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 Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan.
31
Famous As: Basketball player
Birthdate: February 17, 1963
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, United States

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.

 2 Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant.
26
Famous As: Basketball Player
Birthdate: August 23, 1978
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
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.

 3 Stephen Curry

Stephen Curry.
17
Famous As: Basketball Player
Birthdate: March 14, 1988
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Akron, Ohio, United States

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.

 4 Shaquille O’ Neal

Shaquille O’ Neal.
8
Famous As: Former Basketball Player
Birthdate: March 6, 1972
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Newark, New Jersey, United States

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.

 5 Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant.
26
Famous As: Basketball Player
Birthdate: September 29, 1988
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Washington, D.C., United States

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.

 6 Magic Johnson

Magic Johnson.
13
Famous As: Basketball player
Birthdate: August 14, 1959
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Lansing, Michigan, United States

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 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
6
Famous As: Basketball Player, Basketball Coach
Birthdate: April 16, 1947
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States

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.

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 8 Kawhi Leonard

Kawhi Leonard.
20
Famous As: Basketball Player
Birthdate: June 29, 1991
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States

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.

 9 Dwyane Wade

Dwyane Wade.
8
Famous As: NBA Basketball Star
Birthdate: January 17, 1982
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States

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 Wilt Chamberlain

Wilt Chamberlain.
11
Famous As: Basketball Player
Birthdate: August 21, 1936
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
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.

 11 Scottie Pippen

Scottie Pippen.
10
Famous As: Basketball Player
Birthdate: September 25, 1965
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Hamburg, Arkansas, United States

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.

 12 James Harden

James Harden.
17
Famous As: Basketball Player
Birthdate: August 26, 1989
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Bellflower, California

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.

 13 Allen Iverson

Allen Iverson.
12
Famous As: Basketball Player
Birthdate: June 7, 1975
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Hampton, Virginia, United States

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.

 14 Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook.
17
Famous As: Basketball Player
Birthdate: November 12, 1988
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Long Beach, California, United States

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.

 15 Dennis Rodman

Dennis Rodman.
9
Famous As: Basketball Player
Birthdate: May 13, 1961
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Trenton, New Jersey, United States

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.

 16 Larry Bird

Larry Bird.
6
Famous As: Former Basketball Star
Birthdate: December 7, 1956
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: West Baden Springs, Indiana, United States

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 Vince Carter

Vince Carter.
6
Famous As: Basketball Player
Birthdate: January 26, 1977
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Daytona Beach, Florida, United States

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.

 18 Chris Paul

Chris Paul.
13
Famous As: Basketball Player
Birthdate: May 6, 1985
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Winston-Salem, North Carolina, United States

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.

 19 Bill Russell

Bill Russell.
8
Famous As: American basketball player
Birthdate: February 12, 1934
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Monroe, Louisiana

Bill Russell is a former professional basketball player. Widely regarded as one of the greatest basketball players ever, Russell led the US national basketball team to victory and helped his team win Olympic gold at the 1956 Summer Olympics. Also known for his accomplishments in the civil rights movement, Russell was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011.

 20 Tim Duncan

Tim Duncan.
8
Birthdate: April 25, 1976
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Christiansted, Saint Croix

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.

 21 Kevin Garnett

Kevin Garnett.
8
Famous As: NBA Star
Birthdate: May 19, 1976
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Mauldin
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.

 22 Charles Barkley

Charles Barkley.
7
Famous As: Basketball Player
Birthdate: February 20, 1963
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Leeds, Alabama

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.

 23 Damian Lillard

Damian Lillard.
6
Famous As: Basketball Player
Birthdate: July 15, 1990
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Oakland, California

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.

 24 Isaiah Thomas

Isaiah Thomas.
6
Famous As: Basketball Player
Birthdate: February 7, 1989
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Tacoma, Washington
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.

 25 Isiah Thomas

Isiah Thomas
4
Famous As: Basketball player, Basketball coach, Consultant
Birthdate: April 30, 1961
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Chicago

 26 Lonzo Ball

Lonzo Ball.
4
Famous As: Basketball Player
Birthdate: October 27, 1997
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Anaheim, California
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.

 27 Anthony Davis

Anthony Davis.
12
Famous As: Basketball Player
Birthdate: March 11, 1993
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois

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.

 28 Zion Williamson

Zion Williamson.
13
Famous As: Basketball Player
Birthdate: July 6, 2000
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Salisbury, North Carolina, United States

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.

 29 Klay Thompson

Klay Thompson.
6
Famous As: Basketball Player
Birthdate: February 8, 1990
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States

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.

 30 Ray Allen

Ray Allen
5
Famous As: Basketball player
Birthdate: July 20, 1975
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Merced, California, United States

 31 Derrick Rose

Derrick Rose.
6
Famous As: Basketball Player
Birthdate: October 4, 1988
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States

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.

 32 Phil Jackson

Phil Jackson.
4
Famous As: Former Basketball Player, Executive & Coach
Birthdate: September 17, 1945
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Deer Lodge, Montana, United States

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.

