The NBA isn’t just a sport, it’s a pathway to fame and limelight, but this fame is temporary. When the spark of the player runs out this fame starts to fade too.
Everyone is not a legend because there is only one Michael Jordan and only one Magic Johnson. Others are just part of the NBA history, despite their contributions and domination of the game, certain stars simply disappear from everyone’s mind. George Gervin and Alex English, these players were once stars. People cheered their each and every move. They were chased for autographs and handshakes, but now they are nowhere to be found around the spotlight.
Some players have managed to remain in the spotlight by broadcasting in the booth and appreciating new talents. Some have become coaches. Some do big brand endorsements in public events and television media. Of course, it is nothing compared to the fame they had during their professional career. Apart from these handful of ex-players, comes the category of forgotten stars who faced massive financial crisis. Some took up regular jobs and started living a common man’s life with no fame at all.
Here are the 15 NBA players who disappeared from the spotlight after their careers –
15 George Gervin
George Gervin is also known as 'The Iceman’ because of his cool attitude in hectic high pressure games. He was famous for his pure talent in shooting and also for being one of the greatest shooting guards. Gervin collected the most scoring titles of any guard in league history, until Michael Jordan came along.
George Gervin started his professional career with Virginia Squires and then moved on to San Antonio Spurs both in ABA. He again showed-off his talents in NBA when the Spurs joined the league in 1976-77.
Gervin averaged at least 14 points per game in all 14 of his ABA and NBA seasons and went on to lead the NBA in scoring average three years in a row from 1978 to 1980 with a high of 33.1 points per game in 1979-1980. Gervin scored 40 or more points 68 times in the regular season, finishing with an NBA career average of 26.2 points per game. He had his number 44 jersey retired by the Spurs and is a member of the Hall of fame.
After his retirement, Gervin set up some non-profit youth centers for troubles kids where schooling is provided to those who wish to pursue their education.
14 Alex English
Alex English had a gift, and that is his talent in scoring. He ruled the arena and the fans by skyrocketing the scoreboard. He started flaunting his scoring talent with the Indiana Pacers but was soon moved to the Denver Nuggets where he started commanding the game with his explosive scoring power. English was the highest scoring player of his time.
English retired as the Nuggets all-time leading scorer having notched 21,654points and his career average of 25.9 points per game this skill allowed him to place 18th on the NBA all-time scoring list as of 2016 with 25,613 points. He was the first ever to pull together eight straight 2,000 point seasons. He has the distinction of being the top scorer in the 1980s.
His No. 2 jersey was retired by the Denver Nuggets and Alex was elected to the Hall of Fame.
Alex was appointed to the post of Director of Player Program and Services for the NBA Players Association. His job was to overseeing alcohol, drug-abuse, HIV/AIDS, player orientation, and career planning.
13 Kevin Johnson
Kevin Johnson was a great point guard during his time. He started his career with the Cleveland Cavaliers as the seventh pick in the 1987 NBA Draft. He was then traded to the Phoenix Suns in 1988.
Johnson joined Magic Johnson and Isiah Thomas as the only players in the NBA history to average at least 20 points and 12 assists in a season and with his rapid improvements he got the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award in 1989.
The 1992-93 Phoenix Suns team led by Johnson and the new teammate Charles Barkley posted an NBA best 62-20 record and managed to make it to the NBA Finals.
His final averages were 17.9 PPG, 9.1 APG, and 3.3 RPG. Johnson's No. 7 jersey was retired from the Phoenix Suns.
In 1989, Johnson founded St. HOPE (Helping Others Pursue Excellence) for the youth which provides educational, spiritual, and cultural opportunities. After his retirement he devoted himself in the humanitarian work for giving people a better life.
12 Elgin Baylor
Elgin Baylor was a talented shooter, perfect passer, and strong rebounder. Baylor amazed the fans with his signature move hanging jump shots. Baylor is regarded as one of the greatest all-time player in NBA history.
The Minneapolis Lakers were in a very miserable state and on the verge of bankruptcy when they used the first overall pick of 1958 NBA draft to select Baylor as their final stand for survival and he did save the club with his talent.
Baylor won the title of NBA Rookie of the Year in 1959, finishing with a scoring average of 24.9 PPG, 15 RPG, and 4.1 APG. Baylor led his team to the NBA Finals eight times before retiring in the 1971-72 season because of his knee problem.
After retirement Baylor was appointed as assistant coach, later head coach for New Orleans Jazz for two years. In 1986 the Los Angeles Clippers made him the team's Vice President as he continued to quietly provide his services for 22 years.
11 Bernard King
Bernard King was a magnificent scorer, who has seen both highs and lows in his career. King started his career with New York Nets later known as the New Jersey Nets.
King made history by becoming the first player since 1964 to score at least 50 points in consecutive games. King’s fortunes changed in 1980-81 season with the Golden State Warriors where he won the title of NBA’s Comeback Player of the year with an average of 21.9 PPG after having played just 19 games the season before with the Utah Jazz. King won the scoring title with the Knicks during the 1984-85 season and looked like he was the hottest player in the NBA.
