Famous American Basketball Players

Ever since Dr. James Naismith first invented the game of basketball in America way back in 1891, it has been the nation's most loved sport. Thanks to the emergence of National Basketball Association (NBA), the basketball fever has spread length and breadth. From spectacular dunks and remarkable alley-oops to sweeping three-pointers, basketball is one sport that has successfully managed to keep the spectators on the edge of their seats always. No wonder why die-hard fans (and fanatics) cannot get enough of the game and its players. Talking about basketball players, of the thousands of players who have ever been a part of this sport, some of them have been really, really unforgettable. Some were skillful, others champions. But of all the men who have chased the ball down the court, only some of them have gone to become legends. Go through the timeline, trivia, and interesting facts of the all-time American basketball greats and learn all about their talents, intangibles, and accomplishments in the biographies here.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant
5
Famous As: Basketball Player
Birthdate: August 23, 1978
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: American
Died: January 26, 2020

The former professional basketball player, Kobe Bryant, was drafted into NBA immediately after his school and went on to become one of the most successful basketball players of his generation. During his career of two decades, the Los Angeles Lakers player created numerous new records. He authored a book and one of his poems even inspired an animated short film.

 2 Stephen Curry

Stephen Curry
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Famous As: Basketball Player
Birthdate: March 14, 1988
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: American

American professional basketball player, Stephen Curry, plays for the Golden State Warriors of the National Basketball Association and is considered to be one of the greatest shooter in NBA history. His three-point shot is said to have revolutionised the basketball game. He has many records to his credit and his team has won couple of NBA championships.

 3 Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan
11
Famous As: Basketball player
Birthdate: February 17, 1963
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: American

A superstar, a legend and the greatest basketball player of all time, Michael Jordan is all this and much more. Very few athletes can match up with his level of popularity and impact. And if that is not enough, he is also the richest former professional athlete in the world.

 4 Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant
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Famous As: Basketball Player
Birthdate: September 29, 1988
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: American

Kevin Durant is regarded as one of the best basketball players of his generation. He is known for his phenomenal scoring ability and is hailed as an excellent playmaker. He currently plays for the Brooklyn Nets of National Basketball Association (NBA). He was part of the US men’s national team which won the Olympic gold medal in 2012 and 2016.

 5 Kawhi Leonard

Kawhi Leonard
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Famous As: Basketball Player
Birthdate: June 29, 1991
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: American

A four-time All-Star and six-time All-Defensive Team member, Kawhi Leonard has helped two teams win NBA championships while earning the Finals Most Valuable Player award on both THE occasions. In 2015 and 2016, he was named Defensive Player of the Year. Nicknamed the Claw for his amazing ball-hawking skills, Leonard is known for his quiet demeanor off-court.

 6 Magic Johnson

Magic Johnson
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Famous As: Basketball player
Birthdate: August 14, 1959
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: American

Magic Johnson, the now retired American basketball player was one of the most powerful players of the 1980s and led NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers to five championships during his thirteen years career. His real name is Earvin Johnson and he earned his nickname Magic during his high school days. He retired after testing positive for HIV and currently heads Magic Johnson Enterprises.

 7 Shaquille O’ Neal

Shaquille O’ Neal
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Famous As: Former Basketball Player, Rapper, Actor
Birthdate: March 6, 1972
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: American

Shaquille O'Neal is an American former basketball player who currently works as a sports analyst. Considered one of the greatest basketballers ever, O'Neal was also one of the heaviest and tallest players of all time. One of the most important players in the history of LA Lakers, O'Neal helped the team win three consecutive NBA championships between 2000 and 2002.

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 8 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
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Famous As: Basketball Player, Basketball Coach
Birthdate: April 16, 1947
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: American

Retired basketball player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is a legendary NBA champion and its all-time leading scorer. Known for his trademark skyhook shot, he achieved remarkable feats during his career. Later, he pursued a successful writing and acting career and was even selected U.S. global cultural ambassador. The NBA star is also the proud recipient of the prestigious Presidential Medal of Freedom.

 9 Dwyane Wade

Dwyane Wade
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Famous As: NBA Basketball Star
Birthdate: January 17, 1982
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: American

With an Olympic gold medal and three NBA championships, Dwyane Wade is one of the most decorated former American basketball players of the 21st century. Also a well-known philanthropist, Dwyane Wade founded The Wade's World Foundation in 2003; the foundation helps community-based organizations promote education and social skills for children. He also supports St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

 10 Carmelo Anthony

Carmelo Anthony
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Birthdate: May 29, 1984
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: American

A star basketball player currently with Portland Trail Blazers, Carmelo Anthony was first drafted by Denver Nuggets and played eight seasons with them. Amongst the most prolific scorer in NBA history, he played another seven season with New York Knicks. At the Olympics, Anthony was part of the teams that won bronze medal in 2004 and gold-medal in 2008, 2012, and 2016.

