NBA Players Who Love Classic Online Games

Any professional athlete is usually a competitor first and a sportsperson second, with their will to win often being what sets them apart from other athletically gifted individuals.

This means they are as likely to take a game of Tiddlywinks or Top Trumps as seriously as they would an NBA regular season game. It therefore comes as no surprise that many elite NBA ballers spend much of their time competing when they are not shining on the parquet night after night.

A trend that is becoming increasingly popular among players is online gaming, because as well as sharpening their reaction speeds and in-game problem solving, it allows them to unwind, whilst giving their bodies the rest they need after training and gym work.

Here we take a look at some of the NBA’s most prolific gamers, to see which ones have as much game off the court as they do on it.

The last thing players want to do after shooting hoops all day is to head back to the court, and so many of them choose to fill their downtime with wholesome online gameplay.

Classic Games Are a Particular Favorite

You would imagine that because basketball players are all about fast paced action that their gaming choices would be of a similar ilk, but that does not always tend to be the case.

Instead, many players such as Giannis Antetokounmpo and Chris Paul turn to classic games like chess and poker, finding that they get a better mental workout than they might playing other online games. While it is unlikely that such stars will ever use lifelike avatars and names on their gaming accounts, it is probable that NBA stars and other pro sports men and women contest pots and tournaments via online platforms like, PokerStars, and 247backgammon. After posting on social media about his classic gaming exploits, the man known as The Greek Freak was even offered coaching by none other than chess grand master Garry Kasparov. What a combination of MVP performers that would be!

Lots of NBA players are showered with gifts from gaming hardware companies, who would dearly love their products to make it onto NBA social media feeds.

Keeping It Sporty

While most players like to get away from sport all together when they head online to do battle, there are some who just cannot get enough. One such baller is Joel Embiid, who when he’s not dunking on people for the Philadelphia 76ers is back home playing sporty video game classics like EA’s FIFA and NBA 2K. There’s an obvious thrill to getting to play as your own avatar in a world-renowned video game, even if it does smack a bit of egotism. Not that that worries this Cameroonian giant, who has even teamed up with Esports companies like HyperX to promote gaming headsets.

Unfortunately for Embiid, in the most high-profile game of FIFA he has ever played, against prime-time TV show host Trevor Noah, the NBA star came up short, losing a best of three series 2-1.

The Serious Gamers

Although NBA players will always compete as hard as possible in anything they turn their hand to, there are some extra special stars who go the extra mile when it comes to their gaming passion. This can come in the form of playing Esports to an almost professional level, like Gordon Hayward, or even becoming a big investor on the Esports landscape, which is exactly what Jeremy Lin did.

Something about online gaming must have worked well for the Asian trailblazer because he helped the Raptors win the NBA Championship in 2019 and then sailed off into the sunset to play for the Beijing Ducks. No doubt the fact he is now at the epicenter of the Asian Esports boom, Lin is having the time of his life both on and off the court. At this rate he is more likely to make a return to the US as a pro Esports player than he is as an NBA star.

Other big NBA names of past and present to have invested in Esports enterprises include Shaquille O’Neal, Steph Curry, and even Michael Jordan.

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