If you’re a fan of professional sports, then you’re familiar with the term superstar. While watching your favorite NBA team play, you may have even wondered, “what exactly makes a player a superstar?” There’s a lot of debate about what makes a player special and what separates them from other players in the league. Many argue that the word “superstar” is overused, rendering it useless. What’s certain is that there are specific traits that make some players stand out among their peers, including an unrelenting desire to win, a successful brand, and the titles they’ve won during their career. Read on to learn about what separates these great players from the rest. 

What is a Superstar?

Michael Jordan, Lebron James, and Steph Curry are just a few of the names that come to mind when we think of NBA superstars. These players are so talented that an NBA franchise can build its team around them. They are the most elite players in the league, and their acrobatics on the court leave fans spellbound. 

Many NBA fans spend time trying to figure out the odds on whether their favorite teams will win and how much they should bet on a game. Superstars are the types of players that make fans confident in betting on a game because the outcome seems inevitable when they play. Fans who don’t have a lot of experience placing wagers on sports events can take advantage of the free bets many sportsbooks offer to test the water before going all-in.

Identifying the league’s superstars makes it easier to determine which teams have the best odds of winning. For example, the Golden State Warriors, led by Steph Curry, have the second-best record in the league. When Curry and his teammates step on the court, there’s a good chance they’re going to win. 

Superstars lead their teams to win championships. Winning an NBA championship with one of the league’s best by your side is challenging, but it’s next to impossible for teams to win an NBA title without a superstar on the roster. When games are close, the teams turn to them for clutch shots. They are the face of the franchise, and it’s rare for a team to have more than one superstar in a decade. 

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A Superstar is Born

NBA superstars are created based on their on-court ability, but their off-court behavior has a significant impact on how high their star rises. When they manage their brand correctly, these players become media darlings, with the world following their every move. Fans love them because they have led their team to victory and breathed new life into their franchise. 

“Public figure” and “celebrity” are two of the many hats that superstar NBA players wear. A player needs charisma in addition to on-court skills to rise to this elite status within the NBA. There’s no lack of opportunity for a superstar to promote himself. Skilled players are handed opportunities for interviews, commercial appearances, or in-game celebrations when they make a game-winning shot. The best superstars have an undeniable likeability factor that keeps fans coming back for more. 

High Profile Players

As the NBA celebrates its 75th anniversary this season, its attention has turned to commemorating past and present champions. A good way to identify a superstar is by the number of endorsements the player has and how often they appear in NBA materials. You can also look at their jersey sales to get an idea of one player’s popularity. After all, average players don’t sell a lot of jerseys. 

For a player to go beyond star status and reach the superstar level, they need to appear in nationally televised games. Christmas Day matchups almost always feature teams led by superstars. The two teams with the best records in the NBA faced off against each other during the NBA’s 2021 Christmas Day game—the Golden State Warriors led by Steph Curry and the Phoenix Suns led by Chris Paul. The four other Christmas games also featured some of the best teams and marquee players. These games are opportunities for superstars to showcase their talents to the world.

NBA Player Classifications

Not every NBA player has what it takes to be a superstar. In fact, most will never reach the level of performance necessary to rank among the best players in the league. However, that doesn’t mean they aren’t important to the NBA or their teams. If you’ve ever watched the US Olympic basketball team play, you know that having a star-studded roster doesn’t guarantee results. One superstar is usually enough for most teams to become championship contenders. The rest of the players play backup. Here we take a look at the different player classifications in the NBA. 

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Star

Not quite a superstar but much better than the average player, the star is more than a role player, but his job isn’t to lead the team. Stars are playmakers who consistently put up great numbers through rebounding, assists, or blocks. They rarely make it to the all-star game, and their fans often believe they deserve more recognition from the league. 

Franchise

These players are the backbone of any team and are often synonymous with superstars. Franchises build their teams around these players, and they frequently lead their teams in scoring or assists. Their teammates look to them for guidance, and they act as a role model to younger players. They keep their composure when refs make bad calls and are the first to dive to the floor for a loose ball. 

Elite

Give these players a basketball, and they’ll perform regardless of the composition of the team or their teammates. Most players get into a groove with a specific franchise and need some time to adjust when traded to a new team. Elite players hit the ground running and lift a mediocre team to new heights. Retired NBA player Charles Barkley is an example of an elite player breathing new life into a team. When he joined the Phoenix Suns in 1992, they hadn’t been to the NBA finals since 1976. Barkley led the Suns to the best record in the NBA and the NBA finals. They fell to Michael Jordan and the Bulls in the end, but the Barkley era shows how quickly an elite player can turn a team around.