The game of basketball is constantly changing in accordance with the talents, preferences, values and finances of those who play, watch, supervise and profit from it. Since the NBA's inception over 65 years ago, a select number of players have left their imprint on the way the game is played, followed and valued.
Ballplayers such as Elgin Baylor, Pete Maravich and Magic Johnson influenced the game through their style of play. Big men like George Mikan, Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar altered the game with their combination of talent and size.
Many players opened the doors of the NBA to those of different races and nationalities. Michael Jordan and Bill Russell impacted professional basketball by demonstrating what it takes to win at the highest level.
There were athletes whose greatest contribution to the game was on an economic level. In the NBA's infancy, players fought to establish a union and secure greater financial rights and freedom from the owners. More recently, a handful of athletes have been responsible for expanding the league's global market share.
Let's take a look at those who have had the most profound impact on the game over the years.