Top 5 Charismatic Players From NBA 75th Anniversary Team | AIlen Iverson Changed & Challenged The Culture, Dr. J Was That Dude

 

Superstar athletes often possess a charisma that transcends their physical and athletic talents. It takes a certain captivating aura to step into a leadership role and naturally have others follow in practice and games.

The influence of the charismatic superstar is also embedded in the culture of the franchise and how that particular squad goes about handling its business.  

Here’s The Shadow League’s Top 5 Charismatic Superstars On The Top 75 NBA Anniversary Team 

1. Julis “Dr. J” Irving 

Dr J is the originator. The playground legend from  the Mecca of hoops, who was a leading innovator and the godfather of the dunk as we know it today in the NBA. The Doctor’s legendary exploits in college (averaging 20 points and 20 rebounds) and then the ABA were enough to get him inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame. 

He brought his gritty and masterful playground game to the NBA and created an excitement that the league had never seen. Prior to the Magic & Bird Era and the birth of Air Jordan was Dr. J.

By the time he arrived in the NBA, Julius Irving had already established himself as the greatest player on the planet with the ABA’s Virginia Squires (1971–1973) and New York Nets (1973–1976). He then became “The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh” and led the 76ers to an NBA Championship. 

Serving facials and defying the laws of gravity became the NBA highlights revenue generator in the ’80s, ’90s and into the 2000s. He came before the internet and social media, but everything Dr. J did on a basketball court went viral, if not by video then word of mouth.

Dr. J was one of the forces that pushed pro basketball to the next level, with a charisma few superstars enjoyed on and off the court. 

2. Kobe “Black Mamba” Bryant 

Kobe Bryant played the game with a zest and charisma likened to his big brother and idol Michael Jordan. Bryant spoke five languages fluently and carried himself with an aura of invincibility on and off the floor.

Kobe wasn’t always liked by opponents and teammates, but he was respected. His interviews are full of punchlines and witty responses that one could expect to hear from a Harvard graduate. Kobe “Bean” Bryant came out of high school just oozing confidence.

Anybody who gives us a 60-piece on the way out the door is A-1 in the charisma department. Kobe always understood his assignment.

3. Allen “The Answer” Iverson 

Allen Iverson wasn’t just a player. He’s among the most influential ballers in history. Standing at just barely 6 feet tall and 150 pounds, Iverson was a freak of nature and one of the most unique ballers to ever grace the NBA stage. 

Mighty Mouse carried undermanned Sixers teams to Conference titles and an NBA Championship series.

Iverson was a walking bucket whose unapologetically Black sense of expression directly conflicted with the vision the NBA had for its corporate presentation.

Iverson is the last of a dying breed. A player whose engergy and personality was larger than the league he was employed by.

The braids and the gold chains and the baggy clothes represented the youth of his generation. And scared the establishment to death.

From his days as a two-sport phenom at Bethel High School in Virginia to his glory years at Georgetown under the tutelage of John Thompson Sr. to his incomparable impact on NBA culture, Iverson was a lightening rod of controversy and the essence of charisma. 

4. Michael Jordan 

Michael Jordan is the standard-bearer for the age of the charismatic, globally marketed athlete. From his Air Jordan sneakers to his signature elbow sleeve to knee sleeve, MJ dressed the part and looked the part.

Always available for an interview and loved worldwide, Jordan oozes charisma.

His alpha-dog mentality and the aura he carried, resonated with the world and elevated him to recognition as the best to touch the hardwood. MJ dominated an entire decade with style and a corporate street flair. When MJ was in his bag, everyone fell into position and rode the championship train. 

5. Magic Johnson 

Magic Johnson has a smile that could light up a room. Being in Hollywood made it that much easier to display his personality on and off the court. Who had more charisma than Magic? 

The part-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers has been a star since junior high. His college coach at Michigan State, Jud Heathcote said he possessed this star quality from his first visit to East Lansing as a high school junior.

 

Magic was “Tinseltown,” and he carried himself in that manner on the hardwood at the Great Western Forum and on to the L.A. nightlife. He was loved and adored by fans and teammates.

5A. Shaq

Shaquille O’Neal, is a rapper, comedian, movie star, entrepreneur and elite basketball talent. His speed, size and sheer strength coupled with his charisma made him arguably the most popular and entertaining player the league has ever seen. 

The very sight of the 7-foot-2 Shaq grabbed the attention of fans, all over the league. Shaq was the center of attention in every arena he played in. Now on TNT as an NBA analyst, he’s just as captivating a personality as he was when he and Kobe dominated the NBA landscape. 

He’s also the master of nicknames

The “Diesel,” “The Big Aristotle,” “Wilt Chambernese,” are just a few nicknames he gave to himself throughout his playing career.

Honorable Mention:

LeBron James — In an episode of “More Than An Athlete,” LeBron James says his historic 2016 NBA Finals win made him the greatest player ever.

Charles Barkley — “I Am Not A Role Model”

Kevin Garnett — “Anything Is Possible”

Larry Bird — “Magic’s The Greatest Player I’ve Ever Seen”

JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The General Manager of Content & Social Media is in his 25th year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, newspapers, magazines and national TV. His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.