50 Interesting Facts About Basketball

Last updated on December 26th, 2020

45. Basketball is the national sport of Lithuania. Lithuania has produced numerous great basketball players like Arvydas Sabonis, Šarūnas Marčiulionis, Jonas Valančiūnas, and Domantas Sabonis.[67]

Jerry West's silhouette on the NBA logo
Jerry West’s silhouette. Image credit – Michael Tipton.

46. Los Angeles Lakers guard Jerry West’s silhouette is featured in the NBA Logo. He was elected on the basketball hall of fame in 1979.[65]

47. Women’s basketball was officially added as an Olympic medal sport during the 1976 Montreal Summer Olympics. The Soviet team won the first women’s basketball Olympic Gold medal with the United States placing silver. A total of 6 countries participated in the tournament.[62]

48. Two players are tied for the NBA record for most turnovers in a regular season game. Atlanta Hawks player John Drew set the record with 14 turnovers committed during a March 1 1977 game against the New Jersey Nets. Phoenix Suns guard Jason Kidd matched the record by also committing 14 turnovers in a November 17 200 game against the New York Knicks. The record for most turnovers in a playoff game goes to Houston Rockets star James Harden who committed 13 turnovers on Game 5 of the playoffs against the Golden State Warriors.[58]

49. The San Antonio Spurs the highest franchise regular season winning percentage, winning 61.8% of their games in the regular season for the entire history of the franchise (2,189 wins — 1,352 losses). The Spurs are also tied with the Philadelphia 76ers in terms of having the longest playoff streak, both making the playoffs for 22 consecutive years. The Spurs streak is currently still active and is the longest active playoff streak of an American sports team.[69]

50. Only four players in the NBA have registered a quadruple-double. Warriors star Nate Thurmond was the first player to register a quadruple-double when he scored 22 points, grabbed 14 rebounds, made 13 assists and blocked 12 shots in a game against the Hawks in 1974. Two Spurs players registered a quadruple-double. Alvin Robertson had 10 steals and 10 assists to go with 20 points and 11 rebounds in a 1986 game against the Suns while David Robinson scored 34 points and 10 blocks, assists, and rebounds in a 1994 game against the Pistons. Hakeem Olajuwon was almost the first person to register two quadruple doubles though he was short an assist on his second try.[51]

Facts about basketball players

1. Kareem Abdul Jabbar

Born Lew Alcindor, this Hall of Famer and the NBA’s all-time leading scorer took the name Kareem Abdul Jabbar when he converted to Islam in 1971 when he was 24 years old. His success in public speaking, writing, and acting are well-documented though few know that he was one of the writers for the 2018 revival of hit tv series Veronica Mars.[1]

2. Tim Duncan

The Big Fundamental is nicknamed 石佛 or Stone Buddha in China due to his stoic demeanor. He has a degree in Psychology and once co-authored an academic paper entitled “Blowhards, Snobs and Narcissists: Interpersonal Reactions to Excessive Egotism”.[2]

The 10 Richest Basketball Players

RankNameNet worth (USD)
1.Michael Jordan$1.5 Billion
2.Junior Bridgeman$600 Million
3.Magic Johnson$600 Million
4.Lebron James$440 Million
5.Shaquille O'Neal$400 Million
6.Kobe Bryant$350 Million
7.David Robinson$200 Million
8.Hakeem Olajuwon$200 Million
9.Kevin Garnett$190 Million
10.Grant Hill$180 Million
Table last updated15/08/2020Data source: therichest.com

3. Shaquille O’Neal

Nowadays, the Big Diesel is a regular presence in the sports media circuit years after dominating the NBA court. Off the court, Shaq is a deputy for Broward County and has a Doctoral degree in Education from Barry University.[8]

4. Larry Bird

The French Lick, as this Boston legend was fondly called, was the inspiration for Twitter’s blue bird logo, which is aptly named Larry the Bird.[12]

