The National Basketball Association is a league founded in New York in 1946, and which now operates across North America. However, despite the game operating only in the United States and Canada, there are many players from Europe and the rest of the world who have taken the league by storm and shown true basketball skills.
The premier men’s basketball in the world, the NBA inspires young men and women all over the world to succeed in the world of sports, and the regular competitions are one of the biggest sporting attractions for tourists in North America.
So, it’s no wonder that there are so many European players!
An Increasingly Global Game
The 2019-2020 NBA season marked the sixth consecutive season that the league opened with more than 100 players from outside the US and Canada. With 108 players from 38 different countries, the NBA became seen as a truly global game. Much in the same way that European soccer teams hire players from all over the world, the NBA has grown its international base by taking on European and other non-American players and attracting a global audience through online streaming and cable TV.
The Dallas Mavericks had the most international players on its team, with a total of seven. The Philadelphia 76ers and Phoenix Suns trailed behind with six each. A number of teams, including Utah Jazz, Toronto Raptors, and Sacramento Kings (among others) also had five.
The NBA has gone global – and therefore so does the sports betting opportunities. Many online sports betting portals offer odds and bets for the NBA from everywhere in the world. Most platforms like these actually both offer gambling and sports betting solutions all in one place. CasinoBernie provides a great overview of casino sites and sportsbooks – check it out if you’re on the lookout for a new casino & betting site to throw your money at.
Top European Players of All Time
Rankings are always changing, and people always have their favorites, but there are some European players that have earned their space on the top spot forever.
Arguably one of the best European players of all time is Dirk Nowitzki, a German native, who famously helped deliver the Dallas Mavericks an NBA title. He is also only one of two Europeans to win the NBA Most Valuable Player Award. This is a title given since 1955 to the best player who performed during the season. The other European winner of the MVP award is Giannis Antetokounmpo from Greece.
These two players aren’t just the only two European players to win the award, but the only two truly international players – which definitely lands them the top spots.
Also with a space in the top European players of all time is Tony Parker of France. Parker was the first Euro guard to make it all the way to the All-Star game and became known for his speed and consistent jump shot.
Drazen Petrovic, a Croatian NBA star, also deserves a mention. Initially a basketball star in Europe, Petrovic eventually moved to New Jersey and started making a name for himself. He isn’t considered the most versatile player, but his ability to shoot set him apart and made him a legend in the game. His untimely and unfortunate death means Petrovic will always be remembered as a European NBA legend.
Another Croatian legend is Toni Kukoc. He’s known for his time as a role player in the Bulls, and for making the game look way easier than it is.
Other legendary European players include:
- Dejan Bodiroga of Serbia
- Predrag Danilovic of Serbia
- Sarunas Marciulionis of Lithuania
- Rik Smits, of the Netherlands
- Goran Dragic of Slovenia
- Zydrunas Ilgauskas of Lithuania
- Andrei Kirilenko of Russia
Recent Stars and Up-and-Comers
Legends will always be legends, but newcomers are appearing all the time and many European players are fighting to become the next big player. As of the 2018-2019 season, a number of European players have become stars for their high energy and great skills.
From France, Rudy Gobert is 7ft 1inch in height, and has impressed with scoring and rebounding in 18 successive games. He plays for the Utah Jazz, but stays true to his roots and also competes for France’s national basketball team when competitions take place.
Then, there’s Bojan Bogdanović, another Croatian player who is often called Bogey or Babo. Like Gobert, he represents the basketball team of his home country and also represents Utah Jazz as of 2019.
During 2018-2019, Bogdanović’s 3-point-field-goal percentage was .425, his free-throw percentage was .807, and his assists per game were 2.0.
Watch out for these guys, they could become the new legends!