5 Basketball Players Who Changed the Game
America has a deep love for sports. However, throughout the 20th century, four major sports dominated the American popular culture. These four Major League sports are basketball, football, hockey, and baseball. All four of these sports have garnered a major following (though soccer has already overtaken hockey in popularity) all over the country.
The United States is also where the Fantasy League got its start. For those who don’t know, Fantasy League is a term that most often refers to fantasy football. Though recently fantasy basketball, fantasy soccer, and fantasy baseball have garnered some popularity as well. It is very easy to learn this game, especially if you are already a fan of football. And it is especially fun for bettors, as new options open up, making the hobby a lot more fun.
But, we are here to talk about basketball. More precisely, the players who have, in some ways, changed the game. Whether through their technical mastery or sheer overwhelming physique, these five players have done their part and have gone down as legends in basketball history.
We can’t make a list like this without talking about Shaquille O’Neal. Shaq began his career with Orlando Magic, but, his most notable years he spent with the Miami Heat, who have recently brought Caron Butler aboard as head coach.
Shaq became known for his “black tornado” move, in which he would post up a defender, turn around, and use his elbows as leverage to score a slam dunk. The reason he is on this list is because of his overwhelming stature. During his first NBA season, he broke two backboard supporters, prompting the NBA to enhance their strength and stability for future seasons.
Prior to Stephen Curry’s introduction to the NBA, dunks lead the game. Since adding Curry to their lineup, the Golden State Warriors have completely changed the game, forcing other teams to try for more shots, simply to keep up with the team.
For his part, Curry is widely considered the best shooter that the National Basketball Association has ever seen, setting and breaking records within the field. He set the record for most three pointers made within a season with over 200, a record which he kept surpassing each subsequent year. Right now, he is at 402. The question is, will he go higher?
Back in the 70s, the NBA was losing fans. The American population was losing interest. That is until the Boston Celtics signed Larry Bird in 1979. Larry Legend, as he came to be known became an instant success. He earned Rookie of the Year, the MVP award, the Finals MVP award, the All-Star MVP Award, the Coach of the Year and the Executive of the Year, making him the only basketball player in history to do so. In many ways, he is one half of the duo that elevated basketball back into the mainstream. So, who is the second half?
Larry Bird’s greatest rival, Magic Johnson is the second part of the greatest sports rivalry of all time. It all began in college basketball, when the two first met on the court, and carried on into the professionals. The two players are largely responsible for breathing new life into the NBA, and both are widely considered two of the greatest players in their own right. Johnson especially carries the title as the greatest point guard in basketball history.
No list of great basketball players is complete without MJ. Widely considered the greatest athletes of all time, Michael Jordan and the 90s Chicago Bulls are largely credited as the team that helped bring the NBA international attention. The explosion of popularity that happened in his time is still unmatched to this day.
Not to mention, Michael Jordan is widely regarded as the greatest player of all time, and for good reason. His playstyle was diverse, switching from shooter, to guard, to forward, to even a point guard. His stamina was out of this world. The versatility of his offense left little need for three pointers, which is why he lags behind his successors (Kobe Bryant and LeBron James) in that department.
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