Can You Identify These Legendary ’80s NBA Players From an Image?


By: Gavin Thagard

7 Min Quiz

Image: NBA

About This Quiz

By the end of the '70s, the NBA was on a decline because of what many considered boring team play, with only a few stars to really captivate audiences. Sure, there were some great moments, like when the Los Angeles Lakers won 33 games in a row or when an injured Willis Reed inspired the New York Knicks to a victory in Game 7 of the Finals, but those moments were few and far between. In the '80s, those rare highlights would become common, season in and season out.

The NBA at the start of the '80s was still quite regionalized, as only a few teams received national coverage. For example, the rivalry between the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers was always must-see television. After all, each team contained rosters filled with the best players in the game, and combined they took home eight of the possible 10 NBA titles throughout the decade. But there were also other players starting to make names for themselves in the '80s, one of which would go on to dominate the '90s almost singlehandedly.

Are you prepared to test your knowledge of the legends who stepped on the basketball court during the '80s? From champions to individual award winners, this quiz covers them all. Get started and see if your retro basketball knowledge is on par with other NBA fans.

Few players in NBA history were as clutch as which NBA Hall of Famer shown here?

No NBA legend is more synonymous with the '80s than Larry Bird, who made nine straight All-Star Games between 1980 and 1988. The only reason he missed the All-Star Game in 1989 was because he was injured, only playing in six games that season.


One of the best passers to ever step on the court, is this a player you recognize?

Earvin "Magic" Johnson led the "Showtime" Lakers throughout the '80s, winning five NBA titles during the decade. In those five victories, Johnson was named the NBA Finals MVP three times, including during his rookie season.


Do you know this player who made playing above the rim cool in the NBA?

Julius Erving, nicknamed "Dr. J," was already an established NBA star when the '80s rolled around, but that didn't stop him from proving he was still one of the best players in the game until he retired in 1987. Erving even won the NBA MVP in 1981, after averaging 24.6 points and eight rebounds.


The leader of the "Bad Boy" Pistons, who is this?

Though he could score when he needed to, Isiah Thomas was more about getting his teammates involved than putting up points. He finished his career averaging 9.3 assists per game, including a league high 13.9 assists in the 1984-85 season.


Can you identify this NBA champion who humiliated the opposition in the post?

Kevin McHale spent the first half of his career primarily coming off the bench for the Boston Celtics. He thrived in this role, however, twice being named the NBA Sixth Man of the Year before becoming a starter in 1985.


What's the name of this legend who was never afraid to express his opinion, on or off the basketball court?

Charles Barkley was only beginning his career in the '80s, but he sure made a splash before the decade came to a close. Not only did he make three NBA All-Star Games, but Barkley also led the league in rebounds during the 1987 season, earning the nickname "The Round Mound of Rebound."


This NBA legend had a career that lasted 20 seasons, extending across three decades. Who is he?

Arguably the greatest player to ever step on the basketball court, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was the ultimate champion. Not only did he win six NBA championships with two different teams, but he also won three NCAA championships while playing at UCLA.


How well do you know this basketball star who was part of the legendary "Phi Slama Jama" in college, before he joined the NBA?

After entering the league in 1983, Clyde Drexler played for the Portland Trail Blazers every year throughout the '80s. The team honored his contributions by retiring his No. 22 a few years after he left the game.


Nicknamed "The Human Highlight Film," which legend do you see here?

Even though Dominique Wilkins never won an NBA championship, fans still came to the games just to watch him play. Anytime Wilkins was on the court, he was sure to put on a spectacle, with highflying dunks that were way ahead of their time.


Do you recognize this player who won the 1983 Finals MVP?

When Moses Malone joined the Philadelphia 76ers in 1982, he knew the team was destined for greatness, claiming that they would go undefeated during the postseason. He was almost right, as the 76ers only lost one game on their way to an NBA title.


Have you been watching the NBA long enough to identify this Hall of Fame center?

Hakeem Olajuwon wasn't just an offensive star but made sure he put the effort in on defense as well, which is why he won two NBA Defensive Player of the Year awards in the '90s. However, he was already showing signs of his defensive prowess in the '80s, making three NBA All-Defensive Teams during the decade.


