Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors raises the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy after defeating the Boston Celtics 103-90 in Game Six of the 2022 NBA Finals at TD Garden on June 16, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. Elsa/Getty Images


  • The NBA had an extremely memorable 2022
  • An offseason of madness, broken records, and on-court greatness shaped much of the NBA's year
  • The Golden State Warriors reclaiming their spot atop the mountain put a definitive exclamation point

2022 was an overall great year for sports as it provided people all over the world a sense of reprieve from the global pandemic, and the NBA took part with its own big moments.

10. NBA Introduces 75th-Anniversary Selection

On the first three-game days of the NBA's 2021-22 season, the league unveiled its 75 greatest players list to commemorate 75 years of its existence.

The NBA first did something like this in the 1996-97 season for their 50 greatest players at the time and their respective spots in history are safe heading into the 75th-anniversary team.

Of the 25 new players added to the list, 11 of them were active at the time including names such as LeBron James, Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony and Giannis Antetekounmpo–the sixth international player on the illustrious list.

The official ceremony was held during halftime of the 2022 All-Star Game in Cleveland, Ohio on February 20.

It was a celebration of the past and present of the NBA's biggest stars and a big indication of where the league can still go from there.

9. Kevin Durant Stays With Brooklyn Nets

Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant took hold of the headlines during the offseason when it was revealed that he wanted out of the franchise and was linked in a trade to the Phoenix Suns among other teams.

It was an offseason that was characterized by so much drama and while the Nets were not rushing to consider the trade scenarios, the rumors only continued to grow from there while the free agent market was put on hold.

Joining the Suns in their rumored pursuit of Durant, the Miami Heat were also reportedly involved but were unwilling to include All-Star big man Bam Adebayo.

2015 NBA Champion Andrew Bogut even joked on social media that Durant should exhaust all options in getting the Nets' upper management to trade him.

However, the buzz surrounding a Durant trade soon to happen quickly died out after he came to an agreement with the franchise to stay and subsequently rescinded his trade request.

Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets
Kevin Durant #7 of the Brooklyn Nets dunks the ball during the first half against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden on November 24, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images

8. Gregg Popovich Becomes Winningest Regular Season NBA Coach

The San Antonio Spurs is in the midst of a downturn the past few seasons, but there is still reason to celebrate for the fans after Gregg Popovich hit the top of the NBA coaches' list by earning his 1,336th regular-season victory earlier in the year.

On April 13, 2019, Popovich became the all-time winningest coach in NBA history during their first-round playoff series against the Denver Nuggets, with DeMar DeRozan logging a double-double effort which moved Popovich beyond Lenny Wilkens to log his 1,413th win (regular season and playoff combined).

However, Popovich was still a few wins away from nabbing the regular-season record that Don Nelson held at 1,335.

The 73-year-old Spurs head coach would reach the 1,300-win mark on March 27 last year after leading San Antonio to a win against the Chicago Bulls.

With 36 games separating him and Nelson, Popovich knocked off Wilkens from second place on February 16 by beating the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Popovich tied Nelson on February 16 and eventually reached first place with his 1,336th win after they defeated the Utah Jazz on March 11–330 games fewer than Nelson needed to achieve the feat.

Gregg Popovich, San Antonio Spurs
Head coach Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs during the game against the Memphis Grizzlies at FedExForum on February 28, 2022 in Memphis, Tennessee. Justin Ford/Getty Images

7. Paolo Banchero Gets Selected As No. 1 Draft Pick

The 2022 NBA draft featured some of the biggest prospects in recent history with guys like Jabari Parker, Jaden Ivey, Chet Holmgren and Paolo Banchero being the biggest names leading the list with the latter being picked first overall by the Orlando Magic.

Heading into draft night on June 23, there was still a belief that it would be a toss-up between Holmgren, Banchero and Parker thanks to them being seen as generational stars and franchise cornerstones.

In the eyes of Orlando's upper management, Banchero was the most unmissable prospect thanks to his ability to impact the game on both ends of the floor and what many saw was an NBA-ready game for a forward.

Banchero's spectacular performance in preseason action would turn into success in the regular season as he made history by racking up 27 points, nine rebounds and five assists alongside two blocks – the first rookie to do so in their debut game since LeBron James on October 29, 2003.

