Basketball is constantly changing, with the NBA being one of the most diverse and dynamic professional leagues in existence right now. Usually, those changes are being driven by the figure of an exceptional player. A player that then leads their team to a new style, bringing out the best in all their teammates. Who are these players that changed this sport forever?
He is magic Mike, number 23, and forever a legend in all the NBA courts he played on. Michael Jordan’s competitive drive is legendary. He would even crush his junior teammates in Live Blackjack games in order to keep winning just as he did on the basketball court. The biggest takeaway from Jordan’s career, next to his 6 titles, is that his reach extended beyond the court. He enjoyed a level of fame never seen before and managed it in a new way as well. He took charge of his image, created his brand, and profited from his marketing power, forever changing the business side of basketball. This progress impacted the lives of future athletes like LeBron James and Stephen Curry, both of whom developed their brands like Jordan. He is a true game-changer whose decisions are still felt in today’s NBA industry.
At first glance, Curry does not have the looks of an NBA superstar or a game-changer, he is tall but he is not as imposing as Shaquille O’Neal or James Harden. However, what Curry lacks in physicality, at first glance, he made up in simple math: three is better than two. The score numbers in Curry’s record are something that seems to be out of a Virtual Sports fantasy. This high-scoring pursue was and remains at the heart of Curry’s game strategy. He has prioritized taking three-pointers over any other basket shot. An approach that has now been mimicked by several other figures in the game such as Trae Young, proving, once again, that the mental aspect of sports is as much a drive as pure raw talent.
This tall and talented player changed the way the NBA viewed players of his stature. By being a great shooter, with finesse, he completely changed the stereotype of the ungraceful big player. Nowitzki made it almost impossible for big players like him to find success in the league if their ball techniques were not up to par. He created a trend along with the expectation that being tall and having grace is essential in this industry.
If the player’s nickname is “The Big Dipper” you already know that you are about to witness something different. Chamberlain stood well above his fellow athletes in the league both in size and talent. His natural capabilities and size advantage lead the NBA to create rules to make sure the competition stayed fair. His teammates would routinely inbound into their backboard so Chamberlain could easily score and he would throw himself alley-oops when shooting free throws. So, changes like outlawing backboard inbounding and the no advancing in a free throw unless the ball has touched the rim, are all a consequence of Chamberlain’s power. Safe to say that the NBA would not be what it is without him.