In a league filled with jaw-dropping dunks, buzzer-beaters, and mind-boggling assists, it’s easy to get lost in all the excitement of NBA games. But behind every score lies a story waiting to be told – tales of resilience, determination, and sheer dominance. As we dissect each NBA score from this season’s games, let’s uncover those stories that have captured our attention and shed light on the individuals who are shaping basketball history one basket at a time. Prepare yourself for an inside look into how these remarkable athletes are making their presence felt in unforgettable ways on courts across America!
NBA Scores: The game of basketball is in a constant state of evolution, adapting to the skills, preferences, values, and financial interests of those involved in playing, watching, overseeing, and profiting from it. Throughout the NBA’s existence spanning over 65 years, a select group of players have left an indelible mark on the way the game is played, followed, and valued.
Icons like Elgin Baylor, Pete Maravich, and Magic Johnson have exerted their influence through their unique playing styles. Meanwhile, dominant big men such as George Mikan, Wilt Chamberlain, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar have transformed the game with their exceptional combination of talent and physical stature.
Moreover, numerous players have broken barriers by opening doors for individuals from diverse races and nationalities to thrive in the NBA. Michael Jordan and Bill Russell stand out as influential figures who showcased what it truly takes to achieve success at the highest level of professional basketball. Furthermore, some athletes have made significant contributions to the game’s economic aspects.
During its early stages, players fought for unionization and greater financial rights while seeking liberation from team owners’ control. In more recent times, a select few individuals have played pivotal roles in expanding the league’s global market share. Let us now examine those individuals who have had an immensely profound impact on shaping the game throughout its history.
NBA Scores: Honorable Mention
In 1950, the NBA experienced integration through the groundbreaking efforts of four individuals. Chuck Cooper made history as the first African-American player to be drafted into the league, selected by the Boston Celtics in the second round of the 1950 draft. Nat Sweetwater Clifton, previously a member of the Harlem Globetrotters, shattered barriers by becoming the first African-American to sign with an NBA team when he joined the New York Knicks in the summer of 1950.
Earl Lloyd, a player for the Washington Capitols, achieved another milestone as he became the first African-American to step onto an NBA court and compete in a game. Hank DeZonie also contributed to this significant period by playing five games for the Tri-Cities Blackhawks that season.
The success of international players such as Drazen Petrovic, Sarunas Marciulionis, Vlade Divac, and Arvydas Sabonis further paved the way for future international talents in the NBA. Dirk Nowitzki broke stereotypes about European players being soft when he became a key player on a championship-winning team as part of Dallas Mavericks.
In earlier times, Marques Haynes and Reece Goose Tatum brought excitement and individuality to basketball while playing for Abe Saperstein’s Harlem Globetrotters during 1940s and ’50s before their team became more of a novelty act than serious competition.
\Haynes is widely regarded as one of basketball’s greatest ball-handlers who influenced guards like Bob Cousy and Pete Maravich. Tatum dazzled opponents and entertained fans with his unconventional shots while also being credited with inventing the hook shot – earning him his title as basketball’s original clown prince. Elgin Baylor emerged as one of NBA’s initial African-American superstars during his time as a forward for Los Angeles Lakers.
10. Julius Erving
Long Island native Julius “Dr. J” Erving honed his skills at Harlem’s famed Rucker Park. Then he took the improvisation of the street game to the professional ranks in the American Basketball Association (ABA).
Doc made the slam dunk an art form. Children imitated his mid-air acrobatics at schoolyards across the country. Yet, there was plenty of substance behind Erving’s flash. The forward led the ABA in scoring three times and carried the New York Nets to ABA championships in 1974 and 1976.
Dr. J’s stature as the most exciting player in the game fueled the NBA owners’ desire to reach a settlement with the players association and merge with the ABA, which they did in 1976.
Erving continued his success in the NBA. He was named an All-Star in each of his 11 seasons with the Philadelphia 76ers, won the MVP award in 1981 and, along with Moses Malone, led the 76ers to a championship in 1983.
9. Yao Ming
Yao Ming’s impact on the NBA cannot be overstated. With the exception of Michael Jordan, no other athlete has brought the league’s product to such a vast audience. Yao’s influence in China has been monumental, as it has become the NBA’s largest market outside of the United States. From being drafted by the Houston Rockets as the first pick in 2002 to his retirement due to injuries, Yao’s career was closely followed by millions of Chinese fans who watched Rockets games on television.
The sport of basketball gained immense popularity in China, with courts popping up all over the country and challenging soccer as the nation’s favorite sport. The NBA recognized Yao’s significance and responded by increasing its presence in China through various initiatives such as training programs for Chinese Basketball Association coaches and a newly established youth development league. As a result, NBA merchandise can now be found at an impressive 25,000 retail locations across China.
8. Spencer Haywood:
The era before 1969 witnessed stringent regulations regarding basketball players’ eligibility for participation in either NBA or its rival counterpart ABA leagues; they were required to wait four years after graduating high school before entering these professional arenas.
