Who are some of the most influential basketball players in history?

George Mikan

my vote for the most influential player of all time. Why? because there are several very important rule changes he caused: widening the lane, adoption of the shot clock, goaltending and many others and also he was the one who introduced the 3PT line to the ABA as the ABA’s first commissioner. The 3PT line would later go on to be adopted by the NBA after the merger. There would be no Steph Curry – or any other basketball star if it wasn’t for the first basketball star – Mr. Basketball himself, George Mikan. I think he needs more respect. I see a lot of ‘most influential’ lists that don’t even mention him.

Then there are others:

-Bob Cousy – pioneered how the guard position was played

Bill Russell – first black superstar, first black coach in pro sports, revolutionized team defense

-Wilt Chamberlain – caused numerous rule changes

-Elgin Baylor – first to play above the rim

-Rick Barry – changed free agency rules

Oscar Robertson – the Oscar Robertson suit led to higher player salaries

Spencer Haywood – caused NBA to accept players that left college early

-Julius Erving – made dunking much more popular, caused NBA to merge with ABA faster

-Magic/Bird – made the NBA more popular in the USA

-Bird – changed how players were drafted (see Bird rights)

Shaq – zone defense, hack a Shaq strategy

Barkley – back to the basket rule

-Jordan – made the NBA more popular globally

-Iverson – changed how players were allowed to dress and look like

-Curry – led to accelerating adoption of the 3pt shot


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