Baby Boomers Should Remember These Past NBA Stars. Do You?

By: Gavin Thagard
Image: Wiki Commons by Frank Bryan

About This Quiz

Defined as the generation between 1946 and 1964, baby boomers were the product of the post-WWII family boom that saw significant shifts in both lifestyles and privileges compared to previous generations. One of the greatest privileges provided to this generation was the development of the NBA, as it went from a small-market league to an international phenomenon. 

Of course, the biggest component of the basketball boom that these baby boomers witnessed was the rise of star players who became cultural icons. These stars elevated the brand of the NBA, the teams they were associated with as well as their own. They became household names who were talked about in everyday conversations throughout barber shops and diners, while also serving as important ambassadors to both appreciate and strive to be. 

Now, it's your chance to try to identify these NBA stars who often transcended the game of basketball. From the early stars on the Boston Celtics who won championships year after year to the great rivalries of later decades, are you going to be able to name every player in this quiz? Most baby boomers probably could. 

When you're ready, take your best shot and see if you can get a high score. 

After playing three seasons at the University of Kansas, Wilt Chamberlain decided to forgo his senior season, but he couldn't join the NBA until his graduation class completed college. Instead, Chamberlain joined the Globetrotters, where he continued to play even during NBA off seasons.

Elgin Baylor played nine games in the 1971-72 season with the Los Angeles Lakers but decided to retire due to lingering injuries. In a strange turn of events, the Lakers went on to win the championship that season.

Baby boomers might remember Bill Russell for his lock down defense or insane stats, but they'll remember him even more as the ultimate champion. Over the course of his 13 year career, Russell won 11 NBA titles, the most of any player.

Anytime George Gervin was on the court, defenses knew he was going to score buckets, and all they could do was slow him down. Gervin was so good at scoring that he put up double figures for 407 straight games.

Hal Greer spent his entire NBA career playing for the Philadelphia 76ers franchise. However, the 76ers were the Syracuse Nationals for his first few seasons in the league until they moved to Philadelphia in 1963.

Willis Reed had the biggest game of his career in Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals, where he was coming off a thigh injury from Game 5. Reed only scored four points in the game, but he inspired the entire Knicks roster to seize the moment by winning the game.

While still a player for the Seattle SuperSonics, Lenny Wilkens turned to coaching, as his knowledge of the game made him the perfect person to lead a team. When he retired in 2005, Wilkens sat at the top of the career wins list for NBA coaches.

Jerry Lucas wasn't a natural athlete like many of the other stars during his time in the NBA. However, that didn't stop Lucas from putting up incredible stats at the forward position, which included a season where he averaged 21 points and 20 rebounds.

Walt Bellamy never won an NBA title, but that doesn't take away from what this Hall of Famer was able to do on the court. A four time All Star, Bellamy played 14 seasons in the NBA, where he made a name for himself as a rebounding machine.

Despite being a prolific scorer with the ball in his hands, Tom Heinsohn had to live in the shadows of teammates like Bill Russell and Bob Cousy. However, he also benefited from playing beside other legends, as Heinsohn won an NBA championship every season he was in the NBA except one.

John Havlicek could do many things on the court from scoring to ball handling to taking on tough defensive assignments. Even with all these attributes, he was probably best known for his stamina, as he seemed to never tire on the court.

Pete Maravich's only problem in the NBA was staying healthy, as he never played a full season during his career. In his final two seasons, Maravich wasn't even able to play 50 complete games.

Named to seven NBA All Defensive First Teams, Walt Frazier brought an entirely different level of ferocity to the defensive side of the ball. Frazier constantly pressured opposing players and utilized his quick hands to snag passes before they could hit their target.

Larry Bird's college career at Indiana State ended with a loss in the 1979 NCAA championship. In the game, Bird faced his future rival, Earvin "Magic" Johnson, who played for the Michigan State Spartans.

Standing only six feet nine inches, Dave Cowens was undersized for a center in the NBA, as he played against big men who towered well over seven feet. However, Cowens was crafty when it came to snagging rebounds and remains one of the greatest defensive rebounders of all time.

Like many stars from the '60s, Sam Jones' legacy was shaped by his time with the Boston Celtics, where he played for 12 seasons. Jones' contributions to the team were primarily based around his willingness to outwork anyone on the court.

After Oscar Robertson's spectacular 1961-62 season where he averaged a triple double, no player was able to achieve the feat again until Russell Westbrook did it in the 2016-17 season. Westbrook went on to average a triple double for the next two seasons as well.

Nate Archibald grew up in a rough neighborhood located in South Bronx, where drugs and violence were commonplace. After gaining some notoriety as an NBA player, Archibald returned to his neighborhood where he started running community programs.

