10 Best Foreign NBA Players of All Time
The Best Foreign NBA players of all time are beloved in their countries, filling their nation's with pride. Across the world, the NBA is considered the biggest basketball stage, where all the best talent go to show case their skills. Here are the 10 Best Foreigners to ever play in the NBA.
- Manu Ginobili. Coming in as the second to last pick of the 1999 Draft (57th overall), the Spurs never imagined they'd be getting one of the best foreign NBA players of all time in Ginobili. Since coming over, Ginobili's averaged 16.0 points and 3.5 assists per game in the playoffs.
- Dirk Nowitzki. When the Milwaukee Bucks selected the seven foot tall German in the 1998 Draft, they immediately traded him to the Dallas Mavericks, not knowing that Nowitzki would turn into one of the best foreign players ever. Despite a tough rookie year where Nowitzki was given the nickname "Irk Nowitzki," he blossomed into a superstar, becoming the first European player to win the NBA MVP award in 2006.
- Yao Ming. The son of two professional basketball players, Ming was destined to become one of the best foreign NBA players of all time, trying out for his first professional team when he was thirteen years old. Ming grew to a height of 7'6", and was selected first overall by the Houston Rockets in the 2002 NBA Draft, becoming the first foreign player to be selected number one without playing college basketball.
- Steve Nash. When people think of Nash, they rarely think one of the best foreign NBA players. Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, and raised in Canada, Nash grew up playing ice hockey and soccer. In fact, Nash didn't play basketball until he was twelve years old! Nash quickly acclimated to the game, and in the NBA, he's been a two-time League MVP.
- Tim Duncan. Another surprise on the best foreign NBA players of all time list, Duncan was raised thinking he'd become a professional swimmer. After Hurricane Hugo destroyed his training pool, Duncan hung up the Speedos and has developed into one of the most skilled and dominant big men of all time, winning the NBA MVP Award twice.
- Hakeem Olajuwon. There can't be a best foreign NBA players of all time list without "The Dream." Olajuwon led the Houston Rockets to back to back NBA Championships in 1994 and 1995. Playing a total of 18 seasons, Olajuwon was a twelve-time NBA All-Star, two-time Defensive Player of the Year, and two-time league MVP.
- Pau Gasol. In nine NBA seasons, Pau Gasol has cemented his status as one of the best foreign NBA players of all time. Spending his first seven seasons with the Memphis Grizzlies, the native Spaniard became the franchise's all-time leader in points, total rebounds, and blocked shots, and was the 2002 Rookie of the Year.
- Tony Parker. Like his teammate Manu Ginobili, the San Antonio Spurs couldn't have imagined Parker would become one of the best foreign NBA players of all time . Drafted with the 28th pick of the 2001 NBA Draft, Parker went on to help the Spurs to three NBA Titles, and was the NBA Finals MVP in 2007.
- Toni Kukoc. Kukoc is an easy fit for the best foreign NBA players of all time list. A native of Yugoslavia, Kukoc came into the NBA in 1993 with the Chicago Bulls. In 1995, he became the team's go-to bench player, winning the "Sixth Man of the Year" Award on the champion Bulls. To this day, Kukoc is the last player to win the award on a championship team.
- Drazen Petrovic. Petrovic's career was short, but he is one of the best foreign NBA players of all time . Coming into the NBA in 1989, Petrovic experienced a break through season in 1991 with the New Jersey Nets, leading all NBA guards in Field Goal Percentage with 51 percent. Dying in an automobile accident in 1993 at the age of 28, Petrovic's #3 jersey was immediately retired by the Nets. In 2002, he was enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.