The NBA historically has been littered with father/son appearances. This phenomena is not uncommon across the sports world. Baseball has had heavy family roots throughout its history, and football is beginning to see the second and third generations of families come through its game as well.
The children of NBA players have much more opportunity to become great at the game. Some of the greatest basketball players of all-time grew up with a fathers who played professionally. Kobe Bryant, Klay Thompson, and Steph Curry are wonderful examples of that. It is easy to see that growing up around NBA coaches and players enables you to understand the game at a different level than most others growing up. When you combine that amount of exposure to the game with the fact that players’ kids inherit their parents genes, it is quite clear how sons go on to become better than their fathers in many cases.
Today, however, we will be giving props to the fathers who were able to hold it down and made it difficult for their sons to ever catch up to them.
The following are 15 fathers who were much better NBA players than their sons. Feel free to leave a comment if we forgot someone that belongs on this list.
15. Doc Rivers
While Doc Rivers never led the NBA in scoring or anything like that, he was a very solid role player for some very good Atlanta Hawks squads. He was the team’s starting point guard for seven years. He aided Dominique Wilkins to several deep playoff runs, often times finding themselves outmatched by Larry Bird’s Celtic teams. Doc made it to an All-Star game in 1988, his only selection. His best season, however, came the year before his All-Star game appearance. In 1987, Rivers averaged a double-double with 12.8 points and 10 assists per game.
Doc’s son Austin has also put together a respectable career in his own right. Now in his fifth season, Austin has yet to eclipse the 10 points per game plateau, but he has found his niche as the back up to Chris Paul in Los Angeles. Of course, the Doc is also the coach there in Los Angeles, making him the first coach to ever have his son on the team.
14. George Karl
George Karl has become much more famous for his incredible coaching ability, but in his time, he was a solid little player. As a career back-up point guard, he was a solid minute filler. George called it a career after only five professional seasons, but he had gained what he needed to gain during that time. It was clear that George was more excited about coaching the game than he was about playing, as he immediately went into coaching after ending his playing career.
George’s son, Coby, was a solid player coming out of Boise State, but he went undrafted in 2007. He was, however, given a chance to earn a spot with the Los Angeles Lakers after the draft. Young Karl made the Lakers roster and made his NBA debut in 2007. His career after that was spent mostly in the D-League trying to earn a call-up, which never ended up happening. Coby took after his father again when he retired at a young age and immediately went to coaching. He is currently the head coach for the Los Angeles Lakers D-League team.
13. Curtis Perry
Curtis Perry was a third round selection in the 1970 draft. At 6’8, 220 pounds, he was a big bodied power forward who had the ability and desire to play both ends of the floor. During his eight seasons in the NBA, Curtis nearly averaged a double-double with 9.5 points, and 8.8 rebounds per game. He joined the Milwaukee Bucks in 1971, the year after they won the championship, and although the Bucks were title contenders during his time there, they were not able to capture a title with Perry.
Perry’s son, Byron Houston, was expected to be a quality NBA player when he left college in 1992. Byron was selected in the first round of the draft that season; however, his career lasted only four seasons before he was relegated to playing overseas.
12. Scott May
Scott May is one of the biggest “what ifs” of the 70s and 80s. He spent his college years dominating the NCAA under legendary coach Bob Knight. May was drafted second overall in the 1976 draft, and went on to be selected to the NBA All-Rookie team while averaging over fourteen points per game. May’s accomplishments were plentiful, including winning the NCAA College Player of the Year in 1976. He also won an Olympic gold medal during his collegiate days.
Scott’s son Sean was also a highly touted collegiate player during his run with the North Carolina Tar Heels during the early 2000s. Sean was lucky enough to avoid the injury bug, unlike his father. However, Sean didn’t seem to have the skills his father did. Sean was only able to stick in the league for four seasons before being forced to take his skills around the world. He has been bouncing around international leagues since his departure from the NBA in 2010.
11. Tim Hardaway
It could easily be argued that Tim Hardaway Sr. should be much higher on this list. He is, after all, a five time all-star, five time All-NBA Team selection, and a Rookie of the Year winner. With that resume, you could easily say he needs to be higher; however, this list is full of great Hall of Fame caliber fathers. Nonetheless, Hardaway was a true superstar during the prime of his career. He was an MVP runner up as well as one of the pioneers of the ankle breaking cross over.
Hardaway Jr. was not even close to as talented as his old man. Jr appeared to become a victim of the 3-point rush. He is a 6’6 shooting guard, but he mainly sticks to spotting up for three-point shots rather than slashing like his father was once so good at doing. Jr has spent the last two seasons looking to earn a spot with an NBA team, while playing in the D-League.