When people think about American culture, one of the first things that come to mind is Texas. The cowboy boots and hats, and all of those stereotypes movies, books and history have taught most foreign people about the US.
Naturally, the State of Texas has always been closely tied with sports, but for most of its history, they’ve been way more focused on football rather than basketball, being the state that develops more talented quarterbacks in the nation.
Nonetheless, over the course of history, some Texas native ballers have found their way to the greatest basketball league in the world; the NBA. So, today, we’re going to let you know about the top 10 NBA/ABA players born in Texas.
Honorable Mention: DeAndre Jordan, Marcus Smart
10. Willie Naulls
Willie Naulls was yet another important piece in the Boston Celtics’ core through their most dominant era, helping the green and white en route to 3 NBA Championships after spending 7 years with the Hawks, Knicks and Warriors, putting the cherry on top of the sundae with 3 consecutive rings before retiring.
“The Wale” was a terrific team player and committed defender, as well as a dominant rebounder in both ends of the hardwood. Over his Celtics’ tenure, he worked hard off the bench next to players of the likes of Bill Russell, KC Jones and John Havlicek, posting career averages of 15.8 points, 9.1 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game.
9. Stephen Jackson
Stephen Jackson always had a very big man, but he knew how to back it up in the hardwood by working his butt off on a nightly basis in both ends of the hardwood, being a hardnosed die-hard player that wasn’t afraid to put his body on the line in order to get all the 50-50 balls in favor of his team.
Jackson wasn’t the most talented player on the hardwood, but nobody was going to outhustle him or bully his way to the paint with him around, and his versatility definitely made him a great asset. Over the course of his career, he averaged 15.1 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 0.7 steals per game.
8. Joe Caldwell
Joe Caldwell was one of those handful of players to play in both the ABA and the NBA, being drafted 2nd overall by the Detroit Pistons way back in the day in 1964 after thriving for 4 years as Arizona State’s go-to-guy at the shooting guard spot, even winning the Olympic gold with Team USA as a college player.
After getting off to a slow start in Michigan, the Pistons trade him to the St Louis Hawks, where he would exceed all expectations and even make it to the All-Star game. Nonetheless, he would go on a take his talents to the ABA to finish his 11-year career with averages of 16.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, 5.4 dimes and 4 All-Star games under his belt.
7. Zelmo Beaty
Zelmo Beaty also played in both the ABA and the NBA, being a physical center that even though was kind of undersized, put a lot of effort protecting the rim and dominating both sides of the glass over his 12-year professional career.
Beaty played for St. Louis and Atlanta Hawks, the Utah Stars and the Los Angeles Lakers, winning 1 ABA Championship, 1 ABA Playoffs MVP and making it to 5 All-Star games and even the Hall of Fame; posting career averages of 17.1 points and 10.9 rebounds per game.
6. Larry Johnson
Larry “Grandmamma” Johnson was a hell of a hustler back in the day, being an instant fan favorite coming out of UNLV as the 1st overall pick by the Charlotte Hornets and instantly boosting their chances in the playoffs, although they were never able to go the distance.
Johnson was a physical small forward with a sweet touch around the basket as well, but he’s mostly remembered by his top-notch defense against elite power forwards during his New York Knicks tenure. Throughout his career, he would go on to average 16.2 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 0.7 steals per game, also winning the 91-92 ROY.
5. Jimmy Butler
Jimmy Butler has one of the most heartbreaking stories in the NBA, growing up in Texas and being kicked out of the house by his very own mom until one of his teammates’ family decided to take care of him, up to the point where he’s become one of the league’s elite two-way players.
Butler isn’t much of a shooter but always finds different ways to hurt you in offense with his strength and athleticism, and he’s one of the best wing stoppers in the league by a long shot. Leading the Timberwolves to the playoffs, the former Bull has averaged 16.4 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.5 steals over his career.
4. LaMarcus Aldridge
LaMarcus Aldridge may not be your average stretch four for modern basketball, and he’s certainly not there on the defensive end of the floor either, but boy, he can light it up once he gets going and is one of the most crafty low post players in the league right now.
Aldridge is money from the elbows and just a handful of players can successfully guard him down low, taking away a lot of pages from Dirk Nowitzki’s offensive repertoire. Over the course of his career, the former Blazer and current Spurs’ go-to-guy on offense has averaged 19.2 points, 8.4 rebounds and 1 block per game en route to 5 All-Star Games.
3. Bill Sharman
Bill Sharman is a member of a very exclusive club, being a Hall of Famer as both a player and a coach, quitting on a baseball career to join the NBA and leading the Boston Celtics to 4 Championships by creating one of the most deadly backcourt duos in basketball history alongside Bob Cousy.
After spending just one season with the Washington Capitals, he would go on to finish his 11 year NBA career dressed in green and white, pursuing a career in coaching over the 70s. As a coach, he led the Lakers to a Championship and posted career averages of 17.8 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3 dimes a game, and he made it to 8 All-Star games, 1 All-NBA team and even won 1 All-Star MVP as well as 4 rings as a player and 1 as a coach.
2. Chris Bosh
People don’t give Chris Bosh enough recognition, mostly because his Toronto Raptors weren’t that good at all and then he embraced a much lesser role as the third scoring option in Miami’s big 3 en route to a couple of Championships, but this guy was a major baller throughout his entire career.
Bosh was so long and aware on the defensive end, could stretch the floor with his great three-point shooting, was a dominant rebounder and even a good passer and ball handler for his height, and after putting career averages of 19.2 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2 dimes per game we definitely expect the 2 time NBA Champion and 11 time All-Star to be able to make a comeback any time soon.
1. Grant Hill
Grant Hill is considered to be one of the league’s greatest ‘what ifs’ ever, being called out to carry on Michael Jordan’s torch as the most talented player in the world when he first entered the league but never being able to live up to such high expectations due to constant injuries throughout his entire career.
The Hall of Famer was so crafty with the rock on his hands a point forward, could score in a huge variety of ways, was an underrated defender and a willing team player, posting career averages of 16.7 points, 6 rebounds, 4.1 dimes, 1.2 steals and 0.6 blocks per game, making it to 7 All-Stars and winning the 94-95 ROY and 1 Olympic Gold.