Basketball isn’t always the first love of NBA players. In fact, during their high school days, most of the NBA players today engaged in different sports such as basketball, football, baseball, and many more. Many of them also came from families that played professional sports other than basketball. For this piece, let’s take a look at 10 NBA players that didn’t have basketball as their main sport.

Kris Humphries: Swimming

Although Kris Humphries carved out 13 seasons in the NBA, he was a swimmer before learning to play basketball. According to sources (Players Tribune), Humphries used to hold national records in the sport. Moreover, he was once better than Olympic medalists Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte.

Chase Budinger: Volleyball

Growing up in a volleyball household, it was volleyball and basketball growing up for Chase Budinger. But when he enrolled at the University of Arizona, Budinger let go of volleyball and focused on basketball. He eventually played in the NBA for the Houston Rockets, Minnesota Timberwolves, Indiana Pacers, and the Phoenix Suns.

However after playing in Europe, Budinger rekindled his love for volleyball by becoming a professional volleyball player. Budinger has played in the AVP since 2018. He has garnered an AVP title and was named Most Improved Player.

Tim Duncan: Swimming

Hailing from the Virgin Islands, Tim Duncan’s first love was swimming. In fact, Duncan confessed that he used to train by swimming at least 5,000 meters a day with the hope of becoming an Olympic swimmer one day.

But as we all know, Duncan never became an Olympic swimmer. The former Spurs big man decided to try out basketball instead after Hurricane Hugo destroyed the swimming pool on top of his fear for sharks. Years later, Duncan carved out a Hall of Fame career in the NBA and won the bronze medal at the 2004 Olympics.

Allen Iverson: American Football

Allen Iverson became one of the most electrifying guards in the NBA during his peak. But despite his love for basketball, Iverson admitted that he would’ve been a better football player had he gone down that path. Fortunately for NBA fans, Iverson didn’t like to lift weights. Because of this, Iverson would go on to become an MVP in the NBA.

Tracy McGrady: Baseball

Tracy McGrady emerged as a gifted scorer in the NBA. In fact, this is a player who scored 13 points in 33 seconds once. But despite his mark in basketball, the sport was just the third sport he picked up as he first learned baseball and football. In fact, baseball remains to be his favorite sport today. In 2014, T-Mac became a professional baseball player by suiting up for the Sugar Land Skeeters of the Atlantic League.

Danny Ainge: Baseball

T-Mac wasn’t the only NBA player who loved baseball first. Danny Ainge has established himself as one of the most successful executives in the league today. But back then, Ainge wasn’t even touching a basketball. He initially played baseball for the Syracuse Nationals in the minor leagues before joining the Toronto Blue Jays for three years.

But after deciding to change his career path to basketball, Ainge would go on to play in the NBA for 14 years which saw him make one All-Star appearance and win two NBA championships.

Steve Nash: Soccer

With a father that plays soccer professionally, it’s only natural that the son follows suit. Steve Nash loved soccer, as he often traveled with his father to watch his games as a kid. Because of this, growing up, Nash always played soccer and it was only during his teenage years that he learned to play hoops.

Nash had an opportunity to carve out a career in professional football. However his admiration for Michael Jordan and Spike Lee made him lean towards basketball. Nash would go on to carve out a decorated career in the NBA, winning two straight MVPs.

Nikola Jokic: Horse Racing

As arguably the best center today, it’s surprising to know that Nikola Jokic learned basketball late. Based on reports, Jokic originally just wanted to race horses, especially after growing up with a farm stable. In fact, he admitted that he left basketball when he was 12 years old.

Fortunately, his father convinced the Serbian center to hold the basketball again. Because of that, Jokic would go on to win back-to-back MVPs. Nevertheless, Jokic would want to go back to horse racing once he retires from the game.

Michael Jordan: Baseball

To the shock of many, Michael Jordan confessed that basketball wasn’t his first love. Despite being dubbed as the greatest to play basketball, Jordan’s first love was baseball. With his father wanting him to pursue baseball, it was a natural decision for His Airness. In fact, after taking the Bulls to the first three-peat, Jordan briefly retired to pursue a career in professional baseball before returning to the NBA.

Like Jordan, LeBron James is in the GOAT conversation. And despite being the best player in the world, James actually played competitive football first. Based on reports, at one point he was the top prospect coming out of Ohio.

Although we never saw James pursue professional football, it’s clear that he made the right choice in choosing basketball. As the best basketball player in the world, James has four NBA championships, four Finals MVPs, and four MVPs.


To Get The Latest News Update

Sign up to Our Subscription.

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

To Get The Latest News Update

Sign up to Our Subscription.

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *