Sometimes in life, the talent within one family is evenly distributed among siblings. Think of the Williams’ Sisters, the Klitschko Brothers, or the Kardashians. All members of those families made their mark one way or another and while one may slightly be better than the other(s); there’s no dead weight that’s holding back the family (except for Rob Kardashian).
However, other times there comes along a family that clearly has one sibling that is head and shoulders above his or her other sibling(s). We don’t know what exactly the parents did, but they allowed one of their kids to hit every branch on the talent tree while the other was left to just ride the coattails. For example in the NFL there are the Rodgers brothers, Aaron and Jordan, and the Palmer brothers, Carson and Jordan. (Side note: If you have a son named Jordan, throw away all his football gear and tell him to pick up a basketball).
Other infamous families where one sibling is clearly more talented and/or successful than the other are the Bushes, the Cansecos, and obviously, the Gretzkys.
The NBA is certainly not immune to skewed talent between brothers. Not every set of basketball brothers can be the Gasols so here we are presenting the 8 NBA players who outshined their older brother and 7 who lived in the shadow.
16 Surpassed: Brandon Rush
Before there were the Ball brothers highlighted by UCLA’s Lonzo Ball; there were the Rush Brothers. The oldest brother JaRon, was thought of to be the best but fizzled out at UCLA as he was suspended for accepting improper benefits. He then battled alcoholism and never even made the NBA. Middle brother Kareem was a sweet-shooting lefty for the Lakers early in his career but didn’t do much after then. He’ll have to settle for being the second best Rush brother and the second best Kareem to play for the Lakers. Youngest brother Brandon is in his 9th year in the NBA and has played in more games than both of his older brothers combined. Brandon is not a star by any stretch but has had a pretty solid career as he overcame two torn ACLs to become one of the few players to win a championship in college (Kansas) and in the NBA (Warriors).
15 Lived In Shadow: Sam Vincent
Jay Vincent had the nicknames of “Fat Daddy” and the “Midnight Creeper” while Sam Vincent had the nicknamed of…”Sam.” On that alone, you can tell who was the better player. Jay won a national title alongside Magic Johnson at Michigan State and then embarked on a nine-year NBA career, mostly with the Dallas Mavericks. He scored 20 PPG as a rookie and finished with a career scoring average of 15 PPG. He got the nickname of Fat Daddy due to his girth while in college while it’s unknown where the Midnight Creeper nickname came from and it’s probably best left that way. Little brother Sam had a nondescript NBA career and is best known for what he said after his playing days were over. Sam coached the Charlotte Bobcats/Hornets while Michael Jordan was the minority owner and he questioned Jordan’s commitment and desire as a team owner. Vincent lasted just one season with Charlotte and no one has seen or heard of him ever since his comments on MJ.
14 Surpassed: Derek Fisher
Even the most die-hard basketball fans may not have been aware that Derek Fisher had a brother that played in the NBA and you’ll soon see why he is not talked about much. Duane Washington is 10 years older than Fisher and his NBA career lasted 19 games in the late 1980s. His NBA career might have lasted longer but we’ll never know as Washington was suspended for two years for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. After playing in the CBA, USBLA, Europe and South America; his pro career ended in 2000 right when Fisher started winning championships with the Lakers.
In 2012 Washington was involved in a hit-and-run and sentenced to 60 days in jail. Derek Fisher is a five-time NBA champion and while he’s had some issues off the court; it’s nothing close to the problems his older brother has had.
13 Lived In Shadow: Robin Lopez
Brook came out of the womb one minute before Robin did and these self-proclaimed nerds have been patrolling the paint since 2008. Brook is known as the better offensive player while Robin is known as the better defensive player, though neither is considered particularly strong on the glass. Brook was an All-Star in 2013 with Brooklyn and has spent his entire career with the Nets. Robin lived just a few miles away from Brook last season in New York when he was with the Knicks, but the Sideshow Bob doppelganger is now onto the 5th team of his career. Robin may never get to the All-Star game like big brother did, but at least little bro knows what the second round of the NBA playoffs feels like.
