The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Basketball Players of all time. This list of famous Basketball Players is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of Basketball Players.
With an HPI of 56.83, Dražen Petrović is the most famous Basketball Player. His biography has been translated into 48 different languages on wikipedia.
Dražen Petrović (Croatian pronunciation: [drǎʒen pětroʋitɕ]; 22 October 1964 – 7 June 1993) was a Yugoslav and Croatian professional basketball player. A shooting guard, he initially achieved success playing professional basketball in Europe in the 1980s, before joining the National Basketball Association (NBA) in 1989. A star on multiple international basketball stages, Petrović earned two silver medals (1988, 1992) and one bronze (1984) at the Summer Olympic Games, a gold (1990) and a bronze (1986) at the FIBA World Cup, and a gold (1989) and a bronze (1987) at the FIBA EuroBasket. He was the FIBA World Championship MVP in 1986 and the FIBA EuroBasket MVP in 1989. With Cibona Zagreb, Petrović also won two consecutive EuroLeague championships in 1985 and 1986. He first represented Yugoslavia's senior national team and, later, Croatia's senior national team. He earned four Euroscars, and was named Mr. Europa twice. In 1985, he received the Golden Badge award for the best athlete of Yugoslavia.Seeking a bigger arena after his career start in Europe, Petrović joined the NBA in 1989, as a member of the Portland Trail Blazers. After playing mostly off the bench that year, Petrović experienced a breakthrough following a trade to the New Jersey Nets. While starting for the Nets, he became one of the league's best shooting guards. He was named one of FIBA's 50 Greatest Players in 1991. On 7 June 1993, Petrović's career and life were cut short, after he died in a car accident, at the age of 28.In 1993, Petrović's jersey number 3 was retired by the Nets, and the Dražen Petrović Basketball Hall was named after him in his honor. He also received the Olympic Order in 1993. In 2002, he was posthumously enshrined into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. In 2006, the Dražen Petrović Award was created in his honor. In 2007, he was posthumously inducted into the FIBA Hall of Fame. He was named one of the 50 Greatest EuroLeague Contributors in 2008. In 2013, he was voted the best European Basketball player in history, by players at the 2013 FIBA EuroBasket.Petrović is considered a crucial part of the vanguard to the present-day mass influx of European players into the NBA, and to this day he is viewed as a national hero in Croatia.
With an HPI of 56.19, Krešimir Ćosić is the 2nd most famous Basketball Player. His biography has been translated into 27 different languages.
Krešimir "Krešo" Ćosić (Croatian pronunciation: [krěʃimir t͡ɕɔ̌ːsit͡ɕ]; 26 November 1948 – 25 May 1995) was a Croatian-Yugoslavian professional basketball player and coach. He was a collegiate All-American at Brigham Young University. He revolutionized basketball in Yugoslavia and was the first basketball player in the world to play all five positions. In 1996, Ćosić became only the third international player ever elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (the second male player). He is one of 62 people in the world that received the FIBA Order of Merit. In 2006, he was inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame, and in 2007, he was also an inaugural member of the FIBA Hall of Fame. The Croatian Basketball Cup, and KK Zadar's home arena, are named after him. Ćosić was voted best Croatian athlete of the 20th century twice; by Croatian Sports News and by Croatian National Television. Ćosić was a notable church leader and missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as well as the deputy ambassador of Croatia to the U.S., in Washington, D.C.
With an HPI of 53.21, Toni Kukoč is the 3rd most famous Basketball Player. His biography has been translated into 42 different languages.
Toni Kukoč (pronounced [kukotʃ]; born September 18, 1968) is a Croatian-American former professional basketball player who serves as Special Advisor to Jerry Reinsdorf, the owner of the Chicago Bulls. After a highly successful period in European basketball, he was one of the first established European stars to play in the National Basketball Association (NBA). Kukoč played for four NBA teams between 1993 and 2006, winning the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award in 1996. He is a three-time NBA champion, having won championships with the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls in 1996, 1997, and 1998. Kukoč is renowned for his versatility and passing ability. Although his natural position was small forward, the 6 ft 10 in (2.08 m) Kukoč played multiple positions and demonstrated court vision and an outside shooting touch that were seldom found in players of his height. He also enjoyed success in international play, winning Olympic silver medals in 1988 (playing for Yugoslavia) and 1992 (playing for Croatia). Kukoč and Vassilis Spanoulis are the only players in history to receive the EuroLeague Final Four MVP honor on three occasions. He was elected to the FIBA Hall of Fame in 2017 and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2021.