King eventually recovered from the injury, but sat out the entire 1985-86 season and all but the last six games of the 1986-87 season. King ended his career with 19,655 points in 874 games and an average of 22.5 PPG.
After King’s professional career he took up some part-time jobs like broadcaster and commentator.
10 Jack Sikma
Jack Sikma had a rare talent for shooting. He was the most accurate shooting center and was a rare standout at the free-throw line. Sikma was drafted eighth overall in 1977 by the Seattle SuperSonics.
Sikma never failed to score less than 10 points in his career and averaged a career high 19.6 PPG during the 1981-82 NBA season. Sikma was also a solid rebounder and averaged a career high 12.7 RPG in the same season.
After nine overwhelming seasons with the Seattle Supersonics, Sikma joined the Milwaukee Bucks for the last five seasons of his career. He finished his career avaeraging 15.6 PPG and 9.8 RPG.
Jack Sikma was named to the NBA All-Rookie Team showcasing a bright start to his promising career. His No. 43 jersey was retired by SuperSonics.
Sikma, after his career ended, he was recruited by Houston Rockets and Minnesota Timberwolves as assistant coach.
9 Elvin Hayes
Elvin Hayes was a powerful forward and can wreak havoc in the arena with his talent. In his NBA career of 16 years, he has been awarded with many titles.
Hayes started his NBA career with the San Diego Rockets in 1968 and in the same year he scored a career high of 54 points against Detroit Pistons. Hayes was named to the NBA All-Rookie Team with an average of 28.4 PPG. Hayes’s scoring average is the fifth best all-time for a rookie.
Hayes later joined the Baltimore Bullets in 1972, Hayes where he lead the team to three NBA Finals in 1975, 78, and 79 and won an NBA title over Seattle SuperSonics in 1978. In the Championship (1978) Hayes’s averaged 21.8 points 12.1 rebound points per game in 21 playoff games. Hayes again joined Rockets for second round drafts pick in 1981. His No. 11 jersey was retired by the Washington Bullets. Hayes has also joined the Hall of Fame.
Hayes returned to college after his career ended for completing his graduation and then he took up country-life. He raised cattle in his ranch and later started a Houston car dealership.
8 Mark Aguirre
Mark Aguirre was a splendid all-around player and was the first pick of the 1981 NBA Daft by the Dallas Mavericks. Aguirre has an average of over 20 points every year in Dallas except his rookie year.
Aguirre’s first season in Dallas was limited to 51 games and averaged 18.7 points. In the 1982-83 season, he reeled off six campaigns in which his average topped 22 points per game. Aguirre was the face of the Dallas Mavericks.
Dallas finished second in the Midwest at 43-39, and the team made its first playoff trip, beating the Seattle SuperSonics in the opening round before losing to the Los Angeles Lakers in the conference semifinals.
Aguirre was traded to the Detroit Pistons in 1989 and Detroit won the NBA title that season, repeating as champions in 1989-90.
He averaged 20 PPG, 5 RPG and 3.1 APG during his 13 years of career that also included his final year with the Los Angeles Clippers.
Aguirre, after his retirement was approached and hired by many as an assistant coach and later head coach.
7 Mitch Richmond
Mitch Richmond was famous for his scoring abilities and his three-point shots. Richmond was drafted fifth overall in the 1988 NBA Draft by the Golden State Warriors and won the NBA Rookie of the Year Award in 1988-89 season.
After three successful years with the Warriors, scoring more than 22 points per game, he was traded to the Sacramento Kings. Richmond was the team’s leading scorer in each of his seven seasons there, averaging no fewer than 21.9 points a game each season. He was selected to the United States Olympic Team Dream Team II, earning a gold medal in Atlanta.
Richmond was traded to the Washington Wizards in 1998, he averaged 19.7 PPG in 1998-99 season and after three years with the Wizards he joined Los Angeles Lakers in 2000-2001, where his point totals dropped to 4.1.
The Sacramento Kings retired Richmond’s No. 2 jersey and he was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2014.
Richmond was hired by St. John Men’s Basketball Program and his job involved developing strategy and serving as an ambassador in University programs and community events.
6 Jerry Lucas
Jerry Lucas was a born champion and was famous for his dominant rebounding. The stunning forward averaged a career total of 15.6 boards per game during his 11 years of NBA career.
Lucas Started his career with the Cincinnati Royals in 1963 where he recorded four 30-rebound games, including a 40-rebound game in 1964. Lucas is still today the only NBA forward with a 40-rebound game. In 1970-71 season while playing for the San Francisco Warriors, he averaged 19.2 points per game on 50% shooting, 15.8 rebounds ,and 3.7 assists. Finally, Lucas was traded to the New York Knicks where he led the team in rebounds and shooting accuracy and was second on the team in both scoring and assist.
