Having a dad who plays in the NBA has to be one of the best things that can happen to a kid. You get free tickets to games. You get to meet all the other players, and if your dad played on the same team as a legend, the odds are that you had a chance to meet that legend and brag about it to your friends at school. Money has probably never been nor will it ever be a problem for your family as even the smallest salary for an NBA player is way above what a regular person earns.
Still, all of that can turn into a two-edged sword. And the only thing you need to do to turn that gift into the possibility of a nightmare is deciding to follow in your father’s footsteps.
Sure, there been a few instances in which second-generation players have cleared the bar their parents set and then some more (Steph Curry and Kobe Bryant spring to mind). Nevertheless, there have also been a series of players who have not gotten even close to reaching the success their fathers had back in the day. On this list, we will not only count players who have entered the league years ago and already ended their careers, but also a few players who are still playing basketball, maybe even still in the NBA, but have yet to break free from the shadow that lingers over them.
So get ready for some disappointment because here are the Top 15 NBA players who lived in the shadow of their fathers.
15 Tim Hardaway Jr.
Tim Hardaway is another one of those guys who we can say changed the game. He is widely credited with the invention of the killer crossover, which to this day still has defenders praying to get out of the court with their ankles intact. Not only that, Hardaway was a five-time NBA All-Star who averaged over 17 points and over eight assists per game in his 13 year NBA career.
That being said, when his son Tim Hardaway Jr. was set to enter the league, the expectations were big. Hardaway Jr. was picked in the first round by the New York Knicks, and being selected by the Knicks comes with high expectations since every player who’s picked by NY is hyped to be a savior of some kind.
He was not a savior, but in contrast with the other second-generation names on this list, Hardaway Jr. managed to hold his own and is still in the league. He might not be a superstar like his father was, but he’s making himself a solid career as a role player.
14 Cory Higgins
Rod Higgins had his up and downs, but the reason his son is on this list is that he actually managed to stay in the league for a long time. Rod played for seven different teams in his 13 year NBA career, during one season he even played for five different squads. Nevertheless, he was good enough to stay in the NBA; averaging nine points per game and a solid shooting percentage of almost 50 percent from the field as well as shooting better than 80 percent from the free-throw line were the strengths of this 6-foot-7 small forward.
Now you may be thinking: "who would live under the shadow of a guy who averaged nine points per game?"
Well, his son Cory played in the NBA for two seasons and averaged 3.7 points per game. Even where his father was the strongest, Cory didn’t measure up as he averaged little over 34 percent shooting from the field and not even 70 percent from the free-throw line.
13 Byron Houston
Curtis Perry is yet another reliable big man on this list. Perry wasn’t one of those guys whose name you will see featured in the record books or lead his team to championships. He was one of those players who coaches loved, though. Every night out, this Missouri State graduate put in the effort and made his minutes count, either by dominating the boards or by showing his efficiency on the scoring end. Perry finished his career with a respectable 9.5 points and 8.8 rebounds per game average.
Byron Houston, Perry’s son, was a great college player for Oklahoma State, but never managed to translate that to the professional game. He ended up playing only four seasons in the NBA and tallying averages of 3.9 points and three rebounds per game.
12 Coby Karl
George Karl was far from being the best player who ever lived. He only played five seasons during his professional career. Three of those were in the ABA and only two in the NBA. During those five years, Karl was a role player. Most of his playing time came in the ABA where he averaged 18 minutes per game along with seven points and three assists. In the NBA with the San Antonio Spurs, he could only manage 2.6 points per game while playing little over eight minutes per game.
Those less than stellar stats should be easy to surpass, right? Wrong.
George’s son Coby had a few shots but never held on to a place in the league. He played only 24 games in the NBA, averaging 7.7 minutes per game and only 2.4 points per outing, only 0.2 less than his old man. Today the younger Karl is following his father’s footsteps not as a player, but as a head coach with the Los Angeles D-Fenders.
11 Damien Wilkins
Another pair of role players in this list, Gerald Wilkins and Damien Wilkins both had healthy and long-lasting NBA careers. But the son never quite caught up to his father’s numbers.
Gerald tallied 13 years in the league and was one of those players who had consistency as their primary trait. He finished his career averaging 13 points per game, but was quite successful in the seven years he played as a New York Knick. During that period with the Manhattan team, Gerald had seasons where he averaged over 19 and over 17 points per game.
Damien was also a solid player overall, a good guard coming off the bench, but never enough to make a real difference. In his nine seasons in the NBA, he never averaged double-digit points.
If there is any consolation prize for Damien, it is that his father also lived under a shadow, the shadow of Gerald’s brother Dominique. Yeah, Dominique Wilkins.
10 Sean May
Only four father-son duos have each won an NCAA basketball championship. Scott and Sean May are one of them.
In his championship year of 1976, Scott won not only the national championship, but he was also named the Naismith College Player of the Year, the Helms Foundation Player of the Year, the AP College Player of the Year, and received a bunch of other awards. In the NBA he was a solid player and was selected to the NBA All-Rookie First Team in 1977.
Sean was chosen as the Final Four Most Outstanding Player when he won the NCAA championship with North Carolina. Later on, however, he failed to survive in the NBA. The forward lasted a few seasons with the Charlotte Bobcats and the Sacramento Kings but ultimately had to go overseas to continue his career.
9 Danny Schayes
To talk about this one we have to go back in time, to a time when Syracuse had a professional basketball team. And in between 1949 in 1963 one man became the cornerstone of that franchise, and his name was Dolph Schayes.
Schayes was one of those players who came into the league ready to be a protagonist. In his rookie season he already averaged over 16 points per game, and in his second season, he was averaging a monster double-double of 17 points and over 16 rebounds per game. And things only went up from there with Schayes being recognized as one of the best big men ever to play the game. He finished his career averaging a double-double with 18.5 points and 12.1 rebounds per game.
His son Danny came into the league in the early 80s, and he was no pushover either. Danny had a solid career and spent 18 seasons in the league. Still, as good as he was, he never got to the level his father did, finishing his career with a 7.7 point average and only five rebounds per game.
8 Luke Walton
Perhaps the most famous father-son duo in the NBA, Bill and Luke Walton followed different paths during their time in the league.
They won a pair of NBA championships each, but the similarities between the two end right there. Luke was a role player in Kobe’s Lakers, while Bill was an NBA Finals MVP, a regular-season MVP, as well as a two-time All-Star.
Even in college Bill Walton’s career blew his son’s out of the water. Luke was a solid college player and was a two-time All-Pac-10 first teamer. Bill, on the other hand, was a two-time NCAA champion, a two-time Final Four most outstanding player, and a three-time national college player of the year.
Most recently, Luke found a way to get away from his father's shadow and started a coaching career. Hopefully, for the younger Walton, he will manage to be more of a protagonist outside of the four lines.
7 LeRon Ellis
Here is another story of a father who had a long and healthy career in the league and a son who struggled to maintain his place within the ranks of basketball’s finest.
Leroy Ellis was a solid big man back in his time. He played for four different NBA franchises and found success with every single one of them. The most special had to be the part Ellis played during the Lakers' 1971-72 NBA championship season. Playing along basketball legends like Wilt Chamberlain, Pat Riley, and Jerry West, he held his own and played a key role in that team’s success.
His son, however, wasn’t so lucky. LeRon only played three seasons in the NBA. A 6-foot-9, 225-pound center back in the early 90s, he tried but could not maintain a place in the league and finished playing only 91 games and averaging three points per game.
6 Drew Barry
Rick Barry is a basketball legend. There is no other way to describe the man. He is the only player in history to lead the NCAA, the ABA, and the NBA in scoring. He was the youngest player to score 57 points in a game at only 21 years old. Then he retired, and three of his sons came into the picture.
The oldest, Jon Barry had a solid career as a role player for eight different franchises between 1992 and 2006. The son in the middle, Brent, was the most successful of the three. A two-time NBA champion, and a Slam Dunk Contest champion, Brent Barry might have never been the best player on his team, but he was always a pivotal part of his coaches’ game plans.