 11 James Harden

James Harden
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Famous As: Basketball Player
Birthdate: August 26, 1989
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: American

James Harden is a basketball player, widely regarded as the best shooting guard in the history of the NBA. His prolific ability to score from difficult situations and positions has helped his team win many games. He was part of the United States national team that won the gold medal at the London 2012 Summer Olympics.

 12 Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook
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Famous As: Basketball Player
Birthdate: November 12, 1988
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: American

Russell Westbrook is a professional basketball player. A nine-time NBA All-Star, Russell is only one of two players in the history of the NBA to average a triple-double for an entire season. An eight-time All-NBA Team member, Russell is one of the most athletic NBA players of all time. He also frequently appears in commercials for brands like Air Jordan.

 13 Zion Williamson

Zion Williamson
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Famous As: Basketball Player
Birthdate: July 6, 2000
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: American

Zion Williamson is an American basketball player who plays in the power forward position for the New Orleans Pelicans of the NBA. Also a humanitarian, Zion Williamson promised to pay for the salaries of the Smoothie King Center employees for 30 days as the 2019–20 NBA season was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 14 Kevin Garnett

Kevin Garnett
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Famous As: NBA Star
Birthdate: May 19, 1976
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: American
Former NBA power forward/center Kevin Garnett was drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves out of high school. After a 12-year term with the Timberwolves, he joined the Boston Celtics. His accolades include the MVP, the Defensive Player of the Year award, and 15 All-Star games. He also starred in Uncut Gems.

 15 Chris Paul

Chris Paul
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Famous As: Basketball Player
Birthdate: May 6, 1985
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: American

Chris Paul is a professional basketball player and one of the highest-paid sportspersons in the world. Apart from earning from his career as a basketball player, he also earns by signing endorsement deals with companies like State Farm and Air Jordan. A religious person, Chris Paul attends church whenever possible.

 16 Larry Bird

Larry Bird
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Famous As: Former Basketball Star
Birthdate: December 7, 1956
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: American

Considered one of the greatest basketball players ever, Larry Bird was part of the Dream Team that won the gold medal at the 1992 Olympics. A Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inductee, Bird helped his team Boston Celtics win three NBA championships. In 2018, MSN Sports named him the greatest Boston Celtics player ever.

 17 Dennis Rodman

Dennis Rodman
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Famous As: Basketball Player
Birthdate: May 13, 1961
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: American

Former professional basketball player, Dennis Rodman came to prominence in the 1980s as a power forward known for his defensive and rebounding abilities. Hailed as "arguably the best rebounding forward in NBA history," he earned NBA All-Defensive First Team honors seven times. He has a media presence as well and has appeared in many TV shows.

 18 Scottie Pippen

Scottie Pippen
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Famous As: Basketball Player
Birthdate: September 25, 1965
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: American

Former professional basketball player, Scottie Pippen, is best known for his stint with the Chicago Bulls with who he won six NBA championships. Considered one of the greatest small forwards of all time, he played a key role in transforming the Bulls into one of the most formidable forces in NBA in the 1990s.

 19 Allen Iverson

Allen Iverson
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Famous As: Basketball Player
Birthdate: June 7, 1975
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: American

Former professional basketball player, Allen Iverson, is regarded as one of the greatest and most influential basketball players of all time. He retired after playing 14 seasons in the National Basketball Association (NBA) for various teams. At the time of his retirement, he was an 11-time NBA All-Star. A popular star, he has made a few cameo appearances in films.

 20 Wilt Chamberlain

Wilt Chamberlain
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Famous As: Basketball Player
Birthdate: August 21, 1936
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: American
Died: October 12, 1999
One of the greatest basketball players of all time, Wilt Chamberlain created numerous records and won two championships during his fourteen years career. The legendary player, first drafted by Philadelphia Warriors, later played for the Philadelphia 76ers and the Los Angeles Lakers. After retirement, he ventured into business, played volleyball, appeared in commercials and movie and even published his autobiography.

 21 LiAngelo Ball

LiAngelo Ball
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Famous As: Basketball Player
Birthdate: November 24, 1998
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: American
LiAngelo Robert Ball, son of former football player LaVar Ball, was a three-star recruit and played for UCLA, before being suspended for shoplifting at a mall in China. He later played for Prienai and in the JBA League, which was established by LaVar. He is now a free agent.