However, an exception arose when Spencer Haywood defied tradition during that specific year by abandoning his studies at University of Detroit after completing only two years and promptly signing up with Denver Rockets under ABA jurisdiction instead. Justifying their unprecedented move by citing Haywood’s dire financial circumstances necessitating immediate employment to support himself and his family, the ABA designated him a hardship case.
Despite initial opposition, Haywood’s debut season as a professional athlete proved extraordinary, boasting remarkable statistics of an average 30 points and 19.5 rebounds per game. Consequently, he garnered accolades as both the ABA Rookie of the Year and league MVP. Subsequently, Haywood transitioned to the NBA by joining Seattle SuperSonics;
However, due to NBA’s strict adherence to their four-year draft-eligibility rule, he was barred from playing immediately upon arrival. Unfazed by this setback, Haywood embarked on a legal battle against the NBA that eventually reached the Supreme Court where he emerged victorious.
Ultimately, a settlement was reached between Haywood and the league. This triumph in court subsequently paved the way for future players such as Moses Malone and Darryl Dawkins to circumvent college education entirely and directly enter NBA drafts. Moreover, it also influenced prominent basketball icons including Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and LeBron James to either depart college prematurely or leap directly from high school into professional basketball by declaring for drafts or making direct transitions into professional leagues.
7. Oscar Robertson
Oscar Robertson is renowned for being the sole player in NBA history to maintain an average of a triple-double throughout an entire season. The Big O possessed unparalleled versatility on the basketball court and, standing at 6’5 and weighing 220 pounds, pioneered the concept of a dominant big guard in the league, paving the way for future stars like Magic Johnson and LeBron James.
Beyond his exceptional playing style, Robertson’s impact on the game extended far beyond. He fearlessly spoke out against racism both on and off the court and played a pivotal role in organizing a near-boycott of the 1964 All-Star Game alongside other influential players. This protest was eventually called off when team owners guaranteed pension plans for all players involved. However, Robertson’s greatest contribution to the NBA came through his eponymous lawsuit, Robertson v. National Basketball Association.
In 1970, following an agreement between NBA owners and ABA (American Basketball Association) to merge, Robertson, as head of the players association at that time, filed an antitrust lawsuit aiming to block this merger. The absence of free agency during that era coupled with an alternate league’s existence resulted in increased salaries for players.
Ultimately, both parties reached a settlement in 1976 which granted players restricted free agency rights – empowering teams with the ability to match any offer received by their players. This landmark agreement marked a significant shift in economic power balance between players and team owners.
6. George Mikan
George Mikan emerged as an unparalleled force in a league predominantly dominated by towering centers. His imposing height of 6’10” granted him an undeniable advantage over his competitors, enabling him to ruthlessly punish opposing teams with an unguardable hook shot. The Minneapolis Lakers thrived under his leadership during their reign as champions of BAA NBA for five consecutive seasons between late 1940s and early ’50s. Such was Mikan’s overpowering presence that it prompted significant alterations in NBA regulations aimed at curbing his influence on games.
The introduction of a wider lane measuring twelve feet (commonly referred to as Mikan Rule) and implementation of a swift-paced game through adoption of a 24-second shot clock in 1954 were direct responses to counteract his dominance. Beyond his playing career, Mikan’s impact on basketball endured.
In 1967, he made history as the inaugural commissioner of the ABA, where he revolutionized the sport further by introducing the three-point line. In a later era, during the late 1980s, Mikan played an instrumental role in resurrecting professional basketball in Minnesota by actively participating in a task force that ultimately led to the establishment of the Minnesota Timberwolves.
5. Bob Cousy
Bob Cousy brought an electrifying presence to the NBA through his exceptional passing skills and mastery of ball handling techniques. These talents earned him widespread acclaim as the Houdini of the Hardwood while simultaneously transforming a traditionally slow-paced league into one that embraced fast-break basketball. Emerging from humble beginnings on New York City’s streets, Cousy quickly became a beloved figure among Boston fans as he showcased his unwavering determination on court.
His remarkable career with the Boston Celtics spanned 13 seasons, during which he consistently earned All-Star Game selections and was crowned MVP in 1956-57. Additionally, Cousy cemented his legacy by securing six championships for his team. Recognizing the need for change within professional basketball, he took it upon himself to establish the National Basketball Players Association in 1954 – an organization aimed at rectifying issues such as meager salaries and insufficient healthcare benefits for players. Demonstrating his commitment to improving conditions for athletes, Cousy served as its pioneering president until 1958
4. Wilt Chamberlain
Wilt Chamberlain stood unrivaled as an offensive force in basketball history. His unique combination of size, strength, and unparalleled skill went unnoticed by most casual fans who failed to appreciate his mastery of the game. Affectionately known as The Big Dipper, he accomplished extraordinary feats like scoring a record-breaking 100 points in one game and snatching an astounding 55 rebounds in another. The 1961-62 season witnessed Chamberlain’s incredible average of 50.4 points per game – a testament to his utter dominance on the court.