12 Surpassed: Aaron Gordon
At this point in his career, Aaron Gordon is more athlete than basketball player; but what an incredible athlete he is. He and Zack LaVine put on an epic battle at the Dunk Contest last season and the Orlando Magic are constructing their team with him as the centerpiece. Even if he never lives up to being the #4 player selected in his draft, just staying out of trouble will be more than his older brother, Drew, ever did. Drew was a four-star recruit who played his first two college seasons at UCLA. But midway through his second season he was suspended by the coach for being “opinionated.”
Drew apparently didn’t learn from the suspension as he was soon off the team due to his tense relationship with the coach. Drew would finish out his college career at New Mexico before going undrafted in 2012. He would eventually play nine games for the 76ers but that was the extent of his NBA career. After playing in France and Lithuania the past two seasons, Drew is looking at an overseas career for the rest of his playing days.
11 Lived In Shadow: Zoran Dragic
I promise you I didn’t just make up “Zoran Dragic.” Zoran played overseas for 10 seasons before joining older brother Goran in Phoenix. The two were even a packaged deal as they were dealt together to the Miami Heat in 2015. However, Zoran would last only 16 games in the NBA before being released and he has headed back to Europe to continue his pro career. Goran is leading the resurgent and surprising Miami Heat as they contend for a playoff spot and signed an $86 million contract with the team two years ago. Widely considered one of the best active players to never make an All-Star team, Goran did make an All-NBA team in 2013-14 and also won Most Improved Player during that season.
Fun fact: While with the Suns, Goran and Zoran teamed with Marcus and Markieff Morris to mark the only time in NBA history that two sets of brothers played on the same team at the same time.
10 Surpassed: Dick Van Arsdale
We go way back for this one as the Van Arsdales were identical twins with nearly identical careers (Tom was 15 minutes older). Both played at Indiana and then they were selected with back-to-back picks in the 1965 NBA Draft. Both Tom and Dick made the All-Rookie team, both made 3 All-Star teams, and both played their final season with the Suns in 1976-77. But younger brother Dick had the slightly better NBA career as he averaged more points, more assists, and played in more playoff games. In fact, Tom Van Arsdale holds the record for most NBA regular season games played in without a postseason appearance. Long before the Gasols had a jump ball at the All-Star game, the Van Arsdales were the first set of brothers to ever appear in the same All-Star game, and they did it twice.
9 Horable Mention: The Plumlees
It’s no coincidence that the Plumlees land at the middle of this list as the best Plumlee brother has been the middle Plumlee brother, Mason. After Duke got served with 21 feet of Plumlee, oldest brother Miles was the first to join the NBA. He’s been a journeyman player and is on is 4th team in 5 years, but he’s doing something right as he just signed a $50 million contract this past offseason.
Middle brother, Mason, joined the association a year after Miles and he’s now on his third team, but has been a starter on each one. He made the All-Rookie first team in 2013-14 and is averaging career highs in points, rebounds, and assists per game this season.
Youngest brother Marshall is a rookie with the Knicks so please pray for that young man. He may not carve out a lengthy NBA career like his older brothers, but he certainly has a plan afterwards. Marshall was sworn into the U.S. Army while at Duke and plans to join the active service once his pro career is over.
8 Lived In Shadow: Albert King
It may seem hard to believe, but Albert was considered the better of the King brothers growing up. Albert was the top rated prep player as a high school senior in a class that included Magic Johnson. Albert would go on to have a nine year NBA career but, unfortunately for him, his basketball career peaked as an amateur. Big brother Bernard would have an injury-plagued NBA career that still ended up in the Pro Basketball Hall of Fame. Bernard made four All-Star teams, won a scoring title, and came back from multiple knee injuries that sidelined him for two complete seasons. One of those years was in 1991-92 with the Washington Bullets. Bernard did not play a game that season and missed out on teaming with his brother as Albert wrapped up his NBA career with Washington that year.
7 Surpassed: Cody Zeller
Luke came first, Tyler came next, and Cody came last and all three Zellers would win Mr. Basketball in the state of Indiana. Unfortunately for Luke, that would be the highlight of his basketball career as he was a backup at Notre Dame and played just 16 minutes in the NBA. Tyler’s career peaked at UNC as he won a national championship as a freshman and was an All-American as a senior. He has carved out a role as a backup center in the NBA and may go on to a 10-year career. Cody also was an All-American but in his home state at Indiana University and was a top 5 pick in the draft. He’s elevated to the starting center role for the Hornets and just signed a $56 million contract this past offseason. Maybe even better than his basketball exploits, Cody has earned the nickname “The Big Handsome” and you can clearly see why.
