An assortment of the NBA’s most flamboyant characters
If you have the ability, you can play. This phrase is symbolic of the inclusive nature of the NBA, which has seen more than its share of colorful personalities over the years. From the big hair and bigger games of the 70s to the fashion-forward icons of today, the mixture of talent and personality has resulted in some memorable characters.
Darryl Dawkins: The late, great ‘Chocolate Thunder’ was given his nickname by Stevie Wonder, and became the first player to enter the NBA directly out of high school. His penchant for rim-rattling dunks destroyed more than a few backboards, and his tendency to name his dunks made them even more unforgettable.
World B Free: Decades before Ron Artest / Metta World Peace, the man formerly known as Lloyd Free made a legal check to his name to reflect his ‘all-world’ talent. Known for taking risky shots and for the extremely-high arc on his jumper, Free also possessed an enviable vertical leap and was also known as the ‘Prince of Mid-Air’.
Bill Walton: The big redhead personified the hippie generation, with his rambling eloquence and his love for rock music, especially the Grateful Dead. Despite injury woes throughout his career, Walton added two NBA championships to his two NCAA crowns, and continued adding color to the games as a much sought-after commentator after his retirement.
Dennis Rodman: The defensive menace was a truly unique player, dominating the boards despite his lack of height. His ability to get into his opponents’ heads were second to none, while his rebounding and defense were so good that he impacted games without ever taking a shot. Off the court, he dominated the headlines as well, starting an enduring trend.
Allen Iverson: ‘The Answer’ was the hero of an entire generation of youth, bringing an unmatched swagger to the court. His scoring touch was simply unstoppable, even with his slight stature. He was beloved for his fearlessness and toughness, and remains one of the League’s most popular stars.
Russell Westbrook: The face of flamboyance in today’s NBA, the Oklahoma City Thunder star is explosive and emotionally expressive on the court, and a stylish dresser off it. More importantly, he simply does not care what others think of him, be it his exciting on-court play or his daring pre- and post-game outfits.