The world may be filled with people who have different faiths and political views, but there are some things that most of us can all agree on, and one of those things, is the fact that everyone likes to be entertained. In 2017, people can find entertainment from a variety of different methods, like watching movies and playing video games, but one of the most popular ways in which people entertain themselves, is by either watching or participating in sports. Here in North America, we are incredibly lucky when it comes to sports, as the continent is home to four of the biggest professional sports leagues in the world, with the National Basketball Association being one of them.
The NBA has existed since 1946, and in those 71 years, it has produced some of the greatest athletes and team dynasties in all of professional sports, which is part of the reason why the league now generates billions of dollars in revenue each year. When you have been around for as long as the NBA has, there are bound to be certain stories and facts, both good and bad, that have helped to build the league into what it is today, and usually, these stories and facts revolve around the players themselves.
The purpose of this list is to focus on 20 of the most surprising facts that basketball fans might have not known about the NBA.
22 The Tallest Player Was 7'7"
There are certain things that are unique to the game of basketball, like the playing surface, the size of the team, and of course the game itself, but it is also fairly unique because of the fact that virtually every player in the NBA is really tall. Seeing as the hoop is situated pretty high, it only makes sense that the sport would be dominated by tall individuals who have a much better chance of scoring thanks to their height, and no one in NBA history has ever been as tall as former center Gheorghe Muresan. This towering Romanian stood at 7'7", making him the tallest player in league history, and he played in the NBA for a total of five seasons with both Washington and New Jersey. Unfortunately, his height did not translate into much success, aside from the fact that he led the league in field goal percentage twice.
20 LeBron's Mom Hooked Up With One Of His Teammates
LeBron James is currently making his 7th straight NBA Finals appearance, but what some people seem to have forgotten is the fact that he made it deep into the playoffs during his first stint with Cleveland as well,. At that time, however, he did not have that good of a relationship with one of his teammates. The player in question is Delonte West, who has not played in the NBA since 2012, and in 2010, while the Cavaliers were in the middle of a playoff run, news broke which claimed that West was sleeping with LeBron's mom. Apparently, the two hooked up several times, and LeBron, unsurprisingly, was not happy about the entire situation, and he had every right to be upset, because in basketball, there are certain unspoken rules in the locker room, with one of them being that you do not sleep with a teammate's mom.
19 Kevin Garnett Was Once The Highest Paid Player In The League
Over the course of its existence, the NBA has produced many players worthy of induction into the Hall of Fame, and when a player is that good, then it only makes sense that they made a boatload of money during their playing days. Kevin Garnett began his career in 1995 with the Minnesota Timberwolves, and ended it with the same team in 2016, and in between, he played for Brooklyn and the Celtics, with whom he won his only championship with in 2008. Garnett was once the highest paid player in the entire NBA, having made $28 million in 2007 alone, and he was also the highest paid player six other seasons as well, which would have been fine if he were not playing against players like Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant, and LeBron James, who will each be remembered as being a much better and more valuable player.
18 Michael Jordan Was Fined For Wearing His Own Shoes
It is true that LeBron James is an amazing player, but to call him the greatest basketball player of all time may be a bit of a stretch, because of how great and dominating Micheal Jordan was. It was because of how great he was, that Jordan signed a huge deal with Nike to endorse a brand of basketball footwear and athletic clothing, which is fairly expensive and called Air Jordan. Jordan really wanted to promote his sneakers, which is why he took it upon himself to wear them during NBA games in 1985. That was something that the league was not too happy about, because they wanted him to wear their own licensed equipment; and to keep him from wearing those sneakers all the time, the commissioner issued him a $5,000 fine for each game he wore them in.
17 Only 4 Teams Have Won More Than 4 Championships
For the third year in a row, the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers are meeting in the NBA finals, which is fine with some people, but there are a lot of fans who do not like the idea of seeing the same teams vying for a championship every single year. These fans though do not understand that this trend is nothing new to the NBA, as there have been multiple examples of the same teams either consistently winning titles or facing off against each other in the finals. The NBA has been around for just over seven decades now, and in that time, believe it or not, there have only been four teams who have won the championship more than four times, with San Antonio having won 5, Chicago winning 6, the Lakers winning 16, and the Celtics having won 17.
16 Shaq Has The Largest Shoe Size Of Any Player
Shaquille O'Neal will go down as one of the best centers in the history of basketball, and he will also be remembered for being one of the most beloved and charismatic players to ever appear on an NBA court. In a career that spanned 19 years, Shaq played for a total of six teams, including the Miami Heat with whom he won one title, and the Lakers with whom he won his first three championships, and when you add his MVP wins and All-Star Game appearances to his resume, it is no wonder that he was a first ballot Hall of Famer. Shaq may have won numerous accolades as a player, but he also currently holds an NBA record that may never be broken, and that record is having the largest shoe size. Shaq is not just tall, he is massive, so much so that when he played, he had to wear a 24-EEE sneaker, which is nearly double the size of an average American man's foot.
