Where are NBA Superstars Born?
|February 29, 2012||Posted by ReubenFB under Geo-Analysis|
On Sunday, the West held on to beat the East 152-149 in one of the most exciting, bloodiest All-Star games in years. The NBA’s East-West divide conjures up memories of some of America’s most enduring cultural conflicts: Biggie vs. 2pac, Reagan vs. Carter, East Coast puppets vs. West Coast puppets.
Of course NBA players for the most part don’t get to choose where they play, and there is rarely actual geographic pride. Of the 12 Western All-stars, only four were born in Western states (Westbrook, Love, Griffin, & Aldridge). This led me to wonder, what regions, historically, have produced the best NBA players? Since 1951, 257 NBA players have played in at least two All-star games (to exclude one-hit wonders). When we break the birthplaces of these “superstars” apart by era – based on the year of their first all-star appearance – we can watch he evolution of basketball from a regional, to a national, to an international sport.
Breadbasket of Basketball: 1951-1969
Not pictured: Hawaii, the birthplace of Red Rocha
This period saw 83 two-time All-stars, dominated by two regions. The “Eastern Midwest” – Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Western Pennsylvania – produced 33 stars while the Philly/NYC Metro Area added another 19; combined they accounted for 63% of the total. The South - Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas – produced only 9 stars, while the West - Texas up to North Dakota to the Pacific – managed 14.
Rise of the South: 1970 – 1989
This era saw 91 two-time All-stars. The number of Southern stars exploded to 33 (36% of the total) while the Eastern Midwest dropped to 21, and the Philly/NYC Metro Area plummeted to only 6. The West stayed steady with 12 superstars and the first 5 International stars appear.
Diffusion of Talent: 1990-2011
This final era saw 83 superstars, with no region really dominating the talent. The South dropped to 21 players – 25% of the total – while the Eastern Midwest hung around at 16 and the Philly/NYC Metro Area rose to 9. The number of Western superstars spiked to 18 (22% of the total), while the number of International stars rose to 13, a surprising 16% of the total.
Fun bonus facts:
- New England produced just one two-time all-star: Bill Laimbeer. And he was raised in Chicago.
- Georgia produces some mediocre players apparently, of the 105 who’ve made it to the NBA, only 3 have become 2-time All-stars (2.9%).
- On the flip side, Louisiana, Florida, and North Carolina have all seen at least 10% of their players turn into superstars (min. 10 superstars).
- 61 NBA players have been born in Kansas or Connecticut, none have made it to two All-star games.
- HOFer Joe Fulks was born in an Kentucky town that’s now at the bottom of a fucking lake.
- Hibbing, Minnesota – population 16,000 – somehow produced two major NBA stars: Dick Garmaker and Kevin McHale.
- Somehow it’s one-upped by Lake Wales, Florida (population 11,802) which produces a healthy 1 superstar per 5,901 inhabitants (Amar’e Stoudemire and Vin Baker).