The professional athlete's career is like a shooting star across the sky. It comes and goes before we know it. There have been many NBA players in the past that we wish were still around. The days of Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Isiah Thomas, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, etc. were seen as some of the best years that the NBA had to offer. We have some great basketball to view now with teams like the Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Cleveland Cavaliers (mostly LeBron James), and Boston Celtics battling it out for a chance to go to the NBA Finals. With just those four teams, look at the players you can watch when they are all fully healthy. Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Chris Paul, and James Harden make a pretty good list for just those four teams. Of course, with the notable players go the players that seemingly disappear.
We've seen it before and we will more than likely see it again in the future. Once a professional athlete's career is over, we don't hear or see from them much anymore. We throw is back to the 1990's for this list. Guys like Shaq, M.J., Patrick Ewing, Charles Barkley, and Reggie Miller are still regarded as some of the best players to play during the 1990s. But where did these other guys go and what are they up to now? Well, let's do some exploring. Let's look at NBA players from the 1990s who fell off the map and how their careers ended.
20 Bo Kimble
Remember the days of Paul Westhead at Loyola Marymount? Remember how fast his five players on the court used to go and how many shots they would get per game? Westhead was the mastermind before the Loyola Marymount Lions team that advanced to the Elite Eight in 1990. They had two stars that led that team, Hank Gathers and Bo Kimble. Gathers looked to be a future NBA star until an unfortunate heart attack during a game had him rushed to the hospital before his eventual passing.
Bo Kimble was the vocal point of the team going forward and had his teammates buying into winning the National Championship for Hank.
He even shot a left handed free throw in an NCAA tournament game in honor of Hank's memory. Kimble only played three years in the NBA and a lot of people didn't hear from him after that.
19 Toni Kukoc
The Dream Team had their historic run in 1992 with a star studded cast that included Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, and others. The team they had to beat however to win the gold medal was none other than Yugoslavia. The Yugoslavian team wasn't a pushover by any means. They had guys like Vlade Divac, Drazen Petrovich, Dino Radja, and Zarko Paspalj helping lead the charge. They also had another young star named Toni Kukoc. Kukoc was a solid player who the Chicago Bulls were thinking about signing after the FIBA championships were over. Eventually, the Bulls ended up signing Kukoc and it worked out well for both sides. He won three championships, a Sixth Man of the Year award in 1996, and an NBA All-Rookie Second Team award in 1994. He didn't really have a lot to say for several years after his career.
Kukoc did well internationally and in the NBA. He also seems to have a good hold of his life post basketball career.
18 Robert Horry
Some players in the NBA just seem to find themselves on the right team at the right time. For a guy like Robert Horry, he was able to do that seven times. This is the most championships a single player has won who was not a part of the great Celtics teams in the 1960's. Remember when the Rockets were the only team besides the Bulls to win a championship during the 1990's from 1991 on? Horry was a part of those teams. Remember the Lakers impressive run from 2000 to 2002? He was a part of those teams too. Remember when San Antonio had their core in place during the mid 2000s? Add two more to Horry's resume. Horry was a guy off of the bench that could shoot from the outside. After the NBA, he seemed to be flying under the radar.
17 Walt Williams
With the seventh pick in the 1992 NBA draft, the Sacramento Kings knew they weren't getting a guy like Shaquille O'Neal or Alonzo Mourning. They decided to go with a guy out of Maryland. Keep in mind, Maryland has had some high level talent come out of there such as Len Bias. This player's name was Walt Williams. Williams was a First Team All-ACC Player in 1992 and was ready to come in and help the Kings.
He was on the NBA All-Rookie Second Team in 1992 and is third all time with the Rockets in three point percentage.
His NBA career ended in 2003 and nobody knew what really happened to him. So what has he been up to since he hung up his shoes in 2003?
Williams never seemed to have as big of an impact as he did his rookie year.
16 Shawn Bradley
The 1993 NBA draft was a toss up for the top pick in people's minds. There was Chris Webber from Michigan and the "Fab Five" that made it to the NCAA National Championship game two years in a row. There was Shawn Bradley who was a 7'6 dominant center coming out of BYU. There was also Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway who came out of Memphis. The Orlando Magic took Chris Webber leaving the Philadelphia 76ers up next with the second pick. They took Shawn Bradley. Bradley had a very average career with a few accomplishments along the way. He was a part of the NBA All-Rookie Second Team in 1994 and was also the NBA blocks leader in 1997. However, all things considered he didn't live up to his draft billing and he went pretty quiet late in his career.