Lucas was the NBA Rookie of the Year in 1964 and added an NBA Championship with the Knicks during the 1972-73 season. He won an Olympic Gold Medal in Rome (1960), a NCAA Championship, and an NBA Championship.
After retirement Lucas became an author and co-wrote "The Memory Book" as well as numerous others on the topic of learning and memory.
5 Larry Nance
The name Larry Nance reminds us of consistency. He is also known as the first winner of NBA Slam Dunk contest in 1984, earning him the nickname of “The High-Ayatolla of Slamola.”
He spent his entire career with the Phoenix Suns and Cleveland Cavaliers. Nance was an excellent mid-range shooter as well as a talented inside player. His best scoring average year was in the 1986-87 NBA season, where he averaged 22.5 points per game.
Nance was traded to the Cavaliers in 1988 where he helped Cleveland contend in the East with front-court partner Brad Daugherty.
His No. 22 jersey was retired by the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Larry Nance retired from his NBA career and jumped to NHRA drag racing, becoming a pro stock racer.
4 Tom Chambers
Tom Chambers was an exceptional player with an ability to shoot like a guard, rebound, and serve as a tremendous finisher. He was an ultimate package.
Chambers played in six different NBA teams but mostly recognized for his play with the Phoenix Suns. He started his career with the San Diego Clippers in 1981. In his third season he became the key factor to his winning team, he played all 82 games and averaged 18.1 points per game.
During his 16-year NBA playing career with the San Diego Clippers, Seattle SuperSonics, Suns, Utah Jazz, Charlotte Hornets and the Philadelphia 76ers, Chambers averaged 18.1PPG, 6.1 RPG, and 2.1 APG.
The Phoenix Suns retired his No. 24 jersey on 18, April 1999.
Chambers bought a ranch after his career which was famous for being a Shooting Star Ranch.
3 Dennis Johnson
Dennis Johnson was one of best defensive guard in the NBA history, and he has a reputation for delivering in the big games. He was elected to nine All-Defensive teams.
Johnson started his career with the Seattle SuperSonics in the second round of 1976 draft with the 29th pick. He played as a shooting guard and was famous for his aggressive slam dunks. He was the key piece in giving Seattle its first NBA Championship by winning the Finals MVP in1979.
Johnson joined Phoenix Suns in 1980 and three years later joined the Boston Celtics. He won two championships with the Celtics and was remembered for the famous playoff steal by Larry Bird, who passed to Johnson for the game-winner against the Detroit pistons. Johnson finished his career with an average of 14.1 PPG 5.0 APG and 3.9 RPG.
Johnson had his No. 3 jersey retired by the Boston Celtics before he passed away from a heart attack in 2007.
After retirement Johnson started working as scout for the Celtics and later became assistant coach. In 2000 he joined Los Angeles Clippers as assistant coach and finally became head coach.
2 Bob McAdoo
Bob McAdoo was a player with great talents. Playing the center and power forward positions, he was deadly from all-over the court.
McAdoo joined the Buffalo Braves (now the Los Angeles Clippers) in 1972 NBA Draft, winning the 1973 NBA Rookie of the Year Award and becoming a notable player. McAdoo’s second season, remains the last time an NBA player has averaged both 30 points and 15 rebounds per game.
He was awarded the NBA Most Valuable Player Award averaging 34.5 points, 14.1 rebounds and 2.12 blocks per game, while shooting 51.2 percent from the field and 80.5 percent from the free throw line.
McAdoo was the boost to the Los Angeles Lakers and their “Showtime” style. He helped them win two NBA Championships as their sixth man during the 1981-82 and 1984-85 season.
The Hall of Famer played for the Braves, New York Knicks, Boston Celtics, Detroit Pistons, New Jersey Nets, Lakers, and Philadelphia 76ers during his career. His career averages were 22.1 PPG, 9.4 RPG and 2.3 APG.
McAdoo after his retirement, was approached and hired by many teams as an assistant coach and he was also hired as basketball technical advisor for a film in 1993 “The Air Up There.”
1 Nate "Tiny" Archibald
Nate "Tiny" Archibald was a willing passer and a good shooter from mid-range. He was very difficult to guard in an open court because of his speed, shiftiness, and quick movement. He led the league in points per game and assists per game during the 1972-73 season when he was in Kansas City Kings.
The Cincinnati Royals selected Archibald in the second round of 1970 NBA Draft, and in 1972-73 season, Archibald led the NBA in scoring and assists, becoming the only player to win the titles in both categories in the same season.
Archibald won his first and only NBA Championship with the Boston Celtics alongside Larry Bird in the 1980-81 season. Archibald played for the Cincinnati Royals/Kansas City Kings, New York Knicks, Boston Celtics ,and Milwaukee Bucks during his career.
The Sacramento Kings have retired Archibald's No. 1 jersey.
Nate completed his graduation after his career, getting a Master’s Degree and teaching in the New York city school system.