Atheist Basketball Players: Exploring the Presence of Non-Believers on the Court

The article delves into the presence of atheist and agnostic professional basketball players in the NBA, highlighting players like Yao Ming and Manu Ginobili who have openly identified as atheists, while noting the challenges some face in expressing their non-religious beliefs due to public scrutiny, contrasting them with the more publicly vocal Christian basketball superstars such as Stephen Curry and Lebron James.

Many NBA celebrities identify with different religions and faiths. Some profess to Christianity, some to Islam and other religions. But are there atheist basketball players? And are there professional basketball players who are agnostic?

The post focuses on the atheist NBA players and the faith of various basketball superstars.

All About Atheist and Agnostic

An atheist doesn’t believe in the existence of God or gods. On the other hand, an agnostic person neither believes in existence nor disbelieves the existence of deities.

Why Are Some NBA Players Not Ready to Declare They Are Atheists or Agnostic?

About 63 percent of Americans profess the Christian faith. And when you play in the NBA, you become a public figure susceptible to praise or ridicule.

At the same time, about 40 percent of Americans believe non-religious groups ( including agnostics and Atheists) are problematic in society.

For that reason, it may not be easy to publicly identify with atheist or agnostic groups. The public closely monitors the lifestyle of NBA superstars.

So, fear of public ridicule forces some professional basketball players to remain silent about their religious beliefs.

Which NBA Players are Atheist or Agnostic?

However, despite the hatred towards non-religious groups, there are NBA players who are atheists and have declared their stand.

Here are atheist professional basketball players:

Manu Ginobili

Emanuel David Ginóbili, otherwise known as Manu Ginobili, is a famous NBA superstar of all time and is said to be an atheist. Although he was born in Argentina, Ginobili has dual citizenship in Italy and Argentina. Ginobili played for the Argentine basketball team.

During his professional career from 1995 to 2018, the shooting guard realized numerous achievements. Besides other awards, he was a four times NBA champion, twice NBA All-Star, and the top shooting guard in NBA history.

Yao Ming

Yao Ming formerly played for the Houston Rockets (NBA) and Shanghai Sharks (Chinese Basketball Association, CBA). With a towering height of 7.6 ft, Yao Ming counts some of the tallest basketball players.

The NBA superstar had a successful career in the NBA from 2002 to 2011. And during that period, he achieved the position of NBA All-Star 8 times.

Besides being a former NBA player, he is also an executive of the Chinese basketball association. Further, Yao Ming identifies with the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.


Which NBA Players Are Christians?

Although few NBA superstars officially identify as atheists, many publicly profess to the Christian faith.

Some of those include the following;

  • Stephen Curry – In many interviews, Curry often mentions Christ
  • Lebron James – Also mentions faith and calls God “The Greater Man Upstairs”
  • Kevin Durant – He even once had a tattoo that bears quotes from the book of James
  • Kyler Korver – His life centers majorly on two things; basketball and Christ.

Others also include Jeremy Lin, Emmanuel Mudiay, Dwight Howard, and Blake Griffin.

Who Are Muslims in the NBA?

Many professional basketball players identify with the Islam religion.

A few such players include;

  • Kyrie Irving (Brooklyn Nets)
  • Jaylen Brown (Bolton Celtics)
  • Omer Yurtseven (Miami Heat)
  • Dennis Schroder (Los Angeles Lakers)

Does Religion Play an Integral Role in the NBA?

Considering many basketball players identify with a religion and some teams even have Chaplains, faith seems to play a certain role in the NBA.

But it’s hard to pinpoint how religion influences the success of most NBA superstars. However, some NBA celebrities affirm that their faith is influential to the success of their careers.

Such players include the following:

  • Stephen Curry
  • Kobe Bryant
  • LeBron James
  • Jonathan Isaac

Parting Shot on Atheist Basketball Players

Very few basketball celebrities openly admit to being atheists. Examples of atheist NBA players include Yao Ming and Manu Ginobili. Some celebrities resort to being numb about their faith.

However, others such as Stephen Curry, Lebron James, and Jeremy Lin have on several occasions professed their Christianity.

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