What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Vladi Divac, Tony Kukoc, Peja Stojakovic, Dirk Nowitzki, Steve Nash, Yao Ming, Dikembe Mutombo, Pau Gasol, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili? If you’re an NBA fan, it’s not hard to find the answer. All of these players left their mark on the NBA during their time in the league, and they all have one thing in common: they’re non-American.
One of the goals of the NBA has long been to globalize the organization. Although the league is based in the United States and is called the National Basketball Association, the overwhelming quality of the players competing in it makes it a league of interest to basketball fans around the world. At this point, it’s safe to say that this desire is being realized.
There are many basketball leagues around the world, but most international fans are only interested in the NBA aside from their national leagues. There are many countries that are more interested in the NBA than their national league. This is due in no small part to the efforts of the minority players who have competed tirelessly and battled prejudice in an all-American league. The most obvious way to make the NBA more appealing to a country is to have a player from that country play in the league.
No NBA superstar can compare to a homegrown player. Just the thought of playing in the NBA is enough to get excited about, but when you add in the fact that they’re good at it, the interest of the country’s fans explodes. Argentina is a soccer country. But Ginobili’s popularity in his home country is comparable to that of soccer god Lionel Messi.
Mutombo is also known for his off-the-court good deeds. Since 1997, he has started a foundation to help his country, the Democratic Republic of Congo, which has been ravaged by civil war. In 2006, she opened the Biamba Marie Mutombo Hospital, named after her mother, in her hometown of Kinshasa. It is said to have helped many Congolese who were unable to receive proper medical treatment due to lack of money. With stories like these and more, NBA stars from around the world have become heroes in their countries and have made a huge impact on and off the court.
The 1990s are considered to be one of the greatest eras for centers in NBA history. In addition to the “Big Four” of Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson, Patrick Ewing, and Shaquille O’Neal, there were more great centers than ever before, including Alonzo Mourning, Dikembe Mutombo, Brad Doughty, Rick Smits, and Shawn Bradley. Vladi Divac (55, Serbia, 216 cm) never stopped competing in the midst of such a huge big man era, and his consistent performances, including three seasons of double-doubles, confirmed the strengths and competitiveness of European centers.
A two-time regular season MVP and five-time assists leader, Steve Nash (49, Canada, 6-foot-5) is one of the greatest point guards of all time. If we narrow it down to the top non-Black 1s, he’s right up there with John Stockton. He was an excellent field commander and one of the best shooters in the game. He was the only player in NBA history to reach the 180 club four times, three of them in three consecutive seasons.
As is the case with most white short guards, Nash was not physically competitive; his only advantage was his speed, which he combined with a high BQ and excellent ball-handling to create a commanding presence on the court. He was also one of the best shooters of his era, as he shot over 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from three-point range, and 90 percent from the free throw line four times in his career.
Tony Kukoc (54, Croatia, 208 cm) was once called the “Magic Johnson of Europe. The big man’s size allowed him to play both guard and small forward, as he scored all over the floor, inside and out, and even led games with his vision. In fact, in international competitions, I often played more like a point guard, focusing on ball-handling and leading.
The version of Kukoc that most people still remember is the one where he was a key sixth man in the Chicago Bulls’ second dynasty. Based on his skill set, he should have been a starter, but due to various positional balance issues at the time, he was primarily a bench player. Although he had a primary position, he played all positions, including center defense, depending on the situation. In fact, he was the Bulls’ all-around key at the time.
Peja Stojakovic (45, Croatia, 208 cm) is a long sniper who was one of the mainstays of the Millennium Kings and is considered the best shooter in Sacramento Kings history. Stojakovic’s quick release and ability to burst from the top of the key utilizing his length advantage made him a threat. He had a wide variety of offensive weapons, including shooting options from distance and post-ups, but his most potent weapon was his off-the-ball moves.
He had a very good eye for the gap and a very good feel for the game, and he was also very diligent. The motion offense that the Kings were running in the early 2000s created a lot of openings all over the court, and Stojakovic was the kind of player who could find them and reliably make shots. He was such a textbook shooter that his name is often mentioned when discussing the greatest shooters of all time.
