Though not discussed with the same reverence as the supposed golden era of NBA basketball(the 1990s), the 1960s was littered with transcendent NBA talent that changed the landscape of the game forever, and produced some of the most iconic players to ever play the game.
Without further delay, here are the most transformative NBA players of the 1960s.
Bill Russell: 15.1 ppg, 22.5 rpg, 4.3 apg
Russell was a defensive lord for the Celtics in the 1950s and this did not change in the 60s, earning five All-NBA First Team honors and leading the Celtics to their first NBA championship in 1957. He was an incomparable rebounder and shot blocker, and his 11 NBA championships remains unmatched to this day. Unlikely to ever be approximated.
Wilt Chamberlain: 30.1 ppg, 22.9 rpg, 4.4 apg
Almost universally regarded as the most dominant center in NBA history, Chamberlain suited up for the Philadelphia 76ers and Los Angeles Lakers over his career, leading the league in scoring seven times and earning four MVP awards. He was an unstoppable rebounder and scorer, and had an incredible finesse game despite his imposing physicality.
Oscar Robertson: 25.7 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 9.5 apg
One of the original versatile combo guards to play in the league, Oscar Robertson played for the Cincinnati Royals in the 1960s. He earned one MVP award and led the league in assists six times. He was a versatile player who could score, rebound, and pass at a high level.
Jerry West: 27.0 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 6.7 apg
West was a uniquely skilled shooting guard for the Lakers in the 1960s, leading the league in scoring in 1969 and earning one MVP award. He was a versatile scorer and an elite passer, and he was known for his clutch performances under pressure.
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Elgin Baylor: 27.4 ppg, 13.5 rpg, 4.3 apg
Often overlooked when discussing pioneers of the past, Baylor was a dominant small forward for the Lakers, earning eight All-Star Game selections and leading the Lakers to eight NBA Finals appearances. Baylor was one of the original prototypes of a skilled and versatile wing. A rubric for the type of player that is most highly sought after in today’s NBA.
Sam Jones: 17.7 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 2.3 apg
Jones was a highly skilled shooting guard who played for the Celtics in the 1960s. During his time with the team, he helped lead them to 10 NBA championships and was selected for the All-Star Game on five occasions. He was known for his ability to score and shoot the ball effectively, as well as his clutch performances in important games.
Bob Cousy: 18.4 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 7.5 apg
Hardwood Houdini, aka Bob Cousy was a wizard of a point guard for the Boston Celtics in the 1950s, leading them to six NBA championships and earning eight All-NBA First Team honors. He was known for his 360 court vision and laser passing ability. His leadership on and off the court was unquestioned.
Lenny Wilkens: 16.5 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 6.7 apg
A formidable point guard who played for the St. Louis Hawks and Seattle SuperSonics, Lenny Wilkens helped define the position. He was selected for the All-Star Game nine times and helped lead the SuperSonics to an NBA championship in 1979. He was known for his ability to pass the ball well and shoot accurately, as well as his leadership skills on the court.
Hal Greer: 19.2 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 4.0 apg
A fan favorite in Philadelphia, Hall Greer dominated for the 76ers in the 1960s, earning 10 All-Star Game selections and leading the 76ers to an NBA championship in 1967. A dynamic scorer that was known for his accurate shooting and his ability to take over games when his team needed it.
John Havlicek: 20.8 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 4.8 apg
Havlicek was a dominant small forward for the Celtics in the 1960s, earning eight All-Star Game selections and leading the Celtics to eight NBA championships. He was a skilled scorer and an excellent defender, and he was known for his clutch performances in big games.
Missed our compilation of the best NBA players of the 1950s? Check it out here.