Basketball Hall of Fame. Basketball fact file
Basketball Hall of Fame. Image credit – Amy Meredith

5. Bill Russell

Bill Russell was inducted to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1975 which would have made him the first black player to be individually inducted to the HOF but he refused to attend the ceremony and accept the ring because he felt that other black pioneers of the sport deserved to be inducted first. He finally accepted his HOF ring in 2019, the same year that Chuck Cooper, the first black player drafted in the NBA, was inducted.[17]

6. Oscar Robertson

The first player to average a triple-double in a season, Oscar Robertson lends his name to the Oscar Robertson Rule which led to changes that empowered individual players and paved the way for free agency as we know it, enabling NBA players to become multimillionaires.[9]

7. Wilt Chamberlain

Known for scoring 100 points in a game, people don’t generally know that aside from being in the Basketball Hall of Fame, Wilt has also been inducted into the Volleyball Hall of Fame.[11]

8. Magic Johnson

Among the numerous awards and accolades that Magic Johnson has accrued during his NBA career is the distinction of being the only rookie to ever win Finals MVP.[5]

Air Jordan 1 - Crimson Tint. interesting basketball facts
Air Jordan 1 – Crimson Tint. Image credit – ajay_suresh.

9. Michael Jordan

Perhaps no other player is as recognized globally as His Airness, Michael Jordan. Aside from his feats on the hardwood, Jordan has also had a significant impact on the way shoes are marketed. Jordan is also credited with starting the entire “baggy shorts” era of the NBA due to his desire to wear his college shorts beneath his NBA ones, thus leading to him wearing NBA shorts that were looser and baggier than usual.[13]

10. Kevin Durrant

Durant’s jersey number 35 is in homage to his high school coach Charles Craig. Charles Craig was murdered at age 35.[3]

11. Stephen Curry

Steph Curry is strongly associated with stalwart sports brand Under Armour, though this was not always the case. Prior to 2013, Curry was signed with Nike. But during contract talks that year, Curry felt a distinct lack of interest from Nike in re-signing him, compounded with the fact that one executive mispronounced his name during a meeting, saying Steph-on instead, thus leading to his decision to leave Nike and sign with Under Armour instead.[4]

Kobe Bryant before taking the shot. Basketball fact file
Kobe Bryant.

12. Kobe Bryant

The Black Mamba is the first and only former professional athlete to win an Oscar. Kobe won the Oscar for Best Animated Short for his short film “Dear Basketball”.[6]

13. Dwyane Wade

The Flash is known for his on-court acrobatics and his gravity-defying leaps. Most people, however, don’t know that Dwyane Wade is also a New York Times bestselling author, getting rave reviews for his book A Father First: How My Life Became Bigger Than Basketball.[7]

14. Chris Paul

Chris Paul once turned down the chance to set a high school state scoring record. He scored 61 points one day after his grandfather died at age 61. He left the game after scoring a point for each year of his grandfather’s life, several points shy of the state record.[10]

Nike Air Max LeBron VIII . Interesting facts about basketball
Nike Air Max LeBron VIII. Image credit – Kevin Wu.

15. Lebron James

Lebron James is widely considered as one of the greatest players in NBA history. A big part of this is his prodigious memory and his ability to recall specific basketball plays. Lebron can recall plays made years ago, and can even spout off a play by play report of a recently concluded game.[15]

NBA teams basketball facts

Cleveland Cavaliers logo. Basketball facts.
Image credit – Michael Tipton

1. Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cavs have retired seven numbers. These numbers include Brad Daugherty’s 43, Nate Thurmond’s 42, Larry Nance’s 22, Austin Carr’s 34, Mark Price’s 25, Žydrūnas Ilgauskas 11, and Bobby “Bingo” Smith’s 7.

