Stories about some of the biggest stars to ever play in the National Basketball Association and also of some individuals currently associated with the league are legendary for a variety of reasons. Unlike players who feature for National Football League and National Hockey League clubs, NBA stars do not wear masks and/or helmets during games, meaning their faces become recognizable to even casual fans who only watch the “bigger” matchups or playoff contests that occur during any given season. It also doesn’t hurt that top-tier NBA players often achieve incredible athletic feats that seem downright impossible for we mere mortals who cannot perform incredible dunks and who cannot dribble around defenders as if they were standing still. For many, the NBA is the most fun and entertaining league of them all.
Because these players are Superstar athletes and celebrities, insane real-life stories about them move the needle, generate clicks and discussions and, thus, are reported on by journalists who get their hands on these scoops one way or another. Some of these supposed stories are well-known because they’ve spread via websites, social media platforms and even word of mouth. Others have even been talked about by the players involved in the tales or by others who claim to have witnessed the events with their own eyes. One thing that seems clear, as of the summer of 2017, is that current NBA stars are not going to shy away from being involved with these types of insane stories anytime soon. We who love the league wouldn’t have it any other way.
15 Wilt Chamberlain: 20,000 Lovers
We start with what may be the most famous insane supposed real-life story that hovers over the legacy of a basketball star. Truth be told, some out there may know Wilt Chamberlain more for his claim of having sex with at least 20,000 women than for all that he achieved on basketball courts during his legendary career.
Chamberlain passed away at the age of 63 years old back in the fall of 1999, so we'll never, in future years, be able to verify the number he tossed out there. You will have to do the math on your own to calculate how many women Chamberlain would’ve been with during his adult years in order to get to the mythical number of 20,000. We’ll always know you as “Wilt the Stilt,” Mr. Chamberlain.
14 Kyrie Irving: Flat Earth?
Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving will always be a basketball legend for the shot he drained late in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals, but he made headlines in February 2017 for reasons that have nothing to do with the game.
Irving suggested, on multiple occasions, that he believes the earth is flat and also that “they” lie to us about the real nature of the planet. Whatever Irving does in the future, this may have to be considered the most insane story about his off-the-court life. Does Kyrie really believe the earth isn’t round? What has convinced him the majority of information we have about the planet is incorrect? What force or group is hiding the truth? There are so many follow-up questions we still have on this matter months after the fact.
13 Karl Malone: Illegitimate Son?
This insane story would be difficult to believe if it hadn’t been reported on by multiple respected journalists, including ESPN’s Jemele Hill. Apparently, “The Mailman” Karl Malone is the father of former NFL offensive tackle Demetress Bell even though the basketball legend has never publicly confirmed this to be true.
That is only part of the craziness of this story. Malone, allegedly, impregnated Bell's mother when she was only 13 years old and he was a sophomore attending Louisiana Tech! For whatever reasons, Malone never had to deal with law enforcement regarding these reports, and the truth of the matter is that you rarely, if ever, hear about this story these days. You’d have to go back via the Internet to read up on this rumor that has never been proven to be inaccurate.
12 Manute Bol & Heinekens
This has to be one of our favorite insane real-life stories about an NBA star, because it's both hilarious and totally believable. As Ben Rohrbach of the Ball Don’t Lie website reported in July 2016, Jayson Williams, a former player, himself, once told stories about Bol while appearing on a podcast.
According to Williams’ account, Manute Bol was often allowed to drink alcohol, specifically Heinekens, during the early 90s while with the Philadelphia 76ers in an attempt to help him put on weight. The result, per Williams, was that Bol played some games while intoxicated. Anybody who can remember what the lengthy Bol looked like during his career can probably believe any team would be wiling to go to extreme measures to try add some pounds to his frame. We’re just saying.
11 Larry Bird: Trash Talker
You probably know Larry Bird was, in his time, one of the best shooters in NBA history, but fans of a certain age may not be aware that he was also notorious for talking trash to opponents during games.
One of his most famous moments of gabbing while on the court occurred while Bird and the Boston Celtics were playing an Indiana Pacers side featuring a rookie Reggie Miller, who thought it best to try to distract Bird while Bird was at the charity stripe late in the contest. “Rook,” Bird said between attempts, “I’m the best shooter in the league right now. In the league. Understand? And you're up here trying to tell me something?” Naturally, Bird drained both free throws because of course he did.
10 Steph Curry: Fixed?
In a way, it’s somewhat astonishing we’ve all agreed to just forget Ayesha Curry, the wife of two-time NBA Most Valuable Player and Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry, took to Twitter in June 2016 to suggest Game 6 of the 2016 NBA Finals was rigged against her husband’s team.
She eventually deleted that Tweet, but the Internet never forgets, which is why pockets of Cleveland fans still mock this accusation to this day. Nevertheless, it is, if you think about it for any length of time, insane that the spouse of such a prominent figure would think it wise to press “send” on such a Tweet. It’s fine for a family member to act like a fan at games, but saying a sporting event is fixed is a serious allegation, and, yet, nothing came of the Tweet as far as we know.
9 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Versus a Fan
Los Angeles Lakers legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had a reputation for being somewhat of an ornery character during his playing days. Some may even say he was downright mean at times.
In the spring of 1989, Abdul-Jabbar was fined and forced to pay restitution after he allegedly attacked an Italian tourist at a mall the previous April. According to reports, Adbul-Jabbar knocked the wide-eyed fan to the ground all because he photographed the walking basketball icon. Imagine, in this world where just about anybody who has a phone also has a camera, if NBA players reacted a similar way upon noticing they were being filmed or photographed by a fan. There would be no NBA seasons because so many players would be wrapped-up in legal cases and lawsuits.
