Happy Father’s Day: Ranking The Top-Twenty Father / Son Combinations in NBA History

According to my count, there have been twenty-nine father / son combinations to have played in the NBA.  Never has a father / son combo appeared in the League at the same time,however, but maybe we’ll see that one day.  With 38 year-old starting PGs winning NBA titles these days and saying they have a few more years left, you never know.    

In the meantime though, and in the spirit of Father’s Day, below is a list ranking the top-20 father / son duos of all time.  I tried to consider the careers of both the father and the son, and weighed the two together while compiling the rankings.  Which would be why the Ewing’s, as one example, didn’t make the cut.

Top-Twenty Father / Son Combinations in NBA History:  

20 – George Karl – Coby: Coby Karl hung around the league longer than the twenty-two games Larry Mikan did in 1973, which helped the Karl’s just make this list ahead of George and Larry. Even though Larry Mikan’s father was way better than Coby’s was.

19 – Leroy Ellis – Leron: Leroy played fourteen years in the NBA and won a title with the Lakers in 1972.  His son Leron had a lot of hype surrounding his career coming into the league 1987, but didn’t live up to the billing.  He did, however, play three years in the League.

18 – Mike Dunleavy – Mike: When Mike Jr. got drafted out of Duke in the top-10, the Dunleavy’s projected to finish higher on this list than nineteen.  But little Mike’s just been okay in the NBA, and same with his old man.

17 – Wes Matthews – Wesley: If young Wesley (pictured) can build on the 13 points per game he averaged for the Blazers this post-season over the next few years, this father son duo could threaten to break into the top-15, if not the top-10. 

16 – Stan Love – Kevin: Dad only played four seasons in the League, but both he and his son were top-10 NBA Draft picks.  Kevin currently collects a lot of rebounds for T-Wolves, and also stars in a soap commercial where he is showering in a random person’s bathroom.

15 – Jim Paxson – John, Jim:  Unfortunately for the Paxson family I chose not to award bonus points for more than one son playing in the League.  John Paxson won a title for the Bulls as a big-time shot maker, and Jim Jr. was even better than brother John was. Pops was pretty solid too.

14 – Gerald Henderson – Gerald: Old man Henderson played thirteen years in the NBA from 1979 to 1992 appearing with seven different teams, including the Celtics and Knicks.  The younger Henderson was selected 12th out of Duke in ’09, and averaged 10 ppg for Charlotte this past season.  

13 – Ed Manning – Danny: Ed Manning played for Baltimore, Chicago and Portland during his NBA career, along with Indiana, New York, and Carolina of the ABA. Son Danny was a beast in college, picked first overall by the Clippers, and averaged 14 per game during an NBA career that lasted over a decade.

12 – Ernie Vandeweghe – Kiki:  Ernie was drafted in 1949 and went on to play six seasons in the NBA.  Kiki was picked 11th overall in 1980, and though he never won a title, his teams made the playoffs 13 of his 14 seasons in the NBA. He was an All Star twice, and averaged 29 per game in 1984.

11 – Ronald Brewer – Ronnie: Ronald Brewer was selected 7th overall way back in the day, and went on to average over 11 points per game for his career.  Son Ronnie has proven to be a solid defender and legitimate rotation player in his own right since being drafted in ’06 by the Jazz.

10 – Bob Ferry – Danny: Both Bob and Danny were drafted with the 2nd picks overall, and both went on to be NBA GM’s. Danny never ended up being “the next Larry Bird” coming out of Duke, but he was a solid role player for a long time who ended up winning a ring in ’03 for the Spurs. 

9 – Gerald Wilkens – Damien: Gerald was the second leading scoring behind Patrick Ewing during the late 80’s for the Knicks, and later played for the Cavs in Cleveland. Son Damien scored 45 points in a 9th grade AAU game against yours truly while he was there, and now plays for ATL after being in the NBA for a while. I believe I dropped four points that game in response if you were wondering.  

8 – Dell Curry – Stephen: If you called the Curry’s the best sharp-shooting father / son combo in NBA history only maybe the Barry boys would serve as a counterpoint to that claim.  Dell was lights out for the Hornets back when they played in Charlotte, and the sky is still the limit for Steph. 

7 – Matt Goukas – Matt:  Dad won a championship in 1947 with the Philadelphia Warriors of the Basketball Association of America – a league that eventually became the NBA in 1949 – and son Matty got one of his own in 1973; also playing in Philly, as a member of the Sixers.

6 – Henry Bibby – Mike: Henry helped the Knicks win NBA title in 1973 after being drafted a year earlier, and also started at PG for two Sixers teams that lost the 1977 and 1980 Finals. Back when he was running with C-Webb out in SacTown, son Mike was as good as any PG in the Association.

5 – Jimmy Walker – Jalen Rose: Jimmy “Sky” Walker was the 1st player chosen in the 1976 NBA Draft, and went on to play for over a decade. He combined with his son Jalen, who averaged 14 ppg for his career, to average 30 ppg for their careers as a father / son duo. 

4 – Bill Walton – Luke: Bill’s a Hall of Famer, an NBA champion, and a Finals MVP.  Luke’s career hasn’t been nearly as good, but he hasn’t been bad either.  Luke has proven to be a solid role player for the Lakers over most of the last decade, and cashed in a couple rings of his own for his efforts.

3 – Dolph Schayes – Danny: Dolph Shayes is top-50 all-time player, Hall of Famer, and one of the NBA’s founding fathers in a lot of ways.  His son Danny wasn’t as good as the old man, but he played eighteen years of his own in the NBA. You’re pretty good if you play five.

2 – Rick Barry – Brent, Drew, Jon: Technically, Rick and Brent are the first father son duo to win an NBA title, assuming you don’t count the men of Guokas that is.  The Walton’s have since done so as well, but when Brent’s Spurs won they were the first.  Rick Barry (pictured) is an all time great, and one of the top-ten players of his generation, and both Brent and Jon were solid role players in their day as well.  Jon with key part of that “bench mob” out in SacTown, and Brent won the Dunk contest along with posting solid numbers throughout his career.  Certainly a case can be made for Rick and Brent at number one, but I got them at two.  

1 – Joe “Jellybean” Bryant – Kobe:  The way I broke these last two spots down is by thinking about who would win a game of two-on-two between the Bryant’s and the Barry’s.  I concluded that I’d take Jellybean and Kobe in that match-up, even if the Barry’s had Jon subbing in to give either Rick or Brent a breather throughout the course of the game.  Joe Bryant played 8 years in the NBA before eventually playing in the Italian League for a while, and we all know who Kobe is.
Other father son combinations to have appeared in the NBA: Wali Jones – Askia, Press Maravich – Pete, Al McGuire – Allie, George Mikan – Larry, Butch Van Breda Kolff – Jan, Milt Wagner – Dajuan, Scott May – Sean, Patrick Ewing – Patrick, John Lucas – John

Let me know if I missed anybody…happy father’s day all around.

Photo Credits: Wesley Matthews, Rick Barry

About Brendan Bowers

I am the founding editor of StepienRules.com. I am also a content strategist and social media manager with Electronic Merchant Systems in Cleveland. My work has been published in SLAM Magazine, KICKS Magazine, The Locker Room Magazine, Cleveland.com, BleacherReport.com, InsideFacebook.com and elsewhere. I've also written a lot of articles that have been published here.