2. Denver Nuggets

The Nuggets have one of the highest number of NBA All-Stars. In fact, fourteen of its players, including Nikola Jovic, Chauncy Billups, Allen Iverson, Carmelo Anthony, Antonio McDyess, Dikembe Mutombo, Fat Lever, Calvin Natt, Kiki Vandeweghe, Alex English, George McGinnis, David Thompson, Bobby Jones, and Dan Issel have played in an All-Star Game at least once.

Oklahoma City Thunder
Oklahoma City Thunder Logo. Image by Michael Tipton

3. Oklahoma City Thunder

The OKC Thunder have a charitable heart. In 2005, they allowed the New Orleans Hornets to share their home for two seasons after theirs was wrecked by Hurricane Katrina. On top of that, they shared their player Desmond Mason when the Hornets needed a fill-in.

4. Portland Trail Blazers

The Trail Blazers rarely get beaten on Christmas Day. In fact, they boast of the second-best winning percentage of all time when playing on this day.

Memphis Grizzlies logo
Basketball facts. Image credit – Sean Davis

5. Memphis Grizzlies

The Grizzlies home arena, the FedEx Forum is the first arena to use shot clocks that are see-through. These clocks allow fans that sit behind them to see the game without obstructing their view. Other firsts for this arena include special see-through tickets, see-through nachos, and see-through basketballs.

Utah Jazz Logo. basketball facts.
Utah Jazz. Image by Michael Tipton

6. Utah Jazz

The Utah Jazz have the third-highest winning percentage over the last 30 years in the NBA. This team has won two Western Conference championships, eight division titles, and have also won at least fifty games fourteen times.

Phoenix Suns logo.
Phoenix Suns logo. Image by Michael Tipton

7. Phoenix Suns

As of 2018, the Phoenix Suns, which is the oldest franchise in the NBA had played 49 seasons in 50 years and not won even a single championship.

8. Minnesota Timberwolves

Did you know that the Minnesota Timberwolves name was inspired by actual wolves found in the state? Out of the lower 48 states, Minnesota is home to the largest population of timberwolves.

9. Toronto Raptors

The name Raptors was inspired by a movie. When this team was being named, the movie called Jurassic Park had just been released. This Hollywood blockbuster movie features ferocious dinosaurs including T. Rexes and Raptors. These dinosaurs were fast and fierce, therefore, naming Toronto’s new basketball team the Raptors seemed right.

Brooklyn Nets Logo. basketball facts.
Basketball facts. Brooklyn Nets. Image by Michael Tipton.

10. Brooklyn Nets

Jason Kidd, Brooklyn Nets basketball player, once spilled a drink on purpose to get a free timeout. This moment was one of the funniest during that season. However, the league didn’t take it lightly and they punished him for that.

Chicago Bulls logo.
Chicago Bulls Logo. Basketball facts. Image credit – Michael Tipton

11. Chicago Bulls

The Chicago Bulls only had a 1.7% chance of landing the 2008 NBA Draft first pick. They were the ninth worse team from the previous season with the worst team, the Miami Heat, having the best chances of landing the 1st pick at 25%. The Bulls beat the odds and grabbed hometown hero Derrick Rose as the 1st pick.[32]

Los Angeles Lakers
Los Angeles Lakers logo. Facts about basketball. Image by Michael Tipton

12. Los Angeles Lakers

In 1947, an underperforming disbanded NBL team, the Detroit Gems, was bought by two Minessota businessmen and moved to Minneapolis. It was christened as the Minneapolis Lakers due to the city’s moniker “The land of 1000 lakes”. The franchise relocated to Los Angeles before the 1961 season, and is now called the Los Angeles Lakers.[54]

Boston Celtics
Basketball facts. Boston Celtics. Image by Michael Tipton

13. Boston Celtics

The Boston Celtics still hold the record for the longest continuous championship streak. They are the only team to have achieved an eight-peat, being champions from 1959 to 1966.[70]

