Guess which professional basketball stars are the most influential NBA players in the history of the league. It seems very clear. Names that come to mind include Michael Jordan, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, LeBron James and Stephen Curry.
Although Jordan is the best basketball player of all time, LeBron James is the richest active player. In June, James became the first active NBA player to reach billionaire status. The four-time MVP also led the league in jersey sales last season. So, that’s enough.
Michael Jordan (1984–1993, 1995–1998, 2001–2003)
Michael Jordan was to basketball what Babe Ruth was to baseball, and Tom Brady was to football. Jordan’s wealth in 2022 is $2.1 billion. He played 15 seasons in the NBA. The 6’6″ guard was selected third overall by the Chicago Bulls in the 1984 NBA Draft.
In 1,072 career games, MJ averaged 30.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 2.3 steals. The legend went on to complete two triple-peats with the Bulls, winning a total of six NBA championships and Finals MVPs.
How many people love basketball and support the NBA today if not for the 10-time champion? Does Air Jordan ring any bells? The shoe line is symbolic. On top of that, Jordan’s dunk from the free throw line will always be remembered in history. Hands down, Jordan is at the top of our “Most Influential NBA Players of All Time” list.
Additionally, his Game 1 jersey from the 1998 NBA Finals is expected to sell for $5 million at Sotheby’s in September. The fact that his notes are still selling for seven figures in 2022 speaks volumes.
Bill Russell (1956-1969)
Bill Russell won 11 championships with the Boston Celtics. Not only did Russell help break the NBA’s competitive barriers in the fifties and sixties, he also dominated opposing players on the court. In 963 career games, the 6’10” center averaged 15.1 points, 22.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game.
He also led the league in hitting four times: 1958, 1959, 1964 and 1965. He coached the Celtics from 1966–69. Under Russell, Boston won two NBA championships: one in ’68 and another in ’69. It should go without saying that the Monroe, Louisiana, native is one of the most influential NBA players of all time.
Also, if not for Russell’s mark on the NBA, would MJ still be playing? It’s something to think about. Both Jordan and Russell were named to the NBA’s 50th and 75th anniversary teams. When Russell died on July 31, Jordan was asked about the player’s importance to the game of basketball.
The six-time NBA champion left this comment: “Bill Russell was a pioneer – as a player, as a champion, as the NBA’s first black head coach and as an activist. He paved the way and became a role model for every black player who came to the league after him, including me. The world had lost a legend. My condolences to his family. May he comfort us.”
Kobe Bryant (1996–2016)
Kobe Bryant was then selected 13th overall by the Charlotte Hornets in the 1996 NBA Draft. However, he was immediately traded to the Los Angeles Lakers. At age 18, Bryant was drafted out of Lower Merion High School. Along with Andrew Bynum, Jermaine O’Neal, and LeBron James, he was one of the youngest players to enter the NBA.
Memes on social media have also made Bryant an icon. In the year In the 2000s, children chanted “Kobe” before throwing a piece of paper into the trash.
Moreover, Kobe won five NBA championships with the Lakers, two NBA Finals MVPs, four All-Star Game MVPs and one league MVP. He was also selected to the NBA’s 75th Anniversary Team.
In 1,346 career games, Black Mamba averaged 25 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 1.4 steals per game. He retired from basketball in 2016 at the age of 38. And the Lakers retired the number 8 and 24 jerseys.
Prior to the 1996-97 NBA season, Bryant signed a six-year deal with Adidas worth $48 million. Of course, his first signature shoe is the Equipment KB 8. His endorsement deals with Coca Cola, McDonald’s, Spalding, Upper Deck and other companies increased his popularity. And he was the cover athlete for nine different video games. Good luck with this legend.
LeBron James (2003–present)
Finally, LeBron James should round out this particular list. In the minds of millions of fans, King James ends two seasons after holding many records. His impact on the game of basketball is undeniable. In the year In 2013, he led the league in shoe sales.
James was selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2003 NBA Draft. It is prepared from St. Vincent-St. Mary High School. As a rookie, James signed a seven-year, $87 million shoe deal with Nike.
The 19-year veteran has won four NBA championships, four Finals MVPs, four MVPs and three All-Star Game MVP awards.
To add to those accomplishments, James was selected to the All-NBA First Team a total of 13 times during his playing career. In 1,366 career games, the forward averaged 27.1 points, 7.5 rebounds, 7.4 assists and 1.6 steals per game.
In addition to his accomplishments on the court, his impact on the court is well-regarded. He helped establish the LeBron James Family Foundation. This organization helps underprivileged children overcome challenges in Bron’s hometown of Akron, Ohio.
Similarly, James participated in the 2009 “King for Kids” charity bike-a-thon. Chris Paul was one of the riders.
What about business investments? His five most notable business investments include ownership of Blaze Pizza, Unstoppable, Spring Hill Entertainment, Fenway Sports Team, and Ladder.
However, being a co-owner should count for something. In the year In 2011, James bought a 2% stake in Liverpool FC. Needless to say, LeBron James is one of the most influential NBA players of all time.