It’s always really sad when a young talent passes away before reaching stardom or just after hitting their true potential, leaving behind a lot of mourning fans and also making us wonder what could’ve been of them if they weren’t so unlucky.
Life’s really short and can get tough at times, so we should live it to it's fullest and really close to our loved ones. As a reminder of that, we’re going to remember and honor the top 7 NBA stars that died too young. We’ll always remember you, guys.
7. Len Bias
Bias was never actually able to make his professional debut on an NBA court after being drafted 2nd overall by the Boston Celtics in the 1986 NBA Draft due to his impressive play at the University of Maryland, becoming one of the best talents the ACC has ever seen.
Just a couple of days after being drafted, Bias died of a cocaine overdose that made his heart collapse, completely shocking the rest of the sports world, and preventing us from actually seeing Johnson, Bird, Mchale and Bias altogether in an NBA court. Gladly, the passing of Bias was the catalyst for some of the strongest anti-drug laws and NCAA regulations, as well as a heartfelt documentary called Without Bias.
6. Reggie Lewis
Another Boston Celtic makes our tragic list, as Lewis was on the verge of becoming one of the most dominant players in the NBA during his prime before passing away due to a heart anomaly at the tender age of 27 after just 5 seasons in the league where he led the C’s after Bird’s retirement.
The guard/forward was a terrific scorer, and his averages of 17.6 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game earned him almost 40 win shares in just 5 seasons, as well as becoming an All-Star the very same year he suddenly died. Just after his passing, the Celtics retired his number 35 jersey to honor one of the greatest “what ifs” in NBA history.
5. Manute Bol
Bol was one of the first ambassadors of African basketball in the NBA, sitting at 7’7 and completely forcing opposing players to change their shots due to his outstanding shot-blocking ability with over 3 swats per contest in 9 seasons in the NBA.
Manute was never a dominant player in any other aspect of the game but just notice the fact that he actually averaged 3.3 blocks in less than 20 minutes per night, something that would translate to 6.4 per 36 mins. Sadly, he died at age 47 due to problems with his kidney, but at least he had a full NBA career while also helping a lot of African ballers in Sudan, like Luol Deng; for instance.
4. Drazen Petrovic
Petrovic was a huge star before making his transition to the NBA, being an Olympic medalist with Yugoslavia alongside other European stars like Tony Kukoc, Dino Radja and Vlade Divac, before coming overseas to play with the Portland Trail Blazers and New Jersey Nets, where he reached his prime.
Petrovic was a three-point shooting specialist, passing away in a car accident at age 28 after averaging 15.3 points 2.4 boards and 2.1 assists on 50.6% from the field and 43.7% from downtown, the third best average in NBA history, while also opening the door for future European Hall of Famers like Pau Gasol and of course, Dirk Nowitzki.
3. Dennis Johnson
Johnson was actually one of the men responsible for the Boston Celtics and their success and a couple of championships, even on a team that also featured Robert Parrish, Kevin McHale and of course, Larry Bird.
Making 9 All-Defensive appearances, 5 All-Star games, winning 3 rings and earning one Finals MVP, DJ was a defensive specialist, being even called the best backcourt defender in NBA history by some guy called Magic Johnson. Sadly, he passed away at the age of 57 due to a heart attack while coaching the Austin Toros of the NBA D-league after spending 13 successful seasons in the NBA.
2. Pete Maravich
“Pistol Pete” is without a doubt, one of the most gifted offensive players, dribblers and playmakers in NBA history, averaging over 24 points per contest and scoring in a variety of ways while also making outstanding plays on both ends of the floor due to his handles and ability.
He played basketball until the very last day of his life, passing away due to a heart attack after a pick-up game at the age of 40, leaving behind a lot of highlights and of course, an inspiration for younger guards that wanted to dribble and pass like Pistol Pete, like Jason Williams; for instance.
1. Wilt Chamberlain
Chamberlain went down as perhaps the most dominant player in NBA history due to his outstanding physique and his sick averages, completely owning both glasses and earning 71 different NBA records, like most points scored in a game and more rebounds per game through an entire career.
Still, Wilt the Stilt also died of a heart condition, after completely owning the game through his entire career on a nightly basis, averaging over 30 points per game and more than 22 boards per contest, as well as making the league even change the dimensions of some areas of the court to make Wilt’s game more “fair”.