As we’ve already mentioned, non-black people are completely underrepresented in the sport of basketball, especially Asians. In addition to their natural physical disadvantage, they are also the least developed in terms of league size, level of development, etc. While whites have been able to compete alongside blacks in the U.S. or perfect their own style in Europe, Asians have yet to find a competitive weapon.
But in any sport, there are “mutants”. Yao Ming (43, China, 226 cm), dubbed the “walking Great Wall of China,” is the pride of the Asian Center, boasting a variety of techniques and a good shooting touch despite his large stature. His size alone would mean less, but he has a lot to offer, making him one of the best black big men in the NBA.
Dirk Nowitzki (45, Germany, 213 cm) is arguably the best player in Dallas Mavericks history. Part of the reason is that the team was relatively 메이저놀이터 weak and didn’t have a star player who shook up the league, but it was Nowitzki who helped them win their only Finals title. In a way, that’s all it takes to end the debate about the greatest hero in Dallas history.
He had a variety of scoring options, but his shooting was arguably the best of any big man in history, as evidenced by the fact that he’s the only power forward in league history to join the 180 club. He was a tall shooter who didn’t just shoot well. He was the pinnacle of the stretch big man. He’s still the first guy I think of when I think of a big man who can shoot.
Dikembe Mutombo (57, Congo, 218 cm) was known as the Wailing Wall during his career. The nickname came from the fact that he guarded the post like a huge, solid wall that was impossible to penetrate. He’s a strong defensive big man who leaves a lot to be desired when viewed simply as a center, but when the word “defensive” is added to his name, he’s instantly elevated to all-time greatness. His three career blocked shots and two career rebounding titles prove it, and when Mutombo is near the post, opposing players have a lot of trouble getting open.
There have only been four times in NBA history that a non-American has won Rookie of the Year honors. Andrew Wiggins from Canada, Ben Simmons from Australia, Luka Doncic from Slovenia, and Pau Gasol (43, Spain, 213 cm). Gasol is the first winner of the award. Along with Marc Gasol and Adria Gasol, he is also known for being a brother basketball player.
He is an authentic European big man with excellent BQ and versatility, and his smooth post-ups, wide vision, and long shooting range allowed him to compete with blacks who were physically and athletically superior. He was Kobe Bryant’s most reliable partner when he was trying to step out of Shaquille O’Neal’s shadow and win championships as The Man, helping the Lakers win back-to-back titles.
Tony Parker (41, France, 6’9″) and Manu Ginobili (46, Argentina, 6’9″), along with Tim Duncan, arguably the greatest power forward of all time, have helped create the San Antonio Spurs dynasty. While the Spurs’ early years were centered around the “Twin Towers” of David Robinson and Duncan, the trio of Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili have kept San Antonio a Western Conference powerhouse for a long time.
Parker won four championships and was a one-time Finals MVP. He started his career as a scrappy dual-guard, but has since steadily improved his shooting and passing to become a reliable field general. His post-breakout paint-zone scoring ability with tremendous quickness and body balance was a recognized weapon early on, but he was also a soul-sucker when matched up against weaker defenses.
Ginobili was dubbed the league’s super sixth man during his career. His role on the team was to play the sixth man, but he wasn’t playing the sixth man because he wasn’t good enough, but because he was so versatile that he came off the bench for strategic reasons. This is evidenced by his 2008 Sixth Man of the Year award and his All-NBA Third Team honors. It was the first time in NBA history that a sixth man was named to the All-NBA Third Team. He and Parker have combined for four championships.
Two of the other four centers, Hakeem “The Black Panther” Olajuwon (60‧213cm) and Patrick Ewing (61‧213cm), are from Nigeria and Jamaica, respectively. However, Olajuwon chose the United States when he was at the peak of his career and became a naturalized citizen, while Ewing became an American when his family moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, at the age of 12. Both have played for the U.S. national team.