The NBA trails only baseball when it comes to dominant families throughout the history of the sport. More often than not, when a professional athlete has a child, that child will inherit some of the athleticism showcased by the parents. So with this understanding, it is no wonder why so many retired basketball players have children now in the league. Not only does the child of an NBA player inherit the genes of their parents, but they also get to grow up in the smartest basketball environment there is; inside an NBA organization. With these two advantages, NBA offsprings are more likely to be the next generation of NBA talent.
With those stated advantages come some perceived disadvantages. There is the simple fact that until you become as good as your rival family member, you will always be questioned or doubted. Also, you will be graded against your sibling, or parent as you go through your career. Although it may be easier for a child cultivated in an NBA environment to make it into the league, it is hard to live up to the looming shadows cast by family members.
It is rare that the child of an all-time great goes on to become an all-time great as well. Today we will reveal the top 15 NBA players who failed to live up to their family legacy and fell short of being the alpha male in the family.
15. Glen Rice Jr.
Glen Rice Jr. had a tough challenge ahead of him the day he was born with his father’s name. Papa Rice was one of the best shooters of his time while in the NBA, as well as being one of the greatest college players to ever shoot a basketball; Rice Sr. was the 1989 College Player of the Year, and NCAA National Champion.
Once Sr. got into the NBA he became an All-Star caliber player during his years with the Miami Heat and Charlotte Hornets. In 2000, Sr. helped lead the Los Angeles Lakers to an NBA Championship, and his legacy was cemented. About a decade later Rice Jr. began his career in 2012 as a second round selection by the Philadelphia 76ers. Rice Jr. spent parts of two seasons with the Washington Wizards before being sent to the D-League in 2015. Glen Jr. is still toiling in the D-League, looking for his shot on an NBA roster, and the potential to chase down a little bit of pops’ legacy.
14. Glenn Robinson III
Another player cursed with the same name of a past legend, Glenn Robinson III was stuck being the pup of “The Big Dog” Glenn Robinson. Daddy Robinson was a beast during his college days. As a junior at Purdue, he unanimously won the choice for NCAA Player of the Year. That season he led the Boilermakers to the Elite 8, averaging 30 points, and 11 rebounds per game. The elder Robinson set the bar high for his son, being selected no.1 overall in the 1994 NBA Draft. Needless to say his father’s accomplishments didn’t make things easy for Glen III.
Little Glenn has been in the league for three seasons, and he still holds a spot with the Indiana Pacers, but his playing time appears to be smaller every year. The original “Big Dog” had a successful NBA career despite being viewed by some as a minor bust. He was able to win an NBA Championship with the Spurs in 2005, and was a two time All-Star in 2000, and 2001.
13. David Stockton
Being the son of a Hall of Famer must be nerve racking, when you are trying to find a spot on an NBA roster. It must be especially tough to be the son of the all-time assist and steals king John Stockton. It is a testament to David Stockton that he has been able to last in the NBA D-league as long as he has already, as he is under six feet tall.
David had his one and only sniff at the NBA in 2014 when the Sacramento Kings gave him a chance in three games, where he averaged 11 minutes, 3.0 points, and 3.0 assists per game. Those numbers look silly when put next to his father, who during his entire 19 year career averaged 13 points, 10.5 assists, and 2.2 steals per game. Perhaps David will one day get another shot at the league, but for now he will just have to settle being John Stockton’s son.
12. Coby Karl
If there is one thing that Coby Karl has lived up to as a Karl, it is his persistence. Now 33 years old Coby is coaching in the NBA D-league, trying to earn himself a coaching spot with the Lakers. Young Karl bounced between the D-League and overseas professional leagues for almost a decade before hanging it up as a player in 2015.
Coby may have realized his best chance to live up to the true spirit of the Karl name is to have an impact as a coach. Coby’s father George is regarded as one of the top 10 coaches of his generation. George led the Seattle SuperSonics to the NBA Finals in 1996, where they were defeated by Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. One of George’s many accolades was being named the NBA Coach of the Year in 2013. Coby has some work to do before he gets to the NBA, and with some luck he may be able to get there, but he may forever be remembered as the son of George Karl.
11. Patrick Ewing Jr.
Patrick Ewing Sr. is one of the all-time great centers in NBA history, and on top of that he has grown into one of the best coaches for big men in the game today. With all that, you would imagine his son would be a highly talented big man himself, but unfortunately for Ewing Jr. he never grew into the monster frame he was predicted to have inherited from his dad.