8 Charles Barkley Eats McDonald’s
Here is another epic and insane story that comes from the previously mentioned Jayson Williams. Apparently during Williams’ rookie season in the NBA, Barkley arrived to a practice several minutes late and with a bag of McDonald’s food in his hand. Barkley then decided to chastise teammates who were training on the court while he ate the food and “rode” the stationary bike.
Maybe the best part about Williams’ tale here is that those who have read anything about Barkley can easily believe it. After all, they didn’t call the guy the “The Round Mound of Rebound” because he was known for being a top-tier athlete who was in shape each and every campaign. We’d like to see Barkley reenact this story while serving as an analyst for an NBA on TNT broadcast.
7 Kobe Bryant: Practice Habits
It’s hard to pick just one insane story about Kobe Bryant’s practice habits and the work ethic he displayed throughout his incredible career. As Alysha Tsuji of USA Today once wrote, Bryant routinely practiced the same shot throughout one practice, sometimes for an hour (or more) or until he drained a certain amount of attempts, such as 400 (yes, 400 converted shots).
Shaquille O’Neal, Bryant’s former teammate and former on-the-court rival, detailed how Bryant would actually practice sequences, moves, dribbling techniques and even shots with an invisible ball during some sessions. Last but certainly not least, Bryant was known for being the first player on the practice court, and in the middle of a workout, even when he was the best player in the NBA. You young would-be stars can learn a lot from Kobe’s basketball habits.
6 LeBron James: Football Star?
Both fans and observers, alike, overuse certain sports cliches, but it may not be an overstatement to suggest LeBron James truly is a once-in-a-generation athlete. In February 2017, Joon Lee of Bleacher Report wrote a lengthy piece about how James dominated at football while in high school, to the point that opposing defenses struggled with keeping up with, let alone stopping, the future basketball legend.
According to Lee, at least one NFL General Manager stated James could’ve been a historically-good offensive player as a tight end, which makes sense when you consider James’ size and physical gifts. It really isn’t hard to imagine James could’ve gone pro in just about any sport, such as football, baseball, soccer, tennis or even hockey, had he applied himself at a young age.
5 Dennis Rodman Goes to Vegas
Trying to pick your favorite insane story about Dennis Rodman is like trying to select your favorite snowflake from a blizzard. We decided to go with one that comes from a Chicago Tribune piece written by Terry Armour in 1997.
Apparently, Chicago Bulls head coach Phil Jackson allowed Rodman to go to Las Vegas after the Bulls lost Game 4 of the 1997 NBA Finals to the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake. Rodman joined up with Smashing Pumpkins front man Billy Corgan to “dissipate energy” as Jackson explained, which seems a ridiculous notion knowing all that we know about Rodman and also about the actions of NBA players in today’s climate. Say whatever you will about Rodman’s actions that spring. The Bulls won the series and the NBA championship.
4 Magic Johnson: Intercourse
Magic Johnson became the public face of HIV and AIDS when he announced he had the virus in November 1991. As Andrew Sharp of SB Nation wrote in February 2010, Johnson had a reputation for promiscuity throughout the 1980s.
According to former Los Angeles Lakers General Manager Jerry West, Johnson was known for “entertaining” women in the team locker room and team sauna. Magic was also said to have slept with “300-500 people a year.” While the information and statistics are staggering to read, it should be pointed out that Johnson’s partying ways and carefree lifestyle resulted in society seeing matters such as unprotected sex and AIDS differently than during the 80s. Fortunately, Johnson is still with us today and is able to talk freely about mistakes he made in the past.
3 Allen Iverson Has Love for Tom Brokaw
Long before Allen Iverson was “The Answer,” he was a young man sitting behind bars following an alleged incident that occurred at a bowling alley when he was only 17 years old. News anchor Tom Brokaw featured Iverson’s piece for a story, largely because he believed the would-be NBA star had been given a harsh sentence that could’ve kept him in prison for up to 15 years.
Iverson eventually tasted freedom after only four months, and he has credited Brokaw for his role in helping save what became a Hall-of-Fame career well before it ever kicked off. During an appearance on the CBS This Morning program in April 2015, Iverson spoke about how Brokaw helped him in his early years. NBA fans everywhere owe Brokaw gratitude.
2 Shaquille O’Neal Naked
You can blame both Phil Jackson and Rick Fox for any mental images you obtain after reading this portion of the piece. As Alysha Tsuji of USA Today wrote in March 2017, both Jackson and Fox have claimed that all-time great NBA big man Shaquille O’Neal showed up to practices naked, or wearing only basketball shoes, on multiple occasions during his stint with the Lakers.
Derek Fisher went one step further, claiming that Shaq would even attempt to hug teammates while wearing nothing other than what God gave him. Maybe O’Neal was simply pranking his teammates, or maybe he was merely attempting to get to practices on time at all costs. Whatever the case, the thought of a naked Shaq chasing after teammates for one huge squeeze is rather haunting.
1 Michael Jordan Gambles Over Luggage
Stories about Michael Jordan gambling during and after his NBA career are legendary. Bill Simmons wrote about one of the crazier tales for ESPN years ago. Apparently, members of the Chicago Bulls were waiting for luggage while in Portland when Jordan bet those around him that his bags would be the first to arrive.
As you can probably guess, Jordan won the bet with the help of an outside influence; specifically, Jordan paid a baggage handler ahead of time to help him win the wager. Jordan will forever be remembered as being one of the most competitive pro athletes of his time, and that desire to win followed him just about wherever he went even if he was dealing with teammates. It should also be pointed out that it isn’t actually a bet if you know you’re going to win.