The 1990s are the golden days of the professional basketball league. Indeed, the decade has given birth to many basketball legends – Michael Jordan, being the most notable of them all. As basketball experts would often say, the 1990s is the pinnacle of the National Basketball Association (NBA) history, with the legendary Michael Jordan dominating the hardwood, showing sheer determination and will.
But the 90s wouldn’t be as glorious as today without other players who, alongside Jordan, significantly impacted the sports through their outstanding performance in the court. So, without much ado, let us look at the most popular NBA players in the 1990s.
1. PATRICK EWING, New York Knicks
Patrick Ewing is another 90s force finishing either fourth or fifth in MVP voting, five times during the era. He took the Knicks to a playoff appearance in 1990-1999 and two NBA Finals appearances with exceptional leadership. Earning an average of a double-double and 50-percent shooting in over ten years was a formidable record indeed. His seven-foot, 240-pound frame made him even more deadly in hardwood, although the man never won an NBA title.
2. JOHN STOCKTON, Utah Jazz
Intelligence is what we think John Stockton had, which made him deserving of this spot. The man shoots 51.6% during the 90s, which can be accounted for his smart decisions, proving he’s one of the NBA’s greatest shooters in history. Arguably the best point guard of the golden era, Stockton led the Utah Jazz alongside Karl Malone to make two NBA Finals appearances with his incredible playmaking and defensive plays.
3. CHARLES BARKLEY, Phoenix Suns
Charles Barkley is an unstoppable force in the court – after all, he clinched the MVP award in 1992-93, all the while when Jordan was at the heat of his momentum looking for a third straight. Subsequently, the Phoenix Suns’ Power Forward earned the reputation of being one of the big men in NBA history – displaying big-time rebounds and edgy personality, giving him the nickname “Round Mound of Rebound.”
4. SHAQUILLE O’NEAL, Orlando Magic
O’Neal’s presence in the field reeks of a destructive, physically intimidating aura which his opponents rightfully acknowledge. In the 90s, Shaq was simply a force to reckon, as he led the Orlando Magic in the 1995 NBA Finals, where he took down the Bulls in the playoffs, although they end up being decimated by Houston Rockets led by Olajuwon.
5. SCOTTIE PIPPEN, Chicago Bulls
Scottie Pippen is arguably the NBA’s best wing defender of all time, making him a consistent A-lister in the men’s professional basketball league. His dominance leans more to his defensive playing skills, which ultimately helped the Bulls achieve heights alongside Michael Jordan. Even with Jordan’s retirement from 1993 to 1994, Pippen led the Bulls to 55 wins. In hindsight, it was Pippen who made it easier for Jordan to display his basketball prowess.
6. DAVID ROBINSON, San Antonio Spurs
Spurs legend David Robinson had always made it to the top 5 best NBA players simply for his excellent leadership, scoring, and defensive playing tactics. Robinson is also among the four players in NBA history to officially set a quadruple-double record. The Admiral won Defensive Player of the Year (1992), NBA MVP (1994-95), and NBA champion (1999).
7. KARL MALONE | Utah Jazz
Consistency – that is what makes Karl Malone deserving of his spot as third in the most popular NBA players in the 1990s. The Utah Jazz Power Forward proved to be a force in the hardwood as he launched scored shots from both mid-range and in the post. His physicality and skill, combined with insane tactics, impressed many of his contemporaries. Malone was named in 10 All-NBA First Team selections and awarded as the 1996-97 and 1998-99 NBA MVP and the 1993 All-Star Game MVP.
8. HAKEEM OLAJUWON, Houston Rockets
Excellent scorer, exceptional leader, and extraordinarily defensive player – Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon comes second in rank to the legendary Michael Jordan. Following the two-year hiatus of the NBA Legend, Olajuwon immediately stole the crowd when he gave the Rockets its back-to-back NBA championships. The Rockets star did so while besting two other NBA stars Patrick Ewing in 1994 and Shaquille O’Neal in 1995. He also outplayed yet another star, David Robinson, making him one of the formidable names in the league.
9. MICHAEL JORDAN, Chicago Bulls
No other NBA player in his time can match the prowess that Michael Jordan has shown the world of professional basketball. He is not only the NBA dominator of the 1990s; he is also the league’s most outstanding player to date.
The man ruled in each of his plays for starters, throwing thirty points per game on average, and maintained shooting 50% tops over eight years. Looking back, Jordan possesses godly basketball skills – something that only comes once in a lifetime. So, to witness such is genuinely extraordinary, and indeed his hard work and incredible determination to win paid off well.
Playing for the Chicago Bulls, the NBA Legend became the Six-time NBA Champion, Six-time NBA Finals Most Valuable Player (MVP), Four-time NBA MVP, Seven-time NBA All-Star, Two-time NBA All-Star Game MVP, Two-time NBA Steals Champion, Seven-time All-NBA First Team, Seven-time NBA Scoring Champion, Seven-time NBA All-Defensive First Team.