The key to becoming a legitimate Superstar in the NBA is consistency. Talented basketball players all enter the league with the hopes of breaking out to become franchise players. The big money contracts, star power and respectability all comes with the territory. LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry and Russell Westbrook are the examples of players delivering outstanding work every season to earn the title of Superstars. Players like Jimmy Butler, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Gordon Hayward are trying to put together the consistency to match their great play. Not everyone can keep such a pace and many of them actually flounder.
There have been quite a few one hit wonders in the world of basketball through the years. We have witnessed these talented players achieve huge success in the NBA for a short time period. Some struggled with injuries impacting their careers in ways they’d never be able to recover from. Others received big contracts that saw them lose their hunger for success. A few just couldn’t keep it up and the league figured them out. We’ll look at all of the stories and find out what each of these former stars is up to nowadays. These are fifteen of the most memorable one hit wonders in NBA history and where they are today.
15. John Starks: Knicks Organization & Co-Owner of Shoe Brand Ektio
New York Knicks fans fell in love with John Starks in the mid-90s. His toughness, work ethic and shooting touch made him their top guard for a few years. Starks saw his career high average of 19.0 points per game come during the 1993-1994 season helping the team reach the NBA Finals. The memorable moment of Starks dunking on Michael Jordan became a popular poster in New York.
Starks was on the rise before a decline saw him fall off dramatically. The Knicks eventually gave up on him after a few seasons with his numbers gradually regressing. Starks became an irrelevant player before his career ended in 2002. The Knicks hired him back in recent years to work in the organization as a fan developmental official and occasional broadcaster. Starks is also a co-owner of the the Ektio basketball shoe brand made to help prevent ankle injuries.
14. Jeremy Lin: Brooklyn Nets
The rise of Linsanity took over the NBA for a few weeks. Jeremy Lin was a journeyman trying to find a spot in the NBA before his career took off with the New York Knicks out of nowhere. Lin’s non-guaranteed contract saw him use his small opportunity to showcase his skills. Lin had an unbelievable run with feats like out-scoring Kobe Bryant to beat the Lakers and hitting a game-winning shot against the Toronto Raptors.
Unfortunately, his play diminished and he could not hold the Superstar status. Lin has played for numerous teams since then with mediocre numbers for the most part. A solid season on the Charlotte Hornets last year saw him receive a great contract from the Brooklyn Nets to be their starting point guard of the future. Lin is currently dealing with injury issues, but is expected to be the face of Brooklyn sports as the Nets continue to rebuild.
13. Andray Blatche: Xinjiang Flying Tigers, Chinese Basketball League
Andray Blatche was one of the more underrated talents in the NBA and had the potential to be among the top centers. However, his personal issues always held him back from truly ascending to a role he could have secured. Blatche did have a few good seasons with the Washington Wizards, with career high averages of 16.8 points and 8.2 rebounds per game in 2010-2001.
Washington expected him to be a part of the future but the issues returned. Blatche showed a lack conditioning on the court and a lack of effort in practice. The Wizards let him go following an ugly breakup. Blatche played a few seasons for the Brooklyn Nets before leaving the NBA. Today, the big man is a member of the Xinjiang Flying Tigers in the Chinese Basketball League. Blatche is currently injured, but still on the roster as a star player in China.
12. Bonzi Wells: Ice Cube’s 3 on 3 League
Bonzi Wells’ talent made him one of the better players for the Portland Trail Blazers in the early 2000s. Wells averaged 17 points in the 2001-2002 season to make Blazers fans believe he was their star of the future, as his ability to score definitely helped Portland remain relevant in the Western Conference for a few years. That ended when his regression started to see him fall off into obscurity.
The Blazers giving up on Wells saw him bounce around a few teams, failing to find a home. Wells continued to decline up to the point where no NBA team wanted to sign him. Bonzi continued his career in China and Puerto Rico before retiring. Fans of Wells will see him return to the spotlight this summer with Ice Cube’s 3 on 3 league. Wells is listed with Allen Iverson and Stephen Jackson, among others, as the first names announced for the interesting project.
