Is athleticism, including basketball skills, genetically determined? That's a question that has yet to be answered definitively by science. However, the number of successful siblings in the NBA certainly makes quite a compelling argument.
More than 60 sets of brothers have played in the NBA, many of these siblings making a strong mark in the world's premier professional basketball league. The dynamics of such relationships are often interesting, as most of these brothers played in the NBA at the same time but with different teams. It's very natural for people to ask, "Who is the stronger/strongest player between these brothers?" which of course casts a shadow on the "less skilled" sibling.
But brothers will be brothers, and many of the NBA's siblings have maintained strong relationships with each other despite their on-court competition. Besides, with even the least-known NBA players making huge amounts of money, there shouldn't really be a rivalry between siblings who have both made it big.
Here are ten of the most valuable sets of siblings to have ever played in the NBA, their total career salaries adjusted for inflation and indicated in parentheses:
10 Seth and Stephen Curry (Combined Career Salary: $24.5 Million)
Seth has yet to play a game in the NBA, but his big brother's lucrative career as a Golden State Warrior alone was enough to sneak the Curry brothers into this list. Just into his fifth season in the NBA, Stephen Curry has already earned more than $22.5 million, his earnings for the current season contributing more than $9.8 million of that total.
Stephen has more than proven his worth as a point guard, having made the NBA All-Rookie First Team in 2010 and winning the NBA Skills Challenge competition and the NBA's Sportsmanship Award in 2011. Even more amazingly, in the 2012-2013 season, the older of the Curry brothers (by two years) converted 272 three-pointers to set the NBA record for the most threes made in a regular season.
Actually, Seth was set to play with Stephen as a Warrior in the 2013-2014 season when the team picked him up after he was left undrafted. However, he was waived by Golden State in October of 2013 and was acquired by D-League counterpart, the Santa Cruz Warriors. With Santa Cruz, Seth averaged 21.3 points and 7.8 assists - statistics that impressed the Memphis Grizzlies enough to sign him on December 22, 2013.
Brothers Stephen and Seth were undoubtedly influenced by their father, Dell Curry, an NBA player from 1986 to 2002.
9 Kareem and Brandon Rush (Combined Career Salary: $26.2 Million)
Kareem (33) and Brandon (28) Rush have had considerably successful careers as shooting guards. However, while Brandon still plays in the NBA as a member of Utah Jazz, Kareem now languishes in the D-League after unsatisfactory play and a series of injuries slowed down what was a promising start to his professional career.
In 2002, Kareem was drafted by the Toronto Raptors but was traded to the LA Lakers. There, he had a valuable role as a three-point specialist. This turned out to be quite a weapon for the Lakers in the 2003-2004 playoffs where Kareem converted 40% of his three-pointers. Unfortunately, after being traded to the Charlotte Bobcats where he was starting and averaging double-digit points, he strained his MCL and hasn't been the same player since.
Brandon, on the other hand, was selected 13th overall by the Portland Trailblazers in 2008. He was then traded to the Pacers, where he averaged around 25 minutes a game. Like brother Kareem, unfortunately, Brandon injured his knee at an important point in his career. A torn anterior cruciate ligament occurred in November of 2012 and ended his season early.
Brandon returned to the Utah lineup in November of 2013, but the quality of his play has yet to return to his pre-injury levels.
8 Robin and Brook Lopez (Combined Career Salary: $63 Million)
Robin and Brook Lopez may be identical twins, but they actually play quite differently. Brook, who was selected five places ahead of his brother during the 2008 Rookie Draft, is more of an offensive, low-post player. On the other hand, Robin has developed into more of a defensive threat, dominating the boards and racking up blocks. It can hardly be denied, however, that Brook's star is shining much brighter than Robin's.
Brook, for instance, has already played in an All-Star Game after replacing the injured Rajon Rondo on the East's roster in 2013. In contrast, Robin has struggled to keep himself healthy, resulting in at least fifteen missed games in each of his first four seasons.
However, their fortunes seem to have switched. Recently, Robin has been racking up 15 rebounds a game, while Brook has been confirmed not to return this season due to a fractured foot.
7 Dominique and Gerald Wilkins (Combined Career Salary: $63.8 Million)
Who wouldn't remember Dominique Wilkins, the long-time Atlanta Hawk who was a nine-time NBA All-Star, the 1986 scoring champion, a two-time NBA Slam Dunk Contest champion (1985, 1990) and an inductee into the Basketball Hall of Fame? Probably very few basketball fans. After all, it would be difficult to forget the player dubbed "The Human Highlight Film".
It's probably not as widely known, however, that Dominique had a brother three years his junior who also played in the NBA. Unfortunately, his sibling Gerald didn't reach the same heights as his big brother. Gerald did, however, play 13 seasons in the NBA, averaging 10 or more points per game in 10 of those seasons.
As a fitting end to both brothers' careers, Dominique and Gerald played together for the Orlando Magic during the 1998-1999 season.
