Throughout its 75-year old history, the NBA has maintained its grit as not just a sport, but a lifestyle. From your favorite teams to the game legends and the record-breaking statistics of the league, this article is an inexhaustible collection of some of the coolest facts about the famous sports league, the National Basketball Association. So hop on this ride, and let’s go!
1. Michael Jordan is the most decorated player in the NBA. Jordan won all but one of the games he played in the NBA Finals. During his career, he won six NBA Championships, made fourteen NBA All-Star appearances, and won five NBA most valuable player awards. He was Defensive Player of the Year in 1988.
2. The name of the bird on the Twitter logo is Larry. It was named after Larry Bird, the hall-of-fame NBA forward who played thirteen seasons with the Boston Celtics. Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, who is a native of Boston, said he grew up hearing the name ‘Bird’ a lot and likened it to a synonym for greatness. Hence, the reason why the Twitter bird got the name.
3. Since the inception of the NBA, the New York Knicks and the Boston Celtics are the only two original NBA teams who have never changed cities or relocated. Every other original team has moved or folded since the league’s inception.
4. While double-doubles and triple-doubles are regular in the NBA, the NBA has never seen a quintuple-double; where someone has averaged at least 10 things in 5 different categories. A quintuple-double is not an impossibility, as it has happened twice in a girl’s high school basketball game, it just hasn’t occurred in the NBA.
5. In the history of the NBA, co-MVPs have been announced only four times. Out of those four times, Shaquille O’Neal has won co-MVP twice. The first was in 2000 when he won his first All-Star Game MVP alongside Tim Duncan; and the second was won during his last All-Star Game MVP, alongside the late Kobe Bryant.
6. Having won MVP thrice, Shaquille O’Neal, also known as Big Shaq, owns the distinction as the oldest player in the NBA to win MVP at the age of 36 years and 346 days old. He won the award in the 1999-2000 season with the Lakers. Karl Malone who won the title before Big Shaq was the oldest player to win the award.
7. Although many fans hail Michael Jordan as the greatest basketball player of all time, there are other players who are worth the title in various categories of the game. In terms of the championship, Bill Russell holds the most wins. Wilt Chamberlain reigns on statistical dominance, while Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has the most remarkable longevity. Now, LeBron James is considered a challenger to the coveted throne.
8. Known as one of the best scorers of the game, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar holds the current record in the NBA’s all-time scoring list, as the best-scoring player of the NBA, with 38,387 points. Another fun fact to note here is that out of these points, Kareem made only one 3-point shot in his entire 20-year career.
9. Out of the 19 All-Star Game appearances he made, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar never won All-Star MVP. Despite being a multi-championship and record holder, this fact is indeed a shocking one about this NBA legend, given that he had a loaded trophy box of honors to his credit.
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10. The tallest player to ever play in the NBA is ManuteBol, who stood at 7 ft 7 inches. He played for the Washington Bullets in 1985 and later joined the Miami Heat in 1994. In his lifetime, Bol played a total of 624 games and accumulated a total of 1,599 points. You’d need to see photos of him to fully understand how tall the man was!
11. The shortest NBA player ever was only 5’3’ tall. It’s almost impossible to believe that someone that short made it to the NBA, but Tyron “MuggsyBogues” Curtis was selected by the Washington Bullets as the 12th overall pick in the 1987 draft. During his 14-year career in the game, he proved that as far as the NBA was concerned, heights did not make legends.
12. The shortest player in NBA history blocked 39 shots. It is hard to believe that someone as short as 5’3” made it to the NBA. It is even harder to believe that he blocked 39 shots on taller players in the NBA! Still, Muggsybecame something of a folk hero with his height, and has many fans to this day.
13. It was in 2005 that the NBA started requiring domestic players to be at least 19 years old to be eligible for drafting. The rule also required that the aspiring player must be out of high school for at least one year and must have spent at least 1 year in college or an international professional team before joining the NBA.
14. Andrew Bynum is the youngest person to ever play in an NBA game. He made his debut with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2005, just six days before he turned 18.
15. The oldest person to ever play in an NBA game was Nat Hickey. He set this record in 1948 at the age of 45 years and 363 days old, when he played in that season with the Providence Steamrollers.
