven inches gave him an advantage in both scoring and stopping the ball. As a result, he was named to the All-NBA Defensive First Team eight times and the All-NBA Defensive Second Team seven times.
His body, however, couldn’t keep up after 19 seasons with the Spurs. As a result, he retired and returned as an assistant coach for the 2019-2020 season.
3. Shaquille O’Neal
If you’ve ever seen Shaq play, you know how dominant he can be in the post. His size is sufficient to put his opponents on the defensive. In addition to his size, his basketball skills make him one of the league’s most unstoppable players.
Only former Huston center Yao Ming could have matched his size and strength. But, except Ming, no one could keep Shaq out of the paint. As a result, O’Neal’s success has been built on his strength and size. He is a four-time NBA champion as well as a three-time finals MVP.
He was the driving force for the Los Angeles Lakers in the early 2000s. The Lakers three-peated with a young Kobe and an experienced but dominating Shaq. Furthermore, Shaquille dominated the paint each time. So even triple-teaming him during the match was ineffective.
He simply outran every defender and found a way to score. Similarly, getting around Shaq’s massive body on defense was impossible for any player. Even as a retired player, his stature dwarfs that of the majority of the league’s centers today. He believes that most of today’s centers are soft because they are not dominant.
2. Kobe Bryant
It’s sad to live in a world without the great Kobe Bryant. However, the NBA will never be the same with the mama mentality. His legacy, however, is being carried on by a slew of new basketball stars. Devin Booker, Jason Tatum, Kyrie Irving, and others are among them.
Aside from that, retirement is a part of the game that every player must face at some point in their career. The NBA was stunned when Kobe announced his retirement. He won five NBA titles and was named Finals MVP twice. Overall, he was the second greatest shooting guard in basketball history, trailing only Michael Jordan.
His competitive spirit and incredible abilities quickly made him a fan favorite. His work ethic was praised by the entire league. However, no matter how strong a player’s mind is, their body has a limit. Furthermore, Kobe, who was dealing with multiple injuries, was aware that his body had reached its limit.
As a result, the 2015-16 season was Kobe’s final season of basketball. He did not, however, retire without putting on a show for his fans. As a result, he scored a season-high 60 points in the mamba’s season finale against the Utah Jazz. He then addressed the entire NBA family with the words “Mamba Out.”
1. Michael Jordan
Michael Jordan is without a doubt one of the greatest basketball players of all time. Unfortunately, he has been retired for over two decades. However, his name is frequently mentioned in basketball-related conversations. For starters, MJ won the NBA championship three times.
Winning a single championship is a difficult task in and of itself. However, three peating twice raises him to a higher level. Not to mention, his six Finals MVPs demonstrate his ability to make a difference. However, regardless of how good a player one is, one must always retire.
Regardless, no one expected Jordan to retire so soon. His first retirement came in 1994 when a carjacker murdered his father. Michael’s father had always wished for his son to play in Major League Baseball. As a result, after his father’s death, Jordan decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and play baseball.
He signed with the Minor League Baseball Chicago White Sox. Nonetheless, the Bulls’ dream was dashed when they failed to make the playoffs in 1994-45. His second retirement occurred in 1999. Following that, MJ returned to the NBA as a part-owner and president of basketball operations for the Washington Wizards.
After announcing his return with his new team, he spent one year with the Wizards. However, Jordan was limited to only 60 games due to injuries. As a result, he decided to retire for good. Nonetheless, he will be remembered as one of the best retired NBA players.
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