14 Rasheed Wallace Has Had Over 300 Technical Fouls
Rasheed Wallace was selected 4th-overall back in 1995 by Washington, and over the course of his career, he played for six teams, including the Detroit Pistons, the team that he won his first and only championship with in 2004. Aside from winning a title, being named an All-Star four times, and most likely being a future Hall of Famer, Wallace will have his name in the record books for another reason: for committing the most technical fouls in NBA history. A technical foul is a foul that does not involve any physical contact between opposing players, and are usually issued due to some kind of unsportsmanlike conduct, and Wallace currently holds the record for the most technical fouls in NBA history with 304. That's a record which may stand for a very long time seeing as every player tries very hard to avoid getting fouls which can really hurt their team during a game.
13 One Player Tried To Assault A Nanny
The National Football League has developed a rather bad reputation for itself when it comes to certain players either being associated with a crime, or actually being caught, charged, and/or convicted of one, but the NBA has also been marred with active player arrests as well. Ruben Patterson entered the NBA in 1998 after being drafted by the Lakers, but he was quickly traded to the Seattle Supersonics that same year, and thanks to his performance in the 1999-00 season, he was awarded with a five-year, $35 million contract. Patterson did not get to enjoy his new contract for long, though, as shortly after signing it, he was arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting his kid's nanny, and was ultimately convicted of the crime. Fortunately for him, his one-year jail sentence was shortened to just 15 days.
12 The Shortest Player Was 5'3"
At the beginning of this list, we talked about the tallest player to ever make it to the NBA, but this time, we will be focusing on point guard, Muggsy Bogues, who is still the shortest man to have played in the league. Bogues measured just 5'3", which is rather short, even by non-NBA standards, but apparently, his height was not seen as that big of an issue, seeing as he was taken 12th-overall by Washington back in 1987. In the end, Bogues played in the NBA for a total of 14 seasons, which included stints in Charlotte, Golden State, and Toronto, where he managed to put together a combined 6,858 points for his career, which is pretty decent. Although he never won a title, he is proof that size does not always matter in basketball.
11 Michael Jordan Was Not A 1st-Overall Pick
Seeing as Micheal Jordan is viewed as the greatest player of all time, it quite literally means that he was a talent that came along once in a lifetime, and usually, players of that caliber tend to be drafted 1st-overall. Indeed, that is usually the case, but in Jordan's case, he was actually taken by the Chicago Bulls 3rd overall in 1984. This, in retrospect, makes the Portland Trail Blazers look like complete and utter fools for passing on him. Portland ended up taking Sam Bowie, who played in the NBA for 9 seasons, in a career that was decent, but not worthy of a 2nd-overall pick, while Houston took Hakeem Olajuwon 1st-overall. Hakeem "The Dream" at least ended up winning two championships for the Rockets, while making the Hall of Fame in 2008. Just think about it, had either team drafted Jordan instead, the record books would be a lot different than they are today.
9 James Worthy Has A Criminal Record
In 1982, the Lakers used their 1st-overall pick to select small forward James Worthy, a man who went on to spend his entire 13-year playing career with the team, winning three championships in the process. As of now, he currently serves as one of the team's assistant coaches. Worthy is a Hall of Famer who is considered to be amongst the 50 best players of all-time, and he is also credited with being one of the more liked and honest players in the league. Still, he was not as squeaky clean as people made him out to be. In 1990, while in Houston, Worthy was arrested as part of a police sting operation in which he was charged with soliciting a prostitute. It is true that Worthy's reputation suffered a bit of a blow, and his wife did file for divorce, but at least he was ultimately not convicted of anything.
8 DeShawn Stevenson's Criminal Record
As mentioned earlier, the NBA has had to deal with its own players getting arrested from time to time, and each time it happens, it puts a little stain on the integrity of the league as a whole, especially when they allow a convicted sex offender play. DeShawn Stevenson was drafted by the Utah Jazz 23rd overall in 2000, and played for five other teams, including the Dallas Mavericks with whom he won his first and only championship. During his 2nd season with Utah, Stevenson, who was 20 at the time, was arrested for allegedly being intimate with a 14-year old girl, and although he entered a no contest plea, he was still convicted. He never faced any jail time for the incident, but he was sentenced to serve community service, thanks to the charge being changed to a misdemeanor.
