Wizards

Looking back at some of the NBA’s best father-son duos

Wizards
Dell Curry (left) has two sons currently playing in the NBA.
USA Today

Basketball has always been a game passed on from generation to generation.

That’s been evident throughout NBA history, with plenty of families dominating different eras of the sport.

Some fathers and sons played with a similar style, like the jump-shooting Currys and the high-flying Nances. Other duos have been vastly different on the court, like the Waltons and the Thompsons.

Here’s a look at some of the most memorable father-son duos to play in the NBA:

Dell Curry and Steph Curry/Seth Curry

Three of the best shooters in NBA history have the same last name. Dell started it all when he was drafted No. 15 overall in 1986. He played 16 NBA seasons, averaging 11.7 points and shooting 40.2% from deep in 1,083 career games. Known largely for his years with the Charlotte Hornets, he also played for the Utah Jazz, Cleveland Cavaliers, Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors.

Dell’s two sons -- Stephen and Seth -- have only added to the family legacy. Steph is widely considered the greatest shooter in NBA history, shooting over 43% from deep and 90% from the line in his career. He’s also a three-time NBA champion, a two-time MVP and a two-time scoring champ with the Golden State Warriors.

 

Seth has had a different career arc. He played just four games total for three teams in his first two NBA seasons, but he’s developed into an above-average role player. The current Philadelphia 76ers guard has shot 42.5% or better from deep in five straight seasons.

Joe Bryant and Kobe Bryant

“Jellybean” Joe Bryant is probably better known for his fantastic nickname and his son rather than his own on-court accomplishments. He played eight seasons in the NBA with the Sixers, San Diego Clippers and Houston Rockets. Mostly a role player, the 6-foot-9 forward averaged 8.7 points and 4.0 rebounds in 606 career games.

Jellybean’s son -- appropriately named Kobe Bean Bryant -- was one of the best players in NBA history. Five championships, 18 All-Star appearances and a first-ballot Hall of Famer, the Black Mamba was known as a ruthless competitor. He averaged 25 points per game in his 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, and his legacy continues to live on after his tragic death in 2020.

Mychal Thompson and Klay Thompson

Selected No. 1 overall in 1978, Mychal Thompson replaced reigning MVP Bill Walton in the Portland Trail Blazers’ lineup. The big man averaged 16.7 points and 8.9 rebounds in seven seasons for the Blazers before playing half a season with the San Antonio Spurs and finishing his career with the Lakers. Thompson won two championships with Magic Johnson and the Showtime Lakers, serving as a key piece off the bench in 1987 and 1988.

Mychal had two sons make the NBA -- Klay and Mychel -- but Mychel only played five games. Klay, on the other hand, developed into one of the game’s best shooters. In eight seasons with the Warriors, he’s averaged 19.5 points per game on 41.9% shooting from 3. Klay is a three-time champion and five-time All-Star.

Rick Barry and Brent Barry/Jon Barry/Drew Barry

Led by Rick, the Barry family revolutionized free throw shooting with the underhand shot. Even though that might be Rick’s lasting memory today, he should also be remembered as an all-time great player. Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1987, Barry was an All-Star 12 times, All-NBA First Team five times and the 1975 NBA Finals MVP. He had the highest career free throw percentage (.900) in league history when he retired in 1980, and he was named to the NBA’s 75th anniversary team.

 

Three of Barry’s sons made it to the NBA -- Jon, Brent and Drew. None reached the heights that their father did. Jon played 14 seasons with eight different teams, perennially serving as a reserve spot-up shooter. Brent had the best career of the three, also playing 14 seasons but winning two titles with the Spurs (2005, 2007) and taking home the 1996 Slam Dunk Contest crown. Drew played just 60 games across three seasons with the Warriors, Atlanta Hawks and Seattle Supersonics.

Bill Walton and Luke Walton

Younger fans may only know Bill Walton as the crazy college basketball announcer who wears tie-dye shirts. Let’s not forget how incredible his playing career was, though. After winning two national championships for John Wooden at UCLA, Walton was drafted first overall by the Blazers in 1974. He led the franchise to its first and only title in 1977, winning Finals MVP and then regular season MVP the following year, before foot injuries derailed his career. Walton later resurfaced as the Sixth Man of the Year for the championship-winning 1986 Boston Celtics.