16. The three-point shot was not always part of the NBA. As a matter of fact, it originated in the ABA(American Basketball Association). The NBA didn’t adopt this new rule until the 1979-1980 season. The rest, they say, is history.
17. Since 1979, all the teams from the Western Conference who have won NBA Championships were based in either Texas or California. The last Western Conference team who were not from these states are the Seattle Supersonics. Other non-California and non-Texas-based teams from the West who tried to break the streak by advancing to the NBA Finals twice, failed to capture the championship each time.
18. A regular NBA basketball game lasts for 48 minutes. The longest NBA game was played between Indianapolis Olympians and Rochester Royals on January 6, 1951, and it lasted for 78 minutes. The game consisted of 78 minutes of gameplay and six overtime (the most overtime in an NBA game).
19. At merely 26 years old, Greek forward Giannis Antetokounmpois the only one of three players in the NBA to have won MVP, Finals MVP, and Defensive Player of the Year.The other two persons who have made this achievement are Hakeem Olajuwon and Michael Jordan.
20. The 1987-1988 season of the NBA saw the shortest player and the tallest player in the league play on the same team. ManuteBol and MuggsyBogues both played for the Washington Bullets that season, and it was thrilling.
21. For the first time in the history of the NBA, the 2021 NBA Finals featured no former NBA champions. Not a single NBA champion was enlisted in the rosters of any of the two teams that competed for the championship. None of the players who played in the game had a championship before.
22. Michael Jordan made 31 50-point games, the most by any player in the league. He is also the only player to record consecutive 50-point games in playoffs. Next in line to this feat is the late Lakers’ superstar, Kobe Bryant, with a total of 25 50-point games.
23. NBA cheerleaders and dancers typically make $75-$150 per game. According to ESPN, they get a wage of about $14.58 per hour. So for each game, a dancer/cheerleader for an NBA team goes home with at least $50. This is a pretty good gig if you are a basketball enthusiast.
24. The highest-scoring NBA game ended with a score of 186-184. It was the triple-overtime game played between the Detroit Pistons and the Denver Nuggets on December 13, 1983. The two teams also set several other NBA records, including the most points scored by one team (186 points), and the most points scored by a losing team (184).
25. Throughout his career, Shaquille O’Neal has made over 11,196 buckets, but only one of them was a 3-pointer. He has attempted 22 three-point attempts but was able to make just one of them.
26. Kobe Bryant was not up to 18 years old when he was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets. His parents had to co-sign his first NBA contract since he was not yet considered a legal adult at the time. These days, newbies won’t have to be co-signing with their parents anymore since you have to be at least 19 to be eligible for the draft.
27. Aside from winning four NBA championships and four Finals MVPs with three different franchises, LeBron James has also set the record for taking eight consecutive trips to the NBA Finals. When LeBron James is on your team, you can guarantee that your team will be elevated to the championship finale.
28. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has won the most NBA MVP awards, with a record of six titles to his credit, 3 with the Milwaukee Bucks and 3 with the Los Angeles Lakers. Bill Russell and Michael Jordan come in second with five MVP awards.
29. So far, Jerry West is the only NBA player to ever win the Finals MVP from a losing team. The Finals MVP award is usually given to the most valuable player in the NBA Finals, and of course, the awardee would be from the winning team. But in the 1969 NBA Finals, which was also the first time the award was given out, a player from the losing team won the award. And since then, there has never been any other NBA player to achieve this.
30. NBA Champion Michael Jordan thrives as the richest basketball player ever. As of January 2023, his personal net worth was estimated to be $1.5 billion. His career earnings were also approximated to about $90 million in salary and over $ 1.4 billion from corporate partners, especially Nike.
31. Although Michael Jordan happens to be the richest basketball player yet to be seen, the record for the highest annual earnings for a basketball player goes to LeBron James. LeBron has the highest cumulative career earnings with total earnings of 431.86 million U.S. dollars.
32. The Rookie of the Year is given to the most outstanding rookie of the season. Usually, the winner of the award will be one who has won Rookie of the Month on multiple occasions. But Malcolm Brogdon won Rookie of the Year without winning a single Rookie of the Month honor. He is the first and came the first player to ever do it in NBA history.
33. Since 1984, at least one of Shaq’s former teammates has managed to make the NBA Finals. But for the first time in 38 years, the 2021 NBA Finals featured none of Big Shaq’s teammates. This streak ended when Rajon Rondo’s Los Angeles Clippers failed to advance to the Finals against the Phoenix Suns.