6 Jarron and Jason Collins (Combined Career Salary: $68.8 Million)
Perhaps unfairly, history will likely only remember Jason Collins as the first active male professional athlete in a major North American team sport to publicly come out as gay. Buried under that fact is how he has played 12 long years in the NBA. Likely also appearing only as a footnote is how twin brothers Jason and Jarron are one of the most valuable sibling pairs to have ever played in the NBA.
The truth is, however, that in terms of their basketball statistics the brothers have never really made a huge impact in the league. In 2011, Jarron retired with career averages of 3.9 ppg and 2.9 rpg, while the now 35-year-old Jason is still looking for a new playing contract after averaging 3.6 ppg and 3.8 rpg in his 2012-2013 season with the Boston Celtics.
5 Mark and Brent Price (Combined Career Salary: $77.3 Million)
Both Mark and Brent Price had long careers in the NBA, but it was older brother Mark who put together the superior basketball resumé. Mark was known as one of the league's most consistent shooters in his playing years from 1986 to 1998. He finished his career averaging 90.4% from the free throw line and 40% from beyond the arc. In fact, during the 1998-1999 season, Mark became the second player (after the legendary Larry Bird) to join the NBA's 50-40-90 Club (50% from the field, 40% from three-point range, and 90% from the free throw line in a single season). Furthermore, he also won the Three Point Contest twice and was a four-time All-Star.
Brent, meanwhile, in his nine years of play in the NBA, averaged only 5.9 ppg. However, in the 1995-1996 season, he managed to rank 6th in the league in three-point field goal percentage with a .426 rating.
4 Jon, Drew, and Brent Barry (Combined Career Salary: $105.3 Million)
If there are three basketball siblings who would best exemplify "good, better, best", it would be the Barry brothers.
"Good" would be Drew, the youngest, who played only three seasons in the NBA where he averaged 10 minutes and 2.2 points per game.
"Better" would be Jon, the eldest, who played fourteen long seasons in the NBA, highlighted by a couple of playoff runs and some superb games. For example, in the deciding game of the first round of the 2002 NBA Playoffs, Jon, a Piston at that time, scored 12 first-half points in 3 minutes against the Toronto Raptors.
"Best" would be Brent, who played 14 years in the NBA, where he made his mark as a serviceable passer and three-point-shooter. In fact, he is currently 13th on the list of players with most three-pointers made. Brent also won championships with the Spurs in 2005 and 2007 and the 1996 Slam Dunk Contest via his one-handed dunk from the free throw line. That was the first time a white player had won the dunking competition.
The three brothers are sons of basketball hall-of-famer Rick Barry.
3 Tom and Dick Van Arsdale (Combined Career Salary: $112.6 Million)
The Van Arsdale twins were both selected in the second round of the 1965 NBA Draft, Dick by New York and Tom by Detroit. That same season, the twins found themselves in the All-Star Rookie Team, proof of how well they had fit into their teams and a preview of how well they were going to do in their long, colourful twelve-year NBA careers.
Dan was a three-time All-Star and was, throughout his stay in the NBA, one of the best free throw shooters. Not surprisingly, Tom was also a three-time All-Star and was also fantastic from behind the free throw line. Tom, however, also has the regrettable distinction of having played the most career games and scored the most points without making an NBA playoff appearance.
In the last year of their careers in 1977, the twins played together for the Phoenix Suns.
2 Harvey and Horace Grant (Combined Career Salary: $142.9 Million)
Horace is clearly the more accomplished of the Grant twins. After being drafted as the 10th overall pick by the Chicago Bulls in 1987, the 6-foot, 10-inch power forward/center moved from being a backup to Charles Oakley to starring in the first five. There, Horace, with Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, formed one of the league's best trios winning three consecutive NBA championships (1990-1993). Then, after joining the Magic and being traded to Seattle, then Los Angeles, Horace helped the Lakers defend their title in 2001.
Harvey, on the other hand, made his own waves by playing 11 long years in the NBA and averaging at least 18 ppg in three different seasons. He was also the runner-up for the 1991 NBA Most Improved Player Award.
1 Pau and Marc Gasol (Combined Career Salary: $232 Million)
When Marc and Pau play together as members of the Spanish national basketball squad, they produce some impressive results: 2 FIBA European Championships, 1 FIBA World Championship and 2 Olympic silver finishes. In the NBA, however, the brothers play separately, even being traded for each other in 2008.
Marc has so far spent all six seasons of his NBA career with the Memphis Grizzlies. There, he has made his mark as a defensive juggernaut, being named an All-Star in 2012 and the NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 2013.
The older Pau, meanwhile, is on his sixth season with the Lakers after spending seven with the Memphis Grizzlies. He has been named an All-Star twice and has won two NBA championships (2009, 2010).
As has been the case for the past few years, Pau has recently been the subject of trade talks, reviving speculation that he may end up playing on the same team as his brother Marc. Considering how well they play together, that prospect is a pretty scary one for the rest of the NBA.