A successful career in the NBA means everything to the thousands of players who have touched the hardwood over the decades. There are some players out there that never had a chance to see their name in the shining light for one reason or another, though. Here’s a look at five players that never saw any time in the NBA.
Would you ever imagine that one of the greatest coaches of all time never had a shot in the NBA? Larry Brown played as a point guard for the Tar Heels in the 1960s, but his small stature sent him packing to the American Basketball Association. During his time there, he played for five separate teams and was sent to the ABA All-Star Game on three different occasions. After his time with the Denver Rockets, he retired as a player and transitioned into the coaching position.
Before there was Manute Bol, Yao Ming, or Shaquille O’Neal, there was Bob Kurland. The Missouri native was billed at 7 feet tall, and he made his presence known on the court at Jennings High School. His time at Oklahoma State earned him back to back NCAA Basketball Tournament Most Outstanding Player awards.
He was offered a shot to be a part of the then Basketball Association of America and National Basketball League, but he turned it down. Instead, he chose to play for the Phillips 66ers at the Amateur Athletic Union. While he passed up an NBA contract, the athlete did lead the U.S. basketball team to two gold medals at the 1948 and 1952 Summer Olympics.
Philadelphia native Hank Gathers was one of the brightest players on the field for the Loyola Marymount Lions. With a plethora of accolades to his name, many expected him to be the number one pick in the 1990 NBA Draft.
Unfortunately, he never had that chance. During a game against the Portland Pilots, Gathers collapsed on the court due to heart problems. Minutes after the incident, he was pronounced dead at the age of 23. His life was the subject of a 1992 TV film Final Shot: The Hank Gathers Story.
Alexander Belov was arguably the most hated basketball player due to his game-winning shot at the 1972 Summer Olympics. In 1972, he was drafted by the New Orleans Jazz. Many expected him to prosper in America, but he never had a shot of touching the basketball for his team. At the age of 26, Belov died from a rare disease called cardiac sarcoma.
Hailing from Serbia, Dejan Bodiroga became one of the biggest basketball players in Europe with three EuroLeague championships to his name. In 1995, he was drafted by the Sacramento Kings, but he decided to pass on the offer and continue playing in Italy. Many believed he would’ve made a strong impact in the NBA with his phenomenal abilities. In 2007, he announced his retirement from the sport.