Entering the NBA in 1968, Wes Unseld put forth one of the best rookie seasons of any NBA player to ever grace the court. Not only did he win the Rookie of the Year award, but Unseld was also named the NBA MVP and made his first All Star Game.

Like many other basketball legends, Billy Cunningham turned to coaching when he left the NBA in 1976. A one time champion as a player, Cunningham topped off his coaching career by winning the 1983 NBA championship with the Philadelphia 76ers.

No player was more professional on the court than Dave Bing. His professionalism was one of the reasons he found success in the steel industry, where he became an industrial magnate, after leaving the NBA.

Earvin "Magic" Johnson was the orchestrator for the "Showtime" Lakers, who were named for their flashy style on the court. Playing point guard, Johnson was responsible for leading fast breaks and dishing the ball to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar when everything else broke down.

Prior to the modern era where stars like Steph Curry and Klay Thompson have become legends in Golden State, Rick Barry was the star of the Warriors franchise. Barry helped deliver the team a championship in 1975 by defeating the Washington Bullets.

Prior to 1983, Moses Malone had achieved just about every major accomplishment other than winning an NBA title. In the 1983 NBA Playoffs, Malone and the 76ers only lost one game before defeating the Lakers 4-0 in the Finals.

There's an old saying that the best ability is availability, and few NBA players were able to stay on the court quite like Elvin Hayes. During his 16 year career, Hayes only missed nine total regular season games, making him a valuable asset for the teams he played for.

When most players call it quits, they call it quits for good, but that wasn't the case for Michael Jordan. On three separate occasions, Jordan retired from the NBA, officially leaving the game in 2003.

Robert Parish spent 14 of his 21 seasons in the NBA with the Boston Celtics, where he appeared in five NBA Finals. Competing in those five Finals, Parish was able to secure three NBA titles.

Chet "The Jet" Walker made a huge impact on the Chicago Bulls when he joined the team in 1969. For the six seasons he played there, the Bulls made it to the NBA Playoffs every season, though the team didn't make it the year before he arrived or after he left.

Julius Erving spent five seasons in the ABA before joining the NBA during the 1976 merger. While playing in the ABA, Erving was a three-time scoring champion who was awarded three ABA MVPs, a testament of his immense talent.

During the first half of his career in the NBA, Bob McAdoo was as exciting to watch as any young player to ever step on the court. However, he mostly played on poor teams and was unable to win a championship until he joined the Lakers as a bench player.

A pure athlete, Dominique Wilkens had the ability to turn a routine play into a highlight reel anytime he was on the court. His spectacular play earned him the nickname "Human Highlight Film."

There were a lot of expectations surrounding Ralph Sampson coming out of the University of Virginia, which was why the Rockets drafted him with the first overall pick in 1983. Sampson had a successful career, but he never fully lived up to the hype as injuries racked up.

Kevin McHale made a huge impact coming off the bench for the Boston Celtics during the early part of his career. For his play as a backup, McHale was twice named the NBA Sixth Man of the Year.

Jerry West was a special player during his time in the league, but the 14 time All Star has been just as good as an executive for teams across the league. Working in the back office, West helped turn both the Los Angeles Lakers and the Golden State Warriors into championship caliber teams.

Before starting his senior year of college at the University of North Carolina, Walter Davis played for the U.S. men's basketball team in the 1976 Summer Olympics. The team won gold by defeating Yugoslavia in the final round.

Had Michael Jordan not left the NBA for nearly two full seasons, Hakeem Olajuwon might not have had quite the same success that he did while Jordan was away. During Jordan's absence, Olajuwon won two NBA titles and an NBA MVP.

While other players struggled to put the ball in the hoop, Clyde Drexler made driving to the basket seem like a walk in the park. "The Glide," as he was called, set a slew of records for the Portland Trail Blazers before joining the Houston Rockets, where he won his only championship.

Entering the league in 1969, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had a career that spanned three decades. His time in the NBA was spent with two different teams, but he will always be remembered as a Los Angeles Laker, where he won five titles.

Charles Barkley was undersized as a power forward in the NBA, but that didn't stop the "Round Mound of Rebound" from putting up huge stats. With a well rounded game, he finished his career with over 20,000 points, 10,000 rebounds and 4,000 assists.

To win the 1989 NBA championship, Isiah Thomas led the Detroit Pistons passed high caliber teams in the Eastern Conference like the Chicago Bulls and Boston Celtics. In the Finals, the Pistons defeated Earvin "Magic" Johnson and the Los Angeles Lakers in four games.

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