Back in the
’80s and ’90s, NBA posters covered every basketball fan’s wall, door, and school locker. You repped your favorite player with a classicly, sports-creative poster displayed with the help of thumbtacks, sticky putty, or (if you were really trying to show off) you framed it and hung it properly on the wall, like an adult. No matter who your favorite NBA star is, the posters on this list are hands down the greatest ever created. Not only are they classically vintage, but they capture the game in a simple, funny, and entertaining way that has been lost in modern fandom.
Cover Photo: iland19 (Getty Images)
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NBA Vintage Posters
Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant
This one isn't as well known as many of the others on this list, but it's still a classic, featuring Michael Jordan in his prime defending Kobe during his ascension to the top of his game. The real significance with this poster is the moment in time that it represents and the relationship between Kobe and Jordan. Kobe openly admits to emulating Jordan early in his career, so this is almost a passing-of-the-torch moment in the NBA.
The Celtics Big Three
Larry Bird, Robert Parrish, and Kevin McHale held the torch of greatness that was the Celtics for a full decade. These three Hall of Famers lead the Celtics to three NBA Championships and kept the Celtic pride tradition as sharp as it ever was.
Vinnie 'The Microwave' Johnson
Quite possibly the greatest sports nickname of all time, Vinnie Johnson came off the bench for the Pistons and had one thing on his mind: get buckets. He was nicknamed "The Microwave" because he heated up quicker than anyone else in the NBA.
George 'The Iceman' Gervin
The coolest and smoothest player to ever set foot on the court, George Gervin won four straight scoring titles, had five All-NBA First Team selections, and was a nine-time All-Star. Only Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain won more scoring titles during their careers than "The Iceman."
Karl 'The Mailman' Malone
The '80s were all about nicknames on posters, as you can see from this list. Karl Malone got the nickname "The Mailman" because he always delivered whenever you needed him to. He was a two-time league MVP, 14-time All-Star, and selected to the All-NBA First Team 11 times. Malone even has a bronzed statue of his likeness outside of the EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah, which makes him one of the few non-Mormons to be noticed by anyone in Utah.
Patrick Ewing 'Madison Square Guardian'
We all love a good pun, especially when it comes to names of famous arenas. The mecca of hoops (NYC) stood tall when Patrick Ewing was leading Spike Lee's beloved Knickerbockers to multiple playoff runs, and two NBA Finals appearances. The only problem for Ewing and company was that Michael Jordan was playing for the Bulls during exactly the same time, making it virtually impossible to get out of the Eastern Conference. In fact, the only chance Ewing got at a ring was when Jordan "retired" ('93-94 and '99) and the Knicks had their shot at the Finals, but lost. Ewing was an 11-time All-Star and a two-time inductee into the Hall of Fame, as an individual player and also for his participation on the '92 Olympic team.
James Worthy 'L.A. Law'
"Big Game" James Worthy was a dominant force inside and outside the paint for the "Showtime" Lakers in the '80s. Worthy was a three-time NBA Champion, seven-time All-Star, and the 1988 Finals MVP. And this Hall of Famer had one of the all-time greatest posters in NBA history.
Xavier 'X-Man' McDaniel
Before there was the
X-Men movie franchise and subsequent spinoff franchises that seem to never end, there was the original "X-Man," Xavier McDaniel. He wasn't a Hall of Famer, and was only an All-Star once, but he was a fan favorite his whole career due to his thunderous dunks and tough-guy antics. Also, he had one of the all-time great nicknames, so that helped with the poster.
Dale Ellis 'Silent Assassin'
Dale Ellis was another player who isn't very well-known outside of hoop circles. He was a dead-eye shooter from everywhere on the court, nicknaming him as the "Silent Assassin" due to his calm and cool demeanor. He dropped more deep buckets than an old-timey wishing well.
Chuck Person 'Rifleman'
Chuck was yet another '80s and '90s NBA gunner who was more known for his personality than his overall stats or accomplishments. He was the Rookie of the Year in 1987 and averaged 14 points per game for a career, but he was a phenomenal college player at Auburn, where his jersey is retired.
Dominique Wilkins 'The Highlight Zone'
Dominique Wilkins was known as "The Human Highlight Film" during his Hall of Fame career in the NBA. If you liked high-flyers and hard dunkers, Wilkins was the absolute top of the food chain. He historically battled Michael Jordan in several dunk contests, leading to epic showdowns of dunk prowess that are still held in high regard today. Wilkins was a nine-time NBA All-Star, an NBA scoring champion, a Hall of Famer, and had his jersey retired in Atlanta. The man's dunking abilities made him a walking, talking highlight reel waiting to happen.
Darryl Dawkins 'Chocolate Thunder'
If you don't know the name "Chocolate Thunder," then you need to rethink your NBA fandom and start over completely. Darryl Dawkins was probably the NBA's most interestingly eccentric player ever, with a list of unbelievable stories. He was truly a unicorn in a basketball jersey. Here are a few of his highlights: Dawkins was drafted straight out of high school to the NBA (the first player ever to do this), he stood at 6'11", 250 lbs as a 19-year-old, and he chose the NBA over college in order to make enough money to get his family out of poverty. He was given the nickname "Chocolate Thunder" by the incredible musician and pop icon, Stevie Wonder (who never actually saw Dawkins play). Due to his insanely powerful dunks, Dawkins forced the NBA's hand to invent spring-loaded break-away rims after he shattered backboards and tore rims down on two occasions in 1979. He claimed publicly to be an alien from the planet Lovetron, where he spent his off-seasons practicing "interplanetary funkmanship." In addition, he named all of his different types of dunks, which he shared publicly whenever he could. Some of the names were: The Heart Stopper, The Rump Roaster, The Barn Toaster, The Cake Shaker, The Baby Maker, and everyone's favorite...The Turbo Sexophonic Delight.
Michael Jordan 'Wings'
Simply put, this is the greatest player ever and the greatest poster ever. It's simple, it's gorgeous, and it's inspirational. What else do you want from a basketball poster?
Dr. J (Julius Erving)
Dr. J was an aerial craftsman whose paintbrush was the basketball and whose canvas was the unsuspecting defender who dared to jump with him. Crowned the best dunker of all time by some pundits, Julius Erving seemed to walk on air every single night he played. He invented the foul-line dunk, as well as the one-handed windmill dunk. He also had one of the all-time great afros, a perfect blend of talent and style for a great NBA poster.