Jr. would only grow to 6’8″, and ultimately had to mold his game as a perimeter player, as opposed to being a force in the paint, like his father. Things have not yet panned out for the son of the Knicks’ all-time leader in points, and at 32 years old it appears the window for greatness has been closed for him. He does however share the desire for the game just like his father did, as Jr. is currently playing in Greece. It seems the cards were stacked against Jr. from the beginning as his father’s accolades were too much for Pat Jr. to surpass.
10. Damien Wilkins
Damien Wilkins is the first player on the list to have multiple family members play in the NBA. The addition of multiple family members makes the legacy of that family even stronger. With 13 year NBA veteran Gerald Wilkins as his father, and “The Human Highlight Reel” himself, Dominique Wilkins, as an uncle, it was hard for Damien to fulfill the expectations put in front of him.
Damien had a decent career as a journeyman during his 10 year NBA career. Damien is currently still exploring his options overseas, as a 36-year-old ex-NBA player, but he will likely find a spot if he looks hard enough. Damien never had a chance, as the pedigree of the Wilkins family is one that is rivaled by few in NBA history.
9. Larry Mikan
Larry Mikan is the son of basketball pioneer George Mikan and nephew of Ed Mikan. The Mikan family is generally considered one of the most dominant families in the history of the game. George was the first true post up center, and his brother Ed, would revolutionize the game of basketball in the 1940s and 50s. After his playing days were through, Ed went on to work in the front office for the NBA, where he lobbied for the 3-point line, 3-in-the-key calls, and many other rules of the game.
Larry had a very solid college career, and was drafted into the NBA in 1970. It is believed that Larry called it a career after only one season because he wanted to make a name for himself. Though he may have had the ability to do it in the NBA, he wanted to do it some place other than the basketball court. It is understandable, especially when you consider the enormous fingerprint his father had already put on the game.
8. Tim Hardaway Jr.
The original Tim Hardaway was one of the flashiest point guards of the guard dominant 90s. Hardaway Sr. possessed one of the fiercest crossover dribble moves the game has ever known, however for Jr. the crossover gene never made it to his DNA. Hardaway Jr. was a solid prospect coming out of Michigan in 2013, but he was nothing like the star college player his father had been two decades earlier.
Hardaway Sr. was the WAC Player of the Year in 1989 and had his jersey number retired by his alma mater. As a rookie, Sr. was outstanding, finding himself on the NBA All-Rookie Team. He followed up his sensational rookie season with three consecutive All-Star appearances in the early 90s. Sr. would ultimately earn himself five All-Star nods, as well as a First Team All-NBA selection in 1997. During the same season, he finished fourth in league MVP voting.
As for Tim Jr., he is currently fighting for another chance at the NBA. After two seasons in the league, he was sent to the D-League to work on his game. Hopefully he can earn himself a roster spot again. That’s a far cry from his father’s experience nearly 20 years ago.
7. Drew Barry
With so much basketball talent in one family, inevitably someone would be the runt of the litter. Drew grew up with Brent and Jon Barry as his brothers, and Hall of Famer Rick Barry for a father. There is no telling what the backyard games were like at the Barry house growing up. Drew was the youngest of the bunch, but surely was held to some lofty expectations that his brothers had inadvertently set for him.
All the brothers had to live under the shadow of their father, the great Rick Barry. Rick was an eight time All-Star, as well as an NBA Champion and a Finals MVP. Out of the three brothers, Brent had the most success in the NBA; during his 14 year career Brent was part of two championship teams with the San Antonio Spurs. Jon, like Brent, was a first round selection out of college, and was able to last an impressive 14 seasons in the league.
Drew’s professional career lasted only six years, with four different stops around the league, as well as some time spent playing overseas.
6. Mychel Thompson
Mychel is in a similar spot to the previous entry, Drew Barry. Like Barry, Mychel comes from a family of professional athletes. His brother Klay has appeared in the past two NBA Finals, and is the defending NBA 3-Point Contest Champion. Mychel’s other brother Trayce is currently starting for the Los Angeles Dodgers, having been drafted in the second round of the 2009 MLB Draft.
Mychel’s father with the similar sounding name Mychal, was a star player on the showtime Lakers led by Magic Johnson. The old man was a two time champion, as well as a consensus All-American during his time at the University of Minnesota. As for Mychel, he is still trying to claw his way into the NBA. After a successful college career at Pepperdine University, Mychel went undrafted in 2011, but was able to get himself an invite to the NBA Summer League, where he earned a spot with the Erie Jayhawks of the D-League. To this point, Mychel has spent a grand total of five games in an NBA uniform. He currently plays with the Santa Cruz Warriors, and is still looking for that one shot to get back in the league and live up to the Thompson name.