Luke Walton, now the Sacramento Kings’ head coach, played 10 NBA seasons with the Lakers and Cavaliers. He was a backup wing for most of his career, starting just 138 of 564 games while averaging 4.7 points per contest. Walton matched his father’s two championships, winning with the Lakers in 2009 and 2010.

Tim Hardaway and Tim Hardaway Jr.

Even though both of the Hardways played guard, they were vastly different players. Tim Sr. was a point guard for the Warriors and Miami Heat throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. He was a five-time All-Star, finishing his career in 2003 at 17.7 points and 8.2 assists per game.

Tim Jr. is currently in his ninth NBA season after being drafted No. 24 overall in 2013. He’s played for the New York Knicks, Atlanta Hawks and Dallas Mavericks, often providing instant offense from the shooting guard position. Like his father, the 6-foot-5 Hardaway was named to the All-Rookie First Team following his first season.

 

Arvydas Sabonis and Domantas Sabonis

Drafted No. 24 overall by the Blazers in 1986, Arvydas Sabonis didn’t make his way to the U.S. to play in the NBA until 1995. At age 31, the 7-foot-3 Lithuanian big man stepped right in and made the All-Rookie First Team for Portland. He played seven NBA seasons and averaged 12.0 points and 7.3 rebounds, but he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2011 largely due to his dominant career overseas.

Domantas, 28, has already made two All-Star teams in his first five NBA seasons. The 6-foot-11 big man is a skilled rebounder and passer, putting up 20.3 points, 12.0 rebounds and 6.7 assists per game for the Indiana Pacers last season. He’s a cornerstone player for the Pacers, as they’ll likely try to build around him for years to come.

Gary Payton and Gary Payton II

Nicknamed “The Glove,” Gary Payton is known as one of the best perimeter defenders ever and a tenacious trash-talker. The 6-foot-4 point guard was a nine-time All-Star and First-Team All-Defense selection. Most of his career was played with the Sonics -- Seattle drafted him No. 2 overall in 1990 -- but he later suited up for the Bucks, Lakers, Celtics and Heat. GP won his only championship with the Heat in 2006 before retiring a year later.

The second coming of Gary Payton has grinded to become an NBA role player with the Warriors this season. He was undrafted in 2016, then played just 71 games total in his first five seasons for the Bucks, Lakers, Wizards and Warriors. So far in 2021, Payton has become a strong defender off the bench for a resurgent Golden State squad.

Larry Nance and Larry Nance Jr.

The elder Nance played 13 respectable seasons in the league with the Suns and Cavaliers. He averaged 17.1 points and 8.0 rebounds while making three All-Star teams and winning the first ever Slam Dunk Contest in 1984. Nance’s No. 22 was retired by the Cavs before they allowed his son to wear it.

 

Larry Jr. is a similar high-flying forward, but he hasn’t yet been as successful as his father. In his first six seasons with the Lakers and Cavs, Nance Jr. averaged 8.3 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. He was traded to the Blazers in 2021, and he’s known as a solid rotational forward who can defend, stretch the floor and jump out of the gym.

Doc Rivers and Austin Rivers

Now coaching the Sixers, Doc Rivers was once a solid NBA point guard. The Hawks selected him No. 31 overall in 1983 and he delivered as a starter alongside Dominique Wilkins. In eight years with Atlanta, Rivers averaged 13.0 points, 6.8 assists and 2.1 steals per game while making the 1988 All-Star team. Doc’s final five seasons were spent as a bench player with the Clippers, Knicks and Spurs.

Austin Rivers is the same height as his father (6-foot-4), but that’s where their similarities end as players. The younger Rivers was a highly touted prospect coming out of Duke and he just hasn’t delivered in the NBA. He’s bounced around, playing for six teams since New Orleans drafted him 10th overall in 2012. Most notably, Austin played for his father with the Clippers from 2015 to 2018, averaging a career-high 15.1 points per game in 2017-18.