The Duke product continued to showcase what the future looks like in Orlando with him as the main man, putting up his career-best performance on November 5 with a double-double of 33 points and 16 rebounds in 39 minutes of action.

As early as November, Banchero had fans believing that he is going to run away with Rookie of the Year honors and it appears to be that way, barring any major injuries.

Paolo Banchero, Orlando Magic
Paolo Banchero #5 of the Orlando Magic drives to the basket during the first half against the Atlanta Hawks at State Farm Arena on October 21, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

6. Kyrie Irving Stirs Up Major Controversy

Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving was one of the most talked about players in the past two seasons due to his controversy outside of the hardwood and 2022 was another chapter in his story.

During the 2021-22 season, Irving was limited to just 29 games as the then-active COVID-19 vaccine mandate in New York City did not allow him to participate.

This year though, Irving's controversy hit an all-time high in late October as he tweeted a link to a movie that promoted Black Hebrew Israelite ideology which included messages that were antisemitic in nature–drawing the ire of Nets owner Joe Tsai and NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

He was suspended for his actions and was forced to miss seven games before apologizing for his comments and returning to the court in the Nets' 12-point win over the Memphis Grizzlies on November 20.

The final, and arguably most major, consequence of Irving's antisemitic comments and his subsequent defense of it had his shoe sponsor Nike officially drop him and the then-soon-to-be released Kyrie 8.

Kyrie Irving
Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets looks on against the Charlotte Hornets at Barclays Center on March 27, 2022 in New York City. Mike Stobe/Getty Images

5. Bill Russell Passes Away At Age 88

2022 was not without its tragedies though, as the basketball world said its farewell to arguably one of the best players to ever grace the hardcourt after Bill Russell passed away on July 31.

The Boston Celtics legend amassed a record of 11 NBA titles over a 13-year career and his exploits on the basketball court have forever enshrined him in the eyes of many basketball fans as the Finals MVP award bears his name since 2005.

While many would remember him most for being a player, his impact outside of the court was just as important–serving as the league's most notable social justice advocate after dealing with racism issues throughout his career.

The NBA soon after announced that Russell's No. 6 jersey will be retired league-wide and players who are wearing the number this season were given special permission to continue doing so, allowing names such as LeBron James, Alex Caruso and Kristaps Porzingis to wear it.

Boston Celtics great Bill Russell is applauded during the first half of the Celtics NBA basketball game against the Detroit Pistons in Boston, Massachusetts February 15, 2012.  The Bill Russell Mentoring Grant program was honored during the game.
Boston Celtics great Bill Russell is applauded during the first half of the Celtics NBA basketball game against the Detroit Pistons in Boston, Massachusetts February 15, 2012. The Bill Russell Mentoring Grant program was honored during the game. Reuters / Brian Snyder

4. European Domination Continues In NBA

The NBA has become a truly global league, and no other continent has dominated the landscape than European players.

From the 2018-19 season to 2019-20, Giannis Antetokounmpo became the first European-born league MVP since Dirk Nowitzki in the 2006-07 season.

In the past two seasons, Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic took home the award and it is expected to add another when the season ends.

Jokic is currently averaging 25.2 points, 10.9 rebounds and nine assists with 1.5 steals and 0.7 blocks along with a career-high 62.1% field goal shooting rate.

With the Nuggets at full strength this season, Jokic has been an extreme force on the court, but he is going to have stiff competition for the award.

Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic is hot on his heels with stellar numbers of 32.5 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 8.6 assists alongside 1.6 steals and 0.6 blocks–making him the frontrunner in many fans' eyes.

The Slovenian superstar had a stellar 2022 postseason which featured postseason averages of 32.6 points, 9.9 rebounds, seven assists, and 2.1 steals against the Phoenix Suns, which made him into an even bigger star.

Joining them atop the list is Domantas Sabonis for the Sacramento Kings and the Washington Wizards' Kristaps Porzingis, whilst supporting stars like the San Antonio Spurs' Jakob Poeltl and Franz Wagner of the Orlando Magic are all finding their strides.