15 Vin Baker
Life has literally been a roller coaster for our next forgotten about 1990's NBA player that seemed to fall off of the map. In the 1993 NBA draft, the Milwaukee Bucks had the eighth overall pick in the draft. They decided to go with Vin Baker, a power forward/center out of Hartford. He had a lot of hype on him as he was the Big East Player of the Year in 1993. In the NBA, he had a pretty good career for the most part. He was a part of the NBA All-Rookie First Team in 1994, All-NBA Third Team in 1997, All-NBA Second Team in 1998, and was a four time All-Star as well. He seemed to be living the good life after retirement when he wasn't heard from much anymore. He went pretty quiet for many years but rebounded by finding a coaching job in the NBA.
14 Penny Hardaway
We talked about how Shawn Bradley was the second pick overall in the 1993 NBA draft. The third pick belonged to the Golden State Warriors and they decided to draft Penny Hardaway. Hardaway and Webber were then flipped that draft night as Hardaway would be with Shaq and the Magic while Webber would be with the Warriors. Hardaway immediately made a huge difference for the Magic as he seemed to be the second part of the 1-2 punch they needed along with Shaq.
Hardaway even helped the Magic make it to the NBA Finals, only to lose to the Houston Rockets in a sweep. Hardaway was a four time All-Star along with being a part of the All-NBA First Team twice.
His stats would begin to drop once he made his way to the Knicks and Heat late in his career and he went quiet for several year after.
13 Joe Smith
It's one thing for a journeyman NBA player to be a part of multiple franchises throughout the course of his career. It is another thing when a number one overall draft pick acts like a journeyman player. That seemed to be the case for Joe Smith. Smith was the first overall pick by the Golden State Warriors in 1995 after he played for Maryland from 1993-1995. He ended up playing for 12 NBA franchises. He was a part of the NBA All-Rookie First Team in 1996. He did average 11 points and six rebounds a game throughout the course of his career. Joe Smith can always say he was a number one overall draft pick. But not many remembered what his career amounted to.
12 Bryant Reeves
The 1995 NBA draft brought along talent such as Jerry Stackhouse, Kevin Garnett, and Antonio McDyess. The Vancouver Grizzlies had the sixth overall pick in this draft and they were not getting any of those players as they were taken in the top five. They decided to go with a big seven foot center out of Oklahoma State named Bryant Reeves.
Reeves was a big guy from Arkansas who teammates called "Big Country" in college.
He was an unstoppable force in college as he was a three time First Team All-Big Eight. He also was the Big Eight Player of the Year in 1993 and 1995. Safe to say, he was a serviceable pick as he was part of the NBA All-Rookie Second Team in 1996. His career ended in 2001 and he was never really talked about again.
11 Rik Smits
During the runs of the 1990s, there were the Bulls who dominated and then basically everyone else. But for two seasons. Michael Jordan went to pursue his dream of playing major league baseball following his father's death. That opened the door wide open for teams in the East. The Indiana Pacers were one of the better teams in the East looking to make that jump. They had guys like Reggie Miller and Mark Jackson helping lead the way. They also had a big man named Rik Smits in the middle. Smits was the second overall pick in the 1988 NBA draft out of the Netherlands. Smits served his purpose of being a big presence down low. He played his whole career in Indiana until 2000 and was also a 1998 NBA All-Star. However, his star quickly faded in his later years.
10 Nick Anderson
Battling the Pacers in the 1995 Eastern Conference Finals was none other than the Orlando Magic. The Magic used their high draft picks and a lot of patience to put together a team that could go out and compete for championships. They ended up with a team composed of Penny Hardaway, Shaq, Horace Grant, Dennis Scott and others. The first draft pick in Orlando Magic history was Nick Anderson. Anderson looked like he was going to be a star in the NBA until the 1995 Finals hit. Up three with about 10 seconds to go, Nick Anderson missed four straight free throws that could have put game one of the Finals away. The Houston Rockets came back, won game one in overtime, and won the Finals in a sweep. Anderson never quite recovered as his free throw percentages went down and even had to encounter nicknames such as "Brick Anderson". Fans can't help but wonder if his legacy would have been different had he made those big free throws in 1995.
9 Dan Majerle
The Phoenix Suns were a team in the early 1990s that seemed destined to win a championship. With guys like Charles Barkley, Danny Ainge, and A.C. Green leading the way, they looked like they were going to go to the Finals. Unfortunately, that just didn't happen. They also had a sharpshooter out of Central Michigan that they took 14th overall in the 1988 draft by the name of Dan Majerle. Majerle was a three time NBA All-Star as well as a two time NBA All-Defensive Second Team player as well.