Are you familiar with this MVP caliber player who was dominant from the moment he entered the NBA in 1984?

Michael Jordan wouldn't really take off until the '90s, but he was still one of the biggest stars of the '80s after he was drafted third overall in the 1984 NBA Draft. He went on to win the Rookie of the Year award, while also making the NBA All-Star Game in his first NBA season.


Select the name of this player who was a huge part of the Lakers dynasty in the '80s?

A three time NBA champion, James Worthy had his best Finals performance in 1988. In the series, Worthy averaged a series high 22 points and added 7.4 rebounds to take home the Finals MVP.


Can you identify this physical center who was a monster on the boards?

At 7 feet 2 inches, Artis Gilmore towered over even fellow NBA players, which gave him an advantage on the boards. When Gilmore left the NBA in 1988, he had a career average of 12.3 rebounds per game.


Racking up double-doubles was common for which legend shown here?

Jack Sikma went to the first six All-Star Games in the '80s while playing with the Seattle SuperSonics. Despite his individual efforts, the team struggled in the playoffs, and he requested a trade in 1986. Sikma wouldn't make another All-Star Game after he was traded.


This star played more regular season games than anyone in league history. Who is he?

Robert Parish knew how to close games out, not necessarily by scoring, but instead by securing key rebounds and playing tough defense. His clutch play helped the Boston Celtics win three NBA titles in the '80s. Oh, and he played in a record 1,611 regular season games.


Are you able to identify this star who became notorious for his physical play and intentional fouls?

Bill Laimbeer was one of the defining players for the Detroit Pistons when they won back-to-back titles in 1989 and 1990. Because Laimbeer was an important part of those championship teams, the Pistons retired No. 40 to honor him.


Are you familiar with this legendary guard who played both ends of the court on a nightly basis?

Dennis Johnson won the final championship of the '70s with the Seattle SuperSonics, but that wouldn't be his final championship as an NBA player. Johnson joined the Boston Celtics in 1983, where he won a title in his first season with the Celtics and another one in 1986.


Can you name the NBA point guard who led the Philadelphia 76ers throughout the '80s?

When Maurice Cheeks finished his NBA career in 1993, he was the all-time leader in steals, racking up 2,310 steals before he retired. He has since been passed by four other players, but Cheeks' effort on defense is a big reason he was named to the Hall of Fame.


How familiar are you with this player who was a huge part of the Detroit Pistons' success in the late '80s?

Joe Dumars wasn't the greatest scorer, only averaging over 20 points three times in his career. However, that didn't stop him from dominating on the defensive side of the ball, being named to five All-Defensive Teams before he retired.


Few players could put the ball in the hoop quite like "The Iceman." What's his real name?

George Gervin was a four time NBA scoring champion, with two of those titles coming in the early '80s. He earned his final scoring title in 1982, after averaging 32.3 points per game. Gervin finished his NBA career averaging 26.2 points per game.


Who is this gifted forward who could score with the best of them?

Adrian Dantley twice led the NBA in scoring during the '80s. The first time he accomplished this was in 1981, when he put up 30.7 points per game, and he did it again in 1984 by averaging 30.6 points per game.


Can you identify this dominant big man who was named to the All-Star Game during his rookie season in 1986?

Taken by the New York Knicks, Patrick Ewing was the first pick in the 1985 NBA Draft — and for good reason. In his first NBA season, Ewing averaged 20 points and nine rebounds, earning him the NBA Rookie of the Year award.


Does this Hall of Fame player have a face you recognize?

Nate Archibald won the only NBA championship of his career in 1981 with the Boston Celtics. In the series, Archibald played off the other stars on the team, averaging 15.6 points per game to help the Celtics take home the title.


Can you identify this NBA legend who was great despite being hampered by injuries throughout much of his career?

Bill Walton never played a full season in the NBA due to injuries, but he was still a valuable player, particularly in the '80s, when he came off the bench for the Boston Celtics. After helping the Celtics win a title in 1986, Walton was named the NBA Sixth Man of the Year.


