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NBA - US Sports: Top 5 NBA Players of the 1990s

The 1990s were a golden age for the NBA and for large periods of the decade it felt like pretty much every team had one superstar player.

The Chicago Bulls dominated and recorded two three-peats, while Houston Rockets (twice), San Antonio Spurs and Detroit Pistons also claimed championships - but that doesn't necessarily give a true reflection on just how competitive a decade it was.

There were some awesome talents plying their trade in the 90s, including Utah Jazz duo Karl Malone and John Stockton, Bulls star Dennis Rodman, Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp of Seattle Supersonics, Indiana Pacers legend Reggie Miller, New York Knicks' Patrick Ewing and David Robinson of San Antonio Spurs.

Incredibly, those players have missed out on our top five - if there was a sixth it would have gone to Robinson incidentally - read on to see who made the cut.

5. Charles Barkley - Phoenix Suns, power forward

'Sir' Charles Barkley may just be the greatest player never to win an NBA championship and if he had played in another era, he would almost certainly have at least one ring.

On an individual level, Barkley posted some incredible numbers throughout the 90s and averaged a double-double in points and rebounds in every season. 

The forward was able to dominate in all areas of the game and won the MVP award in the 1993 season.  

The 'Round Mound of Rebound' helped the Suns reach the Finals in 1993 but they were denied by Chicago, and if he had managed to get a championship he would have been a little higher on this list.

4. Shaquille O'Neal - Orlando Magic/Los Angeles Lakers, center

Orlando Magic selected Shaquille 'Shaq' O'Neal with the first pick in the 1992 NBA Draft and he hit the ground running, becoming a key man instantly for the Florida outfit.

In his rookie season, Shaq averaged 23.4 points-per-game and 13.9 rebounds - the latter of which proved to be a career-high - and became the first player in NBA history to be named Player of the Week in his first week in the league.

Shaq was also the first rookie since Michael Jordan in 1985 to be named an All-Star starter in his debut season.

The center enjoyed his team success in the following decade as he won the first of his four championships with the Lakers in 2000 but the numbers he was putting up in the 90s were simply incredible.

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O'Neal may have lacked versatility but he made the most of his incredible size to dominate the NBA for two decades, while during the 90s he was a six-time All-Star and the 1995 NBA Scoring Champion.

Orlando are 200/1 to win the NBA Eastern Conference in 2022/23.

3. Scottie Pippen - Chicago Bulls, small forward

Scottie Pippen was a key component of the Chicago Bulls' glory years and without him they may not have been such a dominant force.  

Pippen's input in the Bulls' success perhaps gets overlooked but his defensive quality allowed Michael Jordan the freedom to terrorise opponents. His presence gave the Bulls the toughness and grit that is needed to close out tight series' in the playoffs, and this is reflected by the fact he was named on the NBA All-Defensive First Team on eight occasions - despite somehow ending his career without a Defensive Player of the Year award.

When Jordan took a hiatus from basketball to play baseball in the 1993-94 season, Pippen stepped up and helped them finish the season with a 55-27 record to move into the second round of the playoffs.

Most analysts expected them to tank after losing such a key player but Pippen kept them competitive and he was always a calming presence on court, despite the occasional fallout with the organization itself. 

2. Hakeem Olajuwon - Houston Rockets, center

When Jordan stepped away from the NBA, Hakeen Olajuwon stepped up and guided Houston Rockets to back-to-back championships in 1994 and 1995, averaging a career-high 27.8 points-per-game in the regular season in the latter.

Olajuwon was an awesome defensive center but also made an impact in the offense, and his ability to pick out a teammate in the opposition's half was what made the Rockets such a threat during the 90s.

Even though he never averaged more than 3.6 assists-per-game in the regular season, Olajuwon was the man who would start the attack, with his teammates finishing the play off.

Houston won their titles against Ewing's Knicks and Shaq's Magic, demonstrating the kind of opponent Olajuwon was up against, and he was named the Finals MVP in both 94 and 95, as well as winning the regular season MVP award in 94.

1. Michael Jordan - Chicago Bulls, shooting guard 

Top spot should come as no surprise. Not only is Jordan the best player of the 90s and the greatest shooting guard of all time, he may well be the best to ever play the game.

Jordan finished his career as a six-time champion, winning the Finals MVP award in each of his appearances in the finals, and a four-time MVP. 

Jordan never lost a final series despite coming up against the likes of Barkley and Malone and Stockton in the finals.

The Bulls, who are 50/1 for NBA Championship glory in 2022/23, would never have completed two three-peats without Jordan and he was able to dominate against every other star he came up against, making him comfortably the best player of the 90s.

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