By: Aadi Saharan
As a basketball fan, I think I speak for everyone when I say that we love to learn more about the NBA and its players. While some NBA fans may think they know everything about the game, they may be surprised to find out they don’t know as much as they think. Here, I have compiled seven NBA facts that may teach you a thing or two about the ins and outs of the premier professional basketball league in the world.
7. Some NBA players receive near minimum salary
We all know professional athletes are well-off. Whether they’re lighting it up on the court or creating excitement on the bench, basketball players are often greeted with comprehensive contracts worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. There are, however, exceptions: such as American professional basketball player Larry Owens – who made near a minimum salary for the 2nd half of the 2011 season. That year, he received a $21,049 contract from the Washington Wizards, which was incredibly low, even for a bench player. Unfortunately, this problem persists in the NBA today. “I think a lot of guys are going to be hurting [during the pandemic], especially people on minimums or people that didn’t just budget correctly and didn’t expect this to happen,” said Portland Trail Blazers player CJ McCollum. “I would say out of 450 players…150 probably are living paycheck to paycheck.” As McCollum reveals, the pandemic has had unexpected effects for athletes, but it could also reveal a larger issue at hand: does society buy into the misconception that all professional athletes are well off, when in reality they might not be making the money we think they make?
6. The Toronto Huskies?
Throughout NBA history, the Toronto Raptors have been commonly known as the “1st NBA Team to be held outside of the United States”: the team that started it all. However, it may come as a surprise that another team has existed before them, but has since faded away into obscurity. This team was the Toronto Huskies, who only played one season back in 1946-1947 and managed to only win an unimpressive 22 games. This was due to the fact that Canada wasn’t sold on having an NBA team at the time, making basketball one of the less popular sports in Toronto. The team’s lack of international presence, coupled with an uneventful season consequently led many basketball fans to forget all about the team that really started it all .
5. Rookie Michael Jordan and MVP Kobe Bryant had identical stats
2007 was one of the best year’s in Kobe Bryant’s career. Averaging an impressive 28.2 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 5.4 assists per game while carrying the Lakers to the playoffs made for a loaded western conference. Many basketball fans, however, overlook the fact that these statistics matched those of Michael Jordan, a rookie player at the time. In his rookie season with the Chicago Bulls, Jordan averaged more rebounds, assists, blocks, and steals, all while having a better field goal percentage, than Kobe Bryant, who at the time already had 11 years of NBA experience. This goes to show that mainstream players more than often receive extensive amounts of attention over their performance and statistics; aspects that can just as easily be found in the performance of a rising player as well.
4. Linsanity was more impressive than we made it out to be
Many stood in awe in 2012 when Jeremy Lin scored 89 points in his first three starts for the New York Knicks. But what many don’t know is that Jeremy Lin has the most points in his first three starts by any player since the NBA and ABA merged. To put this into perspective, LeBron James scored 54 points in his first three games; Kevin Durant had 69; Michael Jordan had 74; Kobe Bryant had 37. “When I was growing up playing basketball, I didn’t see much color,” said Lin, the first Taiwanese-American basketball player in the NBA in an interview with The Undefeated. “I didn’t really think it made a difference. After I went through Linsanity, I learned the world wasn’t quite ready or didn’t know how to handle Asian-Americans, Asian-Americans in sports, Asian-American masculinity and a lot of different Asian-American issues.” Is it possible that Linsanity didn’t get the attention it deserved on the basis of racial stigma?
3. Yao Ming’s crazy all-star record
This fact may seem inconceivable at first, but it’s true. When Yao Ming played in the NBA in the 2000s and early 2010s, he was regarded by many as an unstoppable force. Unsurprisingly, this hard work paid off. Every season Ming played, he always participated at a high level and now sits in the Basketball Hall of Fame. Because of this, he is the only player in the last decade to be selected to an all-star team every year that he has participated. Paul Arizin, Jerry West, and Bob Pettit achieved the same feat, but none of them played in the 21st century. Many other legends, such as Wilt Chamberlain, Larry Bird, and Michael Jordan, had almost achieved this feat but eventually came up a bit short. This goes to show that by putting your all into your craft, you can accomplish unbelievable feats.
2. Michael Jordan to the Clippers?
Most NBA fans recall the infamous Michael Jordan wearing a Chicago Bulls Jersey. However, the GOAT of basketball almost ended up playing for the LA Clippers, and if this happened, the whole course of NBA history would turn upside down. Back in 1988, the Clippers were trying as hard as they possibly could to acquire Michael Jordan, who at the time was looking to establish himself as the best player on the best team in the NBA. However, the Bulls didn’t accept, and went on to win 6 NBA championships with Michael Jordan.
1. Steph Curry made more money in 6 games than Wilt Chamberlain did in his entire career.
The dynamics of the NBA have changed drastically in the last few decades. Undeniably, basketball has gained significant popularity all over North America. In that process, the profitability of the National Basketball Association has risen exponentially. Hall of Famer Wilt Chamberlain played from the 1950’s to the 1970’s, and averaged an admirable 30 points per game. For his entire career, Chamberlain earned a total of 2.5 million dollars. In fact, the NBA all-star has been written in basketball history as one of the greatest players of all time. As we examine this same idea today, there’s obvious disparities in player pay. In a mere 6 games, MVP Stephen Curry earned an astounding $2,741,000. In the end, the difference in individual player pay between the last couple of decades demonstrates how the NBA has grown in value overtime.
The NBA is more complex than we may think. Indeed, gaining a deeper understanding of the NBA, despite thinking that you know it all, can help introduce to developments you didn’t know existed and, possibly, spark a unique conversation about the league.