7 There Is A Player Who Was Arrested 15 Times Before Joining The NBA
By now, you may have grown tired of hearing about NBA players getting arrested, but this list entry will also be focusing on a player's arrest record, except this time, the player was arrested before even entering the league. Caron Butler is a small forward who was drafted in 2002 by Miami with the 10th overall pick, and over the course of his 14-year career, he has played for eight other teams, including a short stay in Dallas which resulted in a championship win in 2011. Prior to joining the NBA, though, Butler got into a lot of trouble with the law, as according to him, he was arrested a total of 15 times before he was even 15 years old, and fortunately for him, none of those arrests were for any kind of major crime that could have seen him in jail instead of making millions of dollars playing basketball.
6 One Player Used A Spear To Kill A Lion
It is no surprise that the NBA is made up of mostly American athletes, but over the last three decades, the league has done a great job of growing the sport internationally, and bringing in new talent from all across the world. In 1985, Washington used their 31st pick to select Manute Bol, a center who was born and raised in what is now South Sudan. Bol went on to play in the NBA for a good 10 seasons, which included time with Golden State, Philadelphia, and Miami. Bol was a member of the Dinka tribe, who raised cattle in the Nile Valley, and one day while tending to his family's cattle, a lion came looking for food, which forced Bol to confront the carnivore. To this day, Bol is still the only known NBA player who managed to kill a lion using just a spear.
5 Michael Jordan's Divorce Was The Most Expensive In League History
With this entry, we will be focusing on Michael Jordan for the third and final time, but this time, we will not be talking about anything related to his actual playing career, instead, we will be delving into a part of his personal life. In 1989, Jordan married Juanita Vanoy, who filed for divorce in 2002, but since the pair shared three children at the time, they found a way to reconcile. That reconciliation did not last as long as Jordan might have hoped, because they officially ended their marriage in 2006. At that time, Jordan was worth hundreds of millions of dollars thanks to his contracts and endorsement deals, which is why he had to pay his ex-wife $168 million in the settlement, which still makes it the most expensive divorce settlement in the history of the NBA.
4 A Player Averaged A Triple Double For The Entire Season & Was Not Named MVP
This year, basketball fans in Oklahoma City were treated to an amazing performance by Russell Westbrook, who not only averaged a triple double for the entire season, but who also broke the record for the most triple doubles in a season with 42. Such a performance is incredibly rare, and in doing so, he basically got his team into the playoffs by himself, which is why so many people are urging him to be named this year's MVP, but all those triple doubles do not guarantee him anything. Oscar Robertson is a Hall of Famer, who was named the MVP and also won a championship during his career. He is even considered to be one of the 50 greatest players to ever live. Robertson is also the only other player to average a triple double for an entire season, and he did so in 1961-62, his second season in the league. But because he played with the likes of Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell, he only won the MVP once, which ironically also makes him the only player to not be named MVP after averaging a triple double for the entire year.
3 One Player Fathered 14 Children
When you play in a major professional sports league like the NBA, you will have to travel a lot in order to play in all of your team's scheduled away games, and when you have 41 away games like you do in basketball, it gets rather lonely. We are all human, and therefore we all do things that we go on to later regret, and when it comes to the NBA, several players have had to deal with making the same mistake multiple times. The players in question are those who enjoyed hooking up with women every time they were on the road, and these escapades have so far resulted in the births of dozens of illegitimate children, whom these players have to then take care of financially, costing them a lot of money. The king of NBA baby daddies, however, is former Rockets point guard Calvin Murphy, who fathered 14 children with nine different women.
2 There Was A Major Betting Scandal Involving A Referee
Every professional sport, whether it be team-based or individual, is fundamentally different in nature, but despite that, they all still share some things in common, including the fact that people like to place bets on them. A lot of people bet on NBA games, but there are certain individuals like actual NBA players, coaches, and referees, who are completely banned from placing bets, because they have the ability to actually alter the outcome of a game. In 2007, the NBA was caught in a betting scandal when it was revealed that former referee Tim Donaghy was betting on games and controlling the point spread, and would also offer other individuals betting tips. Donaghy ended up pleading guilty in 2008 to two federal charges, and was sentenced to 15 months in a federal prison.
1 Most Former Players Are Broke 5 Years After Retiring
When someone decides that they want to become a professional athlete, it is partly because they want their job to revolve around a game that they truly love, but another big reason behind that decision is the fact that professional athletes generally make a ton of money. When it comes to the NBA, a good player is now basically guaranteed to make at least $10 million a year, and if you are a great player, there is a good chance that you will be making well over $20 million. Essentially, if you play in the NBA, you are a multi-millionaire, and to those of us who work regular jobs, that kind of money would last us a lifetime, but for most basketball players, that money runs out incredibly fast. As it turns out, about 60% of former NBA players find themselves broke five years after leaving the league, mainly because of the expensive and lavish lifestyles they enjoyed during their playing days.