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(Note: This list does not include territorial picks, which were used through 1965.)

A difficult choice among other top picks -- including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O'Neal and Tim Duncan (Oscar Robertson was a territorial pick and LeBron James has a lot more time to improve his body of work and win titles) -- but Magic not only won five championships but also rescued the NBA through his West-East rivalry with Larry Bird. He recast the league as an entertainment company led by likable stars. Would the NBA ever have become so popular without him?

Text: Ian Thomsen/SI.com
Photo: Manny Millan/SI

Average: 5 (5 votes)