Four Spurs Selected Among Sporting News' 50 best NBA players

os Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant tops Sporting News’ list of the 50 greatest players in the NBA today, as selected by a panel of 107 Hall of Famers, major award winners, executives, current players and coaches and other basketball experts.

Bryant beat out Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James for the No. 1 spot and received 62 first-place votes. James received 34 first-place votes, and Heat guard Dwyane Wade, who was third on the list, received 11 first-place votes. Magic center Dwight Howard was fourth, and Spurs power forward Tim Duncan fifth.

Rounding out the top 10: 6. Hornets PG Chris Paul, 7. Celtics PF Kevin Garnett, 8. Mavericks PF Dirk Nowitzki, 9. Nuggets SF Carmelo Anthony, 10. Celtics SF Paul Pierce.

Among the NBA legends who filled out ballots for SN were 28 Hall of Famers: Rick Barry, Elgin Baylor, Walt Bellamy, Bill Bradley, Bob Cousy, Dave Cowens, Joe Dumars, Harry Gallatin, Cliff Hagan, Tom Heinsohn, Bob Houbregs, Bailey Howell, Bob Kurland, Earl Lloyd, Bob McAdoo, Dick McGuire, Earl Monroe, Bob Pettit, Jack Ramsay, Frank Ramsey, Arnie Risen, Oscar Robertson, Bill Sharman, Jack Twyman, Dick Vitale, Bobby Wanzer, Jerry West, Lenny Wilkens. The complete panel is below.

“I think what we’ve seen from Kobe in the last two, three years is that he has become an incredible leader,” former Lakers great Magic Johnson said about Bryant. “That was the only thing he had to do that was left on his resume. Before, there was no question that he was the best basketball player in the world, like he is now. He was dominant every night, but he didn’t take on that leadership role. ... Now, he is the total package.”

The Spurs were tied (with Boston) for the second most player in the top 50, with four overall: 5. Tim Duncan; 13. Tony Parker; 22. Manu Ginobili; 46. Richard Jefferson.

How other teams fared:

— Four players picked: Celtics, Spurs
— Three: Hawks, Pistons, Rockets
— Two: Cavaliers, Grizzlies, Jazz, Magic, Mavericks, Nuggets, Raptors, 76ers, Suns
— One: Bulls, Bucks, Clippers, Heat, Hornets, Nets, Pacers, Thunder, Trail Blazers, Wizards
— None: Bobcats, Kings, Knicks, Timberwolves, Warriors

The new Sporting News Magazine, featuring Alabama running back Mark Ingram on the cover, hits newsstands this week and can be purchased at all Barnes & Noble, Borders and Hudson Retail outlets. More coverage can be found on sportingnews.com and in today’s edition of Sporting News Today, the world’s first digital daily sports newspaper. Go to sportingnewstoday.com to sign up. All questions and requests should be directed to editor-in-chief Jeff D’Alessio at jdalessio@sportingnews.com.

SPORTING NEWS’ TOP 50 PLAYERS

1. Kobe Bryant, SG, Lakers
2. LeBron James, SF, Cavaliers
3. Dwyane Wade, SG, Heat
4. Dwight Howard, C, Magic
5. Tim Duncan, PF, Spurs
6. Chris Paul, PG, Hornets
7. Kevin Garnett, PF, Celtics
8. Dirk Nowitzki, PF, Mavericks
9. Carmelo Anthony, SF, Nuggets
10. Paul Pierce, SF, Celtics
11. Steve Nash, PG, Suns
12. Deron Williams, PG, Jazz
13. Tony Parker, PG, Spurs
14. Brandon Roy, SG, Trail Blazers
15. Yao Ming, C, Rockets
16. Shaquille O’Neal, C, Cavaliers
17. Pau Gasol, PF, Lakers
18. Chris Bosh, PF, Raptors
19. Amare Stoudemire, PF, Suns
20. Chauncey Billups, PG, Nuggets
21. Kevin Durant, SF, Thunder
22. Manu Ginobili, SG, Spurs
23. Jason Kidd, PG, Mavericks
24. Tracy McGrady, SG, Rockets
25. Joe Johnson, SG, Hawks
26. Derrick Rose, PG, Bulls
27. Ray Allen, SG, Celtics
28. Gilbert Arenas, PG, Wizards
29. Ron Artest, SF, Lakers
30. Vince Carter, SG, Magic
31. Danny Granger, SF, Pacers
32. Baron Davis, PG, Clippers
33. Devin Harris, PG, Nets
34. Ben Gordon, SG, Pistons
35. Al Horford, C, Hawks
36. Carlos Boozer, PF, Jazz
37. Nene, C, Nuggets
38. Rajon Rondo, PG, Celtics
39. Andre Iguodala, SG, 76ers
40. Josh Smith, PF, Hawks
41. Rudy Gay, SF, Grizzlies
42. Hedo Turkoglu, SF, Raptors
43. Lamar Odom, SF, Lakers
44. Shane Battier, SF, Rockets
45. Elton Brand, PF, 76ers
46. Richard Jefferson, SF, Spurs
47. O.J. Mayo, SG, Grizzlies
48. Charlie Villanueva, PF, Pistons
49. Michael Redd, SG, Bucks
50. Andrew Bynum, C, Lakers

SPORTING NEWS’ PANEL

Gene Banks
Rick Barry
Elgin Baylor
Butch Beard
Walt Bellamy
Travis Best
Otis Birdsong
Muggsy Bogues
Jeff Bower
Bill Bradley
Terrell Brandon
Allan Bristow
Dee Brown
Hubie Brown
Mike Brown
P.J. Brown
Marcus Camby
Rick Carlisle
Bill Cartwright
Tyson Chandler
Phil Chenier
Doug Christie
Archie Clark
Jim Cleamons
Wayne Cooper
Bob Cousy
Dave Cowens
Mike D’Antoni
Don Delaney
Joe Dumars
Mike Dunleavy
Mark Eaton
Craig Ehlo
Mario Elie
Gar Forman
Harry Gallatin
Dick Garmaker
Mike Gminski
Cliff Hagan
John Hammond
Tim Hardaway
Tom Heinsohn
Rod Higgins
Bob Hill
Lionel Hollins
Bob Houbregs
Bailey Howell
Eddie Johnson
Marques Johnson
Bobby Jones
George Karl
Steve Kerr
Bob Kurland
Frank Layden
Tim Legler
Ronnie Lester
Earl Lloyd
Donyell Marshall
Bob McAdoo
Rodney McCray
Dick McGuire
Brad Miller
Earl Monroe
Daryl Morey
David Morway
Tracy Murray
Tom Nissalke
Norm Nixon
Kevin O’Connor
Will Perdue
Geoff Petrie
Bob Pettit
Randy Pfund
Scot Pollard
Gregg Popovich
Kevin Pritchard
Jack Ramsay
Frank Ramsey
Arnie Risen
Oscar Robertson
Scotty Robertson
Jimmy Rodgers
John Salley
Flip Saunders
Charlie Scott
Bill Sharman
Purvis Short
Jim Spanarkel
Steve Stipanovich
Ed Stefanski
Rod Thorn
Jay Triano
Kelly Tripucka
Jack Twyman
Dick Van Arsdale
Kiki Vandeweghe
Stan Van Gundy
Dick Vitale
Chet Walker
Bobby Wanzer
Mark Warkentien
Slick Watts
Bill Wennington
Jerry West
Lenny Wilkens
Pat Williams
Brian Winters