2019 population: 10.49 million (No. 9)
Born: Feb. 17, 1963, in New York City, New York
High school: Emsley A. Laney High School (Wilmington, North Carolina)
Key stats: Six-time NBA champion. 10-time scoring champion. 32,292 career points.
Pro teams: Chicago Bulls (1984-93, 1995-98), Washington Wizards (2001-03)
Hall of Fame: Basketball (2009), FIBA (2015)
Bottom line: Many people don’t realize that Michael Jordan was actually born in New York, but he moved to North Carolina as a toddler, which spares Jim Brown (NY) from missing out on this list.
While attending Laney High School, he didn’t make varsity as a sophomore and took it out on his poor JV opponents. Once he made the varsity team, he became one of the best high school players in the country and would then become one of the best college players of all time at nearby UNC.
When he got to the NBA, Jordan took the league to heights it has never been seen before and made coaches and general managers rethink how to build a team. Teams always had been built around big men, and no one ever thought a scoring guard could be the best player on a championship team. Six rings, five MVPs and over 30,000 points later, and now the NBA is built around guards and wings instead of big men.
One aspect of Jordan’s NBA career that many forget is that he came along at a time before exorbitant player salaries. He made less than $90 million in NBA earnings, which ranks just 135th all-time and is sandwiched between the likes of Khris Middleton and Al Harrington.
Honorable mention: Richard Petty (auto racing), Buck Leonard (baseball), David Thompson (basketball)