Detroit Pistons logo. Basketball fact file
Detroit Pistons logo. Facts about NBA. Image by Michael Tipton

14. Detroit Pistons

The Pistons were originally located in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and were called the Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons from 1941 to 1948 after owner Fred Zollner, who manufactured pistons. The franchise moved to Detroit in 1957 but retained the Pistons name since it fitted Detroit’s local automotive industry.[31]

basketball players on the court.-min
Basketball facts. Image credit – Jeramey Jannene

15. Milwaukee Bucks

The Bucks won their only championship in 1971 led by Lew Alcindor, only three years after they started as a franchise.[71]

Philadelphia 76ers logo. basketball facts
Philadelphia 76ers. Image by Michael Tipton 

16. Philadelphia 76ers

The 76ers started as the Syracuse Nationals in 1946. The team relocated to Philadelphia in 1963 and changed their name to the 76ers after 1776, the year that the declaration of independence was signed in Philadelphia.[75]

Indiana Pacers logo
Basketball facts. Image credit – Michael Tipton

17. Indiana Pacers

The Pacers were a dominant ABA team that won three championships before the league was merged with the NBA. The name Pacers came from Indianapolis 500’s pace cars.[74]

18. Orlando Magic

The Orlando Magic had the 1st overall draft pick for two years in a row, 1992 and 1993. In 1993, Orlando was coming off a 41-41 season and had the lowest odds (1.52% or 1-in-66) of winning the lottery.[73]

19. Atlanta Hawks

The Hawks has been a team for numerous cities. It started as the Buffalo Bisons for Buffalo, New York in 1946 and after 38 days, moved to Illinois and was called the Tri-city Blackhawks. The name was shortened to Hawks when the team moved to Milwaukee in 1951. They kept its name when it relocated to St. Louis, Missouri. The Hawks moved to Atlanta in 1968 and has remained there since.[33]

20. New York Knicks

The New York Knickerbockers, named after a monikor for early Ney York settlers, is one of only two NBA teams that are still located in its original city. The team was one of the four teams of the BAA and the NBA. The New York Knicks and the Boston Celtics are the only two teams that have been in the NBA from the beginning until the present. The team has had two championships.[72]

Dallas Mavericks logo
Dallas Mavericks. Image credit – Michael Tipton

21. Dallas Mavericks

The Dallas Mavericks, an NBA contender owned by Dallas, Texas. Although the Mavs were formed in 1980, it took them two decades to make it to the finals, which the team lost. It would take a decade later, in 2001 for the team to win its first NBA. Better late than never!

San Antonio Spurs logo.
Basketball facts. Image credit – Michael Tipton

22. San Antonio Spurs

While the Mavs are turtles, the Spurs are rabbits, thanks to George Gervin. In the team’s early years the Iceman won 12 consecutive NBA All-Star games and either broke or made over 40 franchise records.

23. Sacramento Kings

The Kings have been bullied for their poor team defense, due to Williams’ flashy antics marked by many turnovers, and Webber’s failure to step up at crucial match-ups.[76]

Golden State Warrior. facts about Basketball
Golden State Warrior logo. NBA facts. Image credit – Willis Lam

24. The Golden State Warriors

In 2016, they broke the record for most victories in regular season with 73 wins and only 9 fails. One of the players of the Warriors was their former coach Steve Kerr. Talk about leading by example![77]

Houston Rockets logo.
Interesting facts about Basketball. Image credit – Michael Tipton.

25. Houston Rockets

And why are the Houston Rockets always moving? Maybe this explains a lot about rockets. Houston we have a problem! The Rockets have snatched two NBA championships and four Western Conference titles. Originally established in 1967 as the San Diego Rockets, the Rockets moved to Houston in 1971.

26. Miami Heat

Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra is the first Filipino-American in the NBA. He’s also the youngest head coach in the NBA, and one of a few coaches who didn’t play in the league. If the shoe fits, he’s playing the NBA man![78]