The NBA has seen the growth of international players making huge claims in the league lately. The quality of players on the international scene has been nothing short of sheer genius. The NBA has welcomed this talent with open arms.
The rise of international players in the league has been amazing to watch as they continue to help their various teams. Hall of Famers like Nigerian maestro Hakeem Olajuwon “The Dream” and Chinese center Yao Ming paved the way for international players to make their way through a highly competitive league.
The league was initially restrictive to only US nationals before its adaptation as a global league in the 1980s. Globalization saw the beginning of the migration of pro players from all over the world into the United States and Canada . Being the most competitive league, the NBA has attracted top foreign players to the league.
Great players like the Gasol brothers, Dirk Nowitzki, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Steve Nash, to name a few, have made a name for themselves in the league. They established themselves as important players in the history of the various franchises they represented.
In a Bleacher Report interview, Kevin Love spoke about the rise of international players in the league. He said he was impressed with the quality of the players and their rise in the NBA, while praising the league for having such an impact.
“The world is catching up. A few years ago I remember Luka being the Rookie of the Year in Slovenia,” Love said. “Giannis, obviously MVP from Greece, Siakam from Cameroon. What other league can say that?”
Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon is arguably the best international player of all time in the NBA
Born in Lagos, Nigeria, Hakeem Olajuwon was scouted and sent to the United States while representing the University of Houston Cougars. He was phenomenal during his college career and was drafted by the Houston Rockets as the first overall pick in the 1984 draft ahead of Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley and John Stockton.
During his rookie season, he averaged 20.6 points, 11.9 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game and was a first-team All-Rookie of 1985. The 12-time All-Star is became the first international player to join the All-Star team and start the All-Star game. He was also the first international player to win MVP and Defensive Player of the Year.
During the 1993-94 season, The Dream became the first player in NBA history to win the MVP award, Defensive Player of the Year award, and Finals MVP award in a single game. season.
The 2-time rebounding leader led the Rockets to back-to-back league titles in 1994 and 1995. His star power was next to none as he was a 3-time block leader with major plays at both ends of the court. He is considered the best center in league history.