11. Bobby Simmons: Chicago Nightclub Society & Clothing Store Succezz
Bobby Simmons is the perfect example of a one hit wonder. The forgotten NBA name actually won the Most Improved Player of the Year Award in 2005. Simmons averaged 16.4 points per game for the Los Angeles Clippers that season to become a respected free agent. The Milwaukee Bucks offered him a good contract and unfortunately only received one good season from him.
The total of two good seasons in a row is where it ended for Simmons. His overall play declined and an ankle injury saw things get worse. Simmons was a journeyman for a few seasons before retiring from the NBA due to no interest in signing him. His current life sees him own the Chicago nightclub Society and a Chicago clothing store named Succezz. Hopefully the investment works out better than the tail end of his career.
10. Stromile Swift: Retired
Stromile Swift was selected second overall in the 2000 NBA Draft showing just how promising his talent once was. His athleticism helped him have an impressive second season for the Memphis Grizzlies, as Swift averaged 11.8 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game in just 26.5 minutes per game and it fooled the Grizzlies into thinking he was a star of the future.
The rest of his Memphis tenure saw him fail to hold down a rotation spot. Swift flopped on multiple teams for the rest of his NBA career. The rest of his basketball career took place in China before he officially retired from the game of basketball. Aside from a few arrests making news in 2013, Swift has remained out of the news. The former highly touted prospect is quietly living life out of the spotlight.
9. Josh Howard: Head Coach of Piedmont International University
The Dallas Mavericks saw Josh Howard become a secondary option on the team as their second best player after Dirk Nowitzki. Howard averaged between 18 and 20 points per game for three consecutive seasons before it all went downhill. One mediocre season in Dallas led to them parting ways with him. Howard would never find another home in the NBA, as he struggled to remain consistent.
Injuries also harmed Howard and made it difficult for him to remain relevant in the NBA. Howard ended his basketball career in depressing fashion down in the D-League. 2016 was the year Howard returned to basketball in a new role. Howard agreed to become the head coach of Piedmont International University. His unlikely coaching career could see him return to the NBA as a coach if things work out well.
8. Jerome James: Free Agent Overseas
It’s hard to even call Jerome James a one hit wonder because he never actually had a good season in the NBA. James saw his hit come in the postseason as a member of the Seattle SuperSonics in 2005. The rise of James came out of nowhere to deliver two outstanding series, where he averaged 12.5 points and 6.8 rebounds per game in clashes against the Sacramento Kings and San Antonio Spurs.
James received a $30 million contract over five years with the New York Knicks after the series to become their center of the future. His good luck ended and James failed to average more than 3 points per game during any season in his time with New York before getting traded and waived. James continued his career in Puerto Rico for a few years. Atenienses recently released him but he is still hoping to find a new team.
7. Damon Stoudamire: Head Coach of the University of Pacific Tigers
The Toronto Raptors saw Damon Stoudamire average almost 20 points per game during his early NBA career there. Stoudamire looked like a future Superstar before being traded to the Portland Trail Blazers. Sadly, Stoudamire regressed on the better team. Stoudamire still played well for a few more years, but was no longer a budding star. His time in Portland ended poorly and he was not able to find another team that would give him consistent playing time.
Damon retired in 2008 and instantly started going after a coaching career. Having coaching spots on the staffs of multiple teams helped Stoudamire land a head coach position in 2016. Stoudamire is currently the head coach of the University of Pacific Tigers men’s basketball team. Coaching appears to be the future of Stoudamire with his gradual growth continuing.
6. Jayson Williams: Writing Autobiography
Jayson Williams is one of the more shocking names you’ll find if looking at the history of NBA All-Stars. His rise with the New Jersey Nets featured two highly impressive seasons of averaging 13+ points and 13+ rebounds per game. Williams would see his career fall apart just one year later with a broken leg taking him off the court. The Recovery did not see him progress enough to return to the court and he retired at a young age.
