There are famous basketball players from every generation: men and women who inspired others and were heroes for children.
One of the first names people think of is Michael Jordan. His history is well-known and motivating to many aspiring players. He went from being cut from the team in tenth grade to being named the greatest North American athlete of the 20th century by ESPN. He was an amazingly driven player who gave 100% in every game he played in. Many players might lose that drive and focus after accumulating the numerous awards and accolades he received, but he played to win every night. Throughout his career, he won the scoring title ten times, five MVP awards, six NBA finals MVP awards, was elected to ten All-NBA First Teams, nine All-Defensive First Teams, fourteen All-Star teams and won three All-Star MVP awards. He finished his career with the highest career regular season scoring average, scoring 30.12 points per game. He will be inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame in September 2009.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Wilt Chamberlin are two other famous basketball players and are probably the most famous and dominating of the big men. Standing 7'2" and 7'1" respectively, both men benefitted from size advantages over their opponents. Each won numerous MVP awards and NBA titles throughout their careers.
Larry Bird and Magic Johnson are said to have saved basketball in the 1980s. Their rivalry began in college when Johnson's Michigan State team topped Bird's Indiana State team in the 1979 NCAA championship game. The rivalry continued in the NBA as Magic and the Lakers met Bird and the Celtics in the NBA finals in 1984, 1985 and 1987. Their teams combined to win eight out of the ten NBA titles in the decade. Each player won three MVP awards.
There are players still active today who might soon be considered among the game's greatest players. They include Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Kevin Garnett and Shaquille O'Neal.
Though more recognizable, men aren't the only famous basketball players. As the WNBA goes up and down in its popularity in the US, several women have stood out as exceptional players. Lisa Leslie, Candace Parker, Sheryl Swoopes and Rebecca Lobo have helped bring attention to women's basketball and the WNBA. They will undoubtedly go down as some of the most famous basketball players in the history of the sport.
NBA basketball history is relatively short, which is fitting considering that it is played in shorts.
Learn about famous women basketball players and their contributions to the sport.