Basketball is a game of the streets. It’s one of the rare sports that anyone can play—all you need is a hoop and the ball.
The NBA is home to the best basketball players in the world, in addition to the greatest coaching minds in the sport, as well. Evolving defensive schemes and offensive strategies have made the NBA what it is today, but the element of the street will never be lost.
Streetballers are rare in today’s game—players that care more about highlights than defense and players who are more interested in embarrassing whoever dares to defend them than actually winning the game. Guys like this are hard to find these days, but streetball is still a prevalent part of the NBA today, despite the lack of streetballers in the game.
Had players like the ones on the following list never come along, modern basketball could consist solely of three-point shooting and flex offenses. The game would lack alley-oops, ankle-breaking crossovers and behind-the-back passes, and the NBA’s following of fans would be scarce compared to what it is today.
Streetball, in itself, has origins that are undocumented. The game is rooted in highly-populated basketball areas like New York and Philadelphia where professional athletes aren’t often found—just players that love the game.
The street element has actually influenced the unofficial rules of the NBA. How often is Kevin Durant whistled for a carry? And where in the rules does it say that LeBron James can take three steps on his way the rim? Some rules aren’t enforced on the hardwood, just as they aren’t called on the blacktop.
Keep reading to find out who made the cut as the best streetballers in the history of the NBA.