Basketball changed for good when Michael Jordan arrived. Shorts got longer and baggier, and the sport saw a renewed global popularity.
Jordan has one of the highest overall career efficiencies ever seen. Yet his reach extended far beyond the court.
The Jordan marketing blueprint pushed basketball branding into the stratosphere. Now, even 20 years after his final NBA game, his legacy sets the marketing standard.
2. LeBron James
LeBron James changed the game as a basketball player and a businessman.
With a legendary career featuring four MVP awards, three Finals MVPs, and 16 All-Star honors to his name, James is a standout player.
And, as a result of carefully crafted branding, he makes millions of dollars alongside his lucrative basketball career. While there’ll never be a LeBron James 2.0, future players will always take inspiration from him.
There’ll never be another player like Chamberlain. He revolutionized the game with his skill, athleticism, and strength, and is, perhaps, the most unstoppable offensive force in NBA history.
Mostly known for lofting the ball over the backboard to himself, and also introducing the free-throw lane, Chamberlain operated on his own plane.
It's not simply that he dominated, it's how he has done so that has revolutionized the game for good.
Bird helped to push initial league popularity during the 80s by exuding his star power.
Aside from his legendary trash-talking ability, Bird worked to pave the way for the positionless versatility that exists within the sport today. Despite his larger stature, he could pass and play like any other guard.
Larry Bird is also the only player in the history of the league with a career average of 24 points, six assists, and 10 rebounds.
Many of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's iconic contributions to basketball have revolutionized the game. But none more than the implementation of the skyhook shot.
This lethal shot involves a player shooting with one hand on the side of their body. It is a great move for those crunch-time situations.
He has also revolutionized the way basketball players use their platform and influence to do good. He has discussed social issues, worked tirelessly to end hunger, and has also become a writer.
Johnson amazed fans everywhere with his flair for the dramatic and his excellent playing skills. Such dynamic talents as point guard led him to MVPs, NBA titles, and much more.
Johnson became a prolific passer during his career, achieving record-breaking career assists per game. A consideration of his size shows how he challenged positional limits.
He also demonstrated extraordinary success beyond the basketball court, with an entertainment and business empire that is valued at around $1 billion.
Shaquille O’Neal’s had a colossal charismatic presence on any basketball court. It is this enormous personality and an equally as large frame that helped him to revolutionize the game.
O’Neal is renowned as one of the best passing centers in the league. With the Lakers, he demonstrated phenomenal defensive tactics, forcing his opponents to re-evaluate their play. He also changed how basketball is officiated.
It’s safe to say that he is one of the NBA’s greatest ever players!
Stephen Curry was an integral part of the league’s shift in culture: dominating the perception and playing of the game.
What Curry lacks in physicality, he makes up for in his tactical play. He revolutionized taking long-range three-point shots over others, which was previously unthinkable (and may have gotten you benched!)
This is an approach that has since been adopted by and mimicked by several key figures in the game, demonstrating his influence and raw talent.
Thanks to his dynamic playing style and vibrant personality, Bryant revolutionized basketball in several ways.
Notably, with his Mamba Mentality, he proved that players can have success outside of the court. He showed that being a professional basketball player didn’t limit you in any way as long as you have the skills and visualization to achieve more.
Bryant also highlighted that there are still ways to dominate basketball even if your body doesn’t perform like it used to.
Few NBA players have revolutionized basketball like the tall and talented Nowitzki has.
He changed the NBA’s perception of players with his stature. Being an excellent shooter with lots of finesse allowed him to challenge stereotypes and create a trend that equated tallness with grace within the game.
As he began to succeed in the NBA, the three-point shot became a more valued weapon. This is when he started picking up his accolades.
While many players have introduced different strategies into the game, these are the top 10 names that any basketball fan must know.