It’s great to watch the NBA Finals and see so many players with Ohio connections. In honor of this year’s championship we wanted to showcase some of the NBA superstars born and raised in Ohio.
Lebron James was born in Akron and attended St. Vincent – St. Mary High School (SVSM). At SVSM, James was a three time Ohio Mr. Basketball winner and won a variety of national honors such as the Naismith Prep Player of the Year (2003) and Gatorade National Athlete of the Year (2003). When he announced that he was entering the NBA out of high school, he was considered to be the most hyped basketball recruit ever. James lived up to the hype and has won 4 MVP awards, is a 10 time all-star, and a 2 time NBA Finals Champion, along with many other achievements. It is believed that when he retires, he will be one of the most decorated and greatest players in NBA history.
Known to fans as “Nate the Great”, Nate Thurmond was one of the most dominant NBA big men of all-time. Thurmond is from Akron and attended Akron Central. After graduating high school, Nate attended Bowling Green where he was named a second team All-American (1963). He played 15 seasons in the NBA and was a 7 time all-star. He was the first player in NBA history to record a quadruple-double in a single game (22 points, 14 rebounds, 13 assists, and 12 blocked shots). He is one of 4 players to ever achieve this feat. Thurmond is still regarded as one of the best rebounders and shot blockers in NBA history. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1985.
Gus Johnson was also born and raised in Akron. He attended Akron Central where he was a teammate of Nate Thurmond. At Akron Central, Johnson was named an All-State high school player. He played for 10 seasons in the NBA, primarily for the Washington Bullets. He was known for his combination of strength and jumping ability. Johnson was a 5 time all-star and #25 is retired by the Washington Wizards. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010.
John “Hondo” Havlicek was born in Martins Ferry, Ohio. He attended Bridgeport High School where he was an all-state athlete in football, basketball, and baseball. He chose the Ohio State University where he played both baseball and basketball. He later left the baseball team to focus on basketball. Havlicek won the NCAA Basketball Championship with the Buckeyes in 1960. He was drafted and played his entire 16 year NBA career with the Boston Celtics. There he won 8 NBA Championships and was named to the all-star team 13 times. He is the Celtics all-time scoring (26,395) and wins leader (1,270). He is widely regarded as one of the greatest players in the history of the game. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1984.
Jerry Lucas was born and raised in Middletown, Ohio. He spent his early teenage years dominating high school and college athletes on the Sunset Park playground. At Middletown High School he led the basketball team to back to back Ohio state championships. He was named Mr. Basketball USA in 1957 and 1958. He is only one of three players to ever achieve this feat. Following high school, Lucas attended the Ohio State University. There he was a 2 time collegiate player of the year and won an NCAA Championship in 1960 with teammate, John Havlicek. Lucas was drafted by the Cincinnati Royals and was named NBA Rookie of the Year (1964). Throughout his career he was selected to the all-star team 7 times and won an NBA Championship with the New York Knicks. He also won an Olympic Gold Medal in the 1960 Rome games. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1980.
Neil Johnston was born in Chillicothe and was a graduate of Chillicothe High School. During high school, Johnston established his dominance on the basketball court and was named to the all-state team. Following graduation, he attended the Ohio State University where he played baseball and basketball. In 1951, Johnston tried out and made the Philadelphia Warriors squad. He led the NBA in scoring from 1952-1954. He was a 6 time all-star and won the NBA Championship in 1956. Johnston was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame in 1990.
Stephen Curry was born in Akron however moved to North Carolina at a young age. Curry is one of the best shooters in the game today. In the 2012-2013 season he set the record for the most three-pointers made in one season (272). He made his first all-star appearance in the 2013-2014 season and looks to have a very promising NBA career.