High profile NBA players receive a significant amount of media attention. They often become major celebrities. Movie studios sometimes hire them as actors because they are recognisable cultural figures. This trend has lead to several NBA players moving away from sports to attain lucrative careers as actors.
O’Neal is often considered one of the greatest NBA players of all time. He also has a prolific acting career. One of his biggest leading roles was as a genie in the musical fantasy Kazaam. He tends to provide cameo roles in comedy films. Examples of this include Scary Movie 4, Freddy Got Fingered and The House Buddy. He also played himself in Good Burger where he was the comic foil to Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell. O’Neal’s on-screen work is so well known that many younger viewers recognise him more for it than his time as an NBA player.
Record-breaking NBA all-star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar played for both the LA Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks. His first film was 1972’s Game Of Death where he had a fight scene with kung fu legend Bruce Lee. Perhaps his most iconic role was as a pilot in the spoof film Airplane! Abdul-Jabbar has also made appearances in sitcoms such as The Big Band Theory, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Scrubs.
Jordan had 15 seasons as a player for the Chicago Bulls. After retiring from the sport, he became the owner of the Charlotte Hornets. He appeared in a 1992 Nike commercial alongside Looney Tunes character Bugs Bunny.
This advert was so popular that it lead to a feature film called Space Jam in 1996. Jordan plays a fictional version of himself who is forced to return to basketball after his retirement. He plays with an assortment of cartoon characters.