Ignoring career performance, who at their peak was the best NBA basketball player ever?

By peak do you mean prime? Who had the best primes?

I have a few suggestions, can’t pick just one so I’ll list them out:

These are some players with great primes:

1952–1960 Bob Cousy

1957–1965 Bill Russell

1956–1964 Bob Pettit

1960–1968 Wilt Chamberlain (by the numbers he would be the GOAT here)

1961–1970 Oscar Robertson

1962–1972 Jerry West

1967–1972 Connie Hawkins

1959–1965 Elgin Baylor

1967–1974 John Havlicek

1969–1977 Elvin Hayes

1969–1980 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

1966–1975 Rick Barry

1977–1978 Bill Walton (yes this short 2 year prime was one of the greatest i’ve seen)

1972–1981 Julius Erving

1973–1978 Pete Maravich

1976–1981 David Thompson

1978–1983 George Gervin

1979–1985 Moses Malone

1983–1987 Isiah Thomas

1984–1985 Bernard King

1980–1988 Larry Bird

1983–1991 Magic Johnson

1986–1996 Hakeem Olajuwon

1987–1998 Michael Jordan

1987–1996 Charles Barkley

1988–1997 John Stockton

1988–1998 Karl Malone

1990–1996 David Robinson

1996–2000 Grant Hill

1994–2003 Shaq

1999–2007 Allen Iverson

1998–2007 Tim Duncan

1999–2007 Kevin Garnett

2001–2007 Tracy McGrady

2002–2011 Dirk Nowitzki

2001–2013 Kobe Bryant

2005–2011 Dwayne Wade

2008–2014 Dwight Howard

2008–2016 Chris Paul

2005–2020 Lebron James (seriously one of the longest primes ever!)

2009–2019 Kevin Durant

2014–2019 Stephen Curry

2015–2019 Russell Westbrook

2013–2020 James Harden

Out of these primes I think the top 10 best primes were:

  1. 1960–1968 Wilt Chamberlain
  2. 1987–1998 Michael Jordan
  3. 2005–2020 Lebron James
  4. 1969–1980 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
  5. 1980–1998 Larry Bird
  6. 1994–2003 Shaq
  7. 1961–1970 Oscar Robertson
  8. 1959–1965 Elgin Baylor
  9. 1966–1975 Rick Barry
  10. 1979–1985 Moses Malone
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Who, while in their prime, was the most dominant athlete at their sport?

in no order because you can’t compare sports

-Baseball: Babe Ruth and Barry Bonds

-Basketball: Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain

-Hockey: Bobby Orr and Wayne Gretzky

-Football: Jim Brown

-Cricket: Don Bradman

-Tennis (men’s): Roger Federer and Bjorn Borg (short lived career but amazing prime)

-Tennis (women’s): Margaret Court and Martina Navratilova (absolute beast in her prime)

-Golf: Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods

-Soccer: Pele and Diego Maradona

-Boxing: Muhammed Ali and Sugar Ray Robinson