10 Best NBA Players Of The 60s: They Defined The 60s

The NBA is one of the most popular Basketball tournaments. Its history dates back to 1946 when the first tournament took place. Since then, we have seen many legends making their mark in the league. It is the most prestigious league in the sport. Every player desires to be a part of this league.

Some players are known by which decade they played. And there are some players who define a decade. They become the face of the decade. We saw such great athletes in the 1960s. It was around this time when the NBA began to flourish. People were finding interest in the sport.

Here we have listed the 10 best NBA players of the 60s. Let’s jump in.

10 Best NBA Players Of The 60s

While making this list, we have only counted the performances from 1960 to 1969. The tables contain only the awards and honors players received during this time. Some of them might have won more awards before or after the 60s.

 1. Wilt Chamberlain

Wilt Chamberlain
Full NameWilton Norman Chamberlain
Date of Birth1936
Birth’s PlacePhiladelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
OccupationBasketball Player, Volleyball player, Actor, Basketball Coach and Screenwriter
TeamsPhiladelphia / San Francisco Warriors, Philadelphia 76ers, Los Angeles Lakers
Height7 ft 1 inch ( 2.16m )
Weight113kg ( 250 lb )

Wilt Chamberlain is one of the most dominant players in the history of the NBA. The 7 ft 1 inch tall Philadelphian made his NBA debut in 1959 and became the talk of the town immediately. He defined the 60s NBA. During this decade, he became the NBA Scoring Leader 7 times. Wilt also owns four rebound champion titles by his name.

Points Per Game30.1
Assists Per Game4.4
Steals Per Game0.0
NBA Champion1967
NBA MVP Award0
NBA Scoring Leader1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966
NBA Rebounding Champion1960, 1961, 1962, 1963
NBA Finals MVP0

You can see from the chart that Wilt was a scoring machine. Wilt scored more than twenty-three thousand points during this time from 788 matches. His assist average, which is 4.4, is also impressive.

Chamberlain’s performance was so impressive that he is the first of our best NBA players of the 60s, despite not winning many league titles.

2. Bill Russell

Bill Russell
Full NameWilliam Felton Russell
Date of BirthFebruary 12, 1934
Birth’s PlaceMercer Island, Washington, U.S.
OccupationBasketball Player, Actor, Basketball Coach and High Jumper
TeamsBoston Celtics
Height6 ft 8 inch ( 208 cm )
Weight97 kg

In his 14-year career, Bill had most of his success in the 60s. During this time, he played for the Boston Celtics, and the Celtics became the NBA Champion nine times. The Celtics were clearly unstoppable during this time, and Bill’s contribution was massive.

Points Per Game15.1
Assists Per Game4.3
Steals Per Game0.0
NBA Champion1960,1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1968, 1969
NBA MVP Award1961, 1962, 1963, 1965
NBA Scoring Leader0
NBA Rebounding Champion1964, 1965
NBA Finals MVP0

Bill was the center player of the Celtics. Bill won four NBA MVP awards in this decade, the most than anyone else. Upon retiring, he became an actor and basketball coach. Bill was a champion, no argument. And that makes him one of the best NBA players of the 60s.

3. Oscar Robertson

Oscar Robertson
Full NameOscar Palmer Robertson
Date of BirthNovember 24, 1938
Birth’s PlaceCharlotte, Tennessee, U.S.
OccupationBasketball Player, Basketball Coach
TeamsCincinnati Royals
Height6 ft 5 in ( 1.96 m )
Weight93 kg ( 205 lb )

Oscan Robertson was one of those players who you cannot measure with the number of awards. He himself was an honor. He played as a shooting guard for the Cincinnati Royals. From 1960 to 1962, he was at his peak. During this time, Oscan had scored 32.8 per match.

Not just that, Oscan was dominant throughout the decade. He never scored less than 24 points at this time.

PositionShooting Guard
Points Per Game25.7
Assists Per Game9.5
Steals Per Game0.1
NBA Champion0
NBA MVP Award1964
NBA Scoring Leader0
NBA Rebounding Champion0
NBA Finals MVP0

Oscan had an impressive average of scoring 25.7 points after playing nearly 700 matches in the 1960s. Oscan was also a great playmaker. He averaged 9.5 assists per game along with 0.1 steals per game. Oscan received the NBA MVP Award in 1964.

Despite not winning many championships, Oscan Robertson is undoubtedly one of the best NBA players of the 60s.

4. Elgin Baylor

Elgin Baylor
Full NameElgin Gay Baylor
Date of BirthSeptember 16, 1934
Birth’s PlaceWashington, D.C., California, U.S.
OccupationBasketball Player, Actor and Basketball Coach
TeamsMinneapolis / Los Angeles Lakers
Height6 ft 5 in ( 1.96 m )
Weight102 kg ( 225 lb )

Elgin Baylor played as a small forward for Minneapolis, and later, he joined the Los Angeles Lakers. Elgon is known as one of the greatest NBA players who never won any ring. Elgin started the 60s with a killer signal. His average scoring points in the 1961-62 NBA season was 38.3. He maintained an average of over 24 in every season for ten years.

