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Indiana NBA Players Ranked

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Indiana is a US state with deep ties with the sport of basketball, and here is a list of what many experts believe to be the best five players this Midwestern region of the country has ever produced.

1. Larry Bird

When someone thinks of Indiana and basketball, the first name that comes to everyone’s mind is, without a shadow of a doubt, Larry Joe Bird, famously nicknamed the Hick from French Lick.

Widely regarded as one of the best players in the history of the NBA, Larry Bird hails from West Baden Springs, a town boasting a population of less than six hundred people. It got founded in the 1850s and is a notable spot for its nearby mineral springs. Yet, its main claim to fame is that it was the birthplace of the Boston Celtics’ most legendary forward, who played for a minute for the Hoosiers under The General – Bob Knight. Bird joined the Celtics via the 1978 draft as its sixth overall pick and instantly made an impact for Boston’s pride, averaging twenty-one points in his first year, with ten rebounds and four and a half assists per game in the regular season.

Bird captured the NBA crown three times during his thirteen-season tenure with the Celtics, retiring in 1992 because of debilitating back problems that had troubled him some years prior. He is a two-time Naismith Memorial Hall of Famer member of the Olympic and FIBA Halls of Fame.

2. Oscar Robertson

It is strange seeing the Big O coming in second on any list, as the twelve-time All-Star had one of the most remarkable careers in the NBA. He made the league’s best team eleven times, won its MVP award once, and became its first player to average a triple-double through an entire season.

While Roberston was not born in Indiana, he moved to Indianapolis when he was only a year and a half old from Charlotte, Tennessee. Hence, that is enough, in our eyes, for him to get classified as an Indiana player, as he went to Crispus Attucks High School in Indianapolis and earned the Indiana Mr. Basketball honor in 1956.

Robertson attended university in Cincinnati, Ohio, donning the Bearcats jersey. After stellar showings in the NCAA, Oscar got a spot on the US 1960 Rome Olympic team and earned gold in the tournament, playing with the nation’s best. He entered the NBA that same year, getting drafted by the Cincinnati Royals. Robertson played ten seasons for the Royals before moving to Milwaukee in 1970, winning the league in his first year with the Bucks. He stayed on the team three more seasons and retired in 1974. Many credit Robertson for revolutionizing the sport by showing that bigger players can assume guard-like qualities, paving the way for ballers like Magic Johnson to elevate the game further.

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3. George McGinnis

George McGinnis is a name that many newer NBA fans have yet to hear of. Like Robertson, McGinnis was also not born in Indiana but in Harpersville, Alabama, and he moved to Indianapolis as a child, going to Washington High School. He played for college ball for Indiana University Bloomington, becoming the first Big Ten software to lead in rebounding and scoring, averaging 29.9 points in his only Hoosiers season.

In 1973, McGinnis came into the NBA as the 22nd overall choice in the second round of that year’s draft. The Philadelphia 76ers chose him to join their squad from the Indiana Pacers, for whom McGinnis played for four years. However, the Pacers were not an NBA team then. They competed in the American Basketball Association at that time. After three seasons in Philadelphia, McGinnis moved to Denver and returned to Indiana in 1979, finishing his career with a three-year run. He averaged 25 points per game in the ABA and 17.2 in the NBA.

4. Shawn Kemp

Most people link the Reign Man with the city of Seattle, even though this explosive power forward who made a name for himself with his jaw-dropping dunks originates from Elkhart, Indiana, a city east of South Bend.

Kemp is a notorious NBA personality, as he has made headlines throughout the years for various reasons, including drug possession, assault charges, fathering seven children with six different women, and most recently, he appeared in the news on account of getting the privilege of placing the first legal sports wager in Washington. The Hoosier State regulated online sports wagering in 2019, with many Indiana gambling sites offering such services to the territory’s residents.

Controversies and his troubled past aside, there is no doubt that Kemp was a heck of a player, forming one of the most dynamic duos with Gary Payton the NBA has ever seen.

5. Zach Randolph

Here is another entry that most people do not connect with Indiana. For most basketball fans, Zach Randolph is best remembered for his time spent in Portland or Memphis.

Z-Bo had a super long career spanning from 2001 to 2018, most of which he played at a high level. He grew up in Marion, Indiana, finished second in Indiana’s Mr. Basketball voting in his senior year, and got named MVP in the high school state championship game in 2000. He went to Michigan State University but decided to try his luck in the NBA after his freshman year.

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