Top 15 NBA Stars You Wouldn’t Recognize Today

The glam and the glory that comes with professional sports is staggering. These people are raking in millions, if not tens or hundreds of millions of dollars per contract. The average person would think that money like this could last a lifetime and would change life dramatically compared to the roughly $30,000-$50,000/year salary a good majority of Americans take home. Money like this gives people opportunities that are almost impossible of dreaming without having lived it. The average NBA career is almost five years which provides more than enough time to set these players up for their future.

In addition to the money, most of these athletes are in top physical condition through their playing days. Getting in an exercise routine and working out is almost second nature. They would not be able to make it up and down the court if they weren’t, nor would they make a roster or even be worth the risk of a league minimum salary.

Lastly, everyone ages and transforms, except for maybe Jennifer Lopez. WOW. A different story for a different day. This list is to break down NBA Stars that aren’t the same people that we remember from their glory days lighting up highlight reels. These guys here have lost everything, they have aged poorly, or they have lost weight or more commonly, gained weight. These once star players in their current form, are UNRECOGNIZABLE.

15 Shawn Kemp


Does anyone remember NBA Jam? 2v2 Basketball with the biggest and baddest ballers on the planet for Nintendo 64… That game had it all with distance jumpers, finger rolls, oops, solo jams, and best of all, when your player catches FIRE! The Seattle SuperSonics had the Glove (Gary Payton) and Shawn Kemp, who was known to slam and bring the house down when he did. Kemp was 6’10” and 230 pounds. He was the original Blake Griffin, a straight power dunker. Perfect for NBA Jam.

14 Antoine Walker


For a guy like Antoine Walker, making this list was almost certain. The former NCAA and NBA Champion has always been a guy who has been “big-boned” for lack of a better term. His 6’9 frame with his scoring abilities made Walker a dangerous offensive asset for over 12 seasons in the NBA. However, he couldn’t jump, he wasn’t quick, and his body was unique in the way that he was in shape but almost didn’t look it. He is the recipe for this list.

13 Yao Ming

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The recent Hall of Fame Inductee had to make the list at some point. The 7’6 Asian trailblazing hooper was a thin 310 pounds during his playing career, all of which was spent in the city of Houston. Although I hate to admit it, a 19 PPG, 9 RPG, and 2 BLKPG average over a career is impressive. These numbers are a little misleading to me as he only played 9 years, but it was basically 7 with injuries that lasted entire seasons.

12 Patrick Ewing

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

If you’ve seen an image of Patrick Ewing since his NBA retirement in 2002, the Hall of Famer has a different look. No more flat-top, no more hair on his head in general for the 11 time All-Star. Known for his thunderous dunks and top tier defensive instincts, Ewing has now taken on the role of an assistant coach on several NBA teams following his retirement. The new suit and the lack of hair throw me for a loop.

11 Arvydas Sabonis


Arvydas Sabonis, Liev Schreiber, or Ray Liotta? You tell me… Sabonis has almost transformed his face after retirement into an odd spawn of the three individuals listed above. He has also put on some weight, which seems to be a consistent trend to make this list. Before all of this came about, Arvydas is a unique success story. He was originally drafted in 1986 by Portland, but didn’t come to the NBA until nine years later. He established himself as one of the best European players of all time, and then came to the NBA in 1995.

10 Spud Webb


Jerome Webb, more commonly known as “Spud,” turned himself into a household name in the mid-80s. You could break down Spud’s success into two categories; his height and  his ability to throw down! Spud was the proud winner of the 1986 Slam Dunk Competition, against a few NBA high flyers including his Atlanta teammate, Dominque Wilkins.

9 Charles Oakley


In the 80s and 90’, you had to be tough to play in the NBA. Whether you were 5’4 like Muggsy Bogues or 7’0 like Robert Parish, you had to hold a level of toughness. Charles Oakley was a guy you wanted on your team during this era. The 6’8 Oakley was the bully on whatever team he played for. He was a recognized rookie with the Bulls through his defense and rebounding abilities, but he basically served at Michael Jordan’s “bodyguard” during his time there as well. If you hit Jordan, he was going to hit you.