The league has been graced with a ton of stars in the past, but 2022 appears to be a major stepping stone in finding the next MVP-caliber talent from Europe.

Nikola Jokic
Nikola Jokic #15 of the Denver Nuggets drives to the basket against Al Horford #42 of the Boston Celtics at Ball Arena on March 20, 2022 in Denver, Colorado. Ethan Mito/Clarkson Creative/Getty Images

3. Stephen Curry Hailed As Greatest Shooter Ever

2022 was an extremely eventful year for the Golden State Warriors, and Stephen Curry added a few more accolades to his already stellar resume.

Curry broke the record for the most three-pointers made in NBA history on December 14, 2021 against the New York Knicks, but he also had an extremely noteworthy performance during the 2022 NBA All-Star Game.

With the all-time three-point record under his belt, Curry also laid claim to the All-Star Game's three-point record, namely the most three-pointers in an All-Star quarter (six makes), half (eight makes) and game with 16 which led to his first-ever All-Star Game MVP.

As if that was not enough, Curry also earned his first NBA Finals MVP after taking down the Boston Celtics in six games.

Curry was already deemed as one of the greatest shooters in NBA history at this point in his career, but him securing even more three-point shooting accolades has only solidified his claims.

Stephen Curry
Stephen Curry #30 of Team LeBron holds the Kobe Bryant Trophy after being named MVP during the 2022 NBA All-Star Game at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse on February 20, 2022 in Cleveland, Ohio. Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

2. LeBron James Moves To No. 2 On All-Time Scoring List

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar currently holds the record with the most points in NBA history with 38,387–a mark that many believe would stand unchallenged, but LeBron James is making a run for it.

James continues to amaze NBA fans in his 20th season in the league and his sustained greatness is a testament to both his longevity and versatility.

At 37 years old, the Los Angeles Lakers star became the oldest player in NBA history to score at least 25 points in at least 10 consecutive games from December 12, 2021 to January 25 this year.

On January 20, James had also reached the distinction of being the only player in league history to have 30,000-plus points, 10,000-plus rebounds, and 9,000-plus assists to his name while also surpassing Oscar Robertson for fourth place on the most free-throws made all-time list.

The following month, James broke Abdul-Jabbar's combined regular season and playoff scoring record to reach 44,152 points–three ahead of his fellow Laker great.

His biggest achievement to date in the scoring department was when he passed Karl Malone's 36,928 mark on the all-time leading scorers list for second place on March 19.

It has reached a point that the NBA website has even put a tracker on how many points James needs to surpass Abdul-Jabbar.

Though "GOAT" conversations are highly subjective, becoming the one to break Abdul-Jabbar's longstanding record would certainly give James another accolade that he can personally consider the crowning jewel to his legacy.

Lebron James, Jonathan Kuminga
LeBron James #6 of the Los Angeles Lakers shoots over Jonathan Kuminga #00 of the Golden State Warriors during a 124-116 Lakers win at Arena on March 05, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. Harry How/Getty Images

1. Golden State Warriors Return To Promised Land

No other team had it better in 2022 than the Golden State Warriors after taking home their fourth title since the 2015 playoffs.

The Warriors entered the 2022 postseason with a ton of uncertainty as they were the third seed while the uber-competitive Memphis Grizzlies and Phoenix Suns took control of the second and first seeds respectively.

However, their dominant series performances against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Grizzlies and Dallas Mavericks allowed them to enter the NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics.

After a shocking Game 1 loss, the Warriors quickly rebounded to take home the title in six games and Stephen Curry's first-ever NBA Finals MVP award–securing the lone award that has eluded him in his illustrious career.

The Warriors became the kings of the NBA after having two seasons worth of doubt hanging on their heads due to injuries, but winning the title silenced all their naysayers.

Stephen Curry (L) holds the MVP trophy alongside teammate Damion Lee (R) as they celebrate from a double decker bus during the Golden State Warriors NBA Championship victory parade along Market Street in San Francisco
Stephen Curry (L) holds the MVP trophy alongside teammate Damion Lee (R) as they celebrate from a double decker bus during the Golden State Warriors NBA Championship victory parade along Market Street in San Francisco AFP / Patrick T. FALLON