 22 Tim Duncan

Tim Duncan
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Birthdate: April 25, 1976
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: American

Tim Duncan is widely considered one of the greatest basketball players in the history of the NBA and the best power forward of all time. A five-time NBA champion, Duncan also helped his national team win Olympic bronze medal in 2004. Also a humanitarian, Duncan established the Tim Duncan Foundation to fund youth sports programs and education.

 23 Anthony Davis

Anthony Davis
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Famous As: Basketball Player
Birthdate: March 11, 1993
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: American

American professional basketball player, Anthony Davis plays, for the National Basketball Association’s Los Angeles Lakers. He is the youngest player to score at least 59 points in a NBA game. He was a member of the US men’s national basketball team which participated in the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. The team was undefeated in London and won the gold medal.

 24 Damian Lillard

Damian Lillard
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Famous As: Basketball Player
Birthdate: July 15, 1990
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: American

Stunning his fans with his precise shooting abilities, 33 points per game average and five NBA All-Star selections, Damian Lillard has only kept rising in his career as a professional basketball player. In addition to playing for Portland Trail Blazers of the NBA, Lillard is devoted to music and has been creating life-inspired songs under his rap persona, Dame D.O.L.L.A.

 25 Kevin Love

Kevin Love
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Famous As: Basketball player
Birthdate: September 7, 1988
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: American

 26 Chris Bosh

Chris Bosh
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Famous As: Basketball Player
Birthdate: March 24, 1984
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: American

Chris Bosh is an American former basketball player who represented The Toronto Raptors and The Miami Heat of the National Basketball Association. A key player for the US national team, Bosh helped his nation win a gold medal at the Games of the XXIX Olympiad. In 2004, he established the Chris Bosh Foundation to promote education and sports amongst youths.

 27 Victor Oladipo

Victor Oladipo
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Famous As: Basketball Player
Birthdate: May 4, 1992
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: American

Professional basketball player Victor Oladipo currently plays for the Indiana Pacers of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He started playing basketball in high school and went to Indiana University Bloomington, where he played for the Indiana Hoosiers. He began his professional playing career in 2013 and has been going strong since then. He is also a singer.

 28 Penny Hardaway

Penny Hardaway
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Famous As: Basketball coach
Birthdate: July 18, 1971
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: American

 29 Jimmy Butler

Jimmy Butler
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Famous As: Basketball Player
Birthdate: September 14, 1989
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: American

Though his childhood was rough, Jimmy Butler III’s talent as a basketball player eventually led to his selection by the Chicago Bulls in the 2011 draft. He played six seasons with the Bulls and became the first player in its history to bag the NBA Most Improved Player award. He played for Minnesota Timberwolves and Philadelphia 76ers before joining Miami Heat.

 30 Doc Rivers

Doc Rivers
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Famous As: Basketball Coach
Birthdate: October 13, 1961
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: American

Doc Rivers is a former American basketball player, who in his thirteen seasons played primarily for Atlanta Hawks and was known for his defence. After retirement, he picked up coaching responsibilities for Orlando Magic and in his first year was awarded NBA Coach of the Year. Later, he led Boston Celtics to NBA championship. He is currently the coach of Philadelphia 76ers.

 31 Gilbert Arenas

Gilbert Arenas
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Famous As: Basketball player, Blogger
Birthdate: January 6, 1982
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: American

 32 Gary Payton

Gary Payton
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Famous As: Basketball player
Birthdate: July 23, 1968
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: American

 33 Brandon Ingram

Brandon Ingram
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Famous As: Basketball player
Birthdate: September 2, 1997
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: American

 34 Moses Malone

Moses Malone
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Famous As: Basketball player
Birthdate: March 23, 1955
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: American
Died: September 13, 2015

 35 Shareef O'Neal

Shareef O'Neal
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Famous As: Shaquille O'Neal's Son
Birthdate: January 11, 2000
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: American
Shareef O'Neal, son of legendary basketball player Shaquille O'Neal, plays college basketball for the Southeastern Conference team LSU Tigers. He was redshirted in his first season with the UCLA Bruins. He had a heart condition and later underwent surgery and also wore a monitoring device during practice.

 36 Alonzo Mourning

Alonzo Mourning
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Famous As: Basketball player
Birthdate: February 8, 1970
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: American

 37 Elena Delle Donne

Elena Delle Donne
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Famous As: Basketball player
Birthdate: September 5, 1989
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: American

 38 Jackie Robinson

Jackie Robinson
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Famous As: Basketball Player
Birthdate: May 20, 1955
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: American

 39 Kyrie Irving

Kyrie Irving
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Famous As: Basketball Player
Birthdate: March 23, 1992
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: American

A six-time NBA All-Star, Kylie Irving has played for the Nets, Celtics, and Cavaliers. He won the gold in the Rio Olympics and the FIBA World Cup, as part of the U.S. national basketball team. He starred in the Pepsi series Uncle Drew and the movie of the same name.

