Basketball is a sport that has produced numerous legends over the years, players whose names have become synonymous with greatness and who are celebrated for their achievements on the court.
However, amidst all the hoopla surrounding the biggest stars, there are players who have been overlooked and underappreciated, despite their significant contributions to the game. These players, the unsung heroes of the NBA, deserve recognition for their talents, their dedication, and their impact on the sport.
In this list, we will highlight 10 such players who are often forgotten in discussions about the greatest players in NBA history. These players may not have had the fame and fortune of some of their more famous peers, but they deserve to be remembered for their outstanding careers and the lasting impact they had on the sport. From versatile big men to tenacious defenders and skilled playmakers, these unsung heroes have left their mark on the game and continue to inspire basketball fans around the world.
- Cliff Hagan – Although he was one of the best players on the St. Louis Hawks team that won the 1958 NBA championship, Hagan is often overlooked in discussions about great players from that era. He was a seven-time All-Star and averaged over 20 points per game for four seasons in his career, yet is not often mentioned alongside his contemporaries.
- Bobby Jones – Jones was one of the best defensive players of his era and won the NBA’s first-ever Sixth Man of the Year award in 1983. Despite his tremendous defensive prowess, he is not often mentioned in discussions of the all-time greats, perhaps because he was never a dominant scorer.
- Jack Sikma – Sikma was a versatile big man who was one of the best centers in the league during the 1980s. He won an NBA championship with the Seattle SuperSonics in 1979 and was a seven-time All-Star, but is often overlooked in discussions about great centers from that era.
- Mark Price – Price was a deadly shooter and one of the best point guards of the 1990s, but his career was cut short by injuries. He was a four-time All-Star and led the league in free-throw shooting five times, but is not often mentioned in discussions about the best point guards of all time.
- Paul Silas – Silas was a tough, physical player who was an integral part of the Boston Celtics teams that won two championships in the 1970s. He was an excellent rebounder and defender, but is not often remembered alongside his more celebrated teammates.
- Michael Cooper – Cooper was one of the best defensive players of his era and won the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year award in 1987. He was also a key contributor to the Los Angeles Lakers’ five championship teams in the 1980s, but is often overshadowed by his more famous teammates.
- Maurice Cheeks – Cheeks was an excellent point guard who played for 15 seasons in the NBA. He was a four-time All-Star and one of the best defenders of his era, but is not often mentioned in discussions about the best point guards of all time.
- Dan Issel – Issel was a dominant scorer and rebounder who played in both the ABA and NBA. He was a seven-time All-Star and won an NBA championship with the Denver Nuggets in 1976, but is not often mentioned in discussions about the best big men of all time.
- Cedric Maxwell – Maxwell was a key player on two Boston Celtics championship teams in the 1980s. He was a versatile forward who could score, rebound, and defend, but is not often remembered alongside his more famous teammates.
- Jo Jo White – White was a key player on two Boston Celtics championship teams in the 1970s. He was a seven-time All-Star and a tremendous scorer and playmaker, but is not often mentioned in discussions about the best point guards of all time.
In conclusion, the unsung heroes of the NBA may not have received the same level of attention and recognition as some of their more famous peers, but their contributions to the sport cannot be overstated. These players exhibited a wide range of talents, from scoring and rebounding to defense and playmaking, and their dedication to the game helped shape the NBA into the league it is today. As we continue to celebrate the achievements of the biggest stars in the NBA, it is important to remember these unsung heroes who played a vital role in the league’s success. We owe it to them to keep their legacies alive and to ensure that future generations of basketball fans understand the vital role they played in shaping the sport we all love.