Majerle never won a ring in the NBA, but he played for about 15 seasons which is nothing to be ashamed of.
8 Stacey King
The 1989 NBA draft saw the Chicago Bulls having the sixth overall pick. They were climbing their way up the Eastern Conference ladder and only had to deal with the Detroit Pistons. They were a player or two away from overthrowing the Pistons and becoming the next NBA dynasty. King was fortunate enough to be on the first half of the Bulls dynasty, winning three straight championships from 1991 to 1993. He also was a part of the NBA All-Rookie Second Team in 1990. He played for five different NBA organizations and made some appearances overseas as well. He ended his career on a pretty quiet note, considering how he was part of the Bulls dynasty.
7 Pervis Ellison
In the 1989 NBA draft, there were guys like Shawn Kemp, B.J. Armstrong, and Dana Barros selected. The number one overall pick though was Pervis Ellison. Ellison was taken first overall by the Sacramento Kings. From the start of his career in 1989 until the end of his career in 2000, he had the nickname "Never Nervous Pervis".
Ellison helped Louisville to a national championship during his time as a Cardinal. When he got to the NBA, his success didn't quite transpire as much.
He was the NBA's most improved player in 1992. Other than that, he didn't win many awards. For a player that was taken first overall, he significantly underachieved when it was all said and done. He played for the Kings, Bullets, Celtics and SuperSonics.
6 Steve Smith
The 1991 NBA draft saw Larry Johnson, Kenny Anderson, and Dikembe Mutombo come out and have successful careers. There also was a fifth overall pick out of Michigan State that made his way to the NBA as well. That guy was Steve Smith. From 1991 to 2005, Smith spent his time with six different NBA teams. He did end up winning a championship as a part of the Spurs in 2003. He also was a part of the NBA All-Rookie First Team in 1992 and an NBA All-Star in 1998. He averaged 14 points per game during the course of his career. He was completely gone from the NBA and nobody knew what he was doing for a few seasons.
5 Stephon Marbury
While Stephon Marbury ended up having a very successful career in the CBL, his NBA production dipped very quickly after having a promising start to his career with the Minnesota Timberwolves. He and Kevin Garnett appeared as if they would form a dynamic duo for years to come, but Marbury ended up getting shipped to the Nets.
He was unhappy when Garnett signed a massive $126 million contract and wanted a similar deal.
He eventually signed with his hometown Knicks, but his time in New York was marred by clashes with Isiah Thomas and his production continued to slip until he was out of the NBA altogether and pursued basketball overseas.
4 Terrell Brandon
What a perfect segue to Terrell Brandon, who was the other major moving piece in the deal that saw Marbury go to New Jersey. Terrell Brandon began his career with the Cavaliers and there was a time when Brandon was considered to be one of the better point guards in the NBA. He earned a pair of All-Star nods in 1996 and 1997. The main problem with Brandon was that knee problems started to catch up to him and by the time he landed in Milwaukee, then Minnesota, he wasn't the same player. His knee problems eventually became too much to overcome and he called it quits in 2002.
3 Allan Houston
The New York Knicks are no strangers to giving out massive contracts to players only to see their production dip massively once they land in town. Allan Houston was one of those names as the former Pistons star left for the Knicks in 1996. He kept improving year after year, and earned a couple of All-Star appearances in 2000 and 2001. His timing couldn't have been better, as his contract was up at the time.
He signed a massive $100 million deal with the Knicks in 2001.
However, Houston's weaknesses eventually were exposed, as his defensive play was shoddy and he began to encounter injury problems. His production would drop every year after signing that deal and he retired in 2005.
2 Shawn Kemp
Shawn Kemp almost brought the Sonics to the promise land and had it not been for the Chicago Bulls of the mid 1990s, it's possible Kemp would've been talked about as a savior for Seattle. Kemp was a six-time all-star and was a legitimate superstar of the 1990s. However, Kemp had some personal issues off the court which eventually led to a steep decline in his career. Following a trade to the Cavaliers in the late 90s, Kemp showed up to training camp out of shape and saw his production dip. He would have short stints in Portland and Orlando late in his career, but the dunker everyone knew from the 90s was long gone.
1 Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf
Before there was Colin Kaepernick, there was Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf. Early in his career, Abdul-Rauf was a solid point guard for the Denver Nuggets and it was expected that he'd eventually develop into a star. He even earned the most improved player award in 1993. Formerly known as Chris Jackson, Abdul-Rauf felt that he was somewhat blackballed by the NBA when he refused to stand for the national anthem and was eventually out of the NBA before what would have been his prime. Abdul-Rauf was very outspoken about how he was phased out of the NBA since his career ended.
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