The NBA might be a league blessed with American talents but that doesn’t mean those from overseas don’t contribute.
They do and in a big way too. Here we look at some of the best foreign imports the NBA has ever seen.
Number 5. Yao Ming
Ming arrived in the NBA in 2002 with several years of experience under his belt from his time with the Shanghai Sharks. The Rockets opted to take him at number one in the draft with payback coming early on as he made Rookie First Team honours in his debut season.
It proved to be the start of a successful but injury hit time as Ming made the All-Star game on eight occasions; those performances helped to earn him a spot in the Hall of Fame with the fact he’s one of the tallest players in NBA history another reason he’ll forever be remembered. Click here to see the full list of tallest players in NBA of all time: edge.twinspires.com/nba/the-tallest-players-in-nba-history/
Number 4. Manu Ginobili
When Argentinian Manu Ginobili rocked up in San Antonio he did so with a pretty hefty trophy haul; Euro League trophies were in the bag along with several individual honours. His NBA career was pretty full of awards too.
The Spurs won four Championships during his time in the States whilst personal recognition came Ginobili’s way in the shape of two All-Star nods, a Sixth Man of the Year win and a couple of third team appearances too. In terms of his output, his best season was unquestionably 2007/08 as he averaged a career high in points (19.5) and rebounds (4.8).
Number 3. Steve Nash
Some might see Nash’s inclusion in this list of the best foreign imports the NBA has ever seen as a cheat given his Canadian passport but given he was born to British parents in South Africa we’ve opted to include him. That’s where the debate stops because what he did on the court cannot be questioned.
The now Brooklyn Nets boss spent the lion’s share of his career with the Phoenix Suns who took him at number 15 in the 1996 draft. He won two MVP awards and lead the league in assists five times during his Suns career.
Nash was a big figure beyond Phoenix too though with All-Star recognition coming for Nash at the Lakers and Mavericks as well. He made the playoffs 12 times as a player but never earned the NBA Championship; he has, however, won it as a consultant and has a chance to do it this year as Head Coach.
Number 2. Dirk Nowitzki
German born Nowitzki rolled into the NBA having torn up Europe for five years before the Dallas Mavericks came calling. He tore the NBA up pretty damn well too. He spent 21 years with the Mavericks and in that time sank over 31,000 points, assisted 3,651 times and collected 11,489 rebounds.
His consistency helped him to 14 All-Star games whilst he also made 12 league teams (four first team, five second and three third) whilst his crowning moments came split between 2007 and 2011. 2007 saw him named MVP whilst four years later he won the NBA Championship and took the finals MVP award along the way.
Number 1. Hakeem Olajuwon
We started with a Rocket and we’ll end with a Rocket; this time it is Hakeem Olajuwon. The Nigerian Center was the overall first pick during the 1984 draft after starring for the Houston Cougars at college level.
He’d go on to spend 17 years with the Rockets during which time he won two NBA Championships winning Finals MVP awards in both seasons with a further season MVP award to boot. Then there was his all-round game; he topped the league standings in blocks three times, in rebounds twice and made a dozen All-Star games.
His final year, which was a solitary year with the Raptors, means his overall career produced 26,946 points and 13,747 rebounds. They’re big stats.
There you have it the best foreign imports the NBA has ever seen. Who did we miss?