Who is this player that finished off the '80s with an NBA title?

Mark Aguirre had a stellar college career at DePaul University, where he won several awards, including being named the College Player of the Year in 1981 by Sporting News. After entering the 1981 NBA Draft, Aguirre was taken with the first overall pick.


Is this scoring champion from 1985 a player you're familiar with?

If Bernard King could do anything throughout his NBA career, it was scoring the basketball, averaging 22.5 points per game during his career. His personal best season was in 1984 to 85, when he won the scoring title by putting up 32.9 points per game.


Do you know this star who could grab rebounds, score and play defense?

Larry Nance wasn't the greatest shooter in the NBA throughout the '80s, but he could dunk the ball with the best of them. He showed off his dunking abilities in the 1984 Slam Dunk Contest, becoming the first person to take home the trophy.


The stepback was a move popularized by which player shown here?

Kiki VanDeWeghe had a gift for getting his team to the playoffs, but he couldn't ever finish the job. Despite making the playoffs 12 of his 13 seasons in the league, VanDeWeghe never won an NBA championship.


Are you familiar with this big man who was putting up over 20 points and 10 rebounds in his rookie season?

After Ralph Sampson was taken with the first overall pick in 1983, there were high expectations for the 7-feet-4-inch center. He lived up to those expectations throughout most of the '80s, until injuries forced him to miss more and more time on the court.


What's the name of this player who was one of the early members of the "Showtime" Lakers?

Norm Nixon was part of the "Showtime" Lakers team that won the 1982 NBA championship. During that run, Nixon was one of the best scorers on the team, averaging 20.4 points throughout the playoffs.


Do you recognize this player who was the third overall pick in 1981?

After being drafted out of Maryland with the third pick in the 1981 NBA Draft, Buck Williams went on to win the NBA Rookie of the Year award. In his rookie season, Williams averaged 15.5 points and 12.3 rebounds while playing in all 82 games.


One of the biggest stars to ever play for the Dallas Mavericks, who is this?

Before entering the NBA in 1981, Rolando Blackman played college basketball at Kansas State, where he was the Big Eight Player of the Year in 1980. After being drafted with the ninth pick in the 1981 NBA Draft, he became the first player from Panama to play in the NBA.


Can you identify this forward who became a legend for the Denver Nuggets in the '80s?

A prolific scorer, Alex English is one of the greatest players to ever step on the court for the Denver Nuggets, which is why the team retired his No. 2. While playing for the Nuggets, English consistently put up over 20 points per game, though he never walked away with a championship.


Name this star who spent the prime of his career with the Phoenix Suns?

In 1983, Walter Davis had one of the greatest NBA games of all time, when he scored 34 points without missing a shot. To accomplish this, Davis made 15 straight field goals and added four straight free throws.


Do you recognize this player who opened up the '80s by winning a championship?

Jamaal Wilkes won three titles in the first half of the '80s with the "Showtime" Lakers. Though he wasn't the star of the team, Wilkes always made an impact either by rebounding or scoring when the moment called for it.


Can you name this player who finished his career in 1989 with the Boston Celtics?

Otis Birdsong played his best basketball in the 1980-81 season with the Kansas City Kings. After averaging 24.6 points, Birdsong was elected to both the All-Star Game and the All-NBA Second Team, his only All-NBA selection.


A four time All-Star in the '80s, who is this?

Despite still playing good basketball, Micheal Ray Richardson left the NBA permanently following the 1986 season, due to a drug policy violation. He later had the option to return but decided to remain in Europe because he thought the policy was unfair.


How well do you know this star who wore No. 8 throughout his NBA career?

Marques Johnson had the best seasons of his career with the Milwaukee Bucks, where he made four of his five All-Star Games. His last All-Star Game came in 1986 as a member of the Los Angeles Clippers, which was the final season he averaged over 20 points per game.


This NBA legend smothered the opposition on the defensive side of the ball. Who is he?

Sidney Moncrief was so gifted on the defensive side of the ball that the NBA gave him the very first NBA Defensive Player of the Year award in 1983. He received the award again a year later, showing the importance of a two-way player for a team.


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