Sadly, Williams’ life would take a downturn with multiple incidents featuring him on the wrong side of the law. Williams shot and killed his limo driver when playing around with a gun and it landed him in jail. He did manage to escape the serious charges and would get released from custody. Williams currently lives a quiet life but has been rumored to be writing an autobiography titled Humbled.
5. Gilbert Arenas: Retired
The best days of Gilbert Arenas’ career was at a level above the rest of the players on this list, but that just made his fall even worse. Arenas signing with the Washington Wizards led to him becoming one of the top stars in the NBA for a few seasons. He had a three season stretch which saw him score between 25 and 30 points per game each season.
Attitude issues and an incident of bringing a gun into the locker room turned Arenas from a hero into a villain. Washington eventually cut bait with him and his NBA career ended in a hurry. Arenas tried to continue his career, but couldn’t figure it out there either. The retired Arenas recently saw his $111 million contract he signed many years ago finally expire. Arenas claims he made some poor decisions that could have seen him blow it all. Regardless, he does not do much in the public spotlight aside from make controversial social media posts these days.
4. Bryant Reeves: Owner of Large Cattle Ranch
Bryant Reeves was a high draft pick by the Vancouver Grizzlies and was expected to be a star to lead the new franchise. His first few seasons were great with averages of 16+ points and 7+ rebounds per game in back-to-back seasons. Reeves started to struggle with injuries and weight issues that hurt his career. Chronic back pain would keep Reeves out of games and eventually end his career after just six seasons.
His early retirement was a disappointment because of what could have been if he kept up his pace. Shaquille O’Neal even named him as the hardest player he ever had to defend. Reeves has adapted to life after basketball by owning a large cattle ranch. His nickname of Big Country still lives on as his life on the ranch has become his livelihood.
3. Darius Miles: Filed For Bankruptcy
The athletic ability of Darius Miles made him one of the hottest prospects in the NBA during the early portion of his career. Miles was drafted out of high school by the Los Angeles Clippers but struggled to acclimate himself with the NBA landscape. The Portland Trail Blazers eventually got the best out of Miles with a few impressive seasons showing his scoring ability.
Injuries and suspensions for violating the league’s substance abuse policy led to any momentum for Miles ending. His injury issues also kept him out of the NBA and essentially forced his retirement. Miles recently filed for bankruptcy in 2016 after losing the $60 million he made during the entirety of his NBA career. His disappointing career is over and he’s looking to start a new life outside of the basketball world.
2. Andrew Bynum: Retired
The Los Angeles Lakers drafted Andrew Bynum out of high school with the hopes of him maturing into the center of the future after Shaquille O’Neal was traded years prior. Bynum had superb talent that eventually saw him reach his potential for one season, averaging just a shade under 19 points and 12 rebounds per game. Injury issues always haunted him and that caused the Lakers to trade him at the right time.
Following his trade to the Philadelphia 76ers, Bynum suffered more injuries that never saw him touch the court. Bynum played a total of 26 games after leaving the Lakers and would have to retire due to the injuries piling up. The young man apparently saved his money as he’s rarely on the radar these days. Bynum did visit Asia for the Singapore Grand Prix in 2015 and attended the NBA Finals in 2016, wearing slippers and not caring about a thing in the world.
1. Brandon Roy: Coach of Nathan Hale High School
Brandon Roy’s career is absolutely depressing when you think about what could have been. Roy’s one hit wonder status is not his fault at all, but rather the bad luck of injuries. The Portland Trail Blazers appeared to have the new face of their franchise with Roy putting up amazing numbers. Roy averaged 21+ points in two consecutive seasons before it all fell apart.
Various knee injuries caused his play to decline and he was never the same. Roy dealt with the injuries from his college days and it ended his NBA career prematurely. His post-NBA life sees him finding a new basketball career path in Portland. Roy coaches the Nathan Hale High School’s basketball team in an attempt to pass along his knowledge and passion of the game.
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