The younger son Drew, however, drew the short end of the stick. Playing only three seasons in the league, Drew Barry had the lowest averages in the family, as he finished his brief NBA career with a 2.2 points per game average and only 60 games played.
5 Mychel Thompson
Living in your father's shadow must be hard. Now imagine having to live not only under your dad’s shadow but also your younger brother’s shadow. That is the life of Mychel Thompson.
His father, Mychal, was a two-time NBA champion with the Lakers in the late 80s and played 12 seasons in the league. He finished his career with 13.7 points and 7.4 rebounds per game averages. He was also the greatest NBA player ever to come from The Bahamas.
Still, the real catch here is the younger brother, who goes by the name of Klay Thompson. Klay needs no introduction. He's an NBA champ, three-time All-Star, and arguably one of the best shooters we have in the league today.
All of that while Mychel only played five games in the league with the Cleveland Cavaliers back in 2011-12. Ever since then, he has been trying to find his way back into the league but mostly played in the D-League and had a quick stint in Italy.
4 Glen Rice Jr.
NBA Champion, NCAA Champion, NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player, NBA All-Star game MVP, NBA Three-Point Shootout Champion, three-time NBA All-Star. Those are the credentials of one of the best shooters ever to grace the game of basketball. Glen Rice Sr. was a stud on the court.
After playing 15 years in the league, Rice Sr. retired with an average of 18.3 points per game and an effective-field-goal-percentage of over 50%.
That is a tough act to follow, and his son Glen Rice Jr. has shown little sign that he will shine as bright as his dad did.
After being drafted by the Sixers and 2013, Rice Jr. had a couple of stints in the NBA with the Washington Wizards but spent most of his time playing in the D-League. So far, the 26-year-old has played 16 NBA games and averaged 2.7 points per game.
3 Larry Mikan
What would you do if your father was “The” center? I mean the original center, the guy who changed the game of basketball. Because that was who George Mikan was, and his son Larry has to have asked himself that question at some point.
Do you know why we have the goaltending rule? It was first implemented in the NCAA because of George Mikan. He was so dominant down low and was one of the first guys who could block a shot from going into the rim that they had to change the rules to make it fair for other players.
His son Larry didn’t quite measure up to the legendary standards set forth by his father. Larry had a rather short NBA career, being drafted in 1970 in the fourth round by the L.A. Lakers. He ended up going to Cleveland and played 53 games there, which turned out to be the only 53 games of his professional career. He averaged 3 points and 2.6 rebounds per game.
2 Patrick Ewing Jr.
What is up with great big men and kids who don’t live up to their legacies?
Patrick Ewing was arguably the greatest center never to win an NBA championship. He won two Olympic gold medals and was part of the legendary USA Dream Team in Barcelona 92. The man averaged 21 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks per game in an era where the NBA was ridiculously competitive especially among big men.
So those genes have to be passed down and create some beast of a player for the next generation, correct? Well, the reality was a little further from the expected.
Patrick Ewing Jr. was a solid player in the D-League. In the majors, however, he didn’t make enough of an impact even to get his total number of games played to double digits. Ewing Jr. played seven NBA games and scored three points, all from free throws. At least he was ahead of his father in that category as Ewing Jr. averaged 75 percent free-throw shooting in his NBA career against his father’s 74 percent.
1 David Stockton
If Patrick Ewing was the greatest big man never to win an NBA title, John Stockton was without a doubt the greatest point guard never to win a title. The only reason he and Karl Malone never won a championship is that they had the bad luck of playing in the league at the same time as a man named Michael Jordan.
Nevertheless, Stockton was one of the greatest point guards ever to play the game. To this day he holds the league record for career assists with 15,806. That’s over 3,000 assists ahead of Jason Kidd in second place. The closest active player to Stockton’s record is Chris Paul with 8,233 assists.
These would be scary numbers to follow if you were this guy’s kid. And that might be what happened to David Stockton. He went undrafted in 2014 and only had one shot in the NBA when he played three games for the Sacramento Kings. He scored a total eight points and dished out nine assists. The young Stockton is still 25, so he still has time to escape his dad’s shadow, but he won’t be able to do it playing in New Zealand or the D-League.
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