PositionSmall Forward
Points Per Game27.4
Assists Per Game4.3
Steals Per Game0.0
NBA Champion0
NBA MVP Award0
NBA Scoring Leader0
NBA Rebounding Champion0
NBA Finals MVP0

Though Elgin did not win the NBA during this time, he is still considered one of the best NBA players of the 60s and of all time as well.

5. Bob Pettit

Bob Pettit
Full NameRobert Lee Pettit Jr.
Date of BirthDecember 12, 1932
Birth’s PlaceBaton Rouge, Louisiana
TeamsMilwaukee / St. Louis Hawks
Height6 ft 9 in ( 2.06 m )
Weight93 kg ( 205 lb )

Bob Pettit is another great player who could not win the NBA championship. Yet, his talent and performance have made him an immortal in the history of the NBA. In 1956, he received the first-ever NBA MVP award. Sadly, he did not win any more MVPs later, though he came too close on several occasions.

PositionPower Forward
Points Per Game26.4
Assists Per Game3.0
Steals Per Game0.0
All NBA First Team1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964
NBA All-Star MVP Award1962
NBA Scoring Leader0
NBA Rebounding Champion0
NBA Finals MVP0

Bob Pettit was the first player to have scored 20,000 points in the NBA. He was elected to the All-NBA First Team for five straight years. Because of his scoring ability, Bob is thought to be one of the greatest power forwards.

6. Jerry West

Jerry West
Full NameJerome Alan West
Date of BirthMay 28, 1938
Birth’s PlaceChelyan, West Virginia, U.S.
OccupationBasketball Player, Coach
TeamsLos Angeles Lakers
Height6 ft 3 in ( 1.91 m )
Weight79 kg ( 175 lb)

Have you seen the logo of the NBA carefully? Can you see a silhouette? Ever wondered who this guy is? Well, he is Jerry West. Jerry West is also known as the Logo. The NBA honored this man by using his silhouette in the logo.

Jerry was at the peak of his career in the 60s. His scoring average was always more than 25.

PositionShooting Guard
Points Per Game27.0
Assists Per Game6.7
Steals Per Game0.1
NBA Champion0
NBA MVP Final1969
NBA Scoring Leader0
NBA Rebounding Champion0
NBA Finals MVP0

West has an impressive average of 27 points per game, one of the highest in the league. Jerry was named NBA Finals MVP in 1969.

During the 60s, Jerry West made nine All-Star games, along with six First-Team All-NBA selections.

West would have been the best guard in his time had he been in any other era. He fell short only to another legend Oscan Robertson. However, West is still unanimously considered one of the best NBA players of the 60s.

7. Walt Bellamy

Walt Bellamy
Full NameWalter Jones Bellamy
Date of BirthJuly 24, 1939
Birth’s PlaceNew Bern, North Carolina, U.S.
OccupationBasketball Player
TeamsChicago Packers, Zephyrs, Baltimore Bullets, New York Knicks and Detroit Pistons
Height6ft 11 in ( 2.11 m )
Weight102 kg ( 225 lb )

The 60s were when Bill Russel and Wilt Chamberlain became the two most dominant center players. Still, Bellamy made a name for himself as a great center player.

Teams were interested in signing Bellamy, and he, too, did not like to play for a team for too long. Bellamy played for four different teams between 1960 and 1969.

In his first season with the Chicago Packers in 1961, Bellamy became a star overnight. He achieved the Rookie of the award in 1962. Bellamy gave his best performance during his rookie period.

Bellamy scored 31.6 points on average and grabbed 19.0 rebounds per game.

Points Per Game20.1
Assists Per Game2.4
Steals Per Game0
NBA All-Star1962, 1963, 1964, 1965
NBA MVP Award0
NBA Scoring Leader0
NBA Rebounding Champion0
NBA Finals MVP0

Bellamy made it four times to the NBA All-Star games. Bellamy had a tough time towards the second half of the decade. Still, he ended the 1960s with 20.1 points per game and 2.4 assists. Despite changing teams frequently, Bellamy never won the NBA league during this time. The Boston Celtics were the unstoppable team at this time, and they had Bill Russel in their Center. So, Bellamy never got to play for the Celtics.

He might not have become NBA Champion, but he certainly became one of the best NBA players of the 60s. Bellamy’s legacy will be cherished forever in the history of the NBA.

8. Jerry Lucas

 Jerry Lucas
Full NameJerry Ray Lucas
Date of BirthMarch 30, 1940
Birth’s PlaceMiddletown, Ohio
OccupationBasketball Player, Writer
TeamsCincinnati Royals, San Francisco Warriors
Height6 ft 8 in ( 2.03 m )
Weight104 kg ( 230 lb )

Jerry Lucas had his NBA debut in the 1963-64 season. He played for the Cincinnati Royals for the rest of the 60s.

Lucas made a mark in his first season. He finished the season with 52.7 percent shooting from the field. No wonder he was awarded the NBA Rookie of the Year.

The next season, Lucas won the All-Star Game MVP and went on to repeat this feat five more times in the same decade.

