Aside from being the home of the best basketball in the world, the NBA has evolved into a player driven league. It is safe to say that a personality is the engine that keeps a player’s influence in the league. When we talk about influence, social media always pops into mind. Sadly, not everybody was born into the generation of social media.
Let’s discuss five retired NBA players who would have been viral if social media were alive during there own eras.
To be fair, no player from the 1990s and above will be included, due to some being tech savvy and social media relevant until today. With that out of the way, let’s begin.
5. George Mikan, 1950s
Being the first NBA superstar in history definitely puts you on this list. The Hall of Famer was a larger than life example of basketball during his era, literally and figuratively. He used his 6’10 frame to tower and dominate on the court with his deadly hook shot. Mr. Basketball was successful as any player would want to be with seven titles and four All-star appearances.
The Michael Jordan of his generation, his fame went beyond the confines of the hardwood by being a celebrity off-court. Covers for magazines, product endorsements, and appearances on TV shows makes him a perfect influencer for social media.
It also helps to note that Mikan rocked large hipster glasses when playing, which might have sparked a trend in today’s fashionable NBA.
4. Darryl Dawkins, 1980s
The rim rattling fifth overall pick of 1975 draft was more than a superior athletic basketball specimen. Although known for his backboard shattering dunks, the eccentric nature of his personality made him a famously bizarre individual in the league.
If being nicknamed “Chocolate Thunder” by Stevie Wonder does not get you viral enough, how about claiming to be an alien from planet Lovetron? Moreover, Bun-Toasting, Rump-Roasting, and Glass-Breaker-I-Am-Jam were some of the names he named his dunks with.
Without a doubt, he had the makings of a weird social media star. Unfortunately, today’s league will never understand the beautiful art of naming dunks again.
3. Bill Walton, 1970s
Frankly, the Hall of Famer still has his presence felt around the basketball world sportscasting. Although a younger Walton would easily make headlines for his on-court exploits, his off-court action was born for the Internet.
A self-proclaimed hippy, who would have known that he is one of the biggest fans of the rock band Grateful Dead? A certified fanatic and well-known Dead Head, he has claimed to have seen the band more than 800 times, worthy of fanboy status. Imagine going to Coachella 800 times.
From his fashion sense, long hair, and scruffy looking demeanor, Walton was a rebellious walking fashion statement that could have made a mark in social media and the fashion world.
2. World B. Free, 1980s
Lloyd Bernard Free was drafted 23rd overall by the 76ers in the 1975 draft. With an All-star and All-NBA selection under his belt, the combo guard had the makings of a star.
Displaying an amazing 44-inch vertical leap, he got his nickname “World” from a friend. The weird name stuck so bad, he began calling himself “All-world”. Finally, he legally changed his name to “World” a day before his 28th birthday.
Move over Metta World Peace, happy birthday World every year would have been viral!
1. Walt Frazier, 1970s
Currently a commentator for the Knicks, the Hall of Famer and two-time champion was known for his defensive talents and the ability to take over a game when needed.
Developing into a star in the Big Apple, the league was enamoured and fascinated with Frazier. He embodied New York culture in so many ways with his persona, high fashion, and fancy cars.
The level of grandeur and sophistication dubbed him one half of the fabled “Rolls Royce Backcourt”, a duo with Earl “the Pearl” Monroe that formed one of the most formidable backcourts of that time.
A perfect package to be an influencer, he had the fame, fashion, and lifestyle to set the social media world on fire.