Slam Dunk Creators: NBA Players Who Excel on and Off the Court

National Basketball Association (aka NBA) stars are often known primarily for their skills on the court. But numerous players are also accomplished creators—known for their music, production skills, writing, acting, and much more. Whether it’s during the off-season or following their retirement from shooting hoops, learn more about the players who exhibit their artistic prowess by acting on the silver screen, dropping beats and albums, assembling the talent and resources to produce a movie or TV show, writing books, and much more!

LeBron James (actor and producer)

LeBron James is often affectionately known as “King James” or “Bron” by his scores of fans, especially during his lengthy tenure as a star NBA power forward for the Cleveland Cavaliers. His decision to leave Cleveland in 2010 is considered one of the most memorable moments in NBA history. After seven seasons with the Cavaliers, James joined the Miami Heat in free agency, forming what was called a “super team” with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, both of whom became star players—and creators—in their own right. His tremendous athletic talent on the court enabled him to etch his name in history as one of the greatest basketball players of all time. But ball-playing isn’t the only talent in LeBron James’ story.

LeBron James’ Creative Career

Today, James still plays pro ball while making a name for himself in the entertainment industry. He has scored roles in movies like Trainwreck and the 2021 Space Jam sequel, demonstrating his charisma and talent as an actor; and he further expanded his role in the world of entertainment by founding SpringHill Entertainment, a production company that has produced TV shows such as Survivor’s Remorse, The Shop, and numerous others.

Chris Bosh (musician and author)

Referred to as the “Renaissance Man of the NBA,” Chris Bosh is a talented athlete who has excelled both on and off the court. During his pro-ball career, Bosh was an NBA Hall of Famer, eleven-time All-Star, two-time NBA champ, Olympic gold medalist, and the league’s Global Ambassador.

Although Bosh’s ball playing was cut short by a health condition in 2019, his career didn’t end when he stepped away from the court. Instead, after reflecting on all he had learned from “a long list of basketball legends,” including role models like LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, Bosh realized that some of his most important lessons weren’t necessarily basketball-related. Instead, they were about the “inner game of success”—including having “the right attitude, right commitment, and right flow,” both on and off the court.

Chris Bosh’s Creative Career

Upon taking stock of his life, career, and lessons learned, Bosh authored a book titled Letters to a Young Athlete, which “offers a proven path for taming your inner voice and making it your ally.” In addition to basketball and writing, Bosh is also a skilled musician with a passion for playing multiple instruments, showcasing both his tremendous talent and his hard work ethic through the songs he’s produced. In 2020, Bosh formed (and now runs) his own label, Daddy Jack Records, which he named after his grandfather.

Rick Fox (actor)

Born as Ulrich Alexander Fox, most fans know him as Rick Fox, a former NBA and college hoops athlete-turned-actor who originally hails from Canada. Fox played for the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers, also playing college ball for the North Carolina Tar Heels. During his years playing for the Celtics, Fox became the first rookie starter to play on opening night since Larry Bird played in 1979. He also made the 1992 NBA All-Rookie Second Team after averaging eight points per game. Fox then became the team’s starting small forward during the 1995-96 season, routinely achieving double-figure scoring. He recorded career highs of 15.4 points and 2.2 steals per game, earning him an overall career record of fifth in the NBA league.

Rick Fox’s Creative Career

Following basketball, Fox began an acting career in 2005 when he was a guest star on the television series Kevin Hill. In 2006, he played the role of Fabrizio in the film Mini’s First Time while also appearing in five episodes as villain Daunte in the CW drama series One Tree Hill. In 2007, Fox was a guest star during the second season of Ugly Betty, where he met his former wife, Vanessa Williams. Additional acting credits include roles in OzHe Got GameThe GameThe Big Bang TheoryMeet the Browns, Sharknado, and the list goes on.

Dwyane Wade (actor, producer, host)

Dwyane Wade spent the majority of his 16-year pro basketball career playing for the Miami Heat. During this time, Wade won three NBA championships, was a 13-time NBA All-Star, an eight-time member of the All-NBA Team, and a three-time member of the All-Defensive Team. Wade was also Miami’s all-time leader in points, games, assists, steals, and shots made and taken. So, it’s no surprise that he is largely regarded as one of the greatest shooting guards in NBA history.

During the 2008 Summer Olympics, Wade led the U.S. men’s basketball team, known as the “Redeem Team,” and helped them capture the Gold Medal. In 2010, Wade was selected as the NBA All-Star Game MVP. He briefly left Miami to play for the Chicago Bulls and the Cleveland Cavaliers between 2016–2018 before returning to Miami to finish his playing career and retire in 2019. In October 2021, he was honored as one of the league’s greatest players of all time by being named to the NBA 75th Anniversary Team. Then, in 2023, it was announced that Wade would be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Dwyane Wade’s Creative Career

Following an incredible career on the court, Wade successfully transitioned into acting, filmmaking, and production through his company, 59th & Prairie Entertainment. His production credits include the critically acclaimed documentary D. Wade: Life Unexpected and the sports documentary series Legacy. His commitment to social issues and his advocacy for the LGBTQ+ community have also earned him widespread recognition. In addition, Wade is known for contributing his creative talents to the movies Fearless, Ride Along 2, and countless other acting and producing roles. In 2023, he began hosting The Cube, the American adaptation of a British game show.

Damian Lillard (rapper)

Damian Lillard is currently a standout point guard for the Portland Trail Blazers. He began his basketball career by playing college ball for the Weber State Wildcats and earning third-team All-American honors in 2012. After being selected by Portland during the 2012 draft, Lillard was unanimously voted NBA Rookie of the Year in 2013.

Due to his consistency in making successful shots during clutch moments, Lillard’s teammates nicknamed him “Dame Time.” And if all of these accolades aren’t enough, Lillard is the only player in Trail Blazer history to earn seven NBA All-Stars and seven All-NBA Team selections. In October 2021, Lillard was honored as one of the league’s greatest players of all time by being named to the NBA 75th Anniversary Team

Damian Lillard’s Creative Career

But there’s still more to know about Lillard beyond basketball. Namely, he’s also a well-respected rapper who goes by the Dame D.O.L.L.A. His first album, The Letter O, charted on the Billboard 200 after being released in 2016; and Big D.O.L.L.A., released in 2019, placed on the Indie charts. In 2021, he released another album, titled Different on Levels the Lord Allowed. His music often touches on personal experiences, his basketball career, and social issues, and can be heard in his songs like Home Team and  Baggage Claim. Among NBA players, Lillard is considered unique in his ability to excel in two different fields simultaneously: pro basketball and rapping. His talent and work ethic have made him a respected figure in both the sports and music worlds.

Talent Knows No Boundaries

These NBA players are proof that talent knows no boundaries, nor does one have to choose between being an athlete or a creator. Instead, they all have dazzled both on and off the court, with many excelling in multiple creative fields. They are producers, actors, musicians, writers, and advocates who continue to leave their mark by representing the NBA while pursuing their creative passions. And as we cheer for their basketball and athletic achievements, let’s also celebrate their contributions to the world of creativity.

If you aren’t already a member of the Copyright Alliance, you can join today by completing our Individual Creator Members membership form! Members gain access to monthly newsletters, educational webinars, and so much more — all for free!

get blog updates