With an HPI of 49.52, Dino Rađa is the 4th most famous Basketball Player. His biography has been translated into 29 different languages.
Dino Rađa (Anglicized: Dino Radja, Croatian pronunciation: [ˌdǐːno ˈrâd͜ʑa]; born April 24, 1967) is a Croatian former professional basketball player. He was a member of the Jugoplastika team of the late 1980s and early 1990s, which he helped to win two FIBA European Champions Cup championships (1989 and 1990). He spent three and a half seasons with the Boston Celtics, being one of the European pioneers in the NBA. Rađa was named one of FIBA's 50 Greatest Players in 1991, and one of the 50 Greatest EuroLeague Contributors in 2008. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, as a member of the 2018 class.
With an HPI of 48.49, Petar Skansi is the 5th most famous Basketball Player. His biography has been translated into 15 different languages.
Petar Skansi (23 November 1943 – 4 April 2022) was a Croatian professional basketball player and coach. During his playing career, he played for Jugoplastika and Maxmobili Pesaro. He was named one of FIBA's 50 Greatest Players in 1991. He was a member of the Yugoslavia national team that silver medalled at the 1968 Summer Olympics. For his basketball achievements, he was awarded the Franjo Bučar State Award for Sport twice, in 1992 and 2003. He also had a political stint as a deputy minister of sports in Croatia.
With an HPI of 47.99, Velimir Perasović is the 6th most famous Basketball Player. His biography has been translated into 24 different languages.
Velimir Perasović (pronounced [vèlimir pèrȃsović]; born 9 February 1965) is a Croatian professional basketball coach and former player. He is serving as the head coach for the Russian team UNICS Kazan of the VTB United League and the EuroLeague.
With an HPI of 47.89, Aleksandar Petrović is the 7th most famous Basketball Player. His biography has been translated into 19 different languages.
Aleksandar "Aco" Petrović (pronounced [aleksǎːndar at͡so pětroʋitɕ]; born 16 February 1959) is a Croatian professional basketball coach and former player who last served as the head coach of the Victoria Libertas Pesaro of the Italian Serie A.
With an HPI of 44.18, Stojko Vranković is the 8th most famous Basketball Player. His biography has been translated into 18 different languages.
Stojan "Stojko" Vranković (born 22 January 1964) is a Croatian professional basketball executive and former player. He is currently the president of the Croatian Basketball Federation (HKS). A 7 ft 2 in (2.18 m) center, he played five seasons (1990–1992; 1996–1999) in the National Basketball Association (NBA), as a member of the Boston Celtics, Minnesota Timberwolves, and Los Angeles Clippers. He was popular in Europe while playing for the Athens-based club Panathinaikos, with whom he won the club's first EuroLeague championship.
With an HPI of 43.40, Žan Tabak is the 9th most famous Basketball Player. His biography has been translated into 23 different languages.
Žan Tabak (born 15 June 1970) is a Croatian professional basketball coach and former player who is now serving as the head coach for Trefl Sopot of the PLK. His basketball career, spanning twenty years, was marked by several notable achievements, despite injuries. He was the first international player to play in the NBA Finals for two teams. Žan Tabak averaged 5.0 points in his 6-year NBA career.
With an HPI of 42.63, Andro Knego is the 10th most famous Basketball Player. His biography has been translated into 16 different languages.
Andrija "Andro" Knego (born 21 October 1956) is a Croatian former professional basketball player.
Pantheon has 37 people classified as basketball players born between 1943 and 1997. Of these 37, 35 (94.59%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living basketball players include Toni Kukoč, Dino Rađa, and Petar Skansi. The most famous deceased basketball players include Dražen Petrović and Krešimir Ćosić. As of April 2022, 3 new basketball players have been added to Pantheon including Petar Skansi, Danko Cvjetićanin, and Aramis Naglić.
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