The States That Shaped Basketball: The Birthplaces of NBA and ABA Stars

  • By looking at the birthplaces of all players who have debuted in the NBA or ABA, this research ranks the U.S. states according to the number of players to come from each state.
  • California is at the top of the list with 434 NBA/ABA players born there, followed by New York with 426 and Illinois with 296 players.
  • At the bottom of the list is Vermont, as no players that had their debut in the NBA or ABA were born in the Green Mountain State.

Behind every great team, there are incredible players who have helped shape the league into what it is today. From legends like Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson to modern-day stars like LeBron James and Steph Curry, the NBA has produced some of the greatest athletes in history. 

The researchers at wanted to find out which U.S. states have produced the highest number of NBA/ABA players. To do that, they looked at the birthplaces of players that have had their debut in either NBA or ABA.

With 434 NBA/ABA players born there, California is at the top of this list. Notable California-born players include Kawhi LeonardJames HardenJason Kidd, and Paul Pierce.

New York is second on the list with 426 NBA/ABA players. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who was born in New York City, is widely considered one of the greatest basketball players of all time. Apart from him, Bob CousyJulius ErvingMichael Jordan, and Carmelo Anthony are just some of the basketball greats born in New York.

The third state on the list, Illinois, has produced 296 NBA/ABA players. Dwyane Wade, a 13-time All Star, was born in Chicago, as well as Isiah ThomasDerrick RoseTim Hardaway, and Doc Rivers, who played for over a decade in the NBA and went on to have a successful coaching career, winning a championship with the Boston Celtics in 2008.

Pennsylvania has produced 241 NBA/ABA players, which puts it in fourth place. Kobe Bryant, born in Philadelphia, won five championships with the Lakers, two Finals MVP awards, and was an 18-time All-Star. Wilt Chamberlain and Joe Bryant were also born in Philadelphia, both of which had a successful NBA career, while Joe Bryant went on to have a successful coaching career in Japan.

With 203 NBA/ABA players born in Texas, the Lone Star State takes the fifth spot on this list. Chris Bosh, born in Dallas, won two championships with the Miami Heat and was an 11-time All-Star. Jimmy Butler, who currently plays for Miami Heat, was born in Houston, and has become one of the most talented and versatile players in the NBA.

Ohio has produced 202 NBA/ABA players. LeBron James, who was born in Akron, is widely considered one of the greatest basketball players of all time. Other successful players from Ohio include Stephen CurryJerry Lucas, and Nate Thurmond.

Michigan has produced 166 NBA/ABA players. Earvin “Magic” Johnson, who was born in Lansing, won five championships with the Lakers, three MVP awards, and is widely regarded as one of the greatest point guards of all time. Apart from him, Chris Webber, a five-time All-Star, George Gervin, a nine-time All-Star, Dave DeBusschere, a two-time All-Star, were all born in the Great Lake State.

In eighth place is Indiana, whichhas produced 162 NBA/ABA players. Some of the most successful basketball players to come from Indiana are Larry Bird and Glenn Robinson III.

New Jersey has produced 149 NBA/ABA players, putting the Garden State in ninth place. Shaquille O’Neal, who was born in Newark, won four championships and was a three-time Finals MVP. Rick Barry, born in Elizabeth, won a championship with the Golden State Warriors, was a Finals MVP, and was a nine-time All-Star. Randy Foye, born in Newark, has played in the NBA for over a decade and has also won a gold medal with the US national team in the FIBA World Championships.

North Carolina is in tenth place, having produced 146 NBA/ABA players. The most notable players to come from North Carolina include James WorthyChris Paul, and John Wall.

Credit to