5. Luke Walton
Luke Walton was a solid role player for the Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol led Los Angeles Lakers team that won multiple championships. Luke also has earned himself a new job over the offseason, as he has been given the coaching duties with his former team, the Lakers. The shadow cast by his larger than life father seems to be too big for even an established professional like Luke to outgrow.
During their time as players there is no comparison to the resumes. Bill Walton is a two time NBA Champion, an NBA Finals MVP, an NBA MVP, and a Sixth Man of the Year. Luke, as successful as his teams were, was never the focal point of an offense, and was often relied on as a role player coming off the bench. Off the court however, could be where Luke found it most difficult to escape the shadow of his father. Bill had transitioned to television after his career ended, and became a boisterous, outspoken TV personality. Luke has never been the type to crave attention, often times he seems nervous and awkward around the cameras, unlike his father.
4. Larry Nance Jr.
Nance Jr. is currently a young promising player for the Los Angeles Lakers. His game is very reminiscent of his father’s, even the way he dunks the ball seems like a carbon copy. Nance Sr. was known for his long wiry frame. He was also a ravenous defender, as proven by his selection to the NBA All-Defensive First team in 1989. In his prime, Nance Sr. was easily considered one of the league’s elite dunkers, and keep in mind that Nance was playing in the same era as Michael Jordan, Dominque Wilkins, and Spud Webb. In fact, in 1984, Sr. was crowned as the first ever Slam Dunk Champion.
What made Nance Sr. so great, was his ability to play on both ends of the court, an area where Larry Jr. has also found success. Sr. however, did it for a long period of time, at the highest level. From 1989-1993 Nance Sr. was named to the NBA All-Defensive team three times. Larry Jr. could eventually find a way to outgrow the legacy of his father, but there is a lot of work to be done.
3. Austin Rivers
Austin and his father Doc are currently working for the same team, as they are both part of the Los Angeles Clippers; and Austin is still stuck under his father’s shadow. Doc has a Hall of Fame resume which includes being an All-Star as a player, winning NBA Coach of the Year, and winning an NBA Championship as coach of the Boston Celtics.
During his playing days Doc was a reliable point guard with the ability to score, averaging over 10 points and six assists per game during his 13 years in the league. Austin, who has yet to find himself a starting gig in the league, has only been able to average seven points and two assists over his first six NBA seasons.
Hopefully for Austin and the Clippers, this could be a break out season for him as he is in line to be Chris Paul’s back up, as well as possibly seeing some time at the shooting guard position. Even if Austin is able to raise his averages and have a solid season, many people will be quick to give credit to Doc for being the coach, and helping steer Austin in the right direction. If Austin is to ever live up to the Rivers name, he will likely have to do it for a team other than his dad’s.
2. Joe Bryant
Joe Bryant was a professional basketball player for 17 years. After seven years as a reserve in the NBA, Joe took his family overseas and continued his career in Italy as well as Greece for another 10 years. During his time as a professional, he was unaware of the impact his son would have on the game in the future, leaving his career an afterthought, even on occasion a joke when compared to his son’s.
Once Kobe was in high school, he began receiving notoriety from the media, and by the age of 17, he had already become the most famous Bryant in the family. Kobe would go on to win five NBA Championships, be selected to 18 NBA All-Star Games, and be a lock first ballot Hall of Famer. His legacy overshadowed his father so much, that many people don’t even realize his father was an NBA player. Even to this day, Kobe’s aura overshadows his father’s. Joe has been a professional coach for 14 years now, even coaching the Los Angeles Sparks of the WNBA, yet nobody knows, and frankly, nobody cares because he will always be “Kobe’s dad.”
1. Seth Curry
Being the son of one of the NBA’s greatest shooters can’t be an easy thing to live down, especially of you are an aspiring NBA 3-point shooter yourself. That is the position Seth finds himself in, as he strives to become a solid NBA player. Seth also has a brother who lived in the same shadow, Steph Curry… you might have heard of him. The legacy built by father Dell, then expanded and solidified by brother Steph, has left Seth with little chance of equaling his family members.
Seth signed with the Dallas Mavericks this offseason, and is hoping to finally make a name for himself. He will always be a Curry, and he will always be expected to drill threes from 30 feet, but the chance of him accomplishing what his brother already has is all but impossible. Steph has been to back-to-back NBA Finals, and he is the reigning back-to-back league MVP. With a resume like that at the age of 27, it will be hard for Seth to make a true statement and become something other that Steph’s little brother, or Dell’s son.