Here is what I have done, I took my top 18 players (ranked in 2015) and ESPN's top 18 ranked players (ESPN ranked early 2016) and eliminated players who appeared on one list but not the other. This eliminated David Robinson, Mikan, and Pettit from my list and Dirk, Barkley and Dr. J from ESPN's list, leaving these 15 guys:
7. Karl Malone
8. Bill Russell
Those 15 guys have been evaluated both by me and by ESPN's panel of dozens of basketball "experts" to be top 18 players of all-time.
So, how do you cut down the list? Well, to purport to be the most accomplished player of all-time, you should at least have won 2 regular season MVP awards. If you cannot claim to have been evaluated by your contemporaries as the best player in the league twice while you were playing, you don't really have much of an argument. So....
Delete -- West (0), Oscar (1), Shaq (1), Kobe (1)
11 guys left.
Then let's eliminate any player without 3+ titles. This eliminates Hakeem (2), Wilt (2), Moses (1) and Karl Malone (0).
That leaves us with 7 guys -- Jordan, Kareem, LeBron, Duncan, Magic, Russell, Bird
Then you eliminate all guys without 3+ Finals MVPs (unless it is Russell, who played when the award did not exist and won 11 titles). This eliminates Bird (2) and Kareem (2).
That leaves you with only 5 guys -- Michael, LeBron, Duncan, Magic, Bill Russell.
You can decide how to break that 5 way tie. But what I did was go back to the ESPN list and my list and give the guys the point level of where they ranked on my list and the ESPN list. Lower score is better:
5th Place -- Bill Russell (7th on ESPN list, 8th on mine)
4th Place -- Tim Duncan (8th on ESPN list, 5th on mine)
3rd Place -- Magic Johnson (4th on ESPN list, 6th on mine)
2nd Place -- LeBron James (3rd on ESPN list, 4th on mine)
1st Place -- Michael Jordan (1st on ESPN list, 1st on mine).
There ya go.