The NBA was left with no choice but to implement certain rule changes aimed at leveling out the competition: widening the lane from its original width of 12 feet to a more spacious 16 feet; introducing offensive goaltending; prohibiting players from throwing an inbounds pass over the backboard; and enacting a new regulation that forbade free-throw shooters from crossing the free-throw line until their shot made contact with the rim – all direct responses to Chamberlain’s groundbreaking experimentation with dunking his free throws.
3. Bill Russell
Bill Russell epitomized what it meant to be a winner on and off the basketball court. Leading the Boston Celtics to an unprecedented 11 NBA titles cemented his status as one of basketball’s greatest champions ever known. However, it wasn’t just about winning; Russell transformed how championships were achieved by emphasizing the importance of defense. His mastery of the blocked shot became an offensive weapon, igniting fast breaks and disrupting opponents’ strategies. Additionally, he dominated the defensive backboards with unmatched skill and determination.
Russell’s relentless desire to win came at a personal cost. He willingly sacrificed his own glory by averaging 15.1 points per game throughout his career for the betterment of the team. This selflessness exemplified his dedication to the Celtics’ success.
Beyond his remarkable basketball achievements, Russell broke barriers as the NBA’s first African-American superstar when he entered the league in 1956. Ten years later, he shattered another racial barrier by becoming the first African-American head coach of a professional sports franchise in America when he took on both player and coaching responsibilities for the Celtics.
Russell’s impact extended beyond sports as well. He stood up against racial discrimination and fought for equality throughout his life. When faced with a hotel in Lexington, Kentucky refusing to serve his teammate Sam Jones because of skin color, Russell took a stand by refusing to play in their scheduled exhibition game.
In 1964, Russell united fellow players to demand a pension plan before participating in the All-Star Game. Their collective action forced owners to address this crucial issue and implement a pension plan for players.
These remarkable contributions led to lasting recognition for Russell. In 2009, David Stern announced that the NBA Finals MVP award would bear Bill Russell’s name—a testament to his impact on basketball history. Furthermore, President Obama awarded him with the prestigious Presidential Medal of Freedom as depicted in the accompanying picture above.
2. Magic Johnson and Larry Bird
Larry Bird and Earvin Magic Johnson revolutionized the NBA by injecting it with renewed vitality during a time of crisis. In 1979, when they entered the league, basketball was plagued by profound issues stemming from mismanaged finances and widespread drug abuse. The reckless spending on young players throughout the 1970s had tainted the integrity of the game as both NBA and ABA vied for top talent. This detrimental environment led to sponsors withdrawing support while cocaine addiction ravaged players’ lives behind closed doors. The dire situation culminated in an astonishing decline in popularity that forced even NBA Finals games to be broadcast on tape delay.
However, amidst this bleak backdrop emerged Bird and Magic – two extraordinary athletes who possessed unparalleled skills honed within a team-oriented approach to basketball. As they donned jerseys representing two historic franchises, they ignited an unforgettable rivalry characterized by stark differences in personality, background, and playing style.
Their unbridled passion for the sport and relentless drive to uplift themselves and their teammates breathed new life into a stagnant league. Their impact was so profound that they ushered in what is now considered the NBA’s golden era, captivating audiences worldwide. Through their contributions, these two legends have become inseparable in the annals of basketball history, forever united by their unwavering dedication to the game they hold dear.
1. Michael Jordan
Michael Jordan revolutionized the NBA and basketball as a whole, both literally and metaphorically. He is undeniably the greatest basketball player to have ever graced the court, with his game exuding a regal quality as he effortlessly defied gravity and soared towards the hoop. Jordan’s on-court dominance was only matched by his magnetic charisma.
His arrival in the league coincided with the rise of cable television and the emergence of using individual athletes to promote brands, creating the perfect conditions for Air Jordan to become a global marketing phenomenon and establish himself as the most recognizable athlete worldwide. Through partnerships with iconic brands like Nike and Gatorade, MJ garnered unparalleled exposure, ultimately leading him to form his own subsidiary brand under Nike, complete with his iconic Jumpman logo. Every commercial appearance and sneaker sale became invaluable publicity for not only himself but also for the NBA, contributing immensely to its growth.
His inclusion in the 1992 Dream Team that triumphed in Barcelona further elevated his star power and expanded the league’s visibility across nations, inspiring countless children to pick up a basketball and invest in NBA merchandise. Remarkably, despite his status as a marketing icon, MJ never allowed it to hinder his unwavering dedication to winning championships – an accomplishment he achieved an astounding six times during his tenure with the Chicago Bulls. He set an exemplary standard for future superstars that prioritizing victory above all else leads to both success on and off the court.