34. The first African American players in the National Basketball Association in the twentieth century came into the league in 1950. Chuck Cooper was the first black player to be drafted in the NBA. The others after him were Nat Clifton and Earl Lloyd.
35. Most people mistake Yao Ming to be the first Chinese player in the NBA, but that’s not true. The title belongs to Wang Zhizhi. Although Wang was the first Chinese to join the NBA in 1999, he did not play in any game until 2 years after he was drafted.
36. Since 2012, the NBA Finals MVP has been won by a Small Forward, such as the likes of LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Andre Iguodala, and Giannis Antetokounmpo. However, Stephen Curry, the recent winner of the award is a point guard.
37. In his 20-year career, Kobe Bryant finished with a total of 25 50-point games which is the third most in NBA history. The only players who had more than him are Michael Jordan with 31 and Wilt Chamberlain with 118.
38. The Nike Air Jordan which later became the most popular sneakers of all time was initially banned from the NBA. When the new sneakers were born in 1985, Michael Jordan was always fined $5,000 for every game he played with the shoes on. Nike paid the fine every single time!
39. It has been estimated that sixty percent of NBA players go broke after 5 years of retiring from the league. This might sound ironic or merely speculative to think of how millionaires can go from being so rich to having absolutely nothing to boast about. But as a matter of fact, NBA players going broke after retirement happens more often than you would think.
40. Statistics show that 7-foot-tall Americans have a 17% Chance of making it to the NBA.
While someone between 6’6” and 6’8” only has a .07% chance of making the NBA, someone that is 7 feet or taller stands a greater chance of getting drafted into the league.
41. NBA player Pete Maravichhad said in an interview when he was 26 that he “didn’t want to play in the NBA for 10 years, then die of a heart attack at 40.” As if it was a prophecy, Maravich had a 10-year NBA career and then died of a heart attack at 40.
42. Chris Webber never actually played any game for the team that drafted him. He was selected by the Orlando Magic in the 1993 NBA draft, but he was immediately traded to the Golden State Warriors for Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway. Many people today do not know that the Golden State Warriors didn’t draft the Hall of Famer.
43. The NBA team with the record for the most championships won is the Boston Celtics with 17 wins. Among this record is 7 straight wins from 1960 to 1966. It was in 2019 that the Los Angeles Lakers joined the Celtics as the only two teams with 17 championship titles.
44. The Washington “Bullets” changed their name to the “Wizards” mainly because a close friend of the then Wizards owner Abe Pollin was assassinated by gunshot. On top of that there was a notorious high murder rate in Washington DC at the time, and so the name “Bullets” was no longer appropriate.
45. Kobe Bryant holds the record for the most missed shots in the NBA, with 14, 481.No one attempted bad shots in the NBA than Kobe Bryant. He is currently fourth on the NBA’s all-time scoring list with 33,643 points and has attempted the third-most shots with 26,200.
46. The NBA used to have a rival league called The American Basketball Association (ABA). It was launched in the 1967-68 season and consisted of 11 teams. When the ABA was disbanded later in 1976, the teams of both associations were merged.
47. Len Bias, the number two pick by the Boston Celtics in the 1986 NBA draft, died of a cocaine overdose just 2 days after his draft night. He is considered by some sportswriters to be one of the greatest players not to play at the professional level.
48. LeBron James was given a $10 million offer from Reebok when he was only 18, but he turned it down! He rejected the offer believing that Nike or Adidas would make him a bigger offer n the future. True to his belief, he was given a $90 million offer from Nike, less than a year after turning Reebok down.
49. Ron Artest holds the record for the longest-ever NBA suspension. Artest was suspended from playing in 73 games and 13 playoff games. On top of that, he also lost $7 million in salary. Latrell Sprewell comes in second place with a 68-game suspension, which he got for attacking and choking a coach.
50. Magic Johnson retired before the 1991-1992 NBA Season after announcing he was HIV positive, but his fans still voted him into the 1992 All-Star Game. He returned to play the game and won MVP that season.
51. The silhouette on the original NBA logo features the former Lakers player Jerry West. Although won only one championship during his 14-year career, West was one of the very few players to be an All-Star in every year of their career.
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