 40 Isaiah Thomas

Isaiah Thomas
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Famous As: Basketball Player
Birthdate: February 7, 1989
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: American
Isaiah Thomas, also known as “The Pizza Boy,” plays for the Washington Wizards. He has previously played for teams such as the Sacramento Kings, the Cleveland Cavaliers, and Los Angeles Lakers. He is a two-time NBA All-Star and a two-time First-team All-Pac-10, and was named to the All-NBA Second Team.

 41 LeBron James

LeBron James
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Famous As: NBA Star
Birthdate: December 30, 1984
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: American

A basketball prodigy, Lebron James began playing since his school days and was later selected by Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2003 NBA draft. His career progressed at a rapid rate and he is considered to be one of the greatest players in NBA history. During his stint with Miami Heat, he helped them win two NBA Championships. Currently, he plays for Los Angeles Lakers 

 42 Kris Humphries

Kris Humphries
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Famous As: Basketball player
Birthdate: February 6, 1985
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: American

 43 Lonzo Ball

Lonzo Ball
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Famous As: Basketball Player
Birthdate: October 27, 1997
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: American
After earning multiple Player of the Year awards in high school, point guard Lonzo Ball also broke the UCLA Bruins record for the most assists in a season. He was the top U.S. freshman, and was eventually drafted by the L.A. Lakers and then traded to the New Orleans Pelicans.

 44 LaMelo Ball

LaMelo Ball
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Famous As: Basketball Player
Birthdate: August 22, 2001
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: American

Basketball player LaMelo Ball currently represents the Charlotte Hornets of the NBA. Born into a family of basketball players, Ball has attracted the attention of sports outlets since his playing career in high school. In 2017, his family's sports apparel company Big Baller Brand released a signature shoe for Ball, making him the youngest sportsperson to own a signature shoe.

 45 Lamar Odom

Lamar Odom
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Famous As: Basketball Player
Birthdate: November 6, 1979
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: American

Lamar Odom is an American basketball player who helped Los Angeles Lakers win two NBA championships. He also played an important role in helping the US national team win a bronze medal at the 2004 Summer Olympics. Lamar Odom is also a music enthusiast and owns a film and music production company called Rich Soil Entertainment

 46 Charles Barkley

Charles Barkley
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Famous As: Basketball Player
Birthdate: February 20, 1963
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: American

American professional basketball player Charles Barkley was a prolific scorer and played for Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns and Houston Rocket teams of the National Basketball Association. He was part of the US men’s team that won the gold medal in 1992 and 1996 Summer Olympic Games. He was also controversial and was known for his confrontational attitude and physical aggression.

 47 Klay Thompson

Klay Thompson
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Famous As: Basketball Player
Birthdate: February 8, 1990
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: American

Golden State Warriors shooting guard Klay Thompson has won three NBA championships with the team. The five-time NBA All-Star is the son of former basketball player Mychal Thompson. He and Stephen Curry were known as “the Splash Brothers” for setting an NBA record of combined three-pointers, in 2014.

 48 Derrick Rose

Derrick Rose
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Famous As: Basketball Player
Birthdate: October 4, 1988
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: American

Derrick Rose is a basketball player who became the youngest player to receive the NBA Most Valuable Player Award; he received it at the age 22. Despite struggling with knee injuries throughout his career, Rose has managed to stay focused and is currently playing for the Detroit Pistons. In 2018, he came up with a scholarship program called The Rose Scholars to help students.

 49 Vince Carter

Vince Carter
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Famous As: Basketball Player
Birthdate: January 26, 1977
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: American

Widely regarded as the greatest dunker ever in basketball history, Vince Carter is an American former basketball player. His leaping ability during his playing career often entertained crowds, earning him nicknames like Half Man, Half Amazing and Vinsanity. Also a philanthropist, Carter set up the Embassy of Hope Foundation, which helps children in places like New Jersey, Florida, and Ontario.

 50 Phil Jackson

Phil Jackson
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Famous As: Former Basketball Player, Executive & Coach
Birthdate: September 17, 1945
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: American

Phil Jackson is a former professional basketball player who played 12 seasons in the National Basketball Association and won the NBA championships in 1970 and 1973 when he was with New York Knicks. Later, he coached the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers and led them both to numerous championships and league titles and is considered one of the greatest basketball coaches ever.