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In the world of sports, top-10 lists are unavoidable. Whether you’re sitting at a bar, watching TV, or scrolling through Twitter, you’re going to see rankings trying to rank athletes above each other. Charles Barkley, as basketball fans know, is never shy about sharing an opinion, which can make his list a bit more interesting than most.

During an appearance on All the Smoke, Sir Charles was asked to name his top-five NBA players of all time. While that’s already a daunting enough question, the TNT talking head took things a bit further and shared 15 names. And, as if that wasn’t enough to get basketball fans fired up, Chuck took things one step further and left Larry Bird and Magic Johnson outside of the top 10.

Sound unbelievable? Let’s break it down.

Charles Barkley unveils his top-15 NBA players on ‘All the Smoke’

Larry Bird (L), Charles Barkley (C), Magic Johnson (R)
Larry Bird and Magic Johnson aren’t in Charles Barkley’s all-time top 10. | Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Turner Sports, Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC, Derek White/Getty Images
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If you’ve ever watched or listened to All the Smoke, you know that the interview usually ends with some “quick hitters.” While asking for a top-five ranking of some sort is a pretty standard practice, Charles Barkley took things a bit further. When asked for his five all-time NBA players, Chuck tripled the required number.

“Michael [Jordan], Oscar [Robertson], Wilt [Chamberlain], Kareem [Abdul-Jabbar], Bill Russell,” Barkley began. While that was already a solid list and answered the question, he wasn’t done yet. “Kobe [Bryant], LeBron [James], Tim Duncan, Hakeem [Olajuwon], Jerry West,” he added. “Those are my top 10.”

Now, those who are well-versed in Chuck’s work will notice two names missing: Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. Sir Charles has, after all, called those two men the most important people in NBA history. Importance, however, is not the same as greatness. While they made his list, they fell outside of the top 10.

“And then you got Magic, Bird, Shaq, Steph [Curry] is right there, Elgin Baylor,” Barkley continued, rounding out the list.

It goes without saying that ranking will get everyone fired up and ready to defend their own favorites. With that in mind, we’ve compiled an abbreviated statistical comparison below.

PlayerPPGAPGRPGChampionships
Michael Jordan30.15.36.26
Oscar Robertson25.79.57.51
Wilt Chamberlain30.14.422.92
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar24.63.611.26
Bill Russell15.14.322.511
Kobe Bryant25.04.75.25
LeBron James27.27.37.54
Tim Duncan19.03.010.85
Hakeem Olajuwon21.82.511.12
Jerry West27.06.75.81
Magic Johnson19.511.27.25
Larry Bird24.36.310.03
Shaquille O’Neal23.72.510.94
Stephen Curry 24.56.54.74
Elgin Baylor27.44.313.50
Stats as of 2/10/2023

Even with those numbers, though, all-time greatness is largely in the eye of the beholder. If we know anything about Charles Barkley, though, he’s not going to back down from his convictions on this one.

What do you think about Chuck’s rankings? Where do you place Larry Bird and Magic Johnson in the all-time pantheon? Let us know in the comments below.