5 Famous Spanish Basketball Players

The recent influx over the past decade of European players–especially from Spain–into the NBA makes listing 5 famous Spanish Basketball players a little easier than it would have been twenty years ago. Spain has produced a number of fine NBA players in recent years, many of whom have become household names.

  1. Pau Gasol. Not only is the most famous of the Spanish basketball players in the world, it could also be argued that Pau Gasol is the best big man in the NBA. Gifted with a lethal combination of size, skill, and finesse, this seven-footer from Barcelona teamed up with Kobe Bryant to win the 2009 NBA Championship. Before fully committing to basketball full-time, Gasol attended to medical school in hopes of pursuing a career as surgeon.

  2. Jose Calderon. Calderon is the starting point guard for the Toronto Raptors. He is known for his passing ability and offensive efficiency. Widely considered one of the best free throw shooters in the league, Calderon set a single season record in 2009 with .981 FT%. He was also the starting point guard for the Spanish national team that won the 2006 FIBA World Championship, clearly placing him on the list of famous Spanish basketball players.

  3. Marc Gasol. Little brother to Pau, Marc Gasol may be a few years younger, but he’s anything but little, weighing in at a shade over 265. He enjoyed a successful rookie season in 2008-2009 averaging 12 points and 7 rebounds for the Memphis Grizzlies. Marc Gasol was obtained from the Lakers for brother Pau in a somewhat controversial trade in 2008. Many people at the time believed it was a lopsided trade. However, in past two seasons, through his stellar play, the younger Gasol has quieted much of that talk and cemented his position on the list of famous Spanish basketball players.

  4. Ricky Rubio. Rubio, the floppy-haired phenom, had scouts calling him the next “Pistol” Pete (Maravich) in the run-up to the 2009 NBA Draft. Having begun his professional career at age 14, Rubio quickly became a Spanish League sensation, dazzling crowds with fancy no-look passes. With the fifth pick in the draft, the Minnesota Timberwolves selected Rubio after securing a buyout agreement with DKV Joventut—the Spanish club that he was under contract with. However, Rubio decided that he wasn’t quite ready for the rigors of the NBA and opted to stay in Spain for another couple of seasons. Some rumors circulated suggesting that Rubio preferred to play in a bigger market than Minnesota; whatever the reason, he is definitely one of the most famous Spanish basketball players.

  5. Juan Carlos Navarro. JCV, as he’s commonly called, is the current star of FC Barcelona in the Spanish Basketball League. In 2009, he was named Euroleague MVP. Navarro possesses a deadly outside shot, earning him the nickname “La Bomba” (The Bomb). He played one season in the NBA for the Memphis Grizzlies, where he was named to All-Rookie Second Team. However, he decided to return to Spain at season’s end. Wherever he plays, he makes the list of famous Spanish basketball players.

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