 33 Dwight Howard

Dwight Howard.
5
Famous As: Basketball Player
Birthdate: December 8, 1985
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Atlanta, Georgia, United States

American professional basketball player, Dwight Howard, is known for his athleticism and his powerful physique. He is in the Los Angeles Lakers team of the National Basketball Association. He has also played for NBA’s Orlando Magic, Houston Rockets, Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Hornets and Washington Wizards. He was part of the US men’s national basketball team which won the 2008 Olympics gold medal.

 34 Carmelo Anthony

Carmelo Anthony.
14
Birthdate: May 29, 1984
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York

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

 35 Patrick Ewing

Patrick Ewing
6
Famous As: Basketball player, Basketball coach
Birthdate: August 5, 1962
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Kingston

 36 Blake Griffin

Blake Griffin.
5
Famous As: Basketball player
Birthdate: March 16, 1989
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Oklahoma City
Six-time NBA All-Star Detroit Pistons power forward Blake Griffin began his career playing for the Oklahoma Sooners, becoming the Consensus National Player of the Year. He was then drafted by the Los Angeles Clippers and won the Rookie of the Year award and the Slam Dunk Contest in 2011. 

 37 Jeremy Lin

Jeremy Lin.
5
Famous As: Basketball Player
Birthdate: August 23, 1988
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Torrance, California

Taiwanese-American professional basketball player Jeremy Lin is famous for being the first Asian American to win an NBA championship. He has played for numerous teams in his career, the Beijing Ducks of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) being the latest. He loves music and has collaborated with the rapper MC Jin on the single "The First Opponent."

 38 Reggie Miller

Reggie Miller
4
Famous As: Basketball player
Birthdate: August 24, 1965
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Riverside, California, United States

 39 Paul Pierce

Paul Pierce.
4
Famous As: NBA small forward
Birthdate: October 13, 1977
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Oakland

Former Boston Celtics basketball player Paul Pierce led his team to two NBA Finals and won one NBA championship. He later also played for teams such as the Los Angeles Clippers. The 10-time NBA All-Star was also named the NBA Finals MVP in 2008. Shaquille O'Neal named him “The Truth.”

 40 Jason Kidd

Jason Kidd
5
Famous As: Basketball player, Basketball coach
Birthdate: March 23, 1973
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: San Francisco

 41 Jerry West

Jerry West
6
Famous As: Basketball player
Birthdate: May 28, 1938
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Chelyan, West Virginia, United States

 42 Julius Erving

Julius Erving
4
Famous As: Basketball player
Birthdate: February 22, 1950
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: East Meadow, New York, United States

 43 Pete Maravich

Pete Maravich.
4
Famous As: Basketball Player
Birthdate: June 22, 1947
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Aliquippa, Pennsylvania
Died: January 5, 1988
Pete Maravich, or Pistol Pete, played for three NBA teams till injuries ended his career. He initially played under his father, head coach Press Maravich, for the LSU Tigers. He also became the NCAA Division I top scorer of all time, with 3,667 points and 44.2 points per game.

 44 Devin Booker

Devin Booker.
6
Famous As: Basketball Player
Birthdate: October 30, 1996
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Michigan
Devin Armani Booker is a star basketball player of the NBA team Phoenix Suns. His achievements include playing in the McDonald's All-American Game, representing the University of Kentucky, and becoming the youngest NBA player to score 50 points in consecutive games. In 2020, Devin made it to the NBA All-Star.

 45 Paul George

Paul George.
8
Famous As: Basketball Player
Birthdate: May 2, 1990
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Palmdale, California

A six-time NBA All-Star, Paul George has been an important player in the NBA for the last decade or so. Apart from making his presence felt in the NBA, Paul George also played a key role in helping the United States men's national basketball team win Olympic gold in the 2016 Summer Olympics held at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

 46 DeMarcus Cousins

DeMarcus Cousins
4
Famous As: Basketball player
Birthdate: August 13, 1990
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Mobile

 47 John Stockton

John Stockton
4
Famous As: Basketball player
Birthdate: March 26, 1962
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Spokane, Washington, United States

 48 Kyle Kuzma

Kyle Kuzma.
7
Famous As: Basketball Player
Birthdate: July 24, 1995
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Flint, Michigan, United States
Kyle Kuzma began his career with the Utah Utes and was named to the All-Pac-12 First Team. He was later drafted by the Brooklyn Nets but traded to the LA Lakers. He was named to the NBA All-Rookie First Team, and in 2020, he scored his first NBA championship win.

 49 Seth Curry

Seth Curry.
14
Famous As: Basketball Player
Birthdate: August 23, 1990
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Charlotte, North Carolina
Philadelphia 76ers shooting guard/point guard Seth Curry, son of Dell Curry and brother of Stephen Curry, began his NBA career with the Memphis Grizzlies. He is a two-time NBA D-League All-Star and has had successful runs with the Liberty Flames and the Duke Blue Devils in college.

 50 Kevin Love

Kevin Love
6
Famous As: Basketball player
Birthdate: September 7, 1988
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Santa Monica, California, United States