8 Adrian Dantley


What is a guy to do after he leads the NBA in scoring twice at over 30 PPG and earns NBA Rookie of the Year honors as an undersized forward? To some, maybe retire and go on living on some beach or island and taking it easy. Some guys like Magic Johnson make big time investments and business ventures, keeping themselves in the spotlight. Adrian Dantley’s version of retirement is a little bit different.

7 Vin Baker


I have to tip my cap to the quality of person that Vin Baker must be. The guy was down and out and has made consistent efforts to transform that and get himself on the right path. Vin Baker had a lot of success in his time in the NBA but he left even more untapped potential on the table. A career 15 PPG weapon, Baker was more like a 22 PPG guy, but when he would have a bad game, he would drink.. and drink.. and drink.. It got worse as his career went on, posting big numbers in his early years but they dwindled at the start of the millennium.

6 Rik Smits


The Flying Dutchman has to go down as one of the greatest nicknames to be given out in the NBA. The honorary captain of this name is the 7’4 Rik Smits. Smits spent 12 NBA seasons all with the Indiana Pacers. He averaged 14 PPG and 6 RPG while shooting 50% from the field is a dream for a coach, especially when you can pair him with one of the best shooting guards to play the game in Reggie Miller. Unfortunately for both of these talents, they played in the East in the Jordan era, and that sums that up quick.

5 Cedric Ceballos


The name Cedric Ceballos is much more known than you would expect for one time All-Star. The reason being, Ceballos could score. He averaged 15 PPG for his career and twice led the Lakers in scoring with over 21 PPG in the mid-90s. He was a solid forward who could score and rebound, but he would have been a good 2nd man, not your lead role. For his time in L.A., he was that that lead to a certain extent.

4 Ben Wallace

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The mid-2000s Pistons team was fun to watch growing up. They were a lot like the Spurs, but they were less straight edged. They played as a unit under Larry Brown, taking them to two Finals in two years and winning one of them, among other playoff appearances. At the heart of the team was their four-time defensive player of the year, Ben Wallace.

3 Andrew Bynum


One of the last remaining true big men, Andrew Bynum was young and successful early. Blessed to land on a team with Kobe Bryant, Bynum won two NBA titles within his first five years in the league. He was a solid piece to compliment Kobe and Pau Gasol, whether it be on defense, scoring or hitting the boards. The powerful talent was supposed to be a centerpiece for the Lakers to rebuild with when Kobe was on his way out, as Bynum was still only 23 when he won his second title.

2 Donyell Marshall


The journeyman and quite capable role playing Donyell Marshall sits at number 2. Utilizing the skills that he was born with, Marshall made the most out of his NBA opportunity. Donyell wasn’t very quick, he wasn’t known for his bounce, and he wasn’t a big defensive stopper, but he knew where to be and he had a reliable jumpshot. This made Marshall into a 15 year player averaging over 11 points and 6 boards throughout his career. Before this new age of small ball, Donyell flourished when teammates could drive and dish to him for an open 3 point field goal. With this style of play, Marshall shared the league record for most 3 point field goals made in a game at 12, until Steph Curry dropped 13 of them in a game at the beginning of 2016. Marshall’s mark stood for the greater part of 11 years.

1 Steve Francis


Turning 40 years of age in 2017, Steve Francis sums up what is means to be virtually unrecognizable. The one-time Rookie of the Year Award Winner has disappeared and in his place stands the skeleton of Stevie Franchise. Life after basketball hasn’t exactly been sunshine and rainbows for our 3 time All-Star.

Drafted 2nd overall in 1999, Francis was loaded with freak athletic talent and an offensive gift. Only standing 6’3”, he could rise with the best of them and score at will averaging nearly 19 PPG over the course of his nine year career. Not only could he score, but he averaged 6 rebounds per game and 6 assists as he could dish the rock with the top tier often providing a great deal of flash. Now, roughly nine years removed from the NBA, our man The Franchise looks like he’s moved onto other “rocks”.

Since the NBA, he has tried to make moves to the Chinese league, however that was short-lived and he ended up making minor earnings from appearance fees around the country. Last we have heard, he was arrested for DWI late in 2016 and was also being looked at for a burglary charge. Tough fall for the video game like talents of Francis.


Give TheSportster a Thumbs up!

Looking for an AD FREE EXPERIENCE on TheSportster?

Get Your Free Access Now!

More in NBA

Top 15 NBA Stars You Wouldn’t Recognize Today