Who Was the First NBA Player to Star in a Movie?

Basketball and movies are two of the most popular forms of entertainment in the world. Both have captivated audiences for decades, and when the two come together, it’s often a recipe for success. In this article, we’ll answer the question – Who was the first NBA player to star in a movie?

Before NBA Players Became Movie Stars

Before we dive into who the first NBA player to star in a movie was, let’s take a quick look at some of the most famous basketball movies of all time. “Hoosiers” (1986), “White Men Can’t Jump” (1992), “He Got Game” (1998), and “Coach Carter” (2005) are just a few examples of movies that have centered around basketball.

The First NBA Player to Star in a Movie

The first NBA player to star in a movie was none other than Wilt Chamberlain. Chamberlain made his acting debut in 1967’s “A Man Called Adam,” which starred Sammy Davis Jr., Ossie Davis, and Cicely Tyson.

In the film, Chamberlain plays an aspiring trumpet player named Atlas who is mentored by Davis Jr.’s character. The movie didn’t receive great reviews from critics, but it did give Chamberlain a chance to showcase his acting chops.

Other NBA Players Who Have Starred in Movies

Since Chamberlain’s debut on the big screen, many other NBA players have followed suit. Some notable examples include:

  • Shaquille O’Neal – Shaq has appeared in several movies throughout his career, including “Kazaam” (1996) and “Blue Chips” (1994).
  • Michael Jordan – MJ starred in “Space Jam” (1996), which remains one of the most beloved sports movies of all time.
  • LeBron James – LeBron has appeared in several movies as well, including “Trainwreck” (2015) and “Smallfoot” (2018).

The Future of NBA Players in Movies

It’s clear that NBA players have found success on the big screen over the years. As basketball continues to grow in popularity around the world, we can expect to see more and more players follow in Chamberlain’s footsteps.

In fact, there are already a few NBA players who are making waves in Hollywood. Kyrie Irving starred in “Uncle Drew” (2018), a comedy based on his popular Pepsi commercials. And Steph Curry is set to star in “Breakthrough,” a biographical drama set to release in 2021.


Wilt Chamberlain was the first NBA player to star in a movie, paving the way for countless other players to follow. While some have been more successful than others, it’s clear that basketball and movies will continue to be intertwined for years to come.