Becoming an NBA player is a dream that plenty of kids all around the world have, but few get to experience. It’s a lifetime of hard work and preparing your body for the physical challenges that await. But what if I told you that some NBA players, past and present, didn’t want to go to the NBA, or even play basketball?
This a rare thing, but it occasionally happens. And sometimes to some of the best players on earth. For example, the incredible 7’1″ shot-blocking Dikembe Mutombo. Yeah, did you know he didn’t want to play in the NBA? He came to America because he wanted to be a doctor, but went to Georgetown University on a basketball scholarship. He got so good at basketball, that he was eventually persuaded to give up his dream of being a doctor, and declare for the NBA draft. He was taken 4th overall in 1991, played for 19 years, is a Hall-of-Famer, and has a net worth of $75 million. I mean, it still worked out incredibly well, but who knows what he could have accomplished as a doctor.
Another player who originally didn’t want to play in the NBA is Tacko Fall. Yup, 7’5″ Tacko Fall originally received a basketball scholarship to play at UCF, but wanted to be an engineer for electronic companies like Microsoft, and major in computer science. He was quoted as saying, “If I could be either Lebron James or Steve Jobs, I’d be Steve Jobs.”
You may have noticed so far that the players on this list are centers, and that’s because people basically forced them to play because of their absurd height. And the next man on this list, David Robinson, is no different. Robinson was described as something of a nerd growing up, and he wanted to be an engineer in Annapolis, and study at the United States Naval Academy. Believe it or not, Robinson was basically forced to play high school basketball by the coach, as the coach saw potential in the 6’7″ kid who was still growing. He turned down multiple basketball scholarships to attend Navy. He was eventually persuaded to pursue basketball, and was taken with the #1 pick in 1987.
Next on the list is the first player that isn’t a center, in the power forward Dennis Rodman. Dennis Rodman grew up with two sisters and his mom, and his sisters were High School All-Americans in basketball. Dennis was cut from multiple high school basketball teams, and said that he couldn’t even hit a lay-up! So obviously, he had no plans of making it to the NBA. After high school, he got a job as a janitor at an airport. Keep in mind, he was 5’6″ in high school. But the strangest thing happened. Dennis Rodman grew 13 inches, and suddenly decided to give basketball another try! Yeah, that isn’t a typo. 13 inches! And what do you know, he was really good at basketball all of a sudden! He averaged 25.7 points and 15.7 rebounds at Southeastern Oklahoma State University, and now decided that he wanted to give this whole NBA thing a try. The Detroit Pistons saw the potential in him and drafted him. He won 2 championships with the Pistons, and three-peated with Jordan’s Bulls.
Another San Antonio player is on this list (David Robinson and Dennis Rodman), and that’s Tim Duncan. Yup, the Big Fundamental didn’t want to be a basketball player originally. He wanted to be an Olympic swimmer, and make the 1992 Olympics. But when Hurricane Katrina destroyed his pool, and he couldn’t swim in the ocean because of sharks, he decided to give basketball a try. And what do you know, he was pretty good, and was drafted with the 1st pick in the 1997 draft.
The last player on this list is Giannis Antetokounmpo. His original passion was soccer, and he wanted to play just like his dad. But when he was 13, a coach spotted him playing soccer, and wanted him to play basketball. Giannis didn’t want to play so much that it took the coach telling him that he would find his parent’s jobs if he and his brother played, and so he agreed. He eventually played for Greece’s national team, and was drafted with the 15th pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. His other two siblings are in the NBA as well. He had so much potential that he gained pound after pound of muscle, and is now an All-Star, an MVP, and may win another MVP this following year.
Let me know if you think any players were left out in the comments below, and as always, have an awesome day!