The Most Influential Players in NBA History

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The National Basketball Association (NBA) has seen countless players come and go throughout its history. But only a few have left such a strong mark on the league that they have inspired generations of players and fans alike.

Knowing who the very best are is especially useful if you enjoy betting with an online sportsbook, as you can easily identify traits that make certain players much more likely to have big-game moments. With that said, here are the five most influential NBA players of all time.

Michael Jordan

As one of the most talented basketball players of all time, seen by many as being the very best, very few players come close to Michael Jordan. During his 15-year career, Jordan led the Chicago Bulls to six NBA championships and won five NBA MVP awards. If you’re looking for someone who knows how to score, Jordan is your man; he was also incredible in high-pressure situations thanks to his competitive work ethic and ability to score at vital moments.

Jordan’s impact on the NBA is much more than just his on-court performances. He was a cultural icon, inspiring a generation of basketball fans and athletes with his signature moves, such as the “Jumpman” dunk and his famous tongue wag. Jordan’s influence on popular culture extended beyond basketball, as he became a global brand ambassador for Nike and helped popularize the Air Jordan sneaker line.

Magic Johnson

Magic Johnson was a 6’9″ point guard who played for the Los Angeles Lakers for 13 seasons. During his career, Johnson won five NBA championships and three NBA MVP awards. Johnson was known for his incredible court vision, passing ability, and ability to play multiple positions.

Johnson helped to revolutionize the game with his “Showtime” Lakers, a team that played a fast-paced, high-scoring style of basketball. Johnson was also one of the first NBA players to embrace his HIV-positive status and help raise awareness of the disease. His advocacy work helped destigmatize HIV/AIDS and led to a greater public understanding of the virus.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the NBA’s all-time leading scorer with 38,387 points. Abdul-Jabbar was a mainstay for the Milwaukee Bucks and the Los Angeles Lakers, gracing the sport for a total of 20 seasons, during which time he won six NBA championships and six NBA MVP awards. Abdul-Jabbar was known for his signature skyhook shot, which was virtually unblockable.

If you want someone who goes above and beyond what one would expect from a basketball player, Abdul-Jabbar is your man. He was ahead of his time in terms of his advocacy for the Civil Rights movement. He is regarded as an African American trailblazer, often speaking out against many forms of injustice and inequality. Abdul-Jabbar is also a scholar and author, writing several books on African American history and culture.

Bill Russell

Bill Russell is widely regarded as one of the greatest defensive players in NBA history. As a 13-year NBA veteran for the Boston Celtics, Russell won 11 NBA championships and five NBA MVP awards. Russell was known for his incredible shot-blocking ability, his tenacity on defense, and his leadership on and off the court.

Not only was Russel a great player, but he was also a great person off the court. He was a vocal supporter of the Civil Rights movement in the US and was one of the first African American coaches in the league. Russell’s leadership and commitment to social justice paved the way for future generations of athletes to use their platforms to effect positive change.

Wilt Chamberlain

Wilt Chamberlain was a dominant force in the NBA during the 1960s. He was a star player for the Philadelphia/San Francisco Warriors, Philadelphia 76ers, and Los Angeles Lakers, playing for a total of 14 seasons, during which time he won two NBA championships and four NBA MVP awards. Chamberlain was known for his incredible scoring ability, his rebounding prowess, and his size and athleticism. He also helped popularize the slam dunk and paved the way for future high-flying players. His impact on the sport was so significant that the NBA even changed some of its rules in response to his dominance, such as widening the lane to prevent him from camping under the basket and scoring easy layups.

Chamberlain was also a trailblazer for African American athletes, using his platform to speak out against racism and discrimination.


In conclusion, these five players have left an indelible mark on the NBA and have influenced the game in countless ways. Their impact goes beyond just their on-court performances, as they have used their platform to effect positive change and inspire future generations of athletes. From Michael Jordan’s cultural icon status to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s advocacy work, these players have become more than just athletes – they have become icons of the sport and society as a whole.

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