PositionPower Forward
Points Per Game17.0
Assists Per Game3.3
Steals Per Game0.0
NBA All-Star1964,165,1966,1967,1968, 1969
NBA All-Star MVP Award1965
NBA Scoring Leader0
NCAA Rebounding Leader1961, 1962
NBA Finals MVP0

Lucas is considered one of the best rebounders of all time. He finished his career averaging 15.6 rebounds per game. As a power forward, he had an impressive point average of 17.0 and 3.3 assists per game. Without Lucas, this list of the best NBA players of the 60s would have been incomplete.

9. Nate Thurmond

Nate Thurmond
Full NameNathaniel Thurmond
Date of BirthJuly 25, 1941
Birth’s PlaceAkron, Ohio, US
OccupationBasketball Player, Restaurateur
TeamsSan Francisco, Golden State Warriors
Height6 ft 11 in ( 2.11 m )
Weight102 kg ( 225 lb )

Nate Thurmond was born in July 1941 in Ohio. He started his NBA career with San Francisco but later moved to Golden State Warriors, where he spent the majority of his career.

As said earlier, the 60s witnessed two of the greatest Center players in the NBA. So, being a central player at that time was like a misfortune. However, Nate thrived on his own talent. He was also listed among the best 50 NBA players of all time.

Points Per Game15.0
Assists Per Game2.7
Steals Per Game0.1
NBA All-Star1965, 1966, 1967, 1968
NBA All-Defensive First Team1969
NBA Scoring Leader0
NBA Rebounding Champion0
NBA Finals MVP0

Nate made four NBA All-Star games in his first decade in the league. He showed his skill in everything- scoring, assisting, stealing, and rebounding. Though he played only 413 games during the 60s, it was enough for Nate to become one of the best NBA players of the 60s.

10. Richie Guerin

Richie Guerin
Full NameRichard Vincent Guerin
Date of BirthMay 29, 1932
Birth’s PlaceBronx, New York
OccupationBasketball Player, Coach, Army Officer and Stock Broker
TeamsNew York Knicks, St. Louis / Atlanta Hawks
Height6 ft 4 in ( 1.93 m )
Weight88 kg ( 195 lb )

Guerin started his NBA career in the mid-1950s, but he flourished in the 60s. He had an impressive season in 1960-61, averaging 21.8 points per game. But the peak of his career was the following season.

In 1961-62, Guerin scored 29.5 average points per game with 6.9 assists. Guerin became the first Knicks player to score 2000 points in a season. By the end of the season, Guerin established himself as one of the Elite players on the court.

PositionShooting Guard
Points Per Game17.3
Assists Per Game5.0
Steals Per Game0
NBA All-Star1960, 1961, 1962, 1963
All NBA Second Team1960, 1962
NBA Scoring Leader0
NBA Rebounding Champion0
NBA Finals MVP0

Richie Guerin had one of the best assist records in the 60s, averaging 5 per game. With more than 10 thousand points and over three thousands assists, Richie Guerin secured his place as one of the best NBA players of all time.

Honorable Mentions

Many great athletes became very popular in the 60s. Their performances were incredible. Before we jump into the final list, here are some honorable mentions:

Bailey Howell

The 6 ft 7 inches tall Middleton giant was an unstoppable point forward. He made it six times in the NBA-All Star list during the 60s. He also won two back-to-back NBA Championship while playing for the Boston Celtics. Howell had an average assist of 2.0 per game, an impressive feat at his time. He is undoubtedly one of the best NBA players of the 60s.

Hal Greer

Hal Greer was one of the most consistent performers of the 60s. He was born in 1936 and made his NBA debut at the age of 22. He immediately became a major name in the league. Sadly, Greer always felt a little short of becoming one of the top players. However, he made it 7 times on the NBA second team.

He played more than 700 matches in the 1960s and scored 19.2 points on average per match, and set up 4 assists on average.

His performance in 1967 helped the Philadelphia 76ers become the champion of that year. The following year, Greer was awarded the NBA All-Star Game MVP.

Sam Jones

The Boston Celtics had a reign of terror during the 1960s. They won nine NBA Championships out of ten. Sam Jones, along with Bill Russell, helped the Celtics achieve this feat.

Jones played as a hybrid guard/forward for his team. Jones had to compete with Jerry West and Oscar Robertson and never made a First-Team NBA player. However, he was elected three times for the Second Team. Jones’ scoring of 17.7 points per game and 2.5 assists make him one of the best NBA players of the 60s.


The NBA is one of the most popular leagues in the USA today. It did not come to this position overnight. Players over the decades have entertained and amused the audience and gained popularity for the league. The best NBA players of the 60s were the forerunner of this campaign.

These athletes were remarkable and named themselves the greatest of all time. Their legacy will always motivate new generations. They will be remembered forever.

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Meet Liton Karmakar, an up-and-coming Basketball journalist who covers the league with a fresh perspective. With a finger on the pulse of the latest and updated news, Liton Karmakar provides an in-depth solid analysis of the game and its players. His writing style is engaging and easy to understand. It makes him a go-to source for fans looking for the latest on their favorite teams and players. He writes for several online media publications where his work is highly appreciated by readers.


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