Top 20 Bald NBA Players of All-Time
Basketball players take their place on the court sporting a wide variety of hairstyles. Some of the best donned a large afro, while others preferred dreadlocks or a regulation cut. Then there are those that have stood out in the NBA shaved or bald as a cue ball.
Perhaps this made them quicker up and down the court, or easier to wipe away the sweat that builds up from extensive physical activity up and down the court.
No matter the reason, the shaved head or bald head look has been the trademark of some of the top players in league history.
Let’s look at the top 20 bald players in NBA history, listed in chronological order.
Although not completely bald, most of Thurmond’s head remained uncovered during his career which spanned from 1963 through 1976.
Thurmond was a consistent force on the boards and a steady scorer while playing for the Warriors, Bulls, and Cavaliers. In 962 NBA games, Thurmond averaged 15 points and 15 rebounds per contest.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks out of UCLA, where he won three NCAA Championships. He won his first NBA title with the Bucks in 1971 and went on to win five more NBA titles while playing for the Lakers from 1975 through 1989.
Jabbar was the league’s all-time leading scorer for nearly four decades before being passed recently by LeBron James. NBA defenders couldn’t slow down Jabbar’s sky hook, which is probably the hardest to defend in league history.
World B. Free
Another player that wasn’t completely bald, Free has the best name on the list. Originally Lloyd B. Free, World never met a shot he didn’t like. At 6’ 2” he was fearless going to the basket and was a threat to launch a high-arching bomb after getting past midcourt.
Free averaged over 20 points per game during his 13-year career and would have thrived even more in today’s era where the three-point shot is prominent.
Scott was a member of the Lakers team that won three NBA titles playing with the likes of Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Magic Johnson, and James Worthy.
A strong outsider shooter and tough defensive player, Scott averaged 15 points per game in 11 seasons with the Lakers, including a career-best 21.7 points per game in 1987-88. Although never named to an all-star team, Scott’s contributions were key to the Lakers’ success.
In the conversation as the greatest player in NBA history, Jordan has arguably carried the bald look better than any basketball player to set foot on a court.
He won the NBA title six times, was a 14-time All-Star, a tenacious defender, and a 10-time scoring champion with a career scoring average of 30.1 points per game. Jordan found his rightful place in the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009.
The younger generation might only know Barkley from his appearance on tv, but he was one of the top power forwards in NBA history. Starting his career under the wings of Julius Erving and Moses Malone, Barkley averaged 23 points and 11 rebounds with the 76ers.
He led the Phoenix Suns to the 1993 NBA Finals, winning league MVP. Barkley was a member of the 1992 Olympic Dream team and averaged 22 points and 11.7 rebounds per game for his career and is a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Malone was part of one of the best guard/forward duos in NBA history, teaming with John Stockton. His physical presence early in his career caused nightmares for inside defenders, and he developed a jumper later in his career causing double trouble.
Malone was a 14-time All-Star, 4-time All-Defensive Team member, and 2-time NBA MVP. He averaged 25 points and 10 rebounds over 19 NBA seasons and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010.
Miller was one of the best pure shooters in league history, working his way around screens to get a plethora of great looks from long-range.
A 5-time All-Star, Miller led the league in free throw percentage five times, hit 2560 three-point shots, and averaged 18 points per game over an 18-year career. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011.
Payton was extremely tenacious defensively, making life miserable for point guards during the 1990s. He played physically with swagger for 13 seasons in Seattle.
A 2nd-round draft pick, Payton was All-Defensive Team nine times, and Defensive Player of the Year in 1995-96. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013.
Garnett was one of the most complete players in the NBA during much of his 21-year NBA career. He began his career in 1996 with the Minnesota Timberwolves and made 10 All-Star teams during his first 12 seasons with the team.
Garnett went on to make 5 All-Star teams with the Celtics and an NBA title in 2008 before finishing his Hall of Fame career with the Nets and back with the Timberwolves.
O’Neal was a force during the 1990s with the Orlando Magic but was the key force behind the Lakers’ 3 consecutive NBA titles during the early 2000s. He also helped the Heat win their first NBA title in 2005-06.
O’Neal was a 15-time All-Star and averaged 23.7 points and 10.9 rebounds over a two-decade Hall of Fame career.
Kidd didn’t always don the bald look, as he sported a dyed blonde hairstyle early. His best years came with a shaved or completely bald head, helping the Nets to consecutive NBA Finals.
Kidd eventually won an NBA title late in his career with the Dallas Mavericks. A 10-time All-Star and 9-time All-Defensive Team member, Kidd was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2018.
Bryant was a dominant force in the NBA through the 2000s but didn’t go bald until the latter part of his career. He won 5 NBA titles and was an 18-time All-Star, who averaged 25 points over a two-decade career, all with the Lakers.
Bryant went out with a flourish, scoring 60 in his final game. Bryant passed away tragically on January 26, 2020, and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame later that year.
Allen played his first seven seasons in the NBA with the Milwaukee Bucks but didn’t completely embrace the bald look until later in his career with the Seattle SuperSonics, Boston Celtics, and Miami Heat.
Allen was one of the best long-range shooters in league history. He made 10 All-Star teams and averaged 18.9 points over a Hall of Fame career spanning 18 seasons.
While not sporting a completely bald look during his college days and early NBA days with the Oklahoma City Thunder, his hair was very short.
He embraced the bald look later on and has been a multi-faceted player, averaging a triple-double five times. Westbrook is in his 15th NBA season with averages of 22.4 points and 8.4 assists per game.
In early February of 2023, LeBron James dethroned Kareem Adbul-Jabbar as the all-time leading scorer in NBA history. For much of his career, James’ hairline has been receding, and now in his later years, has gone with the completely bald look.
His place among the top players in NBA history is without question, and some argue that he is the greatest player in league history.
Fournier has played for four teams over a 12-year NBA career. Currently, with the New York Knicks, Fournier is an ample scoring threat, now coming off the bench.
He had his more productive seasons with the Orlando Magic, averaging 16 points per game over seven seasons.
Middleton has quietly become one of the best scorers in the league, playing in the shadows of teammate Giannis Antetokounmpo.
A 3-time All-Star, Middleton has averaged at least 20 points per game three times. The 31-year-old forward remains a key part of the Bucks, who won the NBA title in 2021.
Caruso was a key defensive factor for the Lakers when they won the NBA title in 2020. Now in his second season with the Chicago Bulls, the 29-year-old guard remains one of the most tenacious defenders in the NBA.
Tucker has played for six NBA teams over his 14-year NBA career. Known as a strong defensive power forward, Tucker won an NBA title in 2021 and is in this first season with the Philadelphia 76ers.
His bald dome makes him look even more ferocious on the defensive end.
Why do NBA players go bald?
Some NBA players are bald simply due to genetics and decide to shave their heads. This will hide their hair loss. Demanding training schedules and the stress it puts on the body could enhance hair loss.
Players go bald for a variety of reasons and some just like their new style of the bald dome. It’s also easy to maintain and easy to wipe the sweat off a bald head instead of having sweat-drenched hair.
Do NBA players have to shave?
NBA players don’t have to shave. If they did, every player in the league would have a bald head. NBA players will choose to shave their heads as well as legs, arms, and sometimes armpits.
The choice is entirely on the player whether to go with a shaved head look or sport a hairstyle.
Those are our top picks for 20 bold NBA players. Let us know if you think we should have included anyone.