- Here’s a list of NBA players who played their career on one team.
- Dirk Nowitzki leads the list.
- Other players on the list are Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Jerry West, and Bill Russell.
Stephen Curry is the current NBA player likely to finish his career with one team after he signed another $200 million contract extension for four years with the Golden State Warriors in the summer of 2021. This deal also made him the only player in NBA history to sign two $200 million contracts.
This impressive feat of playing your entire career with one team is unique in this era and has a small probability in the NBA odds, given that the player movement is as strong as ever, and players are frequently asking to get traded to another team to pursue their championship aspirations.
Nonetheless, we have seen this great accomplishment from former players who stayed with one team for the whole duration of their career in the league. Here’s a list of the top five NBA players who played their career on one team.
Dirk Nowitzki – 21 seasons – Dallas Mavericks
Drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks as their 9th overall pick in the 1998 NBA Draft, Dirk Nowitzki was quickly shipped to the Dallas Mavericks on the same night. It turns out the Mavs made one of the best draft night trades of all time by acquiring him. After a sub-par showing in his rookie season, Nowitzki became the franchise’s cornerstone.
— Dallas Mavericks (@dallasmavs) January 6, 2022
He repaid Dallas with several accolades, including a season MVP award in 2007, an NBA championship in 2011 (which is one of the top NBA Finals upsets in history), fourteen NBA All-Star selections and four All-NBA 1st team inclusions. Reports have sprung that he turned down lucrative offers from the Lakers and Rockets in 2014 to stay with the Mavericks and end his basketball journey there. But the most astonishing thing he did for them was to play his entire career with the team for 21 seasons.
Kobe Bryant – 20 seasons – Los Angeles Lakers
Another product of a draft-night trade is Kobe Bryant, who was dealt to the Los Angeles Lakers by the Charlotte Hornets after taking him as the 13th overall pick in 1996. The move has paid many dividends to the historic Purple and Gold franchise. Bryant has helped the Lakers reach the NBA Finals seven times, winning five in the process. Bryant also helped the Lakers become the winningest NBA franchise in history with 17.
Although his relationship with the Lakers wasn’t perfect and he had multiple trade requests out of the team, the ‘’Black Mamba’’ piled up the honors with them, namely a season MVP award in 2008, two NBA Finals MVPs, 18 NBA All-Star selections and eleven-time All-NBA 1st team member. The Philadelphia-born icon has put on a Lakers jersey for 20 seasons.
Tim Duncan – 19 seasons – San Antonio Spurs
When the San Antonio Spurs drafted Tim Duncan as the number pick in 1998, he was touted as the twin tower partner of David Robinson in the hopes of giving the franchise its first-ever title. Duncan has surpassed this expectation and gave the city of San Antonio a lot more than a title during his 19-season stay with them.
— NBA (@NBA) December 18, 2016
The ‘’Fundamental’’ literally became the fundamental piece of the Spurs by stockpiling five NBA titles, two-season MVP honors, a rookie of the year award, 15 NBA All-Star appearances, and was part of the All-NBA team for ten times. He never missed a playoff appearance and averaged a career double-double of 19.0 points and 10.8 rebounds per game.
Jerry West – 14 seasons – Los Angeles Lakers
Known as the ‘’Logo’’, Jerry West has spent his 14 seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers since being drafted as the second overall pick in the 1960 NBA Draft. He was included in the NBA All-Star team 14 times and named ten times in the All-NBA 1st team.
He was a prolific scorer who averaged 27.0 points per game throughout his career, which helped him win one NBA title in 1972 and one NBA Finals MVP trophy in 1969. West was also one of the 22 NBA players to reach 25,000 career points.
Bill Russell – 13 seasons – Boston Celtics
The 13 seasons of Bill Russell with the Boston Celtics was a spectacular run as Russell gifted the C’s with 11 NBA titles, including eight straight from 1959 to 1966. He was also named the league MVP for five occasions and was part of the all-star game 12 times.
The St. Louis Hawks selected Russell in the 1956 NBA Draft as the second overall pick, but he was immediately traded to the Celtics for Ed Macauley. This trade was a massive benefit for the franchise, and Mr. 11 Rings became one of the legendary centers and players in NBA history.
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