6 Lived In Shadow: Harvey Grant
These bespectacled brothers were identical twins but Horace was nine minutes older. Horace was also the bigger, better, and more famous brother as he was the third wheel during the Bulls first three-peat during the 1990s. While Horace was playing alongside the likes of Jordan, Shaq, Kobe, and T-Mac; Horace toiled away on nondescript teams in Washington and Portland. The highlight of Harvey’s career might have been the fact that he was once traded for Rasheed Wallace which enabled Wallace to help create the “Jail Blazers” in Portland. However, there is one thing that little brother Harvey does hold over Horace; Harvey has two sons in the NBA while Uncle Horace didn’t send any of his seven kids to the association.
5 Surpassed: Klay Thompson
If Klay Thompson and Steph Curry are the “Splash Brothers” then does that make Mychel Thompson and Seth Curry the “Trash Brothers?” But I digress…Klay lights up the Bay as one half of the best shooting backcourt in NBA history and is a three-time All-Star. He holds the NBA record for most points scored in a quarter (37) and may have his second ring by the time you are reading this. Mychel is the same size as Klay, and looks like Klay, but is not Klay. He did make it into five games with the Cavaliers while LeBron was applying his talents in South Beach. Mychel did share a backcourt with Kyrie Irving in Cleveland but apparently didn’t share any tips with his brother's team on how to defend Kyrie with the score tied with one minute remaining in Game 7 of the NBA Finals.
4 Lived In Shadow: Seth Curry
Seth Curry wasn’t even a top 500 recruit in his senior class so for him to even make the NBA is him exceeding his projections. However, what Steph has done has exceeded his (and everyone else’s) projections 1000 times over. He has 2 MVPs, is the only unanimous MVP in league history, and led the team with the best regular season record in league history. He also possesses a little title called “the best shooter in NBA history.” Steph Curry has done what every athlete strives to do; he has transcended the sports world and has become a household name. Unless Seth miraculously wins like 3 straight MVPs and NBA titles, he won’t ever catch his brother but he has a chance to catch and pass dad, Dell, and end up as the second best Curry.
3 Surpassed: Giannis Antetokounmpo
Did you know there are four Antetokounmpo kids? You know about Giannis as he’s one of the brightest stars in the game and was a recent starter in the NBA All-Star game. It’s amazing how the Greek Freak’s game has grown considering he didn’t start playing basketball competitively until he was 15. He signed a $100 million contract extension this past season and will make one dollar for every single way his name has been mispronounced.
His older brother, Thanasis, AKA The Greak Freak 2 is two years older than the original version and, sadly for him, doesn’t have near the talent that his younger brother has. After spending some time in the D-League, Thanasis had a cup of coffee in the NBA with the Knicks and has headed to Spain to continue his pro career.
2 Lived In Shadow: Gerald Wilkins
One was nicknamed the Human Highlight Film and the other was nicknamed the Jordan Stopper but only one of those nicknames was true. Dominique Wilkins was essentially Vince Carter of the 1980s: a high-flying wing who could put up 20 points in his sleep. He was a nine-time All-Star, a seven-time All-NBA performer and is rightfully on the Mount Rushmore of dunkers. He also has one of the best statues ever created for a pro athlete. Gerald Wilkins had a nice 13 year NBA career and was known as a better defender than his brother. However, he never lived up to the “Jordan Stopper” nickname (which he gave himself) as MJ averaged 31 points and posted a 43-16 record vs. Gerald's teams.
1 Surpassed: Blake Griffin
For a time people thought that Blake and Taylor Griffin were twins while they played together at Oklahoma. The two share a surname and some DNA but that’s where the similarities end between the two. Blake would be a #1 overall selection, become a 5-time All-Star, and make the Clippers franchise relevant for the first time since…ever. Taylor would indeed play in the NBA (who knew?) as he suited up for eight games with the Phoenix Suns. Since then, he was bounced between the D-League, a Belgian pro league, and last played in an Italian League in 2016.
To the best of our knowledge, Taylor has never broken a bone by punching